Primary Source Description Two – Gabrielle Williams

About the Quilt

The size of this panel is 6×3 feet (1.8×0.9 meter), the typical size of a panel on the AIDS Quilt. Located on the rightmost border of a 12×12 foot (3.7×3.7 meter) block, this panel is vertically laid and should be read from left to right. Blocks are usually composed of eight individual 3×6 foot (0.9×1.8 meter) panels, however, this block is comprised of only seven individual panels. In the center of this block is a 6×6 foot (1.8×1.8 meter) panel, to the right of which rests the panel this description refers to.

The quilt panel described in this piece is located on Block number 1045. According to the NAMES Project website, there are currently 5956 blocks, indicating that this particular block is a somewhat early addition to the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The subject of this quilt’s memorial is Allan Lazer.

The primary colors featured in the quilt are black, white, and mauve. Many of the objects on this quilt have been stitched on to an expanse of what appears to be a thin cotton material, which raises them from the quilt’s flat surface. However, there are exceptions.

This panel will be described from top to bottom, and will be organized by descriptions of specific sections on the quilt.

First, I will describe the mauve outer border of the panel, then the cloth frame found within the panel’s border. Next, I will describe the content inside the smaller frame, then move downwards to detail the bow ties found on the quilt. Finally, I will describe the toy cat on the panel and the writing on the bottom of the quilt.

Framework

Outlining the four edges of the panel is a strip of mauve material similar to the color of weathered concrete. Stitched on with white and navy blue thread, the mauve strip is not one solid color, but a patchwork of visible interlocking threads that are sometimes lighter in color, and other times a pale purple. The lighter threads of the panel’s outer border burst through the mauve overtone like a muscled man in a tight shirt. Somewhat rough and gritty to the touch, the mauve frame feels a little like dried dirt or sand on one’s clothes. This outer purple border is 2.5 inches (6.35 centimeters) wide on the top and bottom of the panel, but varies in width on the sides of the panel.

Inside of the mauve border is the white cotton material upon which most objects on the quilt have been stitched or written onto. The white fabric is thin, but durable; it resembles linen but is not as lightweight as linen. The panel contains visible wrinkles and creases on its revealing white fabric from where the block has been folded for storage purposes. The sound of a pencil’s eraser erasing on paper emits from the fabric when one rubs one’s hand fast over the cotton material.

The top half of the white expanse contained within the mauve outer frame of the panel is dominated by a square frame of the same mauve material found on the panel’s border. Like dissimilar mirrors, these frames both encase memories of Allan Lazer, though the inner mauve frame is smaller.

The smaller mauve frame is 23 inches (58.4 centimeters) long with an upper bar about 9.25 inches (23.5 centimeters) from the panel’s outer frame. There is about 6.5 inches (16.5 centimeters) of white space between the outer and inner frame on the right side of the panel. About 3.75 inches (9.5 centimeters) of white space lies between the outer and inner mauve frames on the left side of the panel.

The inner purple frame is 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) wide at the bottom and close to 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide on all the other edges of the frame.

Life and Death

All of the words on the panel are handwritten in neat, legible handwriting. A white board marker could have been used to write on the quilt fabric, given that the strokes of the letters on the quilt are thick, as if a marker with a big tip was used to write them. The black color of the marker is somewhat subdued, so perhaps the marker was not intended to be used on fabric. However, the lack of a bold color could also be attributed to the age of the quilt panel.

Within the inner mauve frame (directly beneath the frame’s upper edge) is the name Allan Lazer, to whom this quilt is dedicated. The first letters of Allan and Lazer are bigger than the other letters in the name. The “A” and “L” are 2 inches (5 centimeters) tall, whereas the rest of the name’s letters are about an inch (2.5 centimeters) tall.

The dates of Allan Lazer’s birth and death are also an inch (2.5 centimeters) tall.

Beneath Lazer’s name is his birthday: 3-26-48. Beneath the birth date is a photograph of Allan Lazer, followed underneath by Lazer’s death date: 9-25-86.

Allan Lazer died when he was 38 years old.

The Photograph

In the center of the smaller mauve frame is a photograph of Allan Lazer.

Allan Lazer is a young man with curly, deep brown hair. He has a receding hairline that causes two bald spots to appear where an otherwise even hairline would exist.

There are prominent wrinkles in Lazer’s forehead, and deep, heavy bags underneath his eyes. In the photo, Lazer appears to lounge with his weight on his left elbow as he rests his back and legs on the ground.

Taken outside in a natural environment, the panel’s photograph showcases Lazer’s close-lipped smile amidst a blurry forest green background where there are probably trees. Lazer’s mouth doesn’t smile as much as his eyes do.

Brown eyes and nearly invisible eyelashes shine from the photograph’s surrounding earthy tones. Lazer’s eyebrows are thick and bushy and curl downwards at the ends. In the photograph, Lazer wears a tank top that is the color of a banana (the actual fruit, not the peel). Lazer has tanned skin, but appears to be Caucasian.

Lazer has a large mustache that rests above his thin pink upper lip, which is almost obscured by the bushy mustache. The mustache is the same color as his hair and eyebrows, and is longer than his lips, extending into the deep creases left by lots of smiling over the years.

Lazer’s bottom lip is plumper than his top lip, and it casts a shadow directly beneath it. It appears that Lazer is sitting in the sun.

Allan Lazer somewhat resembles Billy Burke, the American actor who plays Bella Swan’s father in Twilight, as well as a character in Drive Angry.

The actual photo is small enough to fit in a sleeve of a photo album and is protected by a thick piece of laminate plastic. The plastic has thick cracks in it. One can reach underneath the cracks to touch the photo, which appears to have been printed on thick stock paper. The photo is also slightly blurry and is dated by its poor quality. It is not as crisp or sharp of an image commonly found in the decades of the 2000s and 2010s.

Framing the photo is a sandy colored swirly design. This border is likely glued onto the quilt, and might even be one whole piece with a place where a photo can be inserted in its back. The swirls are tightly bunched like a long coiled worm or snake. The swirls feel rough, with detectable textural grooves.

Black Tie Event

A real, wearable black bow tie as well as a fake bow tie have been stitched onto the quilt. There are 27.5 inches (69.9 centimeters) between the bottom right tip of the fake bow tie and the bottom mauve border. The outside of the fake bow tie is a smooth, deep black fabric. The knot of the black tie is rougher than its accompanying fabric.

 

 

 

 

The fake bow tie is about 5.25 inches (13.3 centimeters) wide. Composed of two flat pieces that have been knotted together in the middle, the top piece of the bow tie can be lifted up with one’s hand given that the two pieces have been pressed together, inside to inside. The underside of both pieces of the bow tie are a mustard color, or greenish yellow. This yellow fabric feels like mesh or net on the outside, and is thin.

The fake bow tie has hard creases in its fabric like a real bow tie would. The bow tie appears to have been stitched on at the knot.

The real bow tie has been stitched onto the quilt as well, but large parts of it can be lifted up from the quilt where there are no stitches. The real bow tie is stretched out, and not in the typical bow tie shape. There are creases in it from where the quilt has been folded up. Its material is smooth and cool to the touch.

Baby Blue Kitty

A toy cat has been stitched onto the bottom left corner of the quilt, and it rests 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) from the bottom of the quilt. The cat is bright baby blue like the color of a sunny blue sky. Little white hearts and white leaf structures comprise the fabric design of the stuffed toy cat. 

The cat’s paws and ears are flatter than the rest of its three-dimensional body because they do not have as much stuffing. The cat’s eyes and nose also appear to have fallen off.

The cat’s whiskers are three individual 0.5 inch (1.3 centimeters) white threads on either side of a space where a nose used to be. At its widest point, the cat is 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters) wide including its paws.

The cat’s head is 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide, and its tail curls up against its body.

Dapper Design

The script of the words on the quilt gets progressively fancier and more cursive towards the bottom of the quilt.

The neat, beautiful handwriting on the quilt contributes to the formality and sophisticated appearance of the panel. The combination of the panel’s geometric framework as well as its uncluttered design provides an elegant and trim aura than is not ostentatious.

In the bottom left corner of the panel inside the outer mauve frame are the words: Thanks to: Micheal Loud and Juan Jose Arriles. The third part of Juan’s name is harder to interpret; what I have concluded from the script is my best guess.

What appears to be the word “Gito” has been written in the right bottom corner of the panel on the white fabric.

In the purple border beneath “Gito” are the words Made By Sister. The word following Sister is unreadable given that it has been stitched underneath the adjacent panel.

These letters are all less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) tall.

Hold On To My Love

Next to the blue cat, the words Hold on to my Love have been written in cursive. The H is 2.25 inches (5.7 centimeters), and the L is 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters). The other letters without tails or tall sections are about an inch (2.5 centimeters) tall. The text of Hold on to my Love has an ellipses (…) following it, and is written between quote marks.

Hold On To My Love was a popular disco song in 1980 that hit #7 in the UK Singles charts and #10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Performed by soul singer Jimmy Ruffin, the song “Hold On To My Love” is featured on Ruffin’s 1980 Sunrise album, and was written by Robin Gibb and Blue Weaver.

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