The History of Alegre Retreat
by Katie Pasquini Masopust
I began Alegre Retreat in 1992 when my husband Bobby and I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico from Southern California. I love Santa Fe and all of the art galleries that are here but I noticed that there was not much in the way of fiber art or quilts. That got me thinking, what could I do to bring more fiber art to this art community?
An Art Quit Conference was what was missing! A place where like-minded fiber artists could come together to share, learn and create. We would need an art quilt show to go with the conference so the Alegre Gallery was born, a temporary gallery that appeared once a year at the retreat. We would show the best art quilts by the top designers from across the world.
One of the oldest hotels in town is the La Fonda Hotel. It is old world charm, in the center of Santa Fe and they had several meeting rooms that would hold the classes and a large room for the Alegre Gallery. We started out slow with two teachers and in time we grew to 6 teachers. Still a small intimate conference by industry standards. The Alegre Gallery brought in many viewers who were not aware that our art quilts could be such beautiful works of art. It really worked, we sold lots of art, and one of our participants, Mary Anhaltzer opened a quilt gallery on Canyon Road. Mary has since passed away and it is now called Jane Sauer’s Thirteen Moons Gallery and is still showing quilts along with other fiber art.
The conference grew too large to continue to be held at the La Fonda so we moved it to the Sweeny Center, the convention center in Santa Fe.
We held the retreat there for 10 years before we had to close it down for several reasons, the most important being that they were tearing it down in order to rebuild it. We would have to suspend the retreats for at least two years. I decided that it was time to let it go. I had accomplished my goals of bringing together art quilters to explore and share. I had educated the Art community in Santa Fe that quilts are art, evident by Thirteen Moons Gallery, dedicated to the art quilt, and several other galleries around town that were showing different kinds of fiber art as well as quilts. So time to rest.
One of the faithful Alegre Retreat participants was a very special person. Maureen Hendricks had attended all but the very first Alegre Retreat. She says that coming to the retreat was one of the highlights of her year. She was very sorry that I had closed it down. She asked me if I would run the retreat if someone else hosted it in a different place. Well of course that would be great. She said “Just wait, I will get in touch with you when the time is right.” Life went on and I forgot all about her request until one day she called and asked if I was ready. She and her husband, John Hendricks, Founder and Chairman of Discovery Communications, the number one nonfiction media company, and creator of Discovery Channel, had developed a resort in the beautiful Gateway Canyons. This was Mr. Hendricks’ dream, to have a resort where people could come to vacation and to learn. He would bring together the most learned people in many fields to give workshops and lectures to the resorts guests. They would combine the educational aspect with the vacation aspect of a full service resort and outdoor adventure center. Maureen wanted me to restart Alegre Retreat at Gateway Canyons. I was all for it. What a dream come true for all of us!
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March 2005 was the last Santa Fe Alegre Retreat. As I was going through my files for this history I found a disc with pictures from that last year. I know many of you would love to see them so here they are. Enjoy the memories!
It was a great final Santa Fe event. The classes were full and teachers were everything one would expect. I want to thank everyone who participated in the Santa Fe Alegre and I look forward to many wonderful memories that we will be making in Gateway Canyons Resort for many years to come.
Alegre Retreat 2009
The first New Alegre Retreat was June 2009. My best friend Randalyn and I met a few days early to get everything in order. Fran Skiles from Florida and myself, were the two teachers.
It was a perfect retreat. Everyone came together for fun and learning. Many new works were designed. It was a huge success and will now be an annual event. The retreat is set up like many big conferences although we like to keep our small, intimate feel.
Each night there was a dinner followed by a lecture by a different instructor each night. One of these nights we had dinner in the wonderful car museum with special tours of the museum with John Hendricks and” Fritz”.
We witnessed the unveiling of the center panel of the triptych that I was commissioned to make for the Palisades event center. It was a very moving moment for me, the whole three pieces ended up taking over a year and a half to complete. The best moment was when Maureen and John Hendricks, said it was just what they envisioned. It was perfect. This year all three pieces will greet you as you go into the Ballroom.
For this first retreat we had a very special closing dinner at John and Maureen’s wonderful home not far from the resort where Maureen accepted the blocks everyone made for her that became her Alegre Retreat memory quilt.
With a new home for the retreat my family was back together again!