polymer clay bead jewelry nostalgia journals dawn moriarty

Nostalgia Journals and Chic Jewelry — The Art of Dawn Moriarty

polymer clay bead jewelry nostalgia journals dawn moriarty

Jewelry and Nostalgia Journals by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty

Yard sales are places to find unexpected treasures, but when I stopped at one last year I never knew the treasure I found would be a new artist for Wenaha Gallery. I mean, I was just looking for little boy baby clothes.

There weren’t any. But what there was were colorful, unique, and trendy necklaces and earrings — an entire tableful.

“Did someone make these?” I asked two women sitting in chairs nearby.

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A selection of necklaces and earrings by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty

“She did,” one replied, nodding toward the other. “She creates all this amazing jewelry and didn’t know where to sell it. I said I’d put it in my yard sale.”

And so I discovered Dawn Moriarty, a geriatric nurse at Booker Rest Home in Dayton, WA, who prolifically fashions in her spare time not only chic jewelry, but nostalgia journals assembled from repurposed paper products. She works out of a “woman cave” studio in the basement of her home, and many years ago turned to both jewelry and paper crafts as a means of bringing a peaceful balance to her life.

Not wanting to fuss with a website or Etsy store, she stored her art in boxes. When one was full, she took it to work and sold to friends and coworkers.

“The positive feedback there would ‘fuel my fire’ and keep me inspired to create,” the Dayton artist says.

Selling Nostalgia Journals and Jewelry to Co-Workers

But at some point, there was more artwork than co-workers, and Moriarty looked around for other places to share her wares: hence, my fortuitous discovery at the yard sale. An added bonus were the nostalgia journals, a high-demand item that Moriarty brought into the gallery on a whim, unsure of how they would be received.

“She asked me, ‘Do you think anyone would be interested in these?'” gallery framer Savonnah Henderson recalls. “I said, YES! Do you think you can keep us supplied?”

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Vintage style nostalgia journals by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty incorporate all forms of repurposed paper, textiles, and lace

Quite fortunately, Moriarty loves spending time in her woman cave, dividing time between the journals, jewelry, and yoga. When she isn’t in her domestic subterranean environment or working, she’s on the hunt, scouting out raw materials. This activity she describes as being as fun as creating the art.

“To find the material for my journals, I go to antique stores, junk shops, yard sales, estate sales, secondhand stores, library sales — anywhere I might find objects that I can re-purpose and reuse,” Moriarty explains.

“Once in an antique store in La Grande, OR, I found an 1889 original almanac, and in the spine was an old sewing implement, kind of flat, metal with engraving on it and some brown wool thread in the eye — it’s beautiful!

“I look for used paper products from tags, receipts, stationery, old sewing patterns, diaries, textbooks, ledgers, and so on. I also look for vintage textiles from fabrics to trims and lace.

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Field notebook nostalgia journals by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty feature soft, flexible covers

“I use rusty metal bits, broken watches, the list goes on and on, and it’s a never ending treasure hunt.”

Vintage Chic and Fashionable Nostalgia

That’s just for the journals. For the jewelry she routs out vintage glass and metal beads — she has a selection that were once on a beaded curtain in an old shop in Seattle. Gems and semi-precious stones she sources from Shipwreck Beads in Lacey, WA, where she makes a yearly trip to stock up. And the polymer clay beads she creates in her woman cave, a happy place of relaxation and inspiration.

“Working with polymer clay is a great stress reliever. There is a lot of squishing and squeezing going on.

“Then you take your lumps of conditioned clay and mix, twist, layer, and press to create something pretty.”

Each piece, whether jewelry or nostalgia journal, is a statement, Moriarty says, and the basis of that statement is the vintage status of the materials she uses. Not only does this ensure that each piece is one of a kind, never to be replicated anywhere, it also adds feeling, significance, and humanity.

“I love knowing that each piece has a history,” Moriarty says. “I wonder about the lives that it touched. There’s a connection to the sentimental value of each item, whether it’s jewelry or a journal.

“And with the journals, it’s an awesome feeling knowing that there are people out there writing down their thoughts and storing their memorabilia in books I created.”

Wenaha GalleryDawn Moriarty is the Featured Art Event from Monday, April 22 through Saturday, May 18 at Wenaha Gallery.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment.

 

 

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Painted Rocks: Spreading Joy and Encouragement

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A series of painted rocks by Dayton artist Jaqulyn Silvester, who has been painting rocks for more than 25 years — long before today’s trend.

Rocks, these days, really rock.

Long overlooked because they’re so ordinary, humble rocks are newly feted as works of art that carry an inspiring message.

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Focusing on the light — a series of lighthouse themed painted rocks by Dayton rock artist Mary-Jeanne Smith

“I love the idea of putting little random gifts of art out into the world, to bring joy to a stranger,” says Mary-Jeanne Smith, a resident of Dayton who has been painting rocks, and hiding them throughout the community for others to find, for a little more than a year. She is one of thousands of people around the nation who have joined the painted rocks grass roots movement, inspired by life coach Megan Murphy from Massachusetts. In 2015 Murphy wrote “You’ve got this” on a rock and left it on a beach in Cape Cod. After a friend found it and told her how the message had lifted her spirits, Murphy started the Kindness Rocks Project, encouraging others to paint “random acts of kindness” on rocks and leave them out for others to find.

Painted Rock Facebook Groups

“I painted my first  rock, a dragonfly, in 2016 and it was so terrible I put it away and decided rock painting was not for me,” says Ashly Beebe, also from Dayton. Two years later she discovered and joined a Facebook rock painting group from Dayton and participated in its monthly challenges which honed her skills and techniques. Now she hides her rocks throughout town, focusing on busy streets and parks — especially in and around statues — because she wants people to find them easily.

“The best place I have hidden rocks was all over my mother’s garden when I went home to visit,” Beebe says. “It was so fun hearing her find them all weekend long and she still displays them.”

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Silhouette magic — painted rocks by Dayton artist Felice Henderson.

Part of the rock painting movement is posting found rocks on the local Facebook rock painting group, and many cities and geographical areas host one of these. Rock painters regularly check their local groups to see who has found their rocks and where, delighting in the stories and the smiles.

“The pictures I see posted of children finding my rocks have been particularly heartwarming,” Smith says. “They look so happy and proud, holding up their found rock. Knowing that my little random gift brought a smile is a lovely reward that keeps me painting more rocks.”

Hiding the Painted Rocks

For Dayton resident Felice Henderson, hiding the rocks is as much fun a painting them. On family walks through town her two children, 9 and 4, decide the final hiding place, which is sometimes really really obvious (the four-year-old’s choice) and sometimes not. Henderson remembers their own discovery of a special rock while vacationing on the coast, and it drove home to her how meaningful the ordinary rock has the potential to be.

“The rock we found was painted with the ashes of a deceased 2-year-old mixed into the paint,” Henderson remembers. “Her name was Cami Grace. Her mother painted the rocks with her ashes to have others find them and take them all over the world, since Cami died before her time and never got to travel.”

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A touch of spring and hope from a painted rock by rock artist Ashly Beebe of Dayton

That story pierces the soul. Others are more lighthearted, such as Walla Wallan Nathan Martnick’s reason for starting to paint rocks in the first place.

“I did it initially with the intent of impressing a most beautiful woman who paints rocks, but then I realized I actually enjoyed painting rocks.” He also likes hiding them, and while he recognizes the need to make the hiding place not too difficult, sometimes the temptation is strong:

“One of the more unique spots I’ve chosen is an umbrella hole on a patio table.”

“I once hid a rock in the pocket of the Waitsburg Founding Fathers’ statue,” Waitsburg rock painter Sonya Taylor says. She gravitates toward a “theme” when it comes to hiding places, with Jubilee Lake designated for nature images like kayaking, ducks, and fishing, and the Dayton General Hospital Therapy Department housing her Pokemon rock during last year’s Halloween theme.

Finding Painted Rocks

“I don’t hide rocks super well,” Dayton resident Savonnah Henderson (Felice’s sister, to whom she credits the introduction to rock painting), says. “I WANT people to find them and enjoy them.”

That’s what it all comes down to: taking an ordinary item; transforming it into a thing of beauty; and placing it someplace where a total stranger will find it. The combination of all these elements is what keeps many people painting and hiding rocks. It’s an individual mission of spreading kindness, encouragement, and goodness.

“I love creating something beautiful that someone else can find,” Felice Henderson says. Or, as Beebe sums it up,

“I feel so grateful to have found not just a hobby, but a piece of my heart, and to share that as a random act of kindness with others.”

Wenaha GalleryRock Artists is the Art Event from Monday, January 28 through Saturday, February 23 at Wenaha Gallery. A number of regional rock art painters are displaying their work — in plain site — at the gallery. Rocks will be available for purchase for $10 each.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

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The Art of Kindness — 2019 Canned Food Drive

teal umbrella child country girl cat show kindness steve henderson art

Even the grumpiest person knows they should show kindness and patience toward children and animals — but inside, we are all as vulnerable as children, and could use some extra kindness. The Teal Umbrella, original oil painting by Steve Henderson

Anybody can be kind.

You don’t have to be smart or rich, technologically savvy, rugged, scientific, or glittery — attributes our society admires so much that we confer a state of godhood on those who possess them. Faces are famous basically because their owners make a lot of money, and this means — experts explain — that they are also good and friendly and likable, generous and giving, so totally wonderful that ordinary mortals cannot possibly affect the world in the way they can.

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Kindness is a virtue. We’ve all heard that, but it’s true  — kindness is a thing of beauty, reflection, and worth. Virtue, fine art print by James Christensen

Their philanthropy and good works, we are told, make a REAL difference.

But how so very, very untrue.

Aside from the misconceptions that monetary success goes hand in hand with moral virtue, that those who wield power are intrinsically benevolent, that intelligence equates wisdom, mass media’s fallacious teaching also implies that ordinary people do not possess anything meaningful enough to be worthwhile: we are not rich enough, smart enough, powerful enough, beautiful enough, funny enough.

But anybody can be kind. And kindness always makes a difference.

Small Kindness: Big Impact

Think about it: on a day in which you were feeling low, discouraged, tired, bitter — what was the impact of a stranger’s kindness: a smile, their waving you on to the parking space they were aiming at for themselves, their handing you the dollar you lacked to pay for your purchases? While the action was small, it made a subtle alteration to your day.

Or what about the acts of kindness toward you that you don’t know about — those times when your name and situation arose among a group of friends, acquaintances, co-workers, in which someone’s voice dropped to say, “I heard that they . . .” while others exchanged sage nods and knowing glances? But someone there said to themselves, “I don’t know their situation, and it’s not up to me to judge,” and aloud, “Regardless of whether it’s their ‘fault’ or not, they are hurting, and that’s nothing to laugh about.”

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A world where kindness prevails is like a peaceful landscape, one where there is silence and beauty. Near Indian Caves, original pastel painting by Bonnie Griffith.

That small act of kindness defused a situation in which you were being harmed.

Opportunities for Kindness Abound

No huge check was involved, no photo op, no praise from a talk show host. Just an ordinary person chose to do something kind in the course of his or her day. Such a person, making a habit of this, adds small jolts of goodness to various people’s lives each and every day. A number of such persons makes an impact large enough to be noticed, altering the environment around them from one of criticism, judgment, and indifference to one of caring, compassion, and thoughtfulness. Kindness.

canned food drive kindness dayton community food bank wenaha gallery

Through the years, community members in Dayton, WA, have shown incredible kindness by donating to Wenaha Gallery’s Annual Canned Food Drive, benefiting the Dayton Community Food Bank

The opportunities to be kind are boundless, the need so great that we don’t have to actively look for them, but rather, be ready to act at a moment’s notice: smile, defer judgment, refuse to be baited into an argument, defend a person who can’t speak for himself, donate a can to the food bank, bite our tongue instead of use it as a lash, give to someone who asks without worrying about whether they are trying to cheat us. It’s not a matter of being doormats — we definitely need to stand up for ourselves against powerful establishments whose motives have nothing to do with kindness — but when it comes to dealing with individual people, we rarely err on the side of too much kindness.

Kindness and Leadership

In short, we act toward others in the way that we wish others would act toward us. And just because we feel they don’t is no reason for us to wait until they do. Determining to be kind is a true act of leadership — not the pseudo-leadership of false confidence and blustering swagger — but a decision to do what is right, to speak what is true, to be a person of integrity in a world that laughs at innocence and equates it with stupidity.

Anyone can be kind.

Can you imagine what the world would look like if everyone were?

Wenaha GalleryThe Annual Canned Food Drive is the Art Event through January 31, 2019 at Wenaha Gallery. For every canned food item brought into the gallery through January 31, the giver receives $2 off their next custom framing order, up to 20% off total. All proceeds benefit the Dayton Community Food Bank.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

 

cheese sushi cutting boards hardwood coasters dave ulmen spokane woodworking

The Cutting Edge of Woodworking Art by Dave Ulmen

cheese sushi cutting boards hardwood coasters dave ulmen spokane woodworking

Sushi, cheese, and cutting boards, as well as hardwood coasters by woodworking artist Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

Wood is amazing stuff.

It comes in a variety of neutrals, tans, browns, and even purples. With common sense and lack of greed, it is sustainably harvestable. And in the hands of a skilled woodworking artist, wood is an elegant medium for creating sculpture as well as artisan items we use every day, from wine stoppers to treasure boxes, from bowls to cutting boards.

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A collection of hardwood, handcrafted coasters by woodworking artisan Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

It is these latter — cutting boards — that Spokane woodworker Dave Ulmen focuses upon, crafting cheese, sushi, and cutting boards, as well as coasters, Lazy Susans, and wine waves from laminated hardwood in his Spokane shop. Working with his wife Liz, Ulmen has built a thriving business from what started out as the extension of a lifelong interest.

“I’ve been a tool guy since I was a little kid hanging out in my grandpa’s shop,” Ulmen explains. “After both my parents passed, I had a small estate fund remaining. Since tools had always been important in my family, it seemed a fitting investment.

“When I saw what I could accomplish with a few good tools, I was hooked. My adult kids kept encouraging me to offer some work for sale, which got the ball rolling.”

The Woodworking Studio

His dad and grandpa, Ulmen says, would be delighted with his woodworking studio — which started out in a garage and grew into custom built shop — and tools. And while his tools are newer, shinier, and dependent upon electricity, what they represent remains the same:

“There is the satisfaction of creating an interesting and useful object that is pleasing to the eye and gentle to the hand,” Ulmen says.

wine waves hardwood woodworking coasters decor dave ulmen spokane

Wine Waves, with their signature curvature, and hardwood coasters by woodworking artist Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

This is what Ulmen has been doing since 2005, when he launched Dave Ulmen Woods while both he and Liz were still working full time as teachers – he in 7th grade language arts, she in elementary gifted ed. (He describes their teaching careers, from which they fully retired in 2015, as a combined 71 years in crafting skills and critical thinking, “even more rewarding than our woodworking — and that’s saying a great deal.”)

Purchasing hardwood from local distributors a hefty pickup load at a time, Ulmen designs boards with the grain and unique coloration of individual hardwoods in mind. He and Liz saw, joint, glue, sand, finish and oil the completed boards, with each woodworking product passing through their hands multiple times. The wine waves, which incorporate bits and pieces (“post production materials”) into a signature curve, vie with the cutting boards for popularity.

Handcrafted Woodworking Art Sold throughout the Northwest

Ulmen sells his work throughout the Pacific Northwest in numerous gift shops and galleries, including Made in Washington stores; The Highlight Gallery in Mendocino, CA; The Real Mother Goose at the Portland, OR, International Airport; Northwest Handmade Gallery in Sandpoint, ID; and Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, WA. He has shipped to customers in more than 20 states, throughout Europe, and in Canada. In 2007, Made in Washington stores named him Artist of the Year.

“I took great pride in that because it was an acknowledgement of the quality of work, in combination with excellent service provided.”

As a testament to that commitment to quality, Ulmen and Liz still own, and use, the first cutting board they made.

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Sushi, cheese and cutting boards by woodworking artisan, Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

“We just rinse it, wipe it to damp/dry, and stand it on edge to finish drying. We recommend a beeswax/oil emulsion be applied from time to time which we also make and can supply.

“Never soak a wood cutting board!”

Woodworking and Life

In some ways, the properties of wood — its sustainability, its variety, and its connection to the earth and to the past — mirror Ullmen’s own experience in woodworking. He always knew that somehow, he would follow his grandpa’s and father’s interest in and skill with a material that has been part of humankind’s experience ever since there were trees.

“I knew I had the right background to become a woodworker when the time was right,” Ulmen says.

“After raising a few sons of my own, raising a home of our own, and raising a few grey hairs as a middle school teacher, I have been blessed with the opportunity to do my own woodworking.”

It took time to fulfill the dream, but then again, everything about wood, from the growing of trees to the crafting of functional items of beauty, takes time as well.

But it was well worth the wait, Ulmen says, to fulfill a dream he has had “since I ran my fingers through that soft and silky sawdust in Grandpa’s shop when I wasn’t tall enough to reach much else.”

Wenaha GalleryDave Ulmen is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, December 31 through Saturday, January 26, 2019.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

storm landscape snowy white owl flying wildlife keith rislove

Wildlife World — The Acrylic Paintings of Keith Rislove

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Storm Coming, original acrylic painting by wildlife painter Keith Rislove of Salem, OR.

If the world existed of only science, there would be no art. If all people focused on technology, no one would create paintings. If there were only engineers, there would be no poets. In math class, there is no time or reason to discuss literature.

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Winter Silence, original acrylic painting by wildlife artist Keith Rislove

Life without art is incomplete, and just tucking it in alongside the “important” subjects — science, technology, engineering, math and saying this adds STEAM to the mix — isn’t enough. Being an artist demands as much time, focus, intelligence, and determination as being a rocket scientist — whatever a rocket scientist is — and many people who consider themselves artists pursue this path even in the midst of doing something else to make a living. The very fortunate ones find a career involved with art, honing skills and abilities throughout their lives.

A World of Art and Wildlife

Keith Rislove is one of these people, a lifetime artist who actually started out to be a baseball player, and credits his experience in the Korean War for his eventual career choice.

“When I was in high school, I studied art, and I also played all the sports — after graduation  I received two offers from major league teams,” Rislove, a wildlife acrylic painter from Salem, OR, says. Like many young men of the early 1950s, he found his plans rearranged for him, and a few months after high school was in the Air Force. During his three years in the military, he was assigned to work with an event coordinator doing graphic arts, and when that event coordinator left, found himself with the job.

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Foxy Lady, original acrylic painting by wildlife painter Keith Rislove of Salem, OR

“That’s where my art career began,” Rislove says. “After being discharged, I enrolled in Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR) where I was an art major, then majored in advertising and graphic design at the Los Angeles Art Center.” Over the next 37 years, he worked in advertising and graphic design for national and Pacific Northwest companies, in addition to being a freelance designer, retiring in 1990. Five years later he started his second career as a fine artist, still going strong 23 years later. He focuses on wildlife set within pristine outdoor scenes.

Discovering Wildlife at an Early Age

“My love for the outdoors started with my grandfather who introduced me to fishing and hunting at a very early age,” Rislove explains.

“My approach to wildlife is to be as realistic as possible, which gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Living in the Northwest provides the many visual images of wildlife and landscapes that give me the inspiration.”

A prolific painter, Rislove fits everything he needs into 6 x 10 foot enclosed space in his garage, complete with window, heat, air, shelves, two bookcases and a filing cabinet.

“And I still have room to paint!” he exclaims. “There’s also room for frames, tools, saws, etc., and storage — you have to see it to believe it.”

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Tru Grizz, original acrylic painting by wildlife artist Keith Rislove of Salem, OR

He has shown in galleries in the Salem and Portland areas, as well as the Oregon State Fair, and has served as show judge, teacher, and volunteer for various community art agencies and galleries. His roster of awards — displayed within that 6 x 10 foot studio — include three Best of Show, two People’s Choice, eight blue ribbons, two Judge’s Choice, and a bevy of red, white, honorable mentions, and senior artist awards. His work is in the homes of collectors throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as Texas and Minnesota.

The Hidden World of Wildlife

Getting into some math here, since we started out talking about STEM, 37 years as a graphic designer, plus 23 years as a fine artist, add up to 60, not to mention the time spent with art in high school and the military. Regardless of the final, official number, this signifies a lot of years as an artist — sketching, drawing, painting, creating — and Rislove’s contribution to the world around him consists of showing that world just what is around it — the wildlife that is hidden away, frequently unseen, but extraordinarily beautiful.

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The Catch, original acrylic painting by wildlife artist Keith Rislove of Salem, OR

There is a fox, curled up within a bed of wildflowers. A snowy owl flies over a winter landscape. Mama bear and cub forage for food. An eagle flies, dance-like, over still, mirrored water.

The biologist can define the animals’ kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The engineer studies the birds’ wings and how they achieve flight. The mathematician calculates the weight of food both mama and cub bear need to maintain optimal health — all very important work.

And equally important, Rislove captures the moment, creates the setting, invites the viewer to stop what he or she is doing and enter a quiet, peaceful world. He completes the picture, so to speak, and adds soul to the equation.

“Nature and wildlife are in my heart.”

 

Wenaha GalleryKeith Rislove is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery through Saturday, January 12, 2019. 

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

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Quilting with Precision and Love — The Fabric Art of Patricia Bennett

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Showcasing the quilting and design skills of fabric artist Patricia Bennett, a selection of pot holders comes in many colors and designs

Be creative, be precise, and be patient.

It’s not bad advice for anyone to heed, but if you quilt, it’s crucial.

“Quilting is one form of art that shows mistakes if the piecing is not perfect,” says Patricia Bennett, a textile artist who created her first project — a full gathered skirt — on a treadle sewing machine 58 years ago. Falling in love with sewing from the first moment her feet hit the pedals of the treadle, Bennett has been sewing  since fabric cost $.49 a yard, and she has taught herself, step by step, every inch and yard of the way.

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Christmas Lover’s Knot place mat set by Idaho fabric artist Patricia Bennett, showcasing design, piecing, and quilting skills

“I was determined to learn to sew,” the Bayview, ID, artist says. “When I was putting myself through college — majoring in elementary education — I didn’t have money to purchase store-bought clothes. So I rented a sewing machine, started with simple patterns, and the rest is history.”

Sewing, Quilting, and Creating with Love

After her husband bought her her  first sewing machine 50 years ago, Bennett created matching outfits for him, her, and the couple’s two daughters. She later made bridesmaid dresses for each of her daughters’ weddings (“but not the wedding gowns — that would have been too much pressure!”), as well as numerous quilts for family wedding and baby shower gifts. Upon retirement from a teaching career that spanned pre-school to sixth grade, Bennett immersed herself full time in sewing, marketing her work as Cotton Creations: Handmade with Love, which, in addition to quilts, focuses on home decor items like table runners, pot holders, place mat sets, coasters, and tote bags.

Participating in craft fairs throughout the Northwest, Bennett enjoys chatting with customers about her products and sewing in general, and finds that many people want to learn how to quilt, but don’t know the next step.

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Hawaiian Flower Place Mat set by Patricia Bennett, combining design, color, piecing and quilting — all with precision and expertise

“I always suggest that they start with a small project such as a pot holder, because something like a large bed quilt would cost a great deal of money for the materials, and might discourage someone as it takes a lot of time and patience to finish a quilt. I also suggest that they take a class.”

Through the years, Bennett herself has taught many sewing classes, both formal and informal, and wherever she goes, she finds her teaching skills in as much demand as her  stitchery. And she is most happy to oblige.

Teaching Quilting Wherever She Goes

“I taught my preschoolers to embroider their initials using yarn on burlap.

“I taught sewing when we lived in Virginia to a group of ‘student wives,’ whose husbands were in graduate school at Virginia Tech.

“Teaching 4-H sewing was a challenge, and it was such fun to see the finished outfits in the fashion show at the county fair in Moscow, ID.

A selection of colorful tote bags — featuring an eye for detail and a skill in quilting by Patricia Bennett– beckons the visitor to Wenaha Gallery.

“And when we were in Santiago, Chile, for six months while my husband David taught on a sabbatical from the University of Idaho, I taught quilting to eight Chilean women in the neighborhood: ‘kilting,’ as they pronounced it. Several of these women now have small shops where they sell their creations.

“The day we made table runners, they told me they called them ‘table roads.’ The challenge of teaching with my limited Spanish and hand motions was a great deal of fun.”

Working from a glass-walled studio facing Lake Pend Oreille, Bennett confesses to being unable to throw away fabric, even the smallest scraps, but because she likes to work within a color theme when she makes a set of items, she is unable to use up those scraps in crazy quilts. Helping to solve this problem are her 13 grandchildren, many of whom have learned (or will learn) to hand sew with leftover pieces. Like Bennett herself, all beginners start somewhere: the more they practice, the more perfect they get, and the more perfect they get, the better the finished result.

Quilting Consists of Three Steps

“Quilting really consists of three separate steps, when you’re making a finished wall hanging or quilt,” Bennett explains.

“First is the cutting, which must be accurate, then the piecing is putting the top together (again, carefully and accurately), and finally the quilting is actually putting the front, batting, and backing together by either hand quilting, tying, or machine quilting. The sewing on a quilt is using a 1/4-inch seam allowance!”

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In addition to beautiful quilting, the Baltimore Album Christmas wall hanging by Patricia Bennett also feature exquisite embroidery

Creativity, precision and patience: these, plus time, have resulted in a lifetime of developing a skill that gives to every person with whom Bennett shares. She’s come a long way since that first gathered skirt, but she hasn’t forgotten her beginnings. To remind her of those days and that project, Bennett purchased a treadle machine at a New Hampshire auction.

“I don’t sew with it, but it is a nice piece of furniture in my sewing studio, reminding me of my first sewing project.”

Wenaha GalleryPatricia Bennett is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, December 3 through Saturday, December 29, 2018. 

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

Indian Summer eastern washington country rural farm ranch painting steve henderson

Beauty, Hope, and Joy — The Paintings of Steve Henderson

Indian Summer eastern washington country rural farm ranch beauty painting steve henderson

Indian Summer, original oil painting by Dayton, WA, artist Steve Henderson. “I find much beauty in the patterns of fields cut through by country roads,” Henderson says of why he paints local, Eastern Washington landscapes.

It’s easy to point out what’s wrong with the world. We all do this, although only a few are paid well to impose their opinions on others.

It is far more difficult to see and identify beauty, truth, goodness, joy, peace, and love, and even more challenging to impart these elements in two dimensional form on canvas. But for oil painter Steve Henderson of Dayton, this is what he does every day.

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Moon Rising, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. “The Southwest — its canyons are so deep, so profound, its land is so ancient and yet so quiet and peaceful.”

“I paint in what is called the ‘representational’ style — the world around us that we all see,” Henderson says. “But oftentimes it takes an artist to help us ‘really see’ it. And while items I paint are easily identifiable — that’s a tree; that’s Santa Claus; that’s the Grand Canyon —  each one of these subjects is interpreted by the artist to convey its deeper levels behind the lighting, the shadows, the turn of a face, the brush strokes that make up the form.

“The canvas becomes a stage upon which the artist presents the character actors — color, texture, form, design, value. On that stage, I choose to invite beauty, reminiscence, nostalgia, feelings of serenity, peace, tranquility — those emotions.”

A Tale of Beauty

Henderson’s scope of subject matter reads a bit like the opening lines to Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities: He paints the Pacific Northwest forests; he paints the Southwest canyons. He paints the ocean; he paints the desert. He paints very young children; he paints adult women. What he does not paint is ugliness, despair, angst, fear or hatred: not because those elements don’t exist, but because they do, in too much quantity. It is far too easy, Henderson believes, to spark an emotional response by negativism, and it becomes a cheap, easy way to achieve a reaction.

Although Henderson has always wanted to be an artist — drawing his first three-masted sailboat at the age of five and attracting teachers’ attention throughout his schooldays because of his rendering skill — he almost quit, simply because what he was taught in his university art studies was so opposite to what he believes is commonsense, truth, beauty, and common good.

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Tea for Two, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. “Children can teach us so much — they remind us to look at the world with fresh eyes,” Henderson says, adding that there is great beauty in innocence.

“At the end of four years, I was more confused than ever,” he recalls. “One moment, the professors instructed us not to listen to a thing they said, but to simply follow our muse; another moment they insisted that we essentially copy the latest post-modernist fads emanating from New York City. I found myself painting gritty purple abstract cityscapes, which my professors assured me was expressing what was deep inside me.”

Seeking Beauty, Truth, and Skill

For awhile, Henderson walked away from fine art into the illustration and graphic design industry that his professors declared would destroy him as an artist. Instead, his time in the publishing field further honed his skills as Henderson worked in a wide variety of media, creating everything from cartoon drawings to medical illustrations.

Time, life, and raising a family instilled in Henderson the confidence he needed to eschew the teachings of his fallible professors, and he resumed studying art his own way: one by one, he amassed a library of artists through the ages, and spent uncounted hours poring over their work, analyzing thousands of paintings and the varying techniques and styles of their painters. In the studio, he practiced. He knew what he wanted to achieve — skill, mastery, and the ability to convey beauty and truth — and he also knew that simply relying upon “the Muse,” or the “soul of an artist” was insufficient to do so.

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Sea Breeze, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. “I find the ocean to be a central place for clear thoughts and meditation.”

“We all acknowledge that the piano player requires years of intense practice — his performance is proof of his obvious skill, or lack of it,” Henderson says.

“But in visual arts — both two and three dimensional — we glibly refer to anything as ‘art,’ and anyone as an ‘artist.’ I believe an artist should learn, train, and study as seriously as any orchestral musician.”

The World Needs Art, and Beauty

This learning, he adds, never ends, and there is no pinnacle ledge at which the artist arrives, shouts out Hallelujah, and quits learning, seeing, and experimenting. An artist’s education continues for as long as the artist is breathing, and the beauty that the artist (skillfully) paints gives life and hope to the world in which the artist lives.

“The world needs art.

“It sounds trite, but I believe it deeply.

“It has always been so, but especially today with our corporate, cubicle world and its emphasis on cold scientific facts, we need something more than ever before that speaks of beauty and something deeper that those cold facts.

“We need something that speaks to the soul, the heart, the inner working of our being.”

Wenaha GallerySteve Henderson is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, November 19 through Saturday, December 15, 2018. He will be at the gallery in person during the Christmas Kickoff Holiday Art Show Friday, November 23, from 2 to 6 p.m., joined by Joseph, OR folk art gourd sculptor Sheryl Parsons. Also at the show will be holiday music, artisan treats, a drawing for 3 holiday gift baskets, and up to 25% off purchases of $250 or more made on November 23 and/or 24.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

victorian dream santa christmas holiday gourd sculpture art sheryl parsons

Christmas Cheer — The Holiday Gourd Art of Sheryl Parsons

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Santa Claus in gourd and paper mache, celebrating the whimsical aspect of Christmas, by Joseph, OR, artist Sheryl Parsons

When we are children, life possesses a magical fantasy interspersed with reality. This juxtaposition, seamless in the mind of a child, colors our memories and affects the adults we eventually become. For this reason, adults who are wise learn from children as much as they teach them, often by getting “down” to their level.

“My mother was a fabulous artist who loved to share her talents with me,” says Sheryl Parsons, a Joseph, OR, artist who specializes in folk art holiday sculpture made from gourd, polymer, and clay.

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Autumn Harvest Santa, hand-crafted Christmas holiday gourd sculpture by Joseph, OR artist Sheryl Parsons.

“She would get on the floor with me when I was little and show me how to create shape and definition in the pictures we colored in my coloring books. She taught me basic sketching techniques such as shapes and human anatomy while we sat at the kitchen table. We dabbled in pen and ink, along with pastels, and she always had a stack of Walter Foster how-to art booklets around that I loved to look at.

“I dreamed of becoming as good as what I saw in those pages.”

Christmas Gourd & Holiday Folk Art

Parsons’ dream has come true in her folk art and sculpted pieces which celebrate holidays especially enamored by children, most notably Halloween and Christmas. It is testament to the child within that her work finds (adult) collectors from around the world, through her participation in major Halloween craft festivals in Petaluma, CA, (All Hallow’s Art Fest) and Bothell, WA, (Hallowbaloo), as well as selling via her Etsy shop, website, and Reasons to Believe, a year-round Santa Claus shop located in Kirkland, WA.

While art in general has been a part of Parsons’ life  since she was a child with a particularly perspicacious mother, the focus on Santa started years ago when Parsons lived in — really — North Pole, AK.

“I was a stay-at-home mom looking for a way to make some spending money when I came across the Better Homes and Gardens Santa Claus magazines full of artists from all over who used sculpting, carving, and sewing skills to create stunning Santa  figures.

northwood stump wooden santa sculpture Christmas art Sheryl Parsons Wallowa Oregon

Northwood Stump Santa, Christmas gourd art by Joseph, OR artist Sheryl Parsons

“While chopping wood one morning, I noticed that some of the slabs that chipped off when I missed the center of the logs had a shape that would lend itself to painting Santa figures on. The flat sides only needed a little sanding, and the rounded bark backs made for unique pieces.”

Christmas at the North Pole, Utah, & Oregon

Soliciting the assistance of her three children, who earned pocket money by helping their mother paint Santa ornaments and magnets made from wood chips, Parsons sold her work through the Knotty Shop on the Alaska highway.

On moving to Utah, Parsons continued her folk art sculpture, entering, winning awards, and later judging at the Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City. Relocating northwards to Joseph, Parsons now shows her gourd and other sculpture work at the art-themed town’s various galleries, and the only bad thing about her new home, from the standpoint of art, is that the gardening season is too short for her to grow her own gourds. But, actually, that’s not a problem.

“It’s funny: gourds seem to find me through friends, yard sales, and so on.

“Two years ago, an artist was moving away from the valley and gave her stash of gourds to another local artist, who then called me — and so I scored ten large bags of gourds of all shapes and sizes for free!”

victorian dream santa christmas holiday gourd sculpture art sheryl parsons

Victorian Dream Santa, Christmas holiday gourds sculpture by Joseph, OR, artist Sheryl Parsons

In addition to working with the gourd, Parsons innovates with repurposed materials, one of her favorite projects involving burnt out light bulbs or discarded glass bottles, which she covers in clay to become Santa, a snowman, or a Halloween-themed piece.

“Candlesticks, vintage tins, salt and pepper shakers, oil, cans, wood textiles bobbins — they’re all inspiration for a new holiday piece,” she adds.

As much as Parsons enjoys Christmas and Halloween, however, neither holiday is her favorite, with that accolade going to Thanksgiving, which she describes as a time to reflect on the blessings of the year past.

Celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween

“There’s little commercialization of the day itself, so for me Thanksgiving is a time for family, and making memories, unencumbered by gift expectations.

“I take each season in turn, relishing in the delight of each, and don’t want to rush into Christmas before it’s time to — although it’s my favorite season to create for.”

The celebration of holiday seasons — Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter — inspire the child within, and with every hand-crafted sculpture, Parsons seeks to send a message of goodness and hope:

“For me, I want my art to be something that brings joy, peace, or pleasure to the owner or viewer,” Parsons says.

“I like to focus on the positive, whimsical, and good in life. People and nature are my inspiration: I see the hand of God in all.”

Wenaha GallerySheryl Parsons is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, November 5 through Saturday, December 1, 2018. She will be at the gallery in person during the Christmas Kickoff Holiday Art Show Friday, November 23, from 2 to 6 p.m., joined by Dayton painter Steve Henderson. Also at the show will be live music, artisan treats, a drawing for 3 holiday gift baskets, and up to 25% off purchases of $250 or more made on November 23 and/or 24.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

butterfly blooms photography fractal art tulips debbie lind

Fractal Fascination — Photographic Art by Debbie Lind

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Butterfly Blooms, Debbie Lind’s first, and prize winning, foray into photographic fractals art.

You don’t have to like broccoli to admire it.

Seriously.

Broccoli and its close friend, cauliflower, consist of the same small shape multiplied into a larger one, a phenomenon both scientists and artists call fractal or algorithmic art. The term, coined in the 1960s by Polish mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, describes using mathematical formulas to create digital artwork from the same repeating shape.

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Love in Layers, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR, artist Debbie Lind

“Fractals are a repeated shape that I didn’t give much thought to until I discovered them when reading a book about shapes to kindergartners visiting our public library where I’m the library director,” says photographer Debbie Lind of Wallowa, OR.

“I read to them about shapes like circles, triangles, squares and all the basic shapes we know, but when I read to them about fractals, a light went off and I thought right then, ‘How can I use fractal art in my photography?'”

Fractal Tulip Turns into Butterfly

Lind’s first experiment with fractal art involved her photographic image of a red tulip with rain drops on it. She began playing about with the shape, intending to create a conch-like snail shell from the repeating tulip blossoms, but “it wasn’t meant to be.

“What I created instead was a butterfly wing. From that I created a butterfly I named ‘Butterfly Blooms.’ I entered it in my first professional art show and won a blue ribbon.” (As an added bonus, a monetary prize accompanied the ribbon, a fact Lind says came as a complete, but welcome, surprise.)

Money or not, from that point on, Lind was hooked on fractal art, experimenting with more flowers and butterflies, then moving on to other shapes and subjects, such as a bright orange Koi fish, repeated smaller and smaller, in a series of bubbles. She prints her images on canvas and paper, as well as large format art cards that she sells in galleries, gift shops, and local businesses.

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Dragonfly Delight, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR artist Debbie Lind

Describing herself as a photo artisan, Lind has been playing with imagery, cameras, and technology since she was 15, when she received a 110 pocket camera as a gift. From there she moved onto an Olympus OM-1 35 mm, and once she entered the digital age, she found that the time spent behind the computer screen playing with an image was as fascinating as time behind the camera lens.

Fractal Art and Emotive Photography

“My goal is to create photography — fractal or not — that moves me first: it can be a child, flowers, landscapes, or a person leaning up against a truck,” Lind explains.

“My other goal is if my art can give someone a good feeling — to enhance their good day and help them on their bad day — then this is what I hope my art can do for them, even if it’s just one person.”

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Koi Joy, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR, artist Debbie Lind

Since that first memorable and financially satisfying professional art show, Lind has entered many others, as well as published her work in calendars, telephone books, brochures, and flyers. Wherever she goes she has an eye out for the next intriguing shot, and while she describes herself as not a photojournalist, she seeks to create images that spark conversation, imbue emotion, and catch the viewer’s eye and soul.

“If I’m in the right place at the right time, I’ll be taking photos of it.”

Living in a rural area provides plenty of subject matter, but the downside is that if the printer runs out of ink, only two sheets of photo paper remain in the packet, or none of the frames in her studio are the right size, she can’t pop down to the local office or art store to replenish supplies. For this reason, she has commandeered the largest bedroom in the house for her studio, occasionally spilling into the guest bedroom with supplies and inventory.

Letting the Creative Process Lead

Prominent on the studio wall is a quote she found in a magazine, which she says encapsulates how she approaches her photographic and fractal art:

“Let go of needing to know what you will create before you have begun. Instead, allow the creative process to be one of self-discovery, moment-to-moment revelation, and pure freedom.”

Every day is a new opportunity to learn more about art, photography, the digital world, fractal creativity, running a business, and life in general, and while trying new things has its unnerving side, it results in great satisfaction as well. Lind reminds herself of this as she experiments with new ways of marketing her photography, the latest involving selling fine art cards at local farmers’ markets where, incidentally, one finds broccoli, and cauliflower.

“As I get older, I feel a little braver in putting myself ‘out there.’ I’ve been telling myself, if not now, when?” Lind muses.

“I’m almost, or already, considered a senior citizen: I already get discounts at restaurants.

“So what’s next for me? I’m taking chances.”

Wenaha Gallery

Debbie Lind is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, October 22 through Saturday, November 17.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

astronaut dorothy metcalf-litzenburger teacher geologist mission specialist

Astronaut Dreams — Reaching Goals and Flying High

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Is Anyone out There? The questions don’t end when a dream is fulfilled, and this astronaut on the moon asks the same question we still ask on earth. Fine art edition by astronaut/artist Alan Bean.

How does a toilet work, in outer space?

Thanks to a ninth grader’s curiosity, then science teacher Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger researched the question on a NASA website, and in the process, brought about the fulfillment of a big, bold childhood dream: she wanted to be an astronaut.

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Retired astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger is the keynote speaker at Wenaha Gallery during our Autumn Art Show Saturday, October 6. The astronaut/teacher will be speaking at 10:30.

“On that same website they said they were hiring teachers,” Metcalf-Lindenburger said in a TED-x (Technology, Engineering, and Design) talk, Dream Boldly.

“This was the answer to my question: I wanted to be an astronaut, and I enjoyed teaching — I could combine the two things I loved into one.”

And so she did, although it takes much less time to write than it does to do.

Astronaut School

After a grueling application process and six months of waiting, Metcalf-Lindenburger joined NASA in 2004, trained for two years, and in 2010 flew as Mission Specialist on the STS-131 Discovery Mission to supply the International Space Station.

She’d done it: the 1997 Whitman College graduate, who, after taking a B.A. in geology went on to Central Washington University in Ellensburg to get her teaching credentials, was a genuine astronaut, orbiting 250 miles above the earth. It fulfilled what she wrote when she was 9-years-old, assigned the perennial question: What do you want to be when you grow up?

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The late Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon, retired from being an astronaut to painting images of the moon and space.

“I knew what I wanted to be; I made this paper mache doll — I was hopefully not going to look like a ketchup bottle, but I wanted to be an astronaut,” Metcalf-Lindenburger recalled in a 2014 NASA video, In Their Own Words.

“But I had other dreams. I wanted to be a teacher like my parents and my heroine, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I loved digging in my backyard for fossils along the Front Range (in the Rocky Mountains). I enjoyed going up to Rocky Mountain National Park, and I love looking up at the night sky.”

A Teacher Like Wilder; An Astronaut Like Bean

So she became a science teacher who became an astronaut who then became a geologist for Geosyntec Consultants in Seattle. As dream fulfillments go, it’s a pretty good one.

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The earth, as seen from space. A Jewel in the Heavens, by astronaut and artist Alan Bean

A few months before Metcalf-Lindenburger’s 2010 launch on the space shuttle Discovery — which, in its 27 years of active service launched and landed 39 times —  she got a call from her mother, who was cleaning out Metcalf-Lindenburger’s childhood room.

“You know that shuttle model you made when you came back from Space Camp?” her mother asked, referring to Metcalf-Lindenburger’s attendance, 20 years before, at the NASA youth program in Huntsville, AL, where the U.S. space program was born.

“Well I looked, and it was Discovery.”

Coincidence? Chance? Design?

“It’s just kind of a neat connection,” Metcalf-Lindenburger says in In Their Own Words. “It happened just by chance, but it was a really cool chance that it happened.”

Meeting the Apollo Astronauts

Metcalf-Lindenburger stayed with NASA until 2014, during which time she commanded the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 16, an undersea exploration. As the lead singer of the all-astronaut band, Max Q, she sang the National Anthem at the 2009 Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals game, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Neil Armstrong astronaut space moon exploration Alan Bean

His name is perhaps the most recognized of the astronauts: First Men: Neil Armstrong by astronaut and artist Alan Bean.

And she met the Apollo astronauts:

“They are a brave group of men who changed how we thought about ourselves and our planet,” Metcalf-Litzenburger says. Years earlier, while working at Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, WA, during her studies at Whitman College, she encountered the paintings of Alan Bean, who as an astronaut was the fourth human to walk on the moon, and as an artist, chronicled the experience.

“I was very impressed by his work, and interested in its details,” she said.

Bean enjoyed incorporating space-age items into his paintings, from footprint impressions of the astronaut’s boots, patches from his space suit, and sprinkles of moondust to textures made from lunar tools. It brings the moon down to earth, even as those who live and dream on earth, like Metcalf-Lindenburger, gaze up into the sky.

Achieving Dreams

Bean was an engineer/fighter pilot/astronaut/artist. Metcalf-Litzenburger is a teacher/astronaut/geologist with more descriptions to add, because dreams don’t end with fulfillment.

“I had achieved my dream, but does that mean that dreaming is over once you’ve accomplished the big one? Is that it?” Metcalf-Lindenburger concluded in Dream Boldly.

“Absolutely not.

“You see, the little girl that dreamed about being an astronaut, about floating in space – she’s still here, and she’s still dreaming.”

Wenaha Gallery

In tribute to the late astronaut/artist Alan Bean, Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger is the featured guest at Wenaha Gallery’s Autumn Art Show Saturday, October 6, and will be speaking at 10:30.  Also featured at the Autumn Art Show, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., are jewelry artist Venita Simpson of Richland, and acrylic pour painter Joyce Klassen of Walla Walla. During the show, the gallery is offering 10 percent off all Bean fine editions in stock, free artisan treats, live music, and a free fine art note card to every visitor.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.