that the individual conform to the strictures of the community. Simplicity was honored and ornamentation shunned. The community even decreed which colors were acceptable, though that varied from one community to another.

"Yet the Amish women created these incredible quilts - amazing design and color, true artistry - within those constraints," Stephen Brown said. "They used plain fabric - cotton or wool, in vibrant colors, to create them. If anything were said about them making art or being worldly, the women could say they were making bedcovers."

Nonetheless, there is an amazing similarity between Amish quilts and modernist artists' work, such as those of Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Le Witt and even psychedelic pop art. Geometric shapes and glorious clear colors - turkey red, jade green, glowing purple, magenta - often underscored by somber hues appear in both, as well as designs that seem to move when you stare.

"You put Amish quilts and modern artists together, and the similarities are amazing. Yet I've never seen anything that indicates the modern artists saw quilts from isolated Amish communities," Stephen Brown said.

Faith Brown suggested the Amish quilters and modern artists might share "an affinity for color and form" that led them to similar interpretations. "I'm intrigued by how the women use borders to frame a center design," she said. "Without the border it is wonderful, but with it, extraordinary. They have a very special talent."

The DAM show was selected from the Browns' collection by Alice Zrebiec, curator of textile arts. An inviting library corner in the gallery has an extensive collection of reading about Amish quilts and way of life.


"Amish Quilts: Kaleidoscope of Color"

THROUGH JUNE 19|Quilts from the collection of Faith and Stephen Brown and the Denver Art Museum|Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway|$9|Opens Saturday|10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; noon-5 p.m., Sunday; Amish quilt symposium May 14; call 720-913-0048