Rope baskets team roping western gifts nancy waldron

Old Ropes and New Baskets — Nancy Waldron Creates

Rope baskets team roping western gifts nancy waldron

A collection of rope baskets by Colfax artist and team roper Nancy Waldron

Turning Rope into Art

Humans innovate, figuring out creative ways to solve problems. For example, consider the difficulty of capturing and restraining a full grown steer.

While this is not something the desk worker worries about, cowboys on ranches did, and they developed a technique, called team roping, which eventually segued into a popular rodeo event.

kitchen rope baskets team roping western gifts nancy waldron

A collection of kitchen rope baskets by Nancy Waldrons. Waldron does not dye the ropes; their coloration is unique to the style and manufacturer of the rope.

“Team roping involves two people on horses, a header and a heeler,” explains Nancy Waldron, a Colfax artist who is also a lifetime team roper. “The header catches the horns of a steer and takes one or two dallies around his saddle horn. He then rides to the left so the heeler can rope both hind legs and dally his rope around the saddle horn.”

The whole process is fast (a professional team takes between four and eight seconds) and exciting, but for Waldron, it doesn’t stop there. She gets really, really excited about another element of the sport:

The rope.

“I make rope baskets from old team roping ropes,” Waldron explains. “A lot of old ropes get tossed or just piled in a barn, so I am recycling and repurposing material that often would end up in a landfill. Each basket is one complete and continuous rope. Each is free formed and hand crafted — I don’t use any molds.”

New Baskets from Old Ropes

Waldron started making the baskets 10 years ago, after seeing them in catalogs. Her first thought was one that many people have when they encounter artisan craft work:

“I figured I could make my own. Being a team roper, I had more than a few old ropes lying around.

“Well, I was wrong. I had no clue how to make them. My first attempt was horrible, but I kept at it, and now am proud of the products I turn out.” Those products are both decorative and utilitarian, ranging from planters and flower pots to kitchen utensil holders, from egg collecting baskets to ones for holding kindling, and, the largest basket yet — consisting of four ropes — a pet basket. (By the way, the ropes are 30-35 feet in length.)

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Using one rope, Waldron incorporates the handle into the finished rope basket.

From the beginning, Waldron determined to forego shortcuts, choosing not to glue but rather melt the nylon layers together using a soldering iron. Working with a hot tip has its moments — generally short — when something other than the rope gets burned.

“I have burned myself many times,” Waldron says. “One time when I was a guest speaker giving a presentation of my baskets I was asked, ‘What does the tip look like that you use?’ I was able to show the questioner a fresh burn that was exactly shaped like the hot tip. The audience all laughed, but I sure didn’t when it happened!”

Made to Be Coiled

One of the questions Waldron most frequently encounters is whether she makes square or rectangular baskets. And the answer to that is, no.

“Think about it: try coiling your garden hose in a square and see how well that works out. Ropes are coiled and are not made to be bent: they fight you the whole way.” This trait increases the challenge of shaping the final product, especially when the rope Waldron starts with is very old. Several times, people have given her ropes from their grandpa’s days. And while these ropes are unique and vintage, they were probably also used to break a horse to tie, meaning that the rope has been wrapped many times around a standing railroad tie. So, in addition to kinks is the pungent aroma of creosote.

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Brightly colored baskets by Colfax artist Nancy Waldron — each basket is hand-fashioned and is one of a kind.

It’s all part of the challenge.

Waldron markets her rope baskets at regional gift shops, and also attends fairs and festivals throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. A chance meeting at the Pendleton Round-Up resulted in Waldron selling her wares through Woods Trading Company from Missouri, which sets up at larger rodeos and horse events throughout the U.S. Through this contact, Waldron achieved her dream to get her wares to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas:

“I pretty much had no life except making baskets between September and December. But I was thrilled they made it to the NFR.”

Never a City Girl

Born and raised in Portland but never a city girl, Waldron raised her children in Pomeroy, WA, while also farming, raising and showing cattle and sheep, breeding and training Border Collies, and, of course, team roping. Often, she says, both work and play were done with rope from the saddle of a horse, and it’s only fitting that those ropes transform into an item that is both utilitarian and artistic.

“Part of my design and trademark is ending some of my baskets with a loop around the outside, almost as if the loop and hondo are catching the basket, completing the lasso image.

“My baskets are functional, but I try to maintain the authentic concept that a rope is intended to catch something.”

Wenaha GalleryNancy Waldron is the Featured Art Event from Monday, November 4, through Saturday, November 30 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery for the Christmas Kickoff Art Show Friday, November 29, from 2 to 6 p.m. Waldron will be joined by Walla Walla photographer Nancy Richter.

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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Wildlife & Western Living — Paintings by Jan Fontecchio

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A horse finds itself in A Little Bit of Heaven by western and wildlife artist Jan Fontecchio of Moscow, Idaho.

Wildlife Wonder

Parents remember the oddest things about their children. And given that most adults do not recall their toddler years, we accept those memories with a gracious nod. Our own recollections often start later.

“I’ve done art since my first memory,” western and wildlife painter Jan Fontecchio says.

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Rancher, by western and wildlife painter Jan Fontecchio

“My parents say I drew a three-dimensional wedge of cheese when I was three. I don’t remember that, but my book covers at school were covered in sketches. A pencil was always in my hand, and if the teacher didn’t grab my tests quickly enough, there might be a little horse drawn in the corner of the paper.”

When Fontecchio was 10, a family friend who worked as an artist for Disney drew a horse portrait in charcoal for her. The resultant memory of this event stayed in Fontecchio’s mind and affected her life’s future plans: she went to art school.

“I think it took him two minutes or something. That little demo hooked me good!”

Western Upbringing

Raised on a horse ranch in the low deserts of California, Fontecchio spent her growing years immersed in the worlds of western wildlife. While earning a degree in fine art, she worked at California wild animal and big cat rescues, including the Wildlife Way Station, a non-profit sanctuary that for over 43 years housed, cared for and rehabilitated more than 77,000 wild animals; and the Shambala Preserve, which provides sanctuary to wild felines.

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Puma of Parowan Gap, portrait of a cougar by western and wildlife artist Jan Fontecchio

Later, while working in the craftsman department of Six Flags in Los Angeles, Fontecchio — who moved to Moscow, ID, ten years ago — befriended one of the dolphin trainers, who helped her get hired as the trainer’s partner. Every experience added to Fontecchio’s captivation with animals: their form, their thought process, their movement and grace and beauty.

A Fascination with Animals

“I became especially fascinated with the musculature of animals in stressful situations: stalking, fighting, running, etc., and in the case of dolphins, swimming and leaping.”

Fontecchio has explored this world of wildlife in a variety of mediums, beginning with baling wire, which was plentiful on the ranch where she grew up. She has sculpted in wire, clay, and blown glass. A stamped leather cover found itself on a Hollywood movie (“I wish I could remember the name of the movie, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a blockbuster or anything!”), and the first pieces she sold to her first gallery were colored ink on textured board. From there she moved to watercolor, then to pastel, and finally to oil, which she calls her dream medium.

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Summer Pasture, by western and wildlife artist Jan Fontecchio of Moscow, ID

Her studio situation is as eclectic as her experience. As the mother of four children, Fontecchio carves out a working space from what is available:

From Floor, to Washing Machine, to Studio

“I used to paint on the floor, then switched to the top of the washing machine in the laundry room.

“I did that for years until a room opened up when our two oldest moved out.”

While the space is still small (does any artist every consider the studio big enough?), it is Fontecchio’s sanctuary, filled with her collection of skulls, furs, Indian artifacts, cactus skeletons, a vintage can of her dad’s favorite beer, and the skin from the rattlesnake that Fontecchio shot in the barn when she was 15: (“It was coiled, so there are three bullet holes in it”).

Fontecchio is a member of the American Plains Artists, Women Artists of the West, and the Out West Artists. Through the latter, she has participated in Western Art Week in Great Falls, MO, the biggest art show of western and wildlife art in the U.S., revolving around the CM Russell Art Auction. Her art resides in the homes of collectors throughout the nation — including the CEO of Exxon Mobil — as well as from England to South America to Australia, with buyers from the latter especially drawn to her horse paintings. In 2016, her painting, On the Upper Pecos, juried into the prestigious London, UK, show, The Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibition. What makes this notable event extra memorable is that it represented the very first time she applied for this particular show.

From Cheese to Western and Wildlife

Whether or not Fontecchio’s first foray into art was a three-dimensional wedge of cheese, her artistic portfolio today revolves around the western lifestyle, and the animals she loves. The subject matter is endless, and the main problem she sees is the lack of time to paint it all.

“I have so many things I want to paint. They’re stacked up in my mind and I’m always working on the comps for new work.

“I’ll never run out of things that I want to bring to life on canvas.

“That’s the reason I’ll live to be 100.”

Wenaha GalleryJan Fontecchio is the Featured Art Event from Monday, October 21, through Saturday, November 16 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.

 

 

 

cannon beach oregon coast highway 101 paul henderson art

Highway 101 — Paul Henderson Paints Its Moods

cannon beach oregon coast highway 101 paul henderson art

Cannon Beach Glow, by acrylic painter Paul Henderson, part of his Moods of Highway 101 series.

Moods of Highway 101

From rocky cliffs and chilling fog to warm, sunny beaches, Highway 101 is one of the longest, most scenic highways in the U.S. Driving it is not fast by any means, but given that it winds through the coastal scenery of Washington, Oregon, and California, who’s in a hurry?

Not artist Paul Henderson, who with his wife Letha took a 16-day trip on the highway from Astoria, OR, to Eureka, CA.

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse. It’s a beacon of light and beauty on Highway 101 at Newport, OR.  By Yakima acrylic painter Paul Henderson

“We wanted to take our time enjoying all the wonderful scenes of ocean, old farms, old communities, forest, gifts shops, galleries, boat harbors, and lighthouses,” the Yakima painter says. “We stayed one to three days around each major town, traveling 50-120 miles with each move we made.”

They visited eight lighthouses out of 13, and stopped in at state parks, farmers markets and festivals.

During that time, Paul  took more than 1200 reference photos which, after the trip, he went through with the intent to create a series of 40 to 60 small paintings of the coast.

“I’ve finished 14 so far, and have started another 10 paintings on the subject. I work on them simultaneously, and am about 60 percent done.”

Working in Multiples, and Singles

Working out of a bedroom converted into a studio in his house, Henderson often employs the multiple painting approach, lining up canvases with their reference photos and moving from one image to the next when he wants, literally, a change of scenery. Other times, on larger works, he focuses on one image. This he paints with incredible detail, devoting multiple hundreds of hours to its completion.

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Nehalem River Edge, original acrylic painting by Yakima artist, Paul Henderson

He doesn’t like to be stuck in one place or way of doing things, whether he’s traveling Highway 101 or creating in his studio. An artist from the time he was old enough to hold a crayon, Henderson has been painting professionally for 46 years, and he has experimented with everything from highly realistic representational work to abstract pours. A strong interest in history, archaeology, and multi-national cultures infuses his work, and because of this, he refers to himself as “The Northwest Artist with an International Touch.”

“I love to try different methods; it keeps me fresh and invigorated,” Henderson says. “After all, ‘variety is the spice of life.’ I am full of passion to express and create life . . . colorful living images.”

With his present project, the variety of imagery acquired on his Oregon Coast trip keeps him traveling from one canvas to another, from one scene to another, in all sorts of weather. It’s almost like taking the trip all over again.

Sun, Rain and Fog on Highway 101

“It was quite cloudy in the northern part of Highway 101. In the middle it was somewhat sunny, and then rainy and foggy when we reached the south end. But it was all very beautiful.

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Water’s Edge, a view of the beach and ocean off of Highway 101, by Yakima painter Paul Henderson

“Because of the variety of weather, I am calling the series that I’m painting, The Moods of Highway 101. The variety of moods — from stormy to soft rain to the sun breaking through to the beautiful sunsets — these all define the landscape and the scenery of this long and historic highway.”

Henderson has exhibited his work at shows, galleries, and wineries in Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Iowa, and California. He has been interviewed by Evening Magazine, the weekly TV show of KING 5 in Seattle, as well as by assorted newspapers and publications, including The Mzuri Wildlife Foundation Conference and The Artist’s magazines. He has had special shows at Saviah Cellars in Walla Walla; AntoLin Cellars of Yakima; Wenaha Gallery of Dayton; and Gallery One in Ellensburg.

In 1986 he attracted national attention when he began painting with coffee, the first artist to seriously consider doing so.

Realism, Abstract, and Everything in Between

“I’ve gone from drawing every leaf and brick as a child to abstract when I first started professionally painting,” Henderson says, describing an artist’s repertoire that is as varied and complex as the scenery along Highway 101.

“I am comfortable working in any style or subject matter from abstract to detail, to fantasy, to loose style, to just experimenting.”

It’s all part of the journey of being an artist — constantly moving, observing, exploring, and doing. It’s never being static. But it’s also staying long enough in one spot to fully capture its essence, its personality, its mood.

“Watch what’s coming next,” Henderson says. “Who knows?”

Wenaha GalleryPaul Henderson is the Featured Art Event from Monday, October 7, through Saturday, November 2 at Wenaha Gallery. He will be at the gallery Saturday, October 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Autumn Art Show, also featuring bead weaver Alison Oman and Heppner, OR, wildlife painter Sandra Haynes.

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.

 

bear bird wildlife scratchboard aniimals art sandra haynes

Wildlife Woman — The Artwork of Sandra Haynes

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Bear and the Bird, wildlife scratchboard art by Sandra Haynes of Heppner, OR

Wildlife Is a Way of Life for Sandra Haynes

The unusual nature of Sandra Haynes’ childhood is best evidenced by her baby blanket: a bobcat hide from an animal her mother found raiding the family hen house. As a little girl, Haynes’ first pets were domesticated, non-descented skunks (“They were pretty easy-going except in the winter when we left them to their semi-hibernation, undisturbed, as they were usually pretty cranky by then”) and a pet fox that she befriended by standing in a clearing, very still, and proffering biscuits.

By the age of four, she had learned to move slowly, talk softly, and keep her eye contact brief.

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Born Wild, colored pencil on Duralar by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

“I was raised in Molalla, a timber town on the west side or Oregon,” the wildlife artist says.

“Being around wild animals was just part of my life as Dad and some of his brothers — all woodsmen — spent a lot of time in the heavy timber teaching me everything about the life of its inhabitants.”

Her favorite uncle, a government trapper, frequently brought an unknown animal to Sandra, then about eight. He enjoyed quizzing  her on what it could be and how it would live:

“He would ask me to tell him about it based on its fur color pattern, where it lived in the forest based on its anatomy, what it ate after examining its teeth, jaws, and claws, whether it was nocturnal, and was it likely to live mostly alone or in a group or herd.”

Later, a mountain man friend taught her how to sneak up on herds of 350 cow/calf elk pairs while remaining in their plain sight. Haynes also learned how to climb the sides of a cliff to feed apples to wild Big Horn Sheep rams.

Hunting Wildlife with a Camera

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Foxy Lady, graphite and pan pastel on Duralar by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

Yes, it was an unusual childhood, and it’s not surprising that Sandra — who started drawing at the age of three — grew into a wildlife artist, capturing deer, elk, bears, cougar, moose and more in oil paint, pastel, graphite, watercolor, and scratchboard. Now residing in Heppner, OR, Haynes travels throughout the Pacific Northwest — especially its most remote spots — to photograph the animals she eventually turns into artwork.

“Hunting wild animals to photograph outside of animal parks is a difficult and far-from-guaranteed adventure, and is the reason why most artists who do their own photo reference gathering go to game parks or farms,” Haynes says, explaining that while she does visit animal parks, a photographer friend and she take the time now and then to go into the wild and do things the hard way. Accompanying them is Zora, Haynes’ Doberman bodyguard who more than once has kept her mistress from harm.

“One time my photographer friend and I were close to a herd of wild horses. We decided to walk to the other side of a pond when much to our surprise, the entire herd of about 12 horses decided to follow us.”

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Fire Cat, by wildlife artist Sandra Haynes

When two especially aggressive stallions sidled too close, Haynes and her friend bent to pick up rocks to chuck when Zora streaked past them and scattered the herd in a rush.

“After that, she went back to her playing without a glance at me or them. She knew she had done her job and did not expect a praise-filled fuss. But that showed me she had what it takes to protect me in any circumstances.”

Jumping into Scratchboard

Haynes’ medium of choice is scratchboard, a technique she first encountered 16 years ago when an artist friend gave her a small board and told her to get something sharp and scratch out an image.

“That was the end of my training.”

She persevered, found she loved the fine, etched lines that brought out details, and went on to enter shows and win awards with her work. A short list of shows includes the Phippen Western Art Show in Prescott, AZ; the Western Heritage Art Show in Great Falls, MT; Montana Charlie Russell Days; the Oldfield Art Show in Puyallup, WA; and the Western Art Show and Auction in Ellensburg, WA.

Haynes is a member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists, and has published a series of scratchboard instructional books, as well as stories on her adventures as a wildlife artist.

In the Studio or Out in the Wild

It’s hard to tell where she is happiest — in the studio or out in the wild — but in both places she feels very much at home. The child who loved to draw, immersed in the world of wildlife and the woods, has grown into a mountain woman herself, one who shares, through her art and through her wisdom, the beauty of the world she knows.

“Art, to be good, only has to touch you in someway,” Haynes says. “Maybe it reminds you of someplace you have been or would like to be, or it makes you smile.

“For me, creating a piece that makes that connection is what it is all about.”

Wenaha GallerySandra Haynes is the Featured Art Event from Monday, September 23, through Saturday, October 19 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery Saturday, October 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Autumn Art Show, also featuring bead weaver Alison Oman and Yakima acrylic painter Paul Henderson.

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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Old, Bold, and Beautiful — Pickup Trucks by Randy Klassen

hand doodle card markers artwork jennifer schock

Doodle Art — Hand-Crafted Cards by Jennifer Schock

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Hand-doodled, one of a kind note card by Dayton artist, Jennifer Schock

Doodle Art explores the world of design and creativity

Technology changes constantly, and its siren call of something new — NOW — beckons and attracts. But the most important elements of human existence and ingenuity remain constant through time: our hands, our minds, our hearts, and our ability to create with these, using the materials around us.

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Blue doodle art on a vertical note card, by Jennifer Schock of Dayton

Jennifer Schock understands this concept. The Dayton artist is hard to pin down to one medium, because she does everything from dance to sewing, from jewelry making to her latest endeavor, creating one of a kind, hand doodle cards with “plain old fine point black markers” and fine point Sharpies in their full array of colors. She launched on this project a year ago, as a means of keeping herself busy as she, her husband, and five dogs made the move from South Carolina to the Pacific Northwest. Never one to sit on her hands, she found herself using them in the down times when there was nothing pressing to do.

“Doodling seemed the perfect occupation for these times,” Schock explains. She started with Valentine’s cards for family members, and then just kept going through the months and seasons, resulting in hundreds of one of a kind, totally hand-created cards. Later, as household items arrived in the moving vans and her vast supply of creative treasures arrived, she set up studio in a nook in a larger room, and embarked upon fashioning nostalgic collage cards as well.

“I have books, magazine, all sorts of things to peruse until one photo jumps out at me. Anything is game,” Schock says.

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Love Is in the Air, nostalgic collage card by Jennifer Schock

Doodle and Collage Cards

Because she never knows what she’ll make next — depending upon her mood Schock will doodle a card, sew a grocery bag from repurposed jeans, string beads, knot leather, or fashion wall art from old, scratched (“unplayable — promise!”) vinyl records — she collects all sorts of objects. These she stores in that small nook studio, which also houses one of the most important pieces of furniture in the house: her work table.

“It’s scratched and nicked. It was purchased by my parents when they married in 1945, and it’s the only dining table our family ever sat around. My small TV sits in a corner and is only on Channel 132, Turner Classic Movies, the only channel I really need!”

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Black and white doodle art card by Jennifer Schock of Dayton

It should not come as a surprise that Schock does not own a computer, nor desire to do so. And while she does not object to today’s technological wonders, she is concerned about how their overuse affects society, changing us in a way that is not necessarily positive. As a counteraction to digital overload, hand-crafted cards — both her doodled and collage creations  — add humanity back to the mix.

Adding Back Humanity

“We live in a text, email, social media world, our heads bent down seemingly unaware of surroundings,” Schock says.

“Maybe my cards will bring a moment of laughter, joy, gratitude, healing, tears, or reflection to the recipient.”

If she makes a statement with her art, she adds, this is it. She considers it “cool” that the people who purchase her cards make a statement of their own through the message they write within, and her art piece serves as a vehicle for love, sympathy, birthday, missing you — “plain old fashioned thoughts” from one human being to another.

“My mother was a wonderful note writer,” Schock says. “For this reason, my doodled and nostalgic cards carry her name: Winnie Cards.”

Incorporating Old with New

Humanity matters. And in every creative pursuit she, well, pursues, Schock seeks to connect what she makes or does with who people are. For years she performed and taught dance, eventually focusing on movement therapy, in which she worked with all age groups and backgrounds in a psychiatric facility. Later, she taught art to children in 4th through 8th grades. Whatever she does, wherever she is, her focus is on hands and heart, mind and human creativity.

These elements are timeless, transcending technology, trends, and technocracy. The old ways aren’t necessarily outdated, and the latest and greatest isn’t always the best. The simple note card, which seemed on its way to becoming obsolete in the light of its e-card competition, has a very real, very necessary place in the modern world.

“Isn’t it just so nice to receive something in the mail? And isn’t it even better to write a few words out and send it along?”

Yes, it is.

Wenaha GalleryJennifer Schock is the Featured Art Event from Monday, August 12, through Saturday, September 7 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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Plein Air Complexity — Watercolors by Jan Vogtman

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Sundance, plein air watercolor landscape painting by Jan Vogtman

Plein air painters get used to all sorts of weather. Because of the nature of their studio — outside, in the plain air — they operate without a roof over their heads. Unless, of course, they choose to bring one of their own.

“During the Paint du Nord Quick Draw competition in Duluth, MN, we painted in a huge rainstorm,” watercolor artist Jan Vogtman remembers. “The competition lasted two hours, exactly — they blow a horn to start and stop.”

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Bob’s Pond, plein air landscape painting by Jan Vogtman.

Told to paint what she saw, Vogtman took the challenge literally.

“My painting shows all the artists painting around me with colorful umbrellas.”

Another time, the Troy, ID, painter joined three plein air artist friends out in the wilderness, keeping watchful eye as a memorable storm took an hour to build up.

“When the wind and rain came, we huddled in the car, ate lunch, and had a few beers. But the storm had no intention of stopping anytime soon, so we gave it up and went home.”

Even Vogtman’s trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, had its moments. While the weather was grand during the Andy Evansen watercolor workshop she took there with a friend, sunny skies disappeared on the way back.

“We got stranded in Seattle during the Big Blizzard and got home two days later than planned.”

Not Just the Weather

Weather inconsistencies, however, are so much a part of plein air painting that one comes to accept them as constants. So is the issue of travel. Because landscapes do not transport themselves to the artist’s studio, it’s up to the artist to transport herself. And for Vogtman, who lives on Moscow Mountain, four miles from the nearest city of Troy (population 600), getting together with plein air artist friends for an afternoon of painting often involves significant time in the car.

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Exhibit Bee, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“Because I live rural, my travel time is normally one hour each way.”

Vogtman discovered watercolor 24 years ago while working at the University of Idaho. Side by side with students barely out of high school, she took as many university level art classes as she could while maintaining a full work load. Plein air she discovered in 2009, and since then has competed in regional plein air competitions as well as the event in Duluth. She is a member of the Palouse Watercolor Socius, the Idaho Watercolor Society headquartered in Boise, and the Northwest Watercolor Society in Seattle.

All A’s in Art, Not Math

And while art is something she was interested in from a very early age, it was not something she was able to focus on until she was an adult and had a “real career” in the business and academic worlds. That’s just the way things were when she was growing up, even though all her A’s in school were in art, and not math.

Vogtman recalls the time she entered a drawing competition sponsored by the Minneapolis Art Institute in her hometown.

“I was maybe around 12 years old — and when I saw this competition in the newspaper, I entered. I think the amount of the prize was $250, which had to be used for classes.

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Palouse Falls, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“My parents could not afford to send me then or at anytime for art education. I was told I could not collect the award.”

She went to school to become a secretary. In a career spanning 36 years, Vogtman worked up to Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Northern Europe for the Control Data Corporation in Minneapolis, and later, upon moving to Idaho, served as the Coordinator of the Executive Speaker Series, reporting to the Dean of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho. On retiring in 2000, she challenged herself to dive into the art world, returning to the passion of her childhood.

The Hobby That Became a Business

In addition to plein air, Vogtman paints in her studio, a daylight basement of her home where furry forest friends peek through the window and watch. Most recently, she has added teaching workshops to taking them herself, conducting an introductory course for 20 students at the Center for Arts and History in Lewiston, ID. She has had a studio at the Artisan Barn in Uniontown, WA; earned her merit membership with the Idaho Watercolor Society upon being juried into three annual shows; and served as treasurer of the Palouse Watercolor Socius.

What started out as a hobby has become a business. And what’s perfect about that is how the non-art experience blends and melds well with the brush work of paint.

It’s unexpected, and not something that could have been predicted when she exchanged an art scholarship for business school. Life, though, like weather for the plein air painter, is never static. The best stories — and often paintings — involve the stormy days.

Wenaha GalleryJan Vogtman is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 29, through Saturday, August 24 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.

 

 

 

blue rocket ceramics pottery mugs kassie smith

Ceramics Dynamics — The Pottery of Kassie Smith

Ceramics Artist Teaches with Passion

By the time she was 17, ceramics artist Kassie Smith was done — absolutely DONE — with school, and wanted nothing to do with college.

So, in one of life’s unique twists, the Moscow, ID, artist found herself completing eight years of higher education, resulting in a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio Arts from the University of Idaho. She stayed on to work as a ceramics instructor. A short time later, she moved to Washington State University, where she joined the ceramics department there. When she isn’t at WSU, she’s the Dahmen Barn, an artisan instruction and studio co-op in Uniontown, where Smith both teaches and manages the pottery studio.

rocket theme ceramics pottery clay bowl kassie smith

Rocket-themed ceramic bowl, bottom view, by Kassie Smith of Moscow, ID

“I realized there was nothing I could do with my life without a degree,” Smith explains, adding that since childhood, she has always wanted to work with clay and glass art. The turning point came when she met an artist at a Baltimore gallery who created an “alcohol reduction” process similar to Raku.

“He took time to explain the process and connect with me, a 17-year-old rebellious creative soul who wanted to completely abandon academia, on a very human level. His passion was evident. After that interaction, I gave up the quest for glass art and focused solely on ceramics.

“I have kept his passion and philosophy, seeking to use my work and research as a way to connect with people, and hopefully spark a similar passion in others.”

Functional — and Beyond Functional — Ceramics Art

One of Smith’s specializations is functional pottery: she creates custom ceramics ware for local restaurants. She also focuses on female empowerment — both as a female entrepreneur and artist serving as a role model for other women, as well as with the specific subject matter she chooses.

Teeth pottery mugs kassie smith

Smiling Teeth Mugs by Kassie Smith of Moscow, ID. The gold tooth in each features real gold.

“The content of my art often has imagery relating to the female body — either with objects that suggest a relationship or forms that allude.

“Most of my work is meant to be introspective, but recently I’ve been getting louder and more bold, getting closer to a ‘statement.'”

Although she has dug and processed her own clay — a process she calls both fun and incredibly labor and time intensive — Smith generally orders a pallet with 1,950 pounds of material. It’s cost effective. It also requires a lot of storage — in both its raw state and in the finished products.

“There’s never enough space,” Smith says, describing one of the many challenges of the ceramics lifestyle.

“Build shelves, fill shelves, need more shelves.”

The Benefit of Challenges

Finding enough space is just one challenge, or as Smith prefers to call it, life benefit. Another challenge/benefit is clay itself, because the material is a never-ending source of wonder. It adds a scientific element to the art that demands constant learning and experimentation.

“Clay is a fickle material, and all clays are different,” Smith says.  “Firing clay is an art form in itself.

“I am a super nerd for glaze chemistry. There is never enough time to run all the experiments I’d like. I could spend the rest of my life on glaze chemistry if I didn’t get tired of wearing a respirator.”

red rocket themed ceramics pottery mugs kassie smith

Rocket-themed pottery mugs in red tones by Kassie Smith

Another challenge involves waiting, something every ceramics artisan spends more time doing than they’d like.

“Waiting for kilns to cool down is challenging. I want to see the things NOW!!!

“Patience . . . ”

Smith has shown her work at the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts in Joseph, OR, as well as at the Moscow Farmer’s Market, every Saturday from May through October.

She shuttles her work in progress between three studio spaces. One is at WSU, one at her home in Moscow, and a third at the community pottery studio at the Dahmen Barn. Logistical planning for transporting ceramics is a nightmare, she admits.

“And I break things.

“But having three studios keeps me on my toes.”

Clear as Mud

Learning, teaching, researching, experimenting, creating, even the interminable waiting. It’s all part of being a ceramic artist, well worth all the extra schooling it took to get here. Whether in classroom or studio, Smith is where she wants to be, doing exactly what she wants to do.

“There are very few things I’d rather do than be elbows deep in the mud.”

Wenaha GalleryKassie Smith is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 15, through Saturday, August 10 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.

 

Motovun europe city acrylic painting flowers summer barcenas landscape travel

Travel the World — Summer Barcenas Paints Europe

Motovun europe city acrylic painting flowers summer barcenas landscape travel

Motovun, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas, chronicling her European travel

Travel changes things.

Stop and think about where you live — Walla Walla, Dayton, Waitsburg, the surrounding areas. This is home. But for others passing through, it’s a destination spot, a place to vacation, a tourist experience. What’s ordinary and everyday for us is new and exciting for them.

Andalucia europe travel city buildings acrylic painting summer barcenas

Andalucia, original acrylic painting by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla, painting her travel images of Europe

Capturing that ordinary and everyday, in conjunction with new and exciting, is the artistic challenge for Summer Barcenas, a lifelong Walla Wallan who visually chronicles her European travels in acrylic paint on big, big canvases.

“The main theme of my art is wanderlust,” Barcenas says. “I want to open people’s minds to the journey, the exploration, and the beauty of each culture, country, and place.”

Bitten by the travel bug when her family uprooted itself  to journey throughout Europe for two years, Barcenas returned for another year as an exchange student in France. During her sojourn there she haunted the Louvre, Picasso, Matisse, and Magritte museums. She sought out perches over picturesque landscapes, where she opened her sketchbook, and drew.  She took endless photos of everything, with the intention of recreating the feeling, the emotion, and the color of her experience so that others, too, could experience it.

After Travel: She Wanted Two Things

And by the time she returned to Walla Walla, she wanted, really, only two things:

“I requested to be met with dill pickles and thin mints.”

bicycle flowers buildings fence europe acrylic painting summer barcenas

Bicycle and Flowers, original acrylic painting of her travel Europe experience, by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla

That’s one, even though it’s sort of two.

The second thing she wanted was retreat to her art room and paint.

“When people look at my art, the bright colors, textures, and strokes of the paint, I want them to feel something,” Barcenas explains.

“I want them to feel the emotion that I pour into each painting, because every piece of art is dedicated to a moment in my life when I was full of emotion.

“Awe, wonder, excitement, tranquility, everything. I want people to feel those emotions, to step into that painting and experience it for themselves.”

Painting, and Dreaming about Travel, from Childhood

Barcenas has been drawing, sketching, painting, and creating from childhood. Her decision to paint large came about when she was raising money for her travel exchange student year. That’s when her mother, whom Barcenas describes as having a “go big or go home” attitude, purchased 25 canvases up to 5 x 4 feet in size.

downtown europe travel buildings acrylic painting summer barcenas

Downtown, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas

“I tried my luck on a canvas working for the first time with acrylic paints and a surface that big. I repainted the painting six times.

“When I finally had an art show at age 17 to raise money for my year abroad, that painting was the first to sell.”

Through her paintbrush, Barcenas believes, she can travel anywhere. Describing painting as not a hobby, but a way of life, Barcenas mentally returns to the places she has seen, discovering, during this revisit, things that she didn’t fully appreciate before.

“As I paint, I am mesmerized by the beauty I may have missed. I recreate these places that I long to travel back to, painting them exactly as they were on the most perfect of days.

“So later, I can stare at my canvas and remember.”

Being an Artist

The very process of painting is one of exhilaration and satisfaction, Barcenas says. Each stroke of paint on canvas adds to the story that the artist is painting, and the possibilities of what and how to paint are endless.  This is the “rush” of being an artist.

“Being an artist isn’t easy,” Barcenas says. “But it’s not always a choice. It’s who you are.

“Creating art is what fuels your soul, and you can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s how it is for me.

“It’s how I’m wired, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Wenaha GallerySummer Barcenas is the Featured Art Event from Monday, June 3 through Saturday, June 29 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.

 

feathered seed jar pottery dennis zupan artist teacher

Teacher, Potter, Advocate — Dennis Zupan Uses His (Right) Brain

feathered seed jar pottery dennis zupan artist teacher

Feathered Seed Jar, Carbon Imprint by lifetime pottery teacher and artist, Dennis Zupan

Dennis Zupan was on the exam table for an endoscopy, when the doctor glanced at the chart.

“He was pulling on his gloves before my lights went out when I heard, ‘Ah . . . Mr. Zupan. I have been waiting for this.'”

pottery pot abstract glaze teacher dennis zupan artist

Abstract, pottery by lifetime artist and teacher Dennis Zupan

It wasn’t the first time that the retired teacher of pottery and jewelry ran into a former student. Another time Zupan was pulled over by security in the parking lot at the community college where he was teaching.

“With red lights flashing and a uniformed officer at my window, I heard, ‘Hi, Mr. Zupan. It’s me, Jonathan. I thought that was you. I just wanted to say hi.'”

Saying Hi to the Teacher

That’s what students wanted to do: just say hi and thank you to a man who not only taught them about an ancient and enduring art form, but who also believed that students have a right to learn in an environment best suited to their way of thinking. For Zupan, this comes down to right brain (creative) versus left brain (analytical) thinking. The latter, he feels, has overwhelmed the school system. It’s to the point that there is no refuge for those who are interested, and excel, in the arts.

“According to all the left-brained people in charge of our education needs, right brained thinking is wrong,” Zupan, who taught arts for 30 years Provo High school, says.

green raku pottery fired dennis zupan artist teacher

Green Raku, Fired, by lifetime pottery teacher and artist Dennis Zupan

“All the process and results that make a right brained person function needed to be sanitized into a left-brain format so it could be understood and validated in their left-brain world.”

Instead of actually learning to draw or make a pot, Zupan continues, students are channeled into classes on art theory, history, appreciation, aesthetics, critique, and analysis — all elements that come naturally to a right-brained artist over time as they strive to perfect their art. The result, Zupan mourns, is that “the refuge class for right brained students is gone, replaced by another list of left-brain tasks.”

Right-brain Teacher

Promoting art is a lifestyle for Zupan, who now lives and creates both pottery and jewelry in Richland. While in Utah he taught art at community education classes in the evenings, during summer school, at workshops with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H. He conducted university and college classes. And he participated in some unique opportunities to work with ancient pottery techniques.

pit fired pottery feathers dennis zupan teacher artist

Pit Fired Pot with Feathers by retired teacher and lifetime artist Dennis Zupan

One of these opportunities was through the Colorado Archeologist Group, National Geographic Magazine, and Mesa Verde National Park. They joined together to replicate Anasazi (Southwest Pueblo people) pottery making and kiln firing. Zupan was one of 20 potters asked to replicate pieces, with each step documented as if were being done 1300 years ago.

Another time he partnered with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in creating a series of Bible-based films on the New Testament era.

“At that time in history, a potter’s work was essential and found in every aspect of everyday living,” Zupan says. “Cooking, serving, lamps, and storage containers all came from the potter’s shed.” With three other potters, Zupan created hundreds of pieces for the films.

A recipient of numerous state and national teaching awards, Zupan says he approached teaching art as an artist and not an educator.

Teaching Future Artists

“I was sharing art methods and marketing to potential future artists,” he explains.

Because, when it comes to art, it’s not the theory, it’s not the analysis, it’s not the endless talking about it that matters: it’s the finished work of art. And achieving a beautiful finished work of art takes the hands, the soul, and the skill of an artist.

“I enjoy the challenges of working with a piece of clay because there are no limits to the possibilities,” Zupan says. “I often push clay to its edge of failure.

“There is always an air of excitement opening a kiln — the patterns on the pottery are created in the kilns. Raku glazes always have a bit of chance happenings to them; the same is true in a pit fire.

“They cannot be totally controlled or replicated. They can be truly exhilarating.”

Exhilarating. That’s a worthwhile goal to aspire to, and it is one Zupan has spent his life teaching students to reach for, and to find.

Which is probably why they go out of their way — wherever they are — to say, “Mr. Zupan, hi. Do you remember me?”

Wenaha GalleryDennis Zupan is the Featured Art Event from Monday, May 20 through Saturday, June 15 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.