rice-bowls-pottery-ceramic-chopsticks-merrilyn-reeves

Pottery Mom — Functional Clay by Merrilyn Reeves

huckleberry pottery ceramic bowl merrilyn reeves

The leaves and fruit of the Northwest’s wild blueberry are a signature embellishment on Merrilyn Reeve’s Huckleberry Bowl.

Not many women in modern USA boldly call raising a family a career, but potter Merrilyn Reeves isn’t afraid to do so. Years before she embarked upon a second career that is now 33-years in progress and counting, she raised four children on 17 acres in a remote area of rural Idaho. Their nearest neighbors were six miles away. The radio worked in the car, not the house. The deer that interacted with the family’s laying hens, goats, and cattle had to contend with a “rifle packing momma who had to feed her kiddos.”

The last thing on her mind, at that time, was throwing pots.

“Keeping dirty things clean (faces, bottoms, clothes, floors, dishes), food on the table, and clothes on little bodies occupied most of my time and energy,” the Plummer, ID, artist says. It wasn’t until she was on a vacation with her still-young family to Yellowstone and chanced to observe a professional potter plying his craft, that pottery first entered into her heart and hopes.

rice-bowls-pottery-ceramic-chopsticks-merrilyn-reeves

Through the years, Merrilyn Reeves has developed her own special formulas for the glazes she used on her pottery. Blue Rice Bowls with Chopsticks.

“I was mesmerized as I watched him skillfully turn that lump of clay into a recognizable vessel. He was amazing and I was very taken with the process and result.”

She Gave the Pottery Wheel a Whirl

A few years later, she took a class where she sat down at the wheel for the first time, and, literally, gave it a whirl.

“I wore a suit — a poor choice for a pottery class! Prior to that day, the thought that I might be an artist had never entered my mind. I could not imagine doing anything passable with a paint brush.”

Since that memorable day in 1988, Reeves has created hundreds of pots using a wheel very similar to the one on which she threw her first pot. She also experiments with hand building and alternate throwing forms, using porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware clays in a variety of applications. The learning curve, like the wheel itself, is constantly turning, and each project is an opportunity to learn more about the medium: Moisture content in clay varies widely, and if it’s too firm or too soft, it won’t throw right. Glazes, too, are finicky, and must “fit” the particular clay, with both expanding at about the same rate to result in a good, durable glaze without major defects.

oval grass ceramic pottery platter bowl merrilyn reeves

Grass, leaves, and flowers are a favorite embellishment of Merrilyn Reeves to either paint onto the pottery or incorporate via organic materials. Oval Grass Bowl by Merrilyn Reeves.

And despite what Reeves thought, she did learn to use a paintbrush, frequently embellishing pieces with images of leaves and flowers.

God’s Creation Provides the Finishing Touches

“God’s creation provides much inspiration for my pots, particularly in the finishing touches,” Reeves says. “When I need an idea, I am apt to take a walk and see what is growing in the area. The grasses and weeds I collect just may end up on the next generation of my pots. Many items from nature are fun to play with, whether leaves, whole plants, stones or sea shells.

“I have to say that bugs don’t make the grade, and have never ended upon on a pot. Yet.”

Reeves specializes in functional ware, defining each piece as possessing a purpose, which, in part, is determined by the person who “adopts” it.

pottery mugs ceramic merrilyn reeves

Images of wheat embellish a series of pottery mugs by Merrilyn Reeves.

“My goal is to enrich the lives of others with my pots,” she explains. “I give my best to each pot, hoping that it will encourage and brighten someone’s day and life.”

Be Fair and Do What’s Right

This way of approaching pottery, she adds, is an extension of her world view, which is that God created the earth, and He has a plan for each person in it.

“For me His plan included pottery, and He gave me the skill and aptitude for it.

“I guess this is not a popular stance these days, but it should always be in style to do what is right. We should do the best job when making items for others to ‘adopt,’ charging a fair price, and dealing honestly with others. I hope that shows in my work.”

Reeves works from a free-standing studio, separate from the home she shares with her husband Waverley and their two black labs, Rosie and Sasha. The four children resulted in 14 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. The initial pottery class resulted in a business, Wildwood Pottery, where Reeves hand-crafts each piece from start to finish, including the all-important smoothing of the foot so that the finished pot will be kind to any furniture surface it rests upon. It’s these little things, Reeves believes, that aren’t so little after all — whether they are children being raised by a career mom or whether they are one of her signature huckleberry bowls.

“I give careful attention to each step of the process,” Reeves says.

“A person purchasing one of my pots reaps the investment of many hours of my time and care.”

Wenaha GalleryMerrilyn Reeves is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from October 5 through November 1, 2021.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

gaggle geese honking communicating water bucket jordan henderson art

From Geese to Covid-19 — Jordan Henderson Communicates in Oil

gaggle geese honking communicating water bucket jordan henderson art

Communication takes many forms, some louder, some quieter than others. Gaggle of Geese by the Water Bucket, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

“That speaks to me.”

Those four words are invaluable praise to a two-dimensional visual artist. To one who applies paint to a substrate, communication involves not just creating an image, but an image that asks a question, tells a story, invites the viewer to step in and listen. For fine art painter Jordan Henderson, painting creates conversation.

“I view painting as a means of communication,” the Dayton, WA, artist says.

“The painter projects their vision onto the canvas by physically applying pigment in such a way as to convey that vision, refines it as long as the painter wishes to, and then the audience can see what the painter envisioned by looking at the canvas.”

longhorn cow cattle livestock communicating painting country jordan henderson

The tilt of its head communicates a sense of inquisitiveness and curiosity. Longhorn Cow, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

But it’s not a quick process, he adds — neither the act of painting itself, nor interpretation on the part of the viewer. Appreciating a painting, similar to getting to know and genuinely communicate with another human being, takes time, intensity, and effort.

Communicating Takes Time and Intention

“I am going to draw from popular culture here to make a point. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books this very slow speaking character (Treebeard) says of his slow language (Old Entish), ‘It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time saying anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.’

“Well, that statement is a good analogy for an important aspect of painting. Painting is a lovely language, but it takes a long time to say anything in it compared to other forms of communication.”

studio landscape country view trees hills rural jordan henderson art

The country landscape communicates its message of contemplation and peace. Studio View, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

When you look at a painting, Henderson continues, you are looking at subject matter through an artist’s eyes. It is for this reason that Henderson, who grew up on a farm and developed a keen appreciation for barnyard fowl, cattle, goats, and horses, so enjoys painting them. The animals are so ordinary to most people, he explains, that few take time to stop and appreciate their charm and beauty. Or, as Treebeard might expound,

“By painting say, geese, I first make the value judgment that they are worthy of taking a long time to say something about, and then I can communicate with the viewer, ‘Look at this bird’s attitude,’ or ‘Look at how the light falls on these feathers.'”

If successful, he won’t so much have breathed new life into the subject matter as have conveyed worthy elements that were there all along. The geese are worth painting, because they’re worth talking about.

Geese, and Covid-19

This conveyance, he adds, goes beyond the barnyard into the political paddock, where Henderson explores the repercussions and reverberations of  deeply controversial topics, most recently, Covid-19. It is a subject matter he began focusing upon in Spring 2020 and continues into the present.

“My allegorical Covid-19 paintings might seem like a 180-degree turn from painting geese, but actually it is rather similar: Orwellian doublespeak, contempt for the rights of individual human beings, and total nonsense put forth as unquestionable truth, have become so commonplace that people fail to see their brutal significance, just as easily as they overlook the beauty of a domestic animal.

aititlan guatemala market people shopping communicating colorful art jordan henderson

What better way to communicate than face to face, person to person, up close and personal, than in a colorful market setting? Aititlan Market, original oil painting by Jordan Henderson.

“Painting is every bit as useful for shedding light on these things, communicating their existence, as it is for highlighting beauty.”

Henderson’s Covid-19 paintings have attracted the notice and attention of independent media, including GlobalResearch.ca, Off-Guardian.org, WinterOak.org.uk/, Nevermore.Media, MuchAdoAboutCorona.ca, and LockDownSceptics.org. These and others have published Henderson’s images online or in print. The description and story of the paintings have been translated into other news platforms in French, Spanish, German Chinese, and Slovenian. He has been interviewed and appeared on podcasts by John Manley of Much Ado about Corona and Richard Jacobs of FindingGeniusPodcast.com. A number of indie book authors have approached him about doing the cover art for their books.

Communicating around the Globe

Henderson has sold prints and originals of both barnyard and political paintings throughout the world. One buyer in the UK purchased the originals of White and Grey Geese, featuring, well, geese, and Safe and Sanitized, an allegorical Covid-19 image of handcuffed skeletal hands holding aloft a skull gagged with a medical face mask, to hang together in his home. He wrote Henderson that visitors expressed approbation of each.

And whether he’s painting gaggles of geese or skulls in masks, Henderson appreciates the marriage of high tech digital communication with the timeless tech of oil painting. Combined they communicate, literally, across the globe.

“Oil painting is old tech, but it is also high tech in the literal sense that it is a highly developed technology, with hundreds of years’ worth of trial and error, and contributions by artist and art suppliers.

“I want a medium that I can use to say exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it. I can do that with oil paint. The medium doesn’t get in my way, and does basically whatever I want it to.”

Wenaha GalleryJordan Henderson is the featured Art Event artists from June 29 to July 26.

Contact Wenaha 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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

white basket trio birch bark woven lisa kostelak

Basket Making — Lisa Kostelak Perfects an Ancient Art

baskets rattan organic cedar rushes woven lisa kostelak

Surrounded by grasses and trees, a series of hand-woven baskets by Colville, WA, artist Lisa Kostelak, celebrates the natural world.

Once upon a time, and not that long ago, there was no plastic. For thousands of years of human history, if people wanted to carry something around, from babies to drinking water, they wove a basket. It took, and takes, skill, patience, and an eye for artistry to create a useful basket.

“I have been making baskets for 35 years,” says Lisa Kostelak of Colville, WA.

“I made my first basket in a craft store in a mall in Florida, when I was in just the right place at the right time.

“Though I had been interested in learning for a long time, it was hard to know where to start in the old, pre-Internet days.”

dandelion birch bark rattan woven basket artisan lisa kostelak

It’s about two-inches high. This little basket is woven from dandelion stems, birch bark, and rattan. By Colville, WA, artisan Lisa Kostelak

Today’s technology worship aside, one of the best ways to learn a craft that employs our hands, hearts, and brain is from an actual person who learned how to do it from another actual person. And it is for this reason that Kostelak, who taught herself painstakingly through books and a tremendous amount of trial and error, passes on what she knows through teaching small, personal classes. Basket Making 101, contrary to what we’ve been told all these years, is not an easy A.

Basket Making 101 Is Not an Easy Class

“I learned to weave using rattan, which is a readily available material from Southeast Asia. It is lovely to work with, and I still use it to make many baskets.

“Over the years I have expanded, using material that I forage locally, including cedar bark, tules or rushes, birch bark, bear grass, red osier, even dandelion stems. I am always on the lookout for stuff to weave with.”

white basket trio birch bark woven lisa kostelak

They’re graceful, elegant, yet connected to the earth. The bark-based handles of this trio of baskets adds the perfect finishing touch. By Colville basket weaver Lisa Kostelak.

So it’s not just a matter of unpacking a cardboard box of materials and following a sheet of directions. For Kostelak, basket making involves a solid knowledge of plants and their environment, as well what to harvest, when and how, and what to do with it afterwards to prepare it for weaving. (Show of hands here: who in the room has even heard of “red osier” or “tules,” much less knows how to identify and gather them?)

“I forage anywhere — my backyard, where I’ve planted willow, juncus, red osier, to weave with. I also use my fruit tree pruning, among other garden plants.

“My tules, or rushes, I get from a friend’s pond. We have a nice visit, then cut rushes and load them into my van.”

Sustainable Thinking

For cedar, she gets permission from a private landowner to select a tree that is damaged and will need to be taken down. Once it is cut, she strips off the outer bark, then peels the inner bark or cambium layer, which she coils up and cures for a year before soaking and cutting it into strips for weaving. On hikes through the Colville National Forest, she looks for bear grass, birch bark from dead trees, scouring rush, and whatever else catches her eye.

white basket woven handle lisa kostelak artisan

The basket itself has something to say about its final shape and form. By Lisa Kostelak, artisan weaver from Colville, WA.

“I always ask before harvesting live material,” Kostelak says, because an essential part of making baskets — by real, regular people throughout history — has been working with the environment, not against it. In today’s arena of industrial, profit-driven, multi-billion, even -trillion, dollar corporations, this respect for, and awareness of, sustainability is becoming as lost as the knowledge of making baskets.

“I love working in 3D, with shapes, textures, and colors, making something that is functional and beautiful,” Kostelak says. Her studio, she adds, was formerly known as the family room. With the kids grown and flown, she has commandeered the entire space, with foraged materials stashed everywhere.

“I love spending time there, with the music turned up as loud as it goes, just getting into the rhythm of the weave.”

Baskets Are Timeless Technology

Kostelak sells her work through area shops and regional craft shows, and her wares have found homes from Seattle to San Francisco, from New York to Florida, from Nova Scotia to New Zealand. There is no end to creative inspiration, she says, because the materials themselves are dynamic, redolent of life, tactile, and almost demanding to be touched, handled, interlinked and intertwined.

“I get new ideas while I work. Sometimes I get an idea from the colors or textures of material stored together. Sometimes I dream a basket, and write it down when I wake up.”

The skill, and the baskets, transcend time, and there is a rush (no pun intended) to creating something that artisans have been making for far, far longer than industry has churned out plastic bags and petro-chemical products. There’s a human touch that endures from one age to the next.

This is good to remember the next time we overhear someone scoffing that a class is as easy as Basket Making 101. We can be free to retort,

“Have you ever actually woven a basket? It’s not as easy as you think.”

Wenaha GalleryLisa Kostelak is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from April 20 through May 17, 2021.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

artisan soap scent bars biker b bathworks

Scent with Love — Artisan Soap by Biker B’s Bathworks

artisan soap scent bars biker b bathworks

An array of artisan soap scent and color by Biker B’s Bathworks, owned by Meredith and Gene Bretz of Dayton, WA.

It’s pretty easy to guess what a soap named Pine Forest will smell like. Ditto with Apple Pie, Pumpkin Spice, Red Rose. Sea Breeze is more challenging, but your mind takes you there.

But what does a soap named Naked Man smell like?

Long ago, artisan soap maker Meredith Bretz confronted that question, and when she reached the answer, she found herself with two products that resonate with customers — Naked Man and Naked Lady soaps.

“There are flowers called Naked Ladies, and the scent is a light floral with powdery notes,” the Dayton soap artist, who co-owns Biker B’s Bathworks with her husband Gene, explains. “We started making it for about a year before some people were saying we needed to make a Naked Man soap.

bath salts truffles scent biker b bathworks artisan soap

Bath salts and truffles add a sense of luxury to one of the best parts of the day.

“We were selling in an indoor market at the time, so we had a contest. ‘What should a soap named Naked Man smell like?’ we asked our customers. They could submit their suggestions and then, at the end of the month, we picked the prominent scent that was suggested.”

It turns out that a Naked Man — after the bath, not before, Bretz emphasizes — is redolent of lime with a bit of cinnamon and touch of patchouli.

“Both of the Naked soaps are very popular,” Bretz says.

Just for Fun

Bretz and her husband began making soap in 1997, just because they thought it would be fun. With no intention of forming a business of it, they made a batch and shared it with friends and family. Soon there were requests for more, and after that, custom requests. For a long time, they didn’t even have a business name, because they didn’t consider themselves a business. When a vendor at a craft fair asked for their business license, they were in a state of surprise.

“We didn’t realize we needed one,” Bretz remembers.

Shaving kits for men include a mug, badger haired shaving brush, and a soap with a masculine scent

“The next thing we know, we’re at the office applying for the license and they ask us what our name was. We had no idea what our business name was.

“So Gene said, ‘How about Biker B’s?’ We both ride Harley-Davidsons and our last name begins with B. It sounded right.”

And so, a business was born. Living in Seattle at the time, the couple — who were both still working full time at the Seattle VA Hospital — created chemical mastery with little more than oil and lye, a stove and a sink. They started selling in Farmers Markets in Kent, then added Issaquah, Sammamish, and North Bend. From there, they added regional craft fairs and selling online.

They have moved a number of times since 1997, and are now retired in Dayton, but, Bretz says, “Though we are now retired from working away from home, we are definitely not retired.”

Experimenting with Scent

In addition to soap, Biker B’s creates reed diffusers, soy wax candles, bath salts, tub truffles, roll-on fragrances and other aromatic treats for the bath. Because the couple has never lost their desire to have fun at what they do, they are constantly experimenting, especially with scents.

soy candles scent color biker b bathworks gifts

Candles are an excellent way to add scent, and light, to one’s life.

“Boredom can set in, making the same things all the time, so we try to work along with the seasons.

“We have certain scents that are all year long, then we try to make season-related soaps, such as pumpkin in the fall, fruit scents in the summer and fall, to add to the ones we have all year long.”

The research and development for new scent blends, she says, is especially fun, and those ideas can come by taking a drive in the mountains, window down, and smelling the trees.

Custom Scent, and Names

“We try to custom blend our own scents, and the idea comes from something we smell, which we try to recreate. or, it can be that we see an interesting name somewhere and wonder what a soap of that name would smell like.”

Speaking of interesting names, they focus on those, going back and forth until they find the perfect nomenclature for their custom blends: Happy Hippie, Zen, Woodstock, Rasputin, Pacific Rain, Walk in the Woods, Palouse Falls, Nature’s Bath.

“The names of the soaps can be a conversation starter.”

Like, say, Naked Man.

Quality with quirky — it’s a chemistry that works as well as the saponification of oil with lye. Bretz and her husband have fun creating a unique, artisan item, and customers enjoy an affordable luxury item that isn’t stamped out from a machine. That human touch — it matters.

“That’s one of the biggest benefits of purchasing handcrafted soap: you know who made it and what is in it.”

Wenaha GalleryBiker B’s Bathworks is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from February 23 through March 22, 2021.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

jigsaw puzzle pieces leisure fun

Jigsaw Puzzles and Life — Putting Together the Pieces

jigsaw puzzle pieces leisure fun

Somehow, all the disparate pieces of a jigsaw puzzle fit together to create a whole image — kind of like life.

How you approach putting together a jigsaw puzzle says a lot about you.

Of course, how we approach any project says a lot about us, but for now, we’re talking about dumping a box of disparate pieces onto the table, organizing them into some semblance of order, and reassembling them so that they look like the picture on the box.

jigsaw puzzles animals landscapes quilts

Animals, places, quilts and faces. The image of jigsaw puzzle we choose to put together depends upon our likes and preferences.

Some people, when it comes to the “organizing them into some semblance of order” part, get very precise. They seek out the edge pieces, hone in on the corners, and create piles of the rest according to color and form. Others dive right in and match piece with piece. If shapes are still stuck together from the manufacturing process, some people insist that they be separated and mixed back into the box. It’s only fair, they reason.

Others say, “If we’ve got 1000 pieces to put together, why not take advantage of any advantage we’ve got?”

No Rules

I know one man who, when he assembles a puzzle, refuses to look at the box, other than a first glance to see what the eventual goal is. His girlfriend prefers to refer to the image. Neither approach is “right” or “wrong,” just different, a celebration of individuality that encourages us to

  1. Be polite about other people’s way of doing things,
  2. Remain open to trying things a different way,
  3. Recognize that there is more than one way to achieve a goal, and
  4. Accept that rules are not unalterably sacrosanct.

Imagine that — life lessons from a jigsaw puzzle.

But there’s more — one of the most intriguing things I’ve found about jigsaw puzzles is that, though they seem to be nothing more than a jumbled series of random shapes that have little to do with one another, those pieces all fit together, eventually, to make that picture on the box. When we start, it’s easy to despair that we will ever finish, especially when the image has little contrast or distinctive shapes and colors. (There’s another preference: some people gravitate toward homogeneous images, like a pile of Snickerdoodle cookies or a night sky. Others recoil from such visual uniformity.)

Lessons of Life from a Jigsaw Puzzle

300 piece jigsaw puzzles simple art

Only 300 pieces? Don’t underestimate the complexity of a puzzle with fewer pieces. The dog puzzle on the right is delightfully challenging.

But we start, and the more we work on the puzzle, the more familiar we become with the parts. Eventually, something clicks in our brain, saying, “That vibrant blue — it’s connected with that odd vase in the corner somehow.”

And oh, what a feeling of satisfaction when the pieces neatly slide together! In the bigger sphere of life, this happens when a seemingly random fact fits into other information we hold, with a resulting Aha moment: “THAT’S what the writer meant!” But we generally don’t experience this unless we’re reading and re-reading, analyzing and questioning, playing with the facts and the pieces.

childrens jigsaw puzzles big pieces

Little children can be surprisingly good at putting together puzzles, even if — maybe especially when — they don’t follow the rules we adults feel compelled to impose.

Another intriguing element: jigsaw puzzles are companionable projects, providing we remember Points 1-4 above. It’s remarkably comforting to know that, while we’re putting together the trio of horses in the bottom right, another person is tackling the cloudy sky above. We realize, if only for this pleasurable moment, that it’s not all up to us, with nothing getting done unless we’re doing it. While we’re washing the dishes, someone else is sweeping the floor. It is a form of teamwork that is natural and normal, resulting in a finished project about which we feel good.

Quiet Concentration

Not to be discounted is the element of concentration jigsaw puzzles demand of our minds. Unlike watching TV, putting together a puzzle is not a passive endeavor, requiring nothing more than staring at a screen. Each piece has its place, and it won’t find it without a human hand putting it there. And while it may seem trivial to focus so much attention on interlocking all the red and white pieces into a panoply of roses, there’s nothing trivial about letting our minds ruminate in a gentle, quiet, and peaceful state.

The moment comes for the last piece. And then . . . what? Do we immediately dismantle the project and tumble it back in the box? Do we take a picture of it and send it to friends? Or how about carefully transporting it downtown to get it framed, an unusual piece of art in which we have had some part to play? Again, it depends upon the individual, and the circumstances.

That’s the beauty of jigsaw puzzles. In order to fully enjoy them, you really can’t confine them to a box. They’re like people that way.

Wenaha GalleryThe Art of Jigsaw Puzzles is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from January 12 through February 9, 2021.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

maple burl clock wood pendulum time leonard mcreary

Time to Create: Clocks by Leonard McCreary

maple burl clock wood pendulum time leonard mcreary

Maple Burl Clock with Pendulum, an elegant way to keep time, by Leonard McCreary

Time.

With the advent of a New Year, it is always a . . . timely subject. Like the air we breathe, time is not something that can be conglomerated, hoarded, or created out of nothing. No matter who we are, or who we think we are, we are given a limited supply.

And then there are trees. When it comes to time, they tend to enjoy a greater chunk of it than humans do. Sequoia, yew, Bristlecone pine — these have lived in the low to mid thousands of years. But even trees reach the end of their time, and when they do, Leonard McCreary has a means of keeping them going:

He makes clocks out of them.

clocks wood maple walnut time leonard mccreary

An array of clocks in maple and walnut, by Leonard McCreary

The Salem, OR, artist has been working around wood for most of his 88 years, having worked as a logger and road builder with artistry on the side. He started making clocks 40 years ago.

Clocking Time in the Workshop

“The father of a ‘kid’ I worked with in the woods gave me a 4′ x 7′ piece of redwood burl. I made a table out of it. After that, I discovered making clocks.

“Most of the wood I use is either cedar, maple, or black walnut, and I cut most of it myself when I was clearing land.”

The wood itself is integral to determining the shape of the finished clock. A cross section cut from the felled tree, each clock reflects the unique shaping that time and weather, environment and circumstances played upon the stem and main wooden axis of the tree. One looks like a bursting star in walnut; another, burled maple, features a swinging pendulum in the midst of a hole in the wood. Still another looked so much like the state of Washington that it wound up being so.

maple burl wooden clock time leonard mccreary

Shaped like a heart, a maple burl clock shows a richness of texture and color, reflecting the life of the tree. By Leonard McCreary

Working out of a shop at his home, McCreary says that the sanding process is time intensive, and when he has brought the shaped piece to a state of perfection, he coats the wood with resin to add a shine.

Each Tree Is Unique

In addition to clocks, McCreary continues to make tables, and later added birdhouses to his repertoire. For years, he sold his work at the Saturday market in Salem, as well as a clock store in Sisters, OR. He wouldn’t describe his clock-making as a labor of love, because it’s not so much work as creative joy. Each piece is as unique as the tree from which it comes, and what it eventually results into being is the result of a “conversation” between McCreary and the wood. Trees, like people, are most interesting when they are most individual.

It is time well spent, McCreary feels. Now retired from logging and road building, he enjoys focused time on creating clocks, and appreciates that there is no hurry about the process. Time is something well worth savoring, appreciating, and using for good purposes.

How we spend it, makes a difference.

Wenaha GalleryLeonard McCreary is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from December 29, 2020, through January 25, 2021.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

Painting, Thinking, Meditating — Frankie Laufer Abstracts

Riptide, original oil painting by College Place, WA, artist, Frankie Laufer.

When we are not vigilant, we find ourselves hobbled by pronouncements that seem to mean something, but in reality, don’t.

Take, for example, the widely accepted assertion that if we don’t start an activity — playing the piano or speaking a second language, say — by the age of five, or seven, or three, then we won’t succeed. Too many people give up before they start because they’re convinced they missed their chance.

silent way abstract painting oil art frankie laufer

In a Silent Way, original abstract oil by Frankie Laufer

Fortunately, many others choose to believe in themselves as opposed to “expert” asseveration, and, as a result, find themselves happily doing things they were assured they could not do. Frankie Laufer is one of these people.

A self-described late-bloomer, the College Place, WA, artist began painting at the age of 40, and 30 years later, he’s still intensely at it. With hundreds of finished works behind him, he looks forward to a future of hundreds more to go.

One Day He Decided to Paint

It all began on a day, he said, when “I just felt internally that I wanted to paint, so I went to the art store and opened up a tube of paint. I smelled it, and put some on my finger, and at that moment I guess I knew . . . ”

Born and raised in Walla Walla, Laufer moved to California in the late 70s, and while there, met and learned under Benjamin Blake, a painter in his own right. On a regular basis for 30 years, Laufer painted at Blake’s studio in a 110-year-old house, a situation he described as perfect for talking about his work as well as creating it.

lost highway colorful abstract painting oil frankie laufer

Lost Highway, original oil abstract by Frankie Laufer of College Place, WA

“Ben never talked about right or wrong. He only addressed the painting in terms of what was working and what wasn’t.

“This is how the painter hones their skills: painting, absorbing, and listening.”

These elements — painting, talking, meditating, listening, thinking — form the basis of Laufer’s training, and they have served, and continue to serve him, well, he says.

“I didn’t have any formal training at all, and really developed my style through painting,” he explains.

“Art school can help teach formal technique but cannot teach passions or creative process. That is an internal process, not external.”

A Place for Creation and Creativity

Laufer moved back to the area last year, saying that he feels “nature more fully supports us in our birthplace.” When looking for a house, he kept an eye out for one that had two dedicated rooms: one for the actual painting process, and a second for storing the work.

“In my past studios, I often had very little space. It’s nice to be able to spread out and have room for paints and easels.” Nice, but not necessary he adds, recalling the time he painted in a garage.

Untitled abstract original oil painting Frankie Laufer

Untitled, original abstract oil by Frankie Laufer

“Space is nice, but one should be able to paint anywhere.”

As much as he enjoys painting, and spends a significant amount of time behind the easel, Laufer describes his favorite moment of each day as that which he devotes to meditation. The time spent in intense thought spills over to when he paints. Thinking, he says, inspires creativity.

“When I settle down to quieter fields of activity, this allows the mind to experience the Self — which gives rise to more creativity, silence, and energy.”

Success Requires Time

He does not try to make a statement with his work, he adds, nor does he make conscious external decisions about what will be his next work. While he may have a vague idea or intent, he finds that when he starts the process, the paint usually dictates the direction. And that, he points out, is what matters: the actual process of creativity:

“Success in painting is having the time to paint.

“If you have time to produce your work, you already have it made.

“Don’t spend much time worrying about making it, selling work, being famous, or any of that.

“Spend time painting, only focusing on that: what follows is not important.

“A painter paints. That is their role.”

Wenaha GalleryFrankie Laufer is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from December 12, 2020, through January 11, 2021.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

 

 

kneeling woman green ceramic pottery figurative statue collista krebs

What’s Important? Then Do It — Pottery by Collista Krebs

cowboy bull important pottery ceramics western collista krebs

The texture, the feeling, the form of the pottery work is as important as its visual presence. Cowboy and Bull, original pottery sculpture by Collista Krebs.

If something is important to us — really REALLY important — we somehow find time for it. Given that we are human and not omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, this commitment means that something else has to go by the wayside, but the exchange, we feel, is worth it.

For Collista Krebs, the choice came during nursing school, when one of her classmates announced that she was leaving the program. The colleague had just taken a ceramics class and decided to pursue pottery instead of nursing.

kneeling woman green ceramic pottery figurative statue collista krebs

In a state of gentle repose, a seated woman is graceful and relaxed. Original pottery sculpture by Collista Krebs.

“Right then and there I made up my mind: ‘I am going to do that too, only I am going to become a nurse first,’ and so I did,” the Colbert, WA, pottery artist says.

“After getting a BSN, I enrolled in a community clay class, and depending on my job, children, injuries and travels, I have always carved out time for clay.”

Time and Practice Are Important

That time has not always been a wild foray into creativity, along the lines of what we would see glorified in a movie. In real life, Krebs has worked as a ghost potter and “clay slave,” both experiences important to honing her skill through hard work and repetition.

“A ghost potter is someone who throws someone else’s shapes and signs the work as coming from that gallery,” Krebs explains.

A clay slave, she adds, loads and fires kilns, makes glazes, and does “other unglamorous jobs that only a true clay junky would find exciting.”

cows daisies flowers important time collista krebs pottery ceramics

An important part to the day is sitting and thinking, as do these ceramic cows with daisies, by Colbert potter Collista Krebs

Years of this work developed her skill with both handling clay and designing, and she now runs her own business, Jupiter’s Clayworks. She specializes in high-fire stoneware that is reduction fired, a technique that her husband dubs high stakes gambling for potters.

“I will take three months’ worth of work and put it into the kiln and cross my fingers. I’m hoping that the bottom of the kiln reaches the correct temperature before the top of the kiln overfires and destroys the glaze.”

When you fire clay up to temperatures of 2,400 Fahrenheit, she adds, things stick to the shelves or get bumps or pockmarks — “all sorts of things.

“I have come to love these blemishes. They are texture, stories, experience gained by fire.”

Unique and Individual Are Important

Each piece is unique, as is the creator. And this is important, as it should be, Krebs believes, because art, like its creator, reflects the individual — his or her outlook on life, experiences, likes and dislikes, interpretation of the world surrounding. To elucidate, Krebs described an experience that “rocked her world,” one that now permeates her work as a potter:

ceramic pottery bats wall hanging collista krebs artist

A series of ceramic bats by Colbert artist Collista Krebs hangs on the wall

While at Boston University Hospital, Krebs interviewed a young, suicidal blind woman and asked her to describe something that she was proud of. The woman responded that she was proud of her ability to dress well, going into great detail about her fashion talent.

“I was thankful that she could not see my face, because my first thought was, ‘Man, someone is really messing with this woman because she looks terrible!’

“But with further exploration, she revealed how she had been totally blind since birth, and how she dressed for sound and texture. How she ‘looked’ to people with vision had absolutely no influence on her decisions.”

Different textures rubbing together made distinctive sounds — bells on her purse and crumpled up chip bags sewn into her pockets warned of pick pockets.

“Ever since that encounter, I have asked myself, Would a blind person like my work? Does it feel good and balanced? Is there texture? Could one conjure up a tale after holding it in their hand?

“Personally, I think that even sighted people should ask themselves these questions.”

New and Innovative Are Important

She is always trying new things, Krebs says — both in how she thinks, and what she does. Success is determined by an assortment of factors, most of which, ironically, can’t be seen.

“If my work feels good and rings true when flicked with my finger, I consider it a success.”

That’s important. Important enough to take time to do.

Wenaha GalleryCollista Krebs is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from December 1 through December 31, 2020.

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 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

casey weekender leather bag pozzitive

Leather Lux — Handcrafted Bags by Betsy Pozzanghera

casey weekender leather bag pozzitive

Created from two repurposed leather jackets and decorative belt buckles, the Casey Weekender features, in its interior, material from a mission style love seat.

Do you know how sometimes, someone wants to give you a gift and they don’t know what to give? So they wrap up money and say, “Buy something fun that you really want. Don’t you dare pay  bills with this!”

Several Christmases ago, Betsy Pozzanghera’s mother-in-law did just that. And Betsy, quite rightly, did NOT pay bills with the money, but took a leather making class. After successfully sewing her first bag from a pattern and purchased leather hide, she began developing her own patterns and designs.

kirsten leather cowboy boot bag pozzanghera

Cowgirl boot tops make two exterior pockets on The Kirsten, handcrafted leather bag by Betsy Pozzanghera

“Once that first bag was completed, I wondered if I could use my old leather fashion boots as part of another bag,” the Spokane, WA, artist says. “The next bag after that, I used material from an old leather jacket.

“Then I really got the re-purposing bug.”

And so her business, B. Pozzitive Bags was born. (Betsy, by the way, is the “B” in the company name.)

Re-purposed Leather

“The majority of my creations use 90-100% repurposed leather (jackets, boots, horse tack, belts, etc.),” Pozzanghera says. “There are so many of those items, and if I can rescue them from the landfill, I will.”

Because the materials that she uses for each bag is unique, so also is each finished leather creation. Blue, brown, purple beige; suede or smooth; embellished with pockets, applique, buckles, and snaps — each bag is one of a kind and utterly distinctive. Often, the re-purposed materials themselves dictate what the finished creation will be.

Karol turquoise suede leather handcrafted purse pozzanghera

The Karol is crafted from a turquoise blue, suede leather jacket.

“Each jacket (or boot, or . . . ) is unique and tells me its story. I get my inspiration from them one at a time,” Pozzanghera explains.

“I’ve cut one part of a bag from a jacket only to decide it is not right for that bag.

“Sometimes I see two or three bags in one jacket, so I make them one after another. But there are some jackets that have been in my closet for years, awaiting inspiration.”

Leather Is Not a Forgiving Fabric

Sewing with leather, she adds, is challenging, because the material itself is not forgiving. Once you punch, poke, or sew a hole, that mark is there forever. On the positive, or, er, pozzitive side, the material is strong, whether it’s super soft and pliable or hard and stiff. (She prefers soft and pliable.)

emaline african deer hide bag purse pozzanghera

This version of the Emaline bag is crafted from African deer hide, a suede jacket, and a leather sample from a furniture store.

Over the years, Pozzanghera’s studio space has grown as the number of sewing machines she uses increases. Working out of a room in the basement of her house, she started with one machine, a portable cutting table, and an ironing board. Now, 200-square feet later (and she’d like more room), she has four sewing machines. Two are “regular” machines for standard fabric. One is for sewing canvas and light leather. The fourth, her new baby, is “huge, heavy, and can sew through an inch (yes, one inch!) of leather.”

Custom Projects Are Especially Meaningful

Some of Pozzanghera’s favorite creations are those fashioned as custom projects. Many of these use items from a family member, Dad’s old cowboy boots, for example, and result in a functional art piece that increases in meaning and memento every time it is held and handled.

Pozzanghera has sold her leather bags throughout the Western U.S. and Canada, and one is in Australia with a college student at Wollongong University. She has shown her work at festivals and art shows all over Washington, as well as in Idaho and Nevada.

That Christmas gift from her mother-in-law, the money that didn’t go to pay bills, has gone a long way. So . . .  the next time someone doesn’t know what to get you, and they give you money, and they say, “Don’t you DARE pay the bills with this,” don’t pay the bills with it. Instead, go do something fun, and pozzitive.

 

Wenaha GalleryBetsy Pozzanghera is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from October 6 through November 2, 2020.

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 Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

rodeo bull western art animal cattle cow tanna scott

Horse and Cattle — The Oil Paintings of Tanna Scott

rodeo bull western art animal cattle cow tanna scott

Rodeo Bull, original Western Art oil painting by Kennewick painter, Tanna Scott

More than once, when artist Tanna Scott has shown her horse and cow paintings at an art festival or show, someone begins to cry.

The first time this happened, the Kennewick Western Artist was befuddled and perplexed. But she’s gotten used to it, and nowadays, when a viewer stands in front of one of her works and weeps, she knows why.

“I paint with lots of emotion,” Scott explains. “I care about each painting.

two horse animal equine rodeo painting tanna scott art

You can almost see the dust fly as two horses rear up in Tanna Scott’s original oil painting Two Horses.

“Usually, the painting has a story or the buyer comes to me with a story. Some stories are very emotional: the buyer associates the painting with a loved animal.”

A Horse That Was a Friend

One time, an impassioned viewer approached a horse painting and began to tear up. Scott walked over to talk to her, and together the two looked at the horse. The woman then told Scott about a most beloved horse that had just passed away. It looked exactly like Scott’s painting.

Another time, a man gravitated toward a painting of a roan horse. He told Scott that the horse in the painting was his dad’s horse.

“I replied the painting must look like his dad’s horse,” Scott says.  “He said, ‘That horse IS my dad’s horse!’

“He told me that he had to purchase that painting for his dad, who was very sick with cancer. His horse stands on the top of a hill each morning and looks down on the ranch.

“By that time, we were all in tears. I was so happy he was able to take the painting home to his dad.

“That painting has a home.”

While no one wants to provoke someone to cry or be sad, Scott recognizes the power of animals in people’s lives. Raised as an only child on ranches in Texas and California, Scott bonded early to horse and cattle. As a young child, she sat on the fence and drew what she saw. Later, when her dad took her to rodeos, she fell in love with the dirt and action, the grit and courage of the rodeo world, and continued to draw and paint. Every artwork, somehow, incorporates and integrates the world of the Cowboy:

longhorn cow cattle livestock farm ranch tanna scott oil painting

Stately and majestic, a longhorn cow stands bold and proud. Longhorn, original oil painting by Tanna Scott.

“With my oil paintings, I support the Cowboy way of life — Past, Present, and Future.”

Teaching Art

For 25 years, Scott worked as a librarian and teacher at Eastgate Elementary in Kennewick, where she integrated art into her social studies curriculum. On the side, she taught art to students after school. Since retirement in 2017, Scott has added adult teaching to her schedule through the Kennewick Community Education program.

Scott has shown her work in various venues throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the Western Art Association show (Ellensburg, WA); the Bonanza Art Antiques and Gourmet Expo (Pendleton, OR); and the Pendleton Cattle Barons Celebration Weekend.

purple horse equine animal ranch rodeo tanna scott art

Purple Horse, original oil painting by Tanna Scott

She is a member of Cyber Art 509, a cooperative of artists from the 509 area code who exhibit their work in businesses throughout the area.

Describing her home as her studio, Scott paints on a table in her kitchen, and fills the walls with works that are drying. Sometimes, she runs out of wall space and leans a work on a chair, but that shouldn’t stop people from visiting.

“Just move the painting out of the chair and sit down.”

Emotion Connects the Viewer with the Horse or Cattle

It’s all part of life: animals, action, relationships, memories, and like life, there are happy moments and sad moments. But what matters, Scott believes, is emotion: it is the glue that connects the viewer with the artwork.

“When a buyer identifies with a painting — when it resembles their animal or reminds them of a wonderful memory of an animal — it means so much more to them. And to me.

“I paint with feeling and want the animals to have character.”

Wenaha GalleryTanna Scott is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from September 22 through October 19, 2020.

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 Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.