ceramic terra cotta pottery platter with cow mary briggs

Ceramic Terra Cotta — Functional Beauty by Mary Briggs

ceramic terra cotta pottery platter with cow mary briggs

Ceramic terra cotta platter, with painting of cow by Mary Briggs

Mary Briggs is a woman who rarely sits. So much is her desire to keep active that she changed specialties in college because her first choice, graphic design, was too sedentary.

“I was the kid whose foot was always wiggling,” Briggs says, explaining why she became a studio potter after earning her Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics at the University of Iowa.

ceramic terra cotta pottery vase mary briggs

Ceramic terra cotta pottery vase with romantic landscape painting by Mary Briggs

“The wedging of clay or manipulation of clay is a physical activity that might be likened to a baker or chef — moving around the kitchen and using your arms and creating a physical end product.”

Ceramic Terra Cotta Inspired by Folk Pottery

For the Eugene artist, the completed physical end product is terra cotta functional ceramicware — platters, plates, vases, candlestick holders, mugs — inspired by historical folk pottery as well as the works of 19th century Old Masters painters. Briggs began incorporating imagery on her work 15 years ago when she observed how brush marks and drip lines formed impressions of landscapes. It was a short, but significant, step to drawing period images on her work, adding to its sensation of timelessness and meaning.

She focused upon the 19th century landscape for its calming, romantic element, likening the feeling to that inspired by a country drive.

“I find rural life and nature to be calming and beautiful. By using that imagery on my work, I hope it brings a sense of calmness to those who encounter it.

“I also hope to create an awareness of how important nature is to all of us personally and globally.”

Nature: In the Garden and the Ceramic Studio

Nature, for Briggs, is an element that factors throughout her day and week, whether she is in the studio, creating a body of work that, from start to finish, can take up to three months,  or out in the gardens of area residents, who commission her skills in this area.

earthenware ceramic terra cotta painted mug mary briggs

An earthenware, terra cotta ceramic mug by Mary Briggs

“I work as a gardener for a week and then in my studio for a week,” Briggs explains, adding that she began gardening as a side job in graduate school, finding it a natural counterbalance to the intensity of studio work.

“It’s interesting to note that most potters are fabulous cooks and gardeners,” she observes. “It was not my experience that graphic designers were much interested in either of those. It was that sense of community that also attracted me to the field of ceramics.”

Briggs’s studio is based in the garage of her home, and has been renovated with added windows and insulation, additional electricity for her kiln, and ventilation. Because there is limited space for storing inventory, Briggs keeps her work moving, and a major means of doing this is through the Schaller Gallery of St. Joseph, Michigan, which represents some of the finest functional ceramic artists of the world. Most recently, gallery owner Anthony Schaller told Briggs to add Rebecca Sive — who may or may not be the Huffington Post writer who penned Every Day Is Election Day; Briggs isn’t sure  —  to her list of collectors.

ceramic painted landscape pottery platter mary briggs

A ceramic, painted landscape platter with gilded edging, by Mary Briggs

Dedicated to the Ceramic Art

Briggs has shown her pottery in group and solo exhibitions in galleries and universities in Minnesota, Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Montana , Wyoming, Indiana, and Oregon. Her work is in the permanent collection at Bermuda National Gallery, Contemporary Ceramics, and she has been published in Ceramics: Art & Perception, an international journal dedicated to ceramic art. Her art  also appears in the book, 500 Cups: Ceramic Explorations of Utility & Grace by Suzanne J. E. Tourtillott.

Ironically, though Briggs chose to leave graphic design for ceramics, its influence does not go unnoticed in her art.

“I think all my art classes in college have helped with my decoration process,” Briggs says. “From color theory to composition to art history: all those things are in my tool box.” Each piece is individually decorated, in accordance with its shape, size, and form, with the result that every ceramic Briggs creates is uniquely, singularly distinct.

Choosing Terra Cotta

ceramic earthenware terra cotta pottery vases mary briggs

Ceramic earthenware vases by pottery artist Mary Briggs

The very choice of terra cotta — known as poor man’s clay because it is not as dense and white as porcelain — is deliberate, with Briggs being drawn to its rustic quality and unexpected, but welcome, irregularities. It’s of the earth, after all, just like gardening.

In the end, Briggs says, that’s what it’s all about: the earth, and beautiful places, and exquisitely shaped ceramics that capture that beauty and encourage those who see the work.

“My work is not about politics or social commentary.

“It is simply meant to serve as a window into a peaceful place.”

Wenaha Gallery

Mary Briggs is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 14 through Saturday, September 9, 2017. 

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.

leather billfolds shelby sneva nanna grandma inspiration Bellingham

Leather Craft — Handcrafted Beauty from Bellingham Artist Shelby Sneva

leather billfolds shelby sneva nanna grandma inspiration Bellingham

Handcrafted leather billfolds by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva, who credits her Nanna Grandma for opening up the world of art and sewing

It doesn’t matter whether you call her Nanna, Nona, Gramma, Grams, Babushka, Abuela, or any of the thousands of  variations of “Grandmother” — if that woman makes a positive influence on your life, she makes a lasting one.

Leather designer Shelby Sneva, who creates hand-crafted wallets, clutches, cuffs, shoulder bags, and jewelry from fine and reclaimed leather, credits her artistry today to a Singer sewing machine gifted by her Nanna when Sneva was six.

colorful bracelets by bellingham leather artist shelby sneva inspired by nanna

Colorful leather bracelets by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva. It all started with the gift of a Singer sewing machine by Shelby’s Nanna Grandma.

“I always thought it was the most fantastic hunk of metal, gears and knobs!” the Bellingham artist remembers. “I fumbled around on that machine for several years, making outfits and teaching myself to be a crafty little stitcher.”

Nanna’s Lasting Gift

From crafty little stitcher, Sneva eventually graduated to professional artist, earning her BFA from Western Washington University with a primary focus on painting and sculpture. Ironically, despite taking every studio art class available at the university — from photography to fibers and fabrics, from papermaking to welding — Sneva didn’t discover her particular niche until her mother, an interior decorator, passed on some leather samples from her furniture business.

“That’s when the passion of  leatherworking was ignited,” Sneva says. Like many passions, it had been burning underneath, but so steadily and quietly she hadn’t recognized its importance. She simply accepted its existence as normal.

Leather and Sewing Are Timeless

Though Sneva had initially fallen in love with oil painting, to the point of moving to the East Coast to apprentice with landscape oil painter Curt Hanson, she never stopped the sewing she started when she was 6, and found greatest pleasure in creating fabric wallets and gifts for friends and family.

leather wallet handcrafted shelby sneva bellingham artist inspired by nanna

Handcrafted leather wallet by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva, whose first art forays began with a gift from her Nanna Grandma at 6

The discovery of leather, then, was a momentous one, and in 2004 Sneva opened her business, Sown Designs, which she markets through Etsy, her online website, the Bellingham Farmers Market, and her studio in downtown Bellingham at the Waterfront Artists’ Studios.

“Thanks to the online marketplace,” Sneva says, “I have sold wallets all around the world — from Switzerland, Germany, London, Norway, Canada, and all over the U.S.” Sneva’s work has been juried into and vended at shows like Urban Craft Uprising and the Fremont Fair in Seattle, and is featured at more than a dozen gift and retail shops in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, California, and Alaska.

The Aroma of Leather in Bellingham

“I love the smell of leather,” Sneva says, adding that her studio exudes the aroma. “I am always learning new things, new techniques with leather work, so I am never bored!”

leather earrings by bellingham artist shelby sneva

A collection of leather earrings by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva

From the discontinued leather samples passed on by her mother, Sneva has added a number of local stores and leather distributors to provide the materials for her work. The combination of working with local resources as well as reclaimed materials is a benefit to suppliers and clients, as well as to the environment, Sneva believes.

“It is my priority to connect with suppliers/buyers who also appreciate the effort, quality, and uniqueness of handmade pieces,” Sneva says.

“The great thing about my accessories is that they are all one of a kind. That makes it unique for the owner to have something no one else has, and it makes it fun for me to create without feeling like a factory.

leather cases by bellingham artist shelby sneva inspired by nanna grandma

A collection of leather cases by Bellingham artist Shelby Sneva, who began her art career at age 6, sewing on a Singer machine given to her by her nanna grandma

“I really pay attention to details with each wallet, using my sewing machine like a drawing tool to draw stitch patterns and make designs with leather geometric shapes and colors.” For her wallets, Sneva chooses upholstery leather, which she describes as durable and soft, acquiring a beautiful patina over time. Hand-crafted art, Sneva believes, becomes a part of its owners’ lives, adding dimension and beauty to the day.

A Nanna Aphorism

Quite recently, Sneva enjoyed one of those rare, but memorable full-circle moments that we all treasure when they happen.

“I was a presenting artist at our Bellingham Museum for Art Career Day,” Sneva explains. “As I spoke, I remembered participating in similar workshops with Spokane (where Sneva grew up) artists when I was a high school student and young aspiring artist.”

In effect, what goes around comes around, a timeless aphorism that sounds like something one’s Nanna, or Nona,  or Abuela, Babushka, Baba, Yaya, Oma, or Gram would say. But that only makes sense, because the things that woman says and does really do make the difference of a lifetime.

Wenaha Gallery

Shelby Sneva is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 17 through Saturday, August 12, 2017. 

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.

 

colombia church charcoal drawing Jordan Henderson Wenaha Gallery

Colombia Churches and Cows — The Charcoal Drawings of Jordan Henderson

colombia church charcoal drawing Jordan Henderson Wenaha Gallery

Church Near the Hills, charcoal drawing of Colombia by Jordan Henderson

 

The best time to hear of your adult children’s adventures — the really exciting ones that make good stories — is after they are home and —  your parent’s heart says — safe. When my son Jordan Henderson announced to his dad, Steve, and me that he wanted to visit Colombia, where we had bicycled through 30 years before, we tried to be laudably cool, calm, and chill.

Colombia cows walking country road charcoal drawing

Cows in the llanos of Colombia are fascinating drawing fodder, artist Jordan Henderson says

After all, when we put our own parents through this, there were no cell phones or social media, so any worries they had weren’t allayed for weeks. Steve and I experienced relief — or anxiety, depending upon the story — instantly.

“Learning a second language and traveling abroad is something I always wanted to do,” Jordan says, mirroring our own reasons for traveling. That’s great, we nodded. Immersion is the best method. For Jordan, whose Spanish at that time would generously be called embryonic, this meant flying to Medellín, a city of 2.4 million that in our younger days was known as the drug cartel capital of the world.

“It’s improved,” he reassured us beforehand. At least he would be staying with our friends of 30 years before, Héli and Ana, who Facebook messaged us on Jordan’s arrival, “We opened the door, and thought we were seeing Steve.”

Learning Language and Doing Art in Colombia

On the month-long trip to Colombia in 2015 and a second, three-month journey in 2016-17, Jordan immersed himself in both the Spanish language and the culture. An artist like his father, he set up his easel in public parks (when he was in cities) and along pathways (in the country), attracting genial attention from passersby who felt free to comment upon his art and growing language skills.

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The Iguana in the city park, artfully posing for Jordan Henderson during his trip to Colombia

“In Pamplona, a town of 60,000 with beautiful churches and cathedrals throughout, people seemed genuinely pleased to see that I admired and was drawing the church that they themselves attended,” Jordan says.

“One time, a nun in full, traditional habit came running down the steps from the church I was drawing to see what I was doing — she had a very energetic personality. I simply did not expect someone in such a somber dress to come running across the street like that. The next day, when I returned to finish the drawing, she brought a group of other nuns. They liked my rendition of their church.”

Traveling by Bus through Colombia

For a month, Jordan spent three hours a day intensely studying Spanish with Juan Carlos, who 30 years ago was a slender young man just out of high school, and now, mysteriously like Steve and me, was in his 50s. One on one teaching from Juan Carlos’s universal language institute catapulted Jordan’s Spanish to new competency, and we didn’t worry (as much) when he announced plans to travel by bus through the country, staying with new friends along the way.

Colombia lowland grassland llanos charcoal drawing

A view of the llanos, or lowland grasslands, of Colombia. Charcoal drawing by Jordan Henderson

“I visited Tauramena, Medellín, Bucaramanga, Yopal, Riohacha, Barranquilla, and Cartagena,” Jordan says, listing out cities and towns of Colombia that range from metropolitan centers to small hamlets in the llanos, flat grasslands that are the equivalent of America’s Wild West.

“The people I stayed with are what made this such a fantastic trip — they generously showed me around the towns where they lived, and I ate meals with my hosts, allowing me a lot of conversation with some great people.”

Loving the Lowing of Colombia Cows

In the llanos, Jordan encountered distinctive cattle of Colombia that are a mixture of European and Indian breeds. He was enthralled, snapping reference photos and doing plein air studies in the field.

“Cows are a fantastic drawing subject,” he enthuses. “Sometimes they regard you with great suspicion; other times they barely manage to give you an uninterested gaze before they return to their grazing, as if you are the most boring thing in the world.

colombia church humilladero pamplona colombia charcoal drawing

Humilladero Church in Pamplona, Colombia, one of the principal architectural designs of the city. Charcoal drawing by Jordan Henderson

“Once I had a cow walk alongside me as far as her fence allowed, all the while looking straight at me as if I were a very curious sight.”

In the botanical gardens of Medellín, he met a different sort of animal, an iguana.

“It was sitting in the middle of the path and politely posed for me while I took some photos, before deciding it had had enough, when it calmly walked away.”

Attracting Attention

As in Pamplona while drawing churches, Jordan attracted attention wherever he went, the lanky, long-haired foreigner who looked like he could be Dutch or American, and always carried a sketchbook. Visiting a village school near Cúcuta, on the border of Venezuela and Colombia, Jordan found himself invited by his host’s father to a small radio station, where he was interviewed as “the visiting foreigner.” In Medellín, he was “the jogging foreigner,” and regulars at the city parks, some of whom a mother would classify as less than savory, assessed his accent and affably corrected grammar.

“I am drawn by the opportunity to be completely surrounded by another language, culture, and way of thinking that is different from what I am used to,” Jordan says, explaining that future plans include further travel, as well as concerted drawing, painting, and artistic pursuits.

“I am fortunate to have a highly skilled, talented artist as my father, and I will make the most of the opportunity to learn from him.

“Ultimately, my long-range goal is to work as a full-time artist so that I can dedicate the lion’s share of my time to something of such great interest to me.”

He’s his father’s son all right.

Wenaha Gallery

Jordan Henderson is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 3 through Saturday, July 29, 2017. There will be a special Art Show Saturday, July 15, over Alumni Weekend. Meet and greet Jordan, see his art, and ask about his adventures from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gallery. Free refreshments provided.

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.

 

sculpture woman seated skirt pink shelia coe

The Dentist Artist — Sculpture by Shelia Coe

sculpture woman seated skirt pink shelia coe

Sculpted woman with fabric skirt by former dentist, now artist, Shelia Coe

Childhood Christmas gifts create lasting memories. Often, they even shape our future. And so it was for ceramic artist Shelia Coe . . . sort of. It just took a little longer than her mother, whose biggest desire was that her daughter grow up to be an artist, envisioned.

“My mother was a frustrated artist,” Coe remembers. “With six children, she didn’t have much time to pursue art, but she tried to channel me into becoming an artist. To that end, she bought me art supplies for every holiday, and dragged me along on her trips to paint barns and still lifes.”

cow sculpture by dentist artist shelia coe walla walla

Cow sculpture by dentist artist Shelia Coe of Walla Walla

Like so many things we plan for and try to direct, however, the future turned out differently, and instead of using her hands to wield a paintbrush or palette knife, Coe picked up the tools of dentistry, practicing the profession for more than 34 years.

“My mother was disappointed when I was accepted into dental school,” Coe says. “She said something like, ‘If you have to do something in the health field, couldn’t you at least be a medical illustrator?’

“I’ve gotta laugh at how it’s all turned out, and if she’s looking down, she’s probably happy to be getting her wish for me.”

Looking for a Creative Outlet

The latter part of those 34 years in dentistry, Coe spent in Walla Walla at a private practice, finishing out the final six of her career at Yellowhawk Clinic in Pendleton for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla. Upon retirement, she found her hands and mind seeking a creative outlet, and when the women in her spinning class at the YMCA suggested taking a sculpture class by Walla Walla artist Penny Michel, Coe decided to give it a try.

fish sculpture shelia coe dentist artist walla walla

Fish sculpture by Shelia Coe of Walla Walla. Coe worked as a dentist for 34 years before turning fulltime to art

“After the first class, I was hooked.

“For a week I could hardly sleep, thinking of all the things I wanted to try to make.”

Fortunately, her sleep patterns have returned to normal, with the added bonus of Coe continuing to explore a variety of subject matter, from people to animals to design work. The possibilities are endless, because Nature herself never runs out of providing ideas.

“I love nature, and as a child was always drawing horses and animals of all kinds along with plants — for awhile I wanted to be a botanist.

“So all kinds of things in nature inspire me, and oftentimes it can be a drawing or a photo, or the animal itself.

“I have made llamas, deer, horses, cows, fish, and sheep on a hill. I recently finished a horse that is 20 inches tall and 15 inches wide — the largest piece I have ever made.”

An Unusual Studio

Coe’s studio is split between Michel’s studio for classes and firing, and Coe’s home utility room and kitchen. And while the kitchen and laundry rooms are not generally associated with the wild, exuberant, abounding world of nature, they are good places to capture it. Kitchen implements, basic tools, and simple elements of nature — like pine cones, for texturizing — create mesmerizing effects when wielded in the right hands, and what hands are more accustomed to fine, precision work than that of a dentist?

horse sculpture shelia coe wenaha gallery

Horse sculpture by Shelia Coe, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

“Sculpture, like dentistry, demands the use of the hands — but with loads more creative freedom (of course),” Coe observes.

Creative freedom or not, clay has its own rules, and part of learning to work with it is respecting its properties, taking the scientific approach to art, so to speak. Observation, theorization, deduction, experimentation, and the willingness to learn from failure all come into play, and Coe willingly gives time to each.

“My favorite part of creating sculpture is figuring out the structural and engineering aspect of each piece,” Coe explains. “It is not always easy to get the clay to do what you want it to.

“Glazing is also a challenge because they never look the same once they are fired. In fact, even the same glaze will look different depending upon its thickness and its position in the kiln. Glazes are very finicky.”

World Traveler

A member of ArtWalla, Coe takes advantage of classes, both in the area and out, to finesse and further her skills. An avid traveler, she also maintains a collection of her own, picking up pieces by local artists from areas such as Palau, Yap, Tibet and Tunisia as well as more mainstream destinations.

In the end, everything works together when it comes to art, life, and dreams. It may have taken awhile to get to the art part, but all the time Coe spent as a dentist shaped her hands to a fine and acute sensitivity, and sensibility.

Her mother would be pleased.

Wenaha Gallery

Shelia Coe is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 19 through Saturday, July 15, 2017. 

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.

 

 

Beauteous watercolor flowers dream colors barbara janusz

Dream Job, Dream Home, Dream Life — The Paintings of Barbara Janusz

Beauteous watercolor flowers dream colors barbara janusz

Beauteous, original watercolor by Barbara Janusz capturing the dream scape of flowers

She bicycled from Portland, OR to Portland, ME.

Rode and camped in a horse-drawn wagon, traveling from farm to farm in Ireland.

Hiked the high Sierras.

abundance watercolor river stream nature barbara janusz

Abundance, original watercolor by Barbara Janusz, celebrating the dream scape of landscape

Traveled in and through Morocco, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Spain, Poland, Mexico, Canada and the United States.

And stood in the midst of an opening art reception in her honor, in Paris, France, without knowing a word of the language.

Like Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz, Barbara Janusz has journeyed to magical places and experienced memorable adventures. And like Dorothy, the lifetime professional painter asserts that there’s no place like home.

“I have traveled extensively during my lifetime, but there’s no doubt my heart just soars with creativity when I’m home in the Pacific Northwest,” the watercolor artist says. “It’s alive and full of life.”

denali watercolor dream alaska barbara janusz landscape

Denali, original watercolor by Barbara Janusz, escaping to the dream real world of Alaska

Janusz’s Studio by the Lake in Hope, ID, overlooking Lake Pend Oreille, has a few advantages over Aunty Em’s farm in Kansas, and Janusz draws daily inspiration from a rock cliff sculpture, an onsite pond and waterfall, and forested, flower-bedecked grounds.

“I paint on the studio grounds feeling blessed each and every day,” Janusz says. “I can say I really do live the ‘Artist Dream.'”

Not only through her paintings — which emerge from a vision to communicate the poignant beauty of nature — does Janusz share that dream. Upon moving to Idaho from California in 1991, Janusz began teaching watercolor workshops on her two-acre parcel, setting up large tents next to the waterfall. She also hosts catered events for collectors — in her personal Garden of Eden or at the homes of collectors — showcasing her latest works.

“My new paintings are revealed at the exhibition, giving the collectors first choice to own one before they are exhibited to the public,” Janusz explains.

fly fishing clark fork watercolor dream painting Barbara Janusz

The Clark Fork, original watercolor, part of the fly fishing series by Barbara Janusz

Janusz has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S., as well as at an invitational exhibit with four other artists at the Centre Internationale d’Art Contemporain in Paris where, thankfully, a personal interpreter stood at her side during the opening reception. Numerous awards include the Gold Medallion Award at the Rocky Mountain National Exhibition; the Ruth Elliot Award from Women Painters of the West; and Best of Show at the Westwood Center of the Arts, Westwood, CA. She has been affiliated with the Art Works Gallery of Sandpoint since 1995.

To Janusz, however, painting is much more than acquiring an impressive resume of exhibitions and collections hosting her work. Each painting is a visual orchestra, one incorporating chords of color and symphony of form, inviting the viewer to experience emotion and movement.

“A completed painting is a form of universal consciousness where all human experiences are somehow touched because of our own connections with nature,” Janusz says.

“When viewing the painting, there is a feeling of being a part of the cosmic order.”

The complexity of nature is mirrored in Janusz’s chosen medium, watercolor, which she describes as “rich in colors and enduring.

swan tundra watercolor dream bird painting barbara janusz

Tundra Swan, original watercolor painting by Barbara Janusz, dream swan in the beginning of flight

“The challenge of watercolor is to create a painting by using layers of color, a wide range of values and contrast, while keeping in mind the white of the paper.

“The benefits of watercolor are its beautiful luminous effects.”

When creating a body of work, Janusz selects a theme and explores it thoroughly before moving on to another, nature-related subject. She has plumbed the depths of Waterfalls, Lily Ponds, Fly Fishing, and Flowers; her series on Water Paintings, entitled Water: The Spirit of Life, included imaginary locales as well as real ones, reflecting her philosophy of painting from memory, from reference photos, and from her imagination.

What is most important in capturing the full impact of nature, Janusz believes, is being fully present with an open heart and mind, open to all possibilities.

“One stroke leads to the next: the act of painting comes out of the now.

“This openness is not by effort, but by letting go.”

It is through this letting go, this recognition that one does not know or understand all there is to know and understand, that the artist — and the viewer — come to a greater awareness of truth.

“I believe we are on this planet to learn lessons.

“One of the lessons I am learning is, it is not what I do: it’s knowing I am.

“The painting is not me; it is the love that is expressing through the painting.”

Wenaha Gallery

Barbara Janusz is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 5 through Saturday, July 1, 2017. 

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.

mountain river pass abstract scrapyard photograph LuAnn Ostergaard

Scrapyard Beauty — The Fine Art Photography of LuAnn Ostergaard

scrapyard photography color beauty texture LuAnn Ostergaard

Beauty from the scrapyard: Evening Shimmer III, fine at photography by LuAnn Ostergaard

Etiquette matters. And when you’re visiting a scrapyard, the rules of behavior are even stricter, because they have to be.

“Stay far away from the large pieces of heavy equipment being operated, employing big swinging arms with grasping tools or huge magnets that lift metal from place to place,” advises LuAnn Ostergaard, a fine art photographer who creates abstract art using digital images taken from . . . scrapyards.

mountain river pass abstract scrapyard photograph LuAnn Ostergaard

Mountain River Pass, photographic beauty from the scrapyard by LuAnn Ostergaard

“The equipment may back over you, so watch their movements,” she adds. One must also be aware of protruding points; razor sharp edges; slippery, oily areas; and huge piles of metal that may cascade down on visitors at any time.

While not a particularly friendly place, scrapyards are special locales unknown by many, the Kennewick artist explains. She first discovered them as a child, accompanying her father on his quest to glean car parts; she now visits with her son, Joseph Rastovich, a Kennewick public sculptor who buys metal there for his huge-scale projects, as well as watches out for his mom while she loses herself “in the moment and into the flow of capturing images.”

Ostergaard, who has identified herself as an artist since the first grade, comes from a long line of artists: her mother; her grandmother the singer and seamstress; her great-grandfather the concert pianist and sketcher. She married an artist, illustrator and animator Michael Rastovich, and with their son, Joseph, the three — dubbed the Talented Trio by friends — make their living creating in a home studio blurring any distinction between the two words.

“Our entire house is a studio, office, work space! We live, eat, and breathe our work.”

scrapyard photograph abstract landscape LuAnn Ostergaard

Evening Shadows, scrapyard photographic image by LuAnn Ostergaard

Upon first viewing Ostergaard’s art, many people regard her photographic images as paintings, and indeed, one of the most difficult aspects of her artwork is explaining what it actually is. They are photographs, with an attention to shape, texture, color and contrast, captured from the harsh places of the world and transformed into images enticing and enchanting.

“On the computer, I bring up the saturation and contrast, and that usually reveals gorgeous color combinations and textures that I would never think of creating on my own,” Ostergaard says.

“It’s magical, and I feel a bit of an alchemist as I transform an image of scrapyard castoffs to a thing of beauty that resonates with harmony and balance.”

Ostergaard sells her work to both private and corporate collectors, with pieces throughout the U.S. and in Sweden, Germany, UK, and Australia. One of her images is at 3 Lincoln Center, New York, NY, the building in which singer and actress Liza Minnelli lives. Others are at the Grand Hyatt Lodge, Denver, CO; Hilton Hotel, Charleston, SC; and Atlantis Hotel, Bahamas; and closer to home at the Trios Hospital in Kennewick. She sells her work at galleries, furniture stores, and jewelers throughout the Pacific Northwest.

abstract photograph landscape scrapyard art LuAnn Ostergaard

Beautiful Dream, abstract scrapyard-inspired photographic artwork by LuAnn Ostergaard

Clients exude enthusiasm, with one purchaser commenting,

“Your camera skills are so evident — that, combined with your painting gift, puts your work in a special field: painterly photographs transposed to imaginative paintings bordering on modernity from your unique application and expression.”

What she is looking for, Ostergaard says, is an essence of genuineness, revealing the most simple bit of beauty in something that, at first glance, may appear decrepit and ugly — junk, say, in a scrapyard. It is in these harsh and forgotten places that beauty resides, hidden within and around substances that are imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, many in a state of deterioration or decomposition from entropy, the gradual decline into disorder that is a part of life on earth.

abstract photograph multnomah falls landscape LuAnn Ostergaard scrapyard

Multnomah Falls II, fine art photography from scrapyard images by LuAnn Ostergaard

Ostergaard describes this concept of entropy in conjunction with Wabi Sabi, the Japanese aesthetic philosophy that prizes the essential beauty of imperfect and impermanent things, and to which she ascribes inspiration.

“This is represented in my art by rough textures as well as marks that time and use leave behind,” Ostergaard says.

“Think of the story that can be told by the face of a very old person — the beauty of their perseverance and of the experiences they have gone through.

“This is what I want to relay through my photography: the beauty of time and experience.”

It is what keeps her going back to the dusty, noisy, aromatic, dangerous world of the scrapyard, a place with a sweet, oily smell emanating from the mixture of every imaginable chemical thrown together, including, she suspects, possible radiation from the loads of materials received from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation for more than 70 years. It is a harsh, acrid, inhospitable, gritty, forgotten place, but it is Ostergaard’s wild, wonderful, wilderness world, one to which she invites the viewer.

“I want the viewer to see the subtle beauty all around them, and that beauty can be found even in things that are far from beautiful at first glance.”

Wenaha Gallery

LuAnn Ostergaard is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 22 through Saturday, June 16, 2017. Ostergaard will be at the gallery Saturday, May 27 for a special two-person art show with Portland painter David Schatz, and both artists will be on hand to meet and greet visitors from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free refreshments are provided.

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.

 

Pink Roses out of office cubicle painting David Schatz Portland

Escaping the Office Cubicle — The Paintings of David Schatz

Pink Roses out of office cubicle painting David Schatz Portland

Out of the office cubicle with Pink Roses, Oil on Panel by Portland artist David Schatz, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Office cubicles are not known for being spacious, liberating, beautiful places.

Grey, carpeted, windowless, and with walls too low for privacy, the ubiquitous modern “office” is a venue that artist David Schatz left far behind on weekends and holidays, when he explored landscapes, floral gardens, and wildlife refuges in search of meaningful images to paint.

morning waldo lake original painting david schatz out of the office cubicle

Definitely outside of the office cubicle, Morning on Waldo Lake, original oil on canvas by David Schatz

“I try to capture the beauty of what I see outside and bring it inside,” the Portland, OR, artist explains.

“I have no agenda except for trying to find and express the beauty in this world.”

Schatz, who has been drawing and painting since high school when an aunt gave him a set of oil pastels, was told during university studies that he should find something else to do as he would never become a painter. In a characteristic combination of practicality with stubbornness, Schatz turned to circuit board design for the electronics industry as his day job, and pursued painting when he was, literally, free.

Fine Art & The Day Job

Ironically, the day job — which appears to have nothing to do with the finer nuances of fine art — benefited from Schatz’s artistic bent, requiring the sense of spatial relationship demanded by drawing and painting.

“My painting skills helped me to visualize how a circuit board would have to be arranged to fit the space available,” Schatz says.

“I got my first job in electronics because I could draw.”

One of the most challenging aspects of Schatz’s dual sets of skills — aside from the cubicle — had to do with Schatz’s coworkers because, outside of concerns to do with the job, there was nothing to talk about:

patience green plant with leaves david schatz acrylic painting

Patience, original acrylic by David Schatz, capturing the world outside of the office cubicle

“I was surrounded by engineering geeks who had no idea of why anyone would want to paint when he could be playing computer games,” Schatz recalls.

“For my part, I had no idea why anyone would want to play computer games when he could paint.”

Schatz speaks of this situation in the past, having “escaped the cube,” as he puts it, through retirement, and is presently pursuing the full time career in art that he was earlier assured he could not have. Carrying a camera with him everywhere (“So does everyone,” he notes wryly, “with their cell phones”), Schatz captures reference photos nearby — taking advantage of Portland’s many public gardens to find floral images — as well as across the country in Florida, where he haunts wildlife refuges.

Easygoing Birds

“The birds in the refuges know that they are safe, and ignore the photographers,” Schatz says. “The camera that I use has a wonderful zoom lens, and the birds do seem to be posing for us.

“There are often 5-10 photographers lined up shooting the same bird.”

stalker crane bird acrylic painting david schatz

The Stalker, original acrylic painting by David Schatz

But a reference photo is just that — a photo — until the artist shapes and forms it into a painting, incorporating light, shadow, atmospheric perspective, color, and that elusive sense of feeling and emotion resulting only after much careful attention from the artist’s hand and soul. The highly realistic nature of Schatz’s work commands that he work closely on a small area at a time, addressing with his brush a petal or rock until it’s precisely the way he wants it to be.

It is because of his method that Schatz prefers working with reference photos over painting in plein air.

“My passion is for nature and I will paint anything that I can photograph,” he says.

“But I am a slow painter, and anything that I choose to paint will be long gone before I get started painting!”

Schatz has sold his work throughout the Pacific Northwest, and his art has been spotlighted at watercolor society exhibits in both Texas and Louisiana. One of his works was featured on the front cover of the British edition of Best of Flower Painting, and his floral images have been published by Wild Wings, a licensing agency specializing in wildlife, Americana, and nostalgia images.

It’s all part of focusing on the natural world — flora and fauna — and bringing it, as Schatz determines, into the inside where it can be seen, appreciated, longed for, and loved. Fine art belongs everywhere including — and maybe especially — the office cubicle.

Wenaha Gallery

David Schatz is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 8 through Saturday, June 3, 2017. Schatz will be at the gallery Saturday, May 27 for a special two-person art show with Kennewick artist LuAnn Ostergaard, and both artists will be on hand to meet and greet visitors from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free refreshments are provided.

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.

 

Tunisian inspired necklaces by Pamela Good Walla Walla

Exotic Tunisia & Walla Walla Wine Country — The Jewelry of Pamela Good

Tunisian inspired necklaces by Pamela Good Walla Walla

A touch of Tunisia: necklaces by Pamela Good, Wenaha Gallery guest artist.

They’re called souks — marketplaces or commercial quarters in Western Asia or North Africa, and most of us know what they “feel” like by imagining ourselves in the Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The sights, sounds, smells, colors, people (even without the evil, black-robed swordsman confronting Indie), are all very exotic, alluringly unfamiliar in a fascinatingly romantic sort of way.

Tunisia inspired jewelry by Pamela Good Walla Walla

Tunisia-inspired jewelry by Pamela Good of Walla Walla

But for Walla Walla jewelry artist Pamela Good, who was born in Tunisia and has lived there, off and on, throughout her life, souks remind her of urban ethnic flea markets in the U.S. and Mexico.

“What makes the Tunisian Medinas so different are the narrow alleyways and switchbacks, the intense sounds of people talking a variety of languages, carts moving products, copper and brass hammerings and vendors calling to get your attention as you walk by,” Good says.

During a prolonged residence in North Africa during the 1970s and 80s, Good regularly walked the jewelry souks of Tunis, Sfax, and Djerba, seeking vintage beads, ancient findings, and precious and semi-precious stones to incorporate in her earrings and necklaces. One of her favorite merchants with which to work was Monsieur Ahmed, who through the years became a friend as well, tucking aside special finds for Good’s review.

Cork earrings walla walla wine country pamela good

Cork earrings, celebrating Walla Walla Wine Country, by Pamela Good.

“The first time I met him, he invited me for tea, and sitting inside his shop I shared what I was  looking for and how I was interested in designing jewelry integrating my Tunisian culture,” Good remembers. Afternoons with Monsieur Ahmed involved “sweet tea with almonds floating on top in a gold rimmed glass, and a tray of beads, stones, and/or vintage silver pieces.”

Some of these treasures Good still possesses, incorporating them in special designs that she creates as part of her jewelry business, which she focuses on outside her day job as program manager at AVID, an educational organization preparing students for success in high school, college, and career.

Necklaces earrings tunisia touch walla walla jewelry artist pamela good

Necklaces and earrings, with a touch of Tunisia, by Walla Walla jewelry artist Pamela Good

“The arts should be woven into everything we do with kids,” Good says concerning both her job and her art. “I have always believed that everyone can be an artist — you can draw, paint, make jewelry, learn to ride a bike.”

In addition to knowing how to do all of these things, Good possesses a few skills out of the American norm, one of which is speaking Arabic. This she acquired through concerted study; interacting with Tunisian family, friends, and co-workers; and co-owning Auberge de la Falaise, a Brasserie French restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Dressing appropriately for the culture by wearing a head scarf and keeping her arms and legs covered, Good avoided, during her market forays, being mistaken for a tourist, and her happiest souk day occurred when one of the vendors asked if she was Algerian.

“I laughed and thanked him and told him that I was American.

“He could not believe that I was speaking to him in Arabic, and called over people to tell them, ‘This American girl speaks Arabic!’

“They were happy and I was delighted!”

Earrings touch of tunisia walla walla jewelry artist pamela good

Earrings with a touch of Tunisia by Walla Walla jewelry artist Pamela Good

A member of the Walla Walla Art Club and Art Walla, Good enjoys the challenge of making jewelry from found objects, and while there are no souks in the Pacific Northwest, Good haunts vintage and antique stores. She also finds creative use for items immediately — although not obviously — at hand.

“Recently, I was inspired by an artist from Santa Fe who was using cork and Native American seed beads to create earrings,” Good says. “I thought of all the cork we use and then throw away after opening our wine bottles in the Walla Walla Valley, and decided to create a series of wine cork earrings — each are unique, most with sterling posts and semi-precious gems. Others include metals, wire wrap, pearls, crystals, and glass.”

They all look exotic, testament to a lifetime spent learning, traveling, and experimenting. With two or three themes going on at a time, Good finds her jewelry collections changing, evolving with her, her environment, and what she finds — here, or a quarter of the way across the planet.

“The last time I visited Tunisia was in 2012, two years after the Arab Spring,” Good says.

“The Medina and jewelry souks are exactly like they were when I had lived there from 1977-1984.

“There are a lot more imitations; prices have risen, and many old pieces are now seen as antiques, but I would return in a heartbeat!

“I love the chase of vintage pieces and am always excited to incorporate them in my work.”

Wenaha Gallery

Pamela Good is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, April 24 through Saturday, May 20, 2017.

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.

Eclectic and Diverse — The Paintings of Todd Telander

russel creek fields walla walla oil painting todd telander

Russell Creek Fields, original oil painting by Todd Telander, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Flexible. Adaptable. Supple.

While these sound like requirements for a CrossFit athlete, they aptly describe the attitude of an artist, specifically, Todd Telander of Walla Walla.

red vineyard river landscape todd telander walla walla

Red Vineyard by the River by Todd Telander

The painter and illustrator — who specializes in everything from commercial illustration to teaching art students from 10 to 80 years old — toggles back and forth between tasks with irrepressible fluidity, one moment brushing  oil-painted cows onto a loose, almost abstract background, the next finessing exquisite detail on a falcon for a birder’s field guide.

Telander, who completed a graduate-level program in scientific illustration at the University of California in Santa Cruz, has been combining two seemingly disparate disciplines — science and art — for the last 25 years. Working as a freelance artist on a national and international level, Telander has undertaken commissioned works for Greenpeace, the Maui Ocean Center of Hawaii, the Denver Zoo in Colorado, the University of Chicago Press, and the Golden Gate National Parks Association in California, among many, many others.

Travel research for commissions has taken Telander as far as New Zealand to study a Northern Gannet colony, as well as closer to home: the Puget Sound Islands to study Herring Gulls; the Rocky Mountains for elk; the Platte River of Nebraska for Sandhill Cranes. A longtime birder, Telander found that the research needed to accurately render images to the exacting standards of commercial clients translated well to other subject matter, and part of completing a commission may include fashioning 3-D clay sculptures of the subject to see how light will fall on an object from different angles.

Pinot Gris winery vineyard landscape oil painting todd telander walla walla

Pinot Gris by Todd Telander

It requires precision, attention to detail, and a scientific mind.

But other times, as Telander approaches his fine artwork of representational yet impressionistic landscapes, malleability and elasticity elbow their way to the forefront, resulting in paintings that are spacious, airy, soft, and textural, with sweeping brushstrokes and an eye for light, movement, and emotion.

“If my art makes a statement, it is up to the viewer to decide,” Telander says. “But for me I promote peace, contemplation, beauty, and solidity, and I suppose I like to share my vision of these things with others.”

Telander finds inspiration from the natural world, and since moving to the valley 13 years ago with his wife, Kirsten, Telander has explored an area that he says felt immediately like home, because it reminded him of his hometown of Chico in Northern California: he loves the open space, the agriculture, nearby mountains, and college town atmosphere.

Behind Tree landscape oil painting todd telander walla walla

Behind the Tree by Todd Telander

“There is an astounding amount of visual interest here,” he says.

Locally, Telander has worked with various wineries in creating labels for their runs, and images of his paintings grace bottles from Goose Ridge, Woodward Canyon, Figgins, Dowsett Family, and Seven Hills. He has also, through commercial commissions as well as the unavoidable interaction with them in a rural setting, developed a fondness for cows. An especially arresting piece is Cows in the Snow, featuring a lone figure separated off from the herd, staring boldly into the face of the viewer.

Cows in the Snow Todd Telander oil painting walla walla landscape

Cows in the Snow by Todd Telander, original painting, sold

A typical day may find Telander out in, literally, the field, sketchbook in hand, then back to the home studio — “A wonderful space with skylights, a cement floor, an antique curved-glass bookcase, and French doors leading out to our garden” — where he guides that session’s 6 or 7 students through the intricacies of classical, representational painting of still life, landscape, and portraiture. Then it’s off to Colville Street in Walla Walla for some time at the Telander Gallery, which he and Kirsten opened in 2013.

Telander licenses his work through McGaw Graphics of New York, and his original work resides across the continent.

“I appreciate each and every collector,” he says. “One of my more meaningful sales was a painting of Sandhill Cranes to Estelle Leopold, the daughter of the famed writer and conservationist Aldo Leopold,” considered by many to be the father of wildlife ecology, and instrumental in the founding of the U.S. wilderness system.

Awards for Telander include first place and Best of Show at the Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts (Joseph, OR); and the Pendleton Center for the Arts; as well as a an Artist in Residency at Rocky Mountain National Park and a scholarship to study under master painter Ray Vinella at the Taos Institute of Arts.

But while awards and acclaims are gratifying, Telander muses, they are in the end only temporary.

It is the work that matters: inspiration, light, atmospheric effect, the reaction of viewers and clients. These have staying power.

“I work to continue providing provocative, inspiring work at every step.”

Wenaha Gallery

Todd Telander is the Featured Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, April 10 through Saturday, May 6, 2017.

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.