Turning fabric into art

Any piece of fabric presents itself as an opportunity for Janet Bergeron.

Bergeron has been sewing since she was eight years old and since retiring from the Des Moines tech community, she’s working more than she ever has.

“Quilting is an art form, I just have a different view of the world,” Bergeron says. “Quilts don’t have to look like a blanket.”

Bergeron will finish a five-week exhibition on Friday of her new works at the Artisan Gallery in West Des Moines. She makes clothes, dyes clothes and turns clothing into decorative pieces for boardrooms and living rooms. Her full skill set was on display with a more nuanced piece inspired by the “supermoon” hanging above several rose petals made from old shirts.

“I always have another project, there’s always another idea,” Bergeron says. “I’ve got 50 ties from my brother who doesn’t need to wear them anymore to work. So I’m taking them apart and figuring out how to incorporate them into a jacket or something.”

Bergeron founded Bergeron Arts and is the Iowa representative for the Studio Art Quilt Association. She grew up in Northeast Iowa, on a farm near Ryan.

Her process

Artisan Gallery
This quilt was inspired by the “supermoon” event earlier this year. It’s part of the exhibit at Artisan Gallery.

As one of four owners of Artisan Gallery in West Des Moines, Mary Klein-Misol said the gallery partners with Iowa artists who have unique and original expression.

“That’s one of the things that really smacked us in the face with her (Janet) work,” Klein-Misol said. “Her work is more mysterious and expressive in terms of color and shape and form.”

Bergeron says her process—regardless of whether its a quilt, clothing item or postcard—can be inspirational or a pattern.

“When we had the super moon a few weeks ago, I was trying to get all the nuances of color because when the moon is that big it has more variety of color in it,” Bergeron said. “Sometimes I start with a drawing but mostly it’s letting things play together and what catches your eye.”

The business of being an artist

Artisan Gallery
Janet Bergeron discusses her artwork on display at the Artisan Gallery in West Des Moines.

Before art was full time, Bergeron would work with startups on patents and intellectual property.

During her career, Bergeron said she went through venture school at the Pappajohn Center in downtown Des Moines.

She said the experience helped her in her art process.

“Being realistic in who is interested in my artwork,” Bergeron says. “In my heart, I want to make these masterpieces but when people come in, they may love your big piece but they buy the little one. So you have to make a lot more smalls then you do masterpieces.”