Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry's rainbow flags and front porch rockers have become a staple in Paducah's rich quilting landscape. Her red hair and infectious laugh are just bonuses to her seemingly endless array of fabrics and publications.
Next year, however, when the quilting crowds visit the expansive Seventh Street studio, it will have new owners and a new name.
Fallert-Gentry sold her studio in January to Paper Pieces, a quilting retailer specializing in English paper piecing techniques. A three-time Best in Show winner, she plans to move permanently to Washington state to set up her new life with her new husband after the show ends.
"It is very bittersweet," Fallert-Gentry said. "I have loved every minute of working and living here. The community and the people have been so supportive. I designed this building and built it from scratch."
Fallert-Gentry, an Illinois native, first visited Paducah to go to the quilt show and to check out the city's Artist in Residency program. In June of 2005, she and her husband were deeded two lots in Lower Town and broke ground on what would become an 8,000-square-foot home, studio and retail shop on Seventh Street. They opened the shop the next year.
A year and a half after they moved from Chicago, her husband passed away.
She quilted to stave off loneliness. Then she took up dancing. After five years, Fallert-Gentry said, she was ready to share her life with someone again.
That's when she met Ron Gentry, a scientist from Washington. The pair fell in love and married last year in a modest, four-person ceremony at the National Quilt Museum. They stood in front of her Best in Show quilt, "Migration #2," during the ceremony.
Fallert-Gentry split her time between Port Townsend, Wash., and Paducah, after setting up BryerPatch West - which overlooks mountains and the Puget Sound - in the couple's Washington home. She will continue to quilt but plans to retire from retail.
Her fabrics and books will still be sold in Lower Town at the new Paper Pieces location. Paper Pieces owners JoAnne Louis, Jessica Austin and Max Finn will run the retail shop year-round. Louis and her husband will live in the building as well.
"I feel as though I am leaving the building in good hands," Fallert-Gentry said. "They fit very well in Lower Town. They're just as colorful as I am."
Louis has come to Paducah for Quilt Week for the past 15 years, and she's always wanted to live in Quilt City, USA. A friend told her that Fallert-Gentry's home was for sale. She and her husband visited the home in early December, and purchased it a month later.
They will officially open Paper Pieces on June 1 but are sharing the retail space this week to help with the transition.
Visitors can see Fallert-Gentry's "30 Quilts for 30 Years" exhibit and buy her retail products while also meeting Louis and her team.
"To say we are excited would be an understatement," Louis said. "This has been a great experience so far, and we can't wait for more."
The Lower Town community has already thrown the Paper Pieces crew a potluck dinner, and they are weaving their way into the artist community nicely, Fallert-Gentry said.
"I will be here," she said. "I will still have entries into the quilt show, and I will still visit every year. I will be here, but I am excited to start this next part of my life."
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.
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