The big show in Cincinnati, largely made up of traveling exhibits, was heavily weighted toward the art end of the quilting spectrum, but the approach of the show organizers lags behind at the traditional craft end. I've always been amused/annoyed at the ladies in white gloves who tend the exhibits at big quilt shows, generally volunteers from local guilds.
I think attendants at quilt shows can be helpful, if they have information to share that you can't find for yourself in the program or from the signage. But at the big shows, they aren't provided with this information. All they can do to make themselves useful is turn the quilts over so you can see the back.
I generally don't want to see the back of a quilt, any more than I want to see the back of a painting. But the white glove ladies sure want me to see it. We were looking at a quilt intently the other day when a lady perkily came up, said "do you want to see the back?" and when we said "no thanks" proceeded to turn it anyway. "Oh isn't this fantastic?" she exclaimed, as she flipped it to reveal -- a backing made of fabric printed with dogs!!! Wow.
I know these volunteers are well-meaning, and perhaps they think it's really nifty and original to buy dog fabric for your quilt backing. I also know that many visitors to the big quilt shows are much more interested in execution than in design. They like to ooh and aah about the density of stitching or even better, be dazzled by thousands of Swarovski crystals on the back of the quilt. Quilting will probably never escape the traditional craft bias that is the polestar of the majority of practitioners (and show visitors, and therefore show vendors).
But I sometimes cringe at how that bias slops over into the "art" exhibits at the big shows. I happened to be standing in the "O Canada 2011" exhibit area when a volunteer began to comment on Pamela Allen's quilt. "You may not like the aesthetics of this piece but you've got to admire the workmanship," she chirped.