Best Gem of an Exhibit at an Art Museum Next to the Red Line

"From Heart to Hand: African American Quilts From the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts" at the DePaul Art Museum

Critics' Picks

DePaul Art Museum, 935 W. Fullerton, 773-325-7506,

Steps from the Fullerton el stop, the DePaul Art Museum is comfortably cozy, just two floors, a handful of rooms on each—you can walk through the whole thing in 45 minutes. It was a perfect venue for the homey, just-closed exhibit "From Heart to Hand," devoted to African-American quilts from Gee's Bend, Alabama. Some pieces were relatively symmetrical, like Mary Maxtion's Everybody Quilt, a delightfully imperfect grid of panels each individually patterned, so you feel like you're looking into a series of only partially glimpsed alternate dimensions. Others, like Nora Ezell's dazzling 2001 Star Puzzle, gleefully set up frames only to burst right through them. The last room of the exhibit was devoted to the representational work of Tuscaloosa schoolteacher Yvonne Wells, whose tributes to Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson play with composition and scale in a vertiginous way that suggests medieval painting—space itself seems warped around the impulse to show and commemorate. No matter how snugly everything fit, it was hard not to wish for a bigger site and more space for such an affecting collection; if you could fill the Art Institute with quilts like these, it wouldn't be too much.