side view woven pine needle basket northcott

Weaving Wisdom: The Basket Art of Lauralee Northcott

basket weaving native american blue beads northcott

A hand-woven, Ponderosa Pine needle basket featuring blue beads and color weaving, by Lauralee Northcott

 

It’s funny that, when we want to describe an easy course at a university, we roll our eyes and say, “It’s, um . . . like Basket Weaving 101, you know?”  — because basket weaving, an art that dates back more than 9,000 years, isn’t easy at all.

“I gather my needles for baskets from Ponderosa Pine trees mostly here in the Methow Valley,” explains basket artist Lauralee Northcott of Winthrop. “After removing the connective end and washing the needles, I put them in a bath of water and glycerin and boil them for about three hours.

Cherish ponderosa pine needle hand woven basket northcott

Cherish — Ponderosa Pine needle basket by Winthrop weaver Lauralee Northcott

“They’re cooled, rinsed, and left to dry for a month. Now they are ready to weave.”

With weaving comes the eye for detail, an incorporation of color and beadwork, and the swift, deft hand movements that, after a while, leave one’s fingers feeling stiff.

“All basket making requires patience and perfection,” Northcott says. “While weaving is relaxing, it is also physically demanding, and requires a lot of time.  But the payoff of making a beautiful item to go out into the world is very satisfying.”

Basket Weaving and Country Music

Northcott’s fascination with and ability to create baskets joins with a plethora of other life skills, including a career (now retired) as a public school teacher, 30 years as a wilderness horseback trail guide and pack cook, motivational speaker, and professional singer/musician whose group, Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band, was the 2015 Western Music Association’s Group of the Year. That same year, their album, “All I Need,” soared to the #2 spot of the U.S. Western Music Category.

woven ponderosa pine needle native american basket northcott red beads

A hand-woven, Ponderosa Pine needle basket with red bead embellishment, by Lauralee Northcott

“Our shows feature great music, cowboy poetry, and lots of humor,” Northcott says, adding that they often travel with poet/comedian Dave McClure. One day, the group was rehearsing a skit involving the pretend product, Buck’s Crack Cream — “It was set to the tune of the George Jones song, ‘He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today,” Northcott remembers. “Dave had changed the lyrics to, ‘He stopped rubbing there today; Buck’s Crack Cream took the itch away.'”

In the midst of practicing, Northcott glanced over at McClure’s mother, Jeri,  who was sitting on the hotel bed with a low cardboard box in her lap.

“Inside the box were pine needles. Her fingers were moving swiftly as she wove the needles into a coil — I was drawn to her  immediately. The color variety of the needles, and the way they looked as they formed a circle was absolutely rich and vibrant.

deep woven basket beads and shells native american northcott

A deep woven pine needle basket, embellished by beads and shells, by Lauralee Northcott

“I was instantly smitten, and knew I wanted to make a pine needle basket.”

Persistence and Patience

She hasn’t stopped since, but then again, Lauralee Northcott is rarely still. Two years ago, she traveled to the Nevada State Museum in Carson City to see the work of basket maker Dat So La Lee, a member of the Washoe tribe who lived from 1829 to 1925. Dat So La Lee’s work, which Northcott describes as flawless, required a particularly gifted mathematical mind in order to produce the patterns for which she is famous.

“I read that one of her baskets recently sold at an auction for more than one million dollars,” Northcott says. Northcott had tried once before to see the famous basket maker’s work, but was turned away because of museum renovations. The second time around, her luck wasn’t much better when the desk man in uniform brushed her aside with the news that the work was still unavailable for viewing.

“I felt dismissed. I stood for a moment to gather myself and then in a polite voice asked to speak to the curator. He picked up the phone, making no eye contact, and made a call. ‘He’ll be right out,’ was all I heard as the man turned away.”

side view woven pine needle basket northcott

Side view of a blue beaded, hand-woven, Ponderosa Pine needle basket by Lauralee Northcott

Persistence paid off, and for the next hour Northcott enjoyed a personal tour conducted by a man who loved and appreciated the work of a master. Northcott found herself crying tears of awe as she watched, listened, viewed, and, in her words, “literally heard voices coming from the basket makers in that room. I could feel emotions being emitted by the baskets, and sensed warmth from their creators.”

Small World, Big Connections

In one of those small world moments, when Northcott mentioned she was from Winthrop, WA, a town of 300 people, the curator started and said, “My brother lives in Winthrop!”

Northcott makes friends wherever she goes.

“The most lasting takeway from the Carson City Museum experience was the deeply spiritual realization that we are truly all connected through time,” she reflects.

“Weaving gives the same gift to me as it did to Dat So La Lee and all weavers: your breathing slows down and your mind relaxes as the work takes you along.

“Really, I think peace is a gift from all craftsmanship. The force of creativity works through us in many ways, and it is our task to get out of the way.”

Wenaha Gallery

Lauralee Northcott will be at Wenaha Gallery in person Saturday, September 16, from 1 to 4 p.m.  to talk about and demonstrate basket making; free refreshments by Savonnah, the gallery’s framer who is also a professional chef, are also featured. Northcott will return to the gallery Saturday, October 7, as a featured speaker at Wenaha Gallery’s ArtWalk. Northcott’s Art Event, featuring a collection of her baskets, starts Monday, September 11 and runs through Saturday, October 7, 2017. 

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

Men Die, But History Lives — The Books of Kevin Carson

The Pacific Northwest 91st Division during World War I, photo courtesy of Kevin Carson

The Pacific Northwest 91st Division during World War I, photo courtesy of Kevin Carson

It’s been called The Great War and The War to End All Wars.

Those accustomed to learning history from Hollywood movies might guess the event to be World War II, but that one is known as The Good War. Our war in question is World War I, which could understandably be called The Forgotten War if the appellation weren’t already taken by the Korean War (brought out of obscurity by the T.V. show, M*A*S*H).

The Dayton Congregational Church's World War I Service Banner honors men of the area who fought in the war. Carson's great uncle, Fred Bauer, is represented in the gold star

The Dayton Congregational Church’s World War I Service Banner honors men of the area who fought in the war.

But all wars are memorable to the people who fought in them, as well as to the survivors of those who died, military or civilians. For Kevin Carson, a former Dayton resident who researches Pacific Northwest history, World War I hits close to home.

“I have always been interested in World War I,” Carson says. “As a young person, I saw it through the eyes of my grandfather, Art Carson, who had lost his brother (Fred Carson) in the Meuse Argonne campaign.

“It was still as painful for him as it was on the day that Fred died.”

Fred’s name and memory are memorialized on a World War I Service Banner, found stuffed in the attic of the Dayton Congregational Church, and later framed for display and presentation. In all, 42 names are listed, representing those associated with just that church who were sent overseas. Many others from Dayton served as well, members of the 91st, or Wild West Division, encompassing soldiers from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Wyoming.

It is this group men upon which Carson focuses in his upcoming book, The Wild West Boys, from which he will be reading excerpts during an appearance at Wenaha Gallery over Dayton’s Alumni Weekend, July 16. At the forefront of hard fighting in France and Belgium, the 91st Division was part of the Meuse Argonne Offensive, one of the largest campaigns in military history and instrumental to bringing the war to its end. The Offensive involved 1.2 million U.S. soldiers, of which more than 26,000 died and 95,000 were wounded.

Marching to the front, World War I.

Marching to the front, World War I.

Thirteen Dayton men, Carson reports, received French memorial decorations for their part of the Offensive. All 13 men, including Carson’s great uncle, died in combat.

“I think this group of men needs to be recognized for what they did during their big push in the Meuse Argonne and then their brave dash through Flanders to liberate Belgium and flank the German Army,” Carson says.

“The mystique of these men spoke to me. I thought that perhaps I could write a historical fiction piece that has a western feel at its core, and highlights what these tough and brave soldier did.

“It seems their history is little known. I mean to change that.”

Two Scrapers from the Palouse Indians, a people who lived in the area long, long before The Great War, The Good War, or the Forgotten War. From the private collection of Kevin Carson

Two Scrapers from the Palouse Indians, a people who lived in the area long, long before The Great War, The Good War, or the Forgotten War. From the private collection of Kevin Carson

Highlighting history, and rescuing from obscurity information that remains pertinent today, is a passion with Carson, whose earlier book, History Book Club selection The Long Journey of the Nez Perce, features hand-drawn maps by the author to illustrate battles that many in the area have no idea of happening. With scrupulous attention to research and a painstaking sense of fairness, Carson looks at the “last of the Indian wars” from both sides, telling the story, according to Washington State Magazine, “with immediacy and fascinating analysis.”

The Wild West Boys, Carson explains, is also the result of extensive research and analysis, set in a fictional, yet realistic setting. Composites of actual soldiers that Carson has researched, the characters are drawn from real men with very real lives — such as the George Young cattle rustling gang that menaced Southeast Washington in the late 19th century, and the understaffed lawmen who doggedly pursued them. It was a genuine Western tale, long before John Wayne or Clint Eastwood.

In addition to reading from his book, Carson brings historical and area-based artifacts from his private collection, including World War I photographs, letters and flag, as well as Palouse Indian arrowheads, hide scrapers, a handwoven basket dating from the 1880s, and a frog effigy and paint pot from Celilo. They are all part of the history that makes up our lives today, and which he seeks to keep alive through his books.

“The themes that are interwoven through my stories have a lot to do with the importance of family, and the role of older men in helping shape young men,” Carson says. His work records the timeless story of sacrifice, love, and the limits of courage, because these are subjects that should never be forgotten.

Or, as one of his principal characters  of The Wild West Boys writes,

“I do not believe that the stories of our  lives should die with us.”

Wenaha GalleryKevin Carson is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Tuesday, July 5 through Saturday, August 6. Carson, a 1976 Dayton High School grad, will be signing books at the gallery Saturday, July 16, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. during Dayton’s Alumni Weekend. He will be reading from his new book, The Wild West Boys, at 1 p.m. Photos from World War I will be on display, the sale of which will benefit the Blue Mountain Historical Society of Dayton.

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

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

The Master Potter’s Student — Caprice Scott and Her Ceramic Art

Wildflowers platters by Caprice Scott

There’s no fixing an exploded piece of pottery.

This is not, however, sufficient reason for the average person to give wide berth to ceramic bowls, cups, saucers, and platters. It’s not on the shelf that a piece of pottery rends itself asunder but rather, in the kiln with a temperature ranging from 1112 degrees Farenheit to 2300-plus.

Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott

Paisley Pots by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist, Caprice Scott

“We’re not talking about just hot enough to burn dinner in the oven here,” College Place potter Caprice Scott, who specializes in hand-built and sculpted ceramic-ware, says.

“Working with clay is a tricky business,” she adds. “I don’t think people realize how fickle and capricious clay and glazes can be.” If the environmental humidity is low, the clay dries too fast and cracks before it even makes it to the kiln; if it’s winter in the Pacific Northwest and the humidity is high, it can take forever for the clay to dry — frequently when the potter is working on a commissioned order with a timeline. Glazes add complications to the creation process.

And that eruption issue?

“If there happens to be an air bubble somewhere in the clay, you might find your piece has exploded in the bisque kiln.”

With all the things that can go wrong, it’s astonishing that anything survives, but that it does — as well as thrive in beauty, functionality, and form — is testament to the skill of the potter. Scott, whose experience in the art arena ranges from teaching in private and charter schools to painting murals in million-dollar Colorado spec homes, turned her central focus to pottery upon her family’s moving to the Pacific Northwest six years ago.

Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Ceramic spoons by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Scott’s drive to learn and experiment, in conjunction with an attention to detail, impel her to create unusual pieces and collections — such as the sugar/creamer set shaped like European village houses which garnered an award at an art exhibition, or the commissioned clay box fashioned into a Dr. Who fez hat, tassel and all.

“I take delight in coming up with something no one else has done before and probably won’t ever do again,” Scott explains.

“I usually work within a theme or do a bunch of one thing for a little while. I find something new and get really passionate about it and I make as many pieces as I can for a few months, and then I move on to something new.”

One aspect that is consistent in all of Scott’s pieces is the signature at the bottom: her last name, and then the biblical verse, Isaiah 64:8, which, when one looks it up, says,

Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

Birdies and Potteries functional ceramic art by Wenaha Gallery pottery artist Caprice Scott

“You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Scott stumbled upon the verse in a period of frustration, when everything that could go wrong with creating pottery (including explosions), did, and she decided to dedicate each piece to Him, as a work of His hands as well as hers.

“So when the pieces were blowing up or coming out of the kiln cracked, I was like, ‘God, Your pottery is breaking. And it’s Yours, so I guess it’s okay. If You’re okay with it, then I am, too.”

Completing a part of Scott’s journey, the verse confirmed that her work gave meaning to others as well as to herself, and she felt as if God were saying, “You, Caprice, can call me ‘My Father, the Potter.’

“I really feel this verse sums up all that I am and all that my pottery represents. Without the Master Potter, I and my work wouldn’t be.”

Scott’s work is unique, skillful, eclectic, passionate, and illuminated by imagery that celebrates the outdoor world: flowers, leaves, Native American art, and wildlife, reflecting an appreciation for nature that Scott acquired through living in Colorado, and reaffirms in the Pacific Northwest.

“I need to be surrounded by beauty. If I can’t be out in nature, I try to bring beauty inside.”

Beauty ignites.

Wenaha GalleryScott’s work is on display at Wenaha Gallery. During the Christmas season, Scott is holding a Christmas Ornament Workshop at the gallery, gently leading students (who don’t have to have any experience in pottery, because Scott does) into making a customized pottery ornament for their tree. The two-part workshop takes place Sunday, November 15 and Sunday, December 6. Cost is $55 for both workshops, with all supplies, and firing of the ornaments, included. Read more about the workshop at our article, Christmas Ornament Workshop.

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

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Storyteller — The Western and Camouflage Art of Bev Doolittle

The Forest Has Eyes is a prime example of Bev Doolittle's camouflage art, with hidden things to be found everywhere.

The Forest Has Eyes is a prime example of Bev Doolittle’s camouflage art, with hidden things to be found everywhere.

In a cinema-saturated society where most people effortlessly rattle off the monikers of 20 living celebrities, naming a fine art painter — especially one who is still breathing — is a challenge.

Within that limited list, however, the name Bev Doolittle will probably appear.

Sacred Circle by Bev Doolittle

Sacred Circle by Bev Doolittle

One of America’s most collected artists, Doolittle paints highly detailed Western Art, primarily in watercolor, that focuses on the environment, Native American tradition, and wildlife. In ironic variance with her name, Doolittle has created, during a career that spans more than 40 years and counting, a significant body of work, which she sells as both originals and prints.

Her images are on calendars, journals, and note cards. They are in a number of books that she has co-authored and illustrated. Through Greenwich Workshops, her principle publisher, Doolittle’s limited edition prints have consistently sold out, and during a 2005 show at Wenaha Gallery when the artist appeared personally in Dayton to sign her prints, the line of purchasers extended out the door and into the sidewalk.

Runs with Thunder by Bev Doolittle

Runs with Thunder by Bev Doolittle

“From the front desk, where I was busy processing sales, I looked across the room where Bev was signing work and chatting with clients,” Lael Loyd, who presently manages the gallery, remembers.

“What impressed me the most is how much time she spent interacting with each person. She was not rushed or moving people through the line quickly. She took time to talk and sign and interact.

“People loved her.”

People still do. Although Doolittle is popularly known for her camouflage technique, in which elements like animals or human faces are hidden within rocks and trees or clouds and streams, not all of her work employs this stratagem. Loyd remembers Doolittle explaining how the public’s reception to the first camouflage piece was so overwhelmingly positive, that the artist was encouraged to, well, Do More.

“Many people call me a ‘camouflage artist,’ but that just isn’t true,” Doolittle says on the Greenwich Workshop website. “If I have to be categorized at all, I like to think of myself as a ‘concept painter.’ I am an artist who uses camouflage to get my story across, to slow down the viewing process so you can discover it for yourself.

“Everything I do is intended to enhance the idea of each piece. For me, camouflage is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

“My meaning and message are never hidden.”

Hide and Seek by Bev Doolittle contains a hidden message that, once clear, doesn't disappear.

Hide and Seek by Bev Doolittle contains a hidden message that, once clear, doesn’t disappear.

That being said, a viewer can spend a lot of time in front of a Doolittle piece, searching for images that may, or may not, be there. In Hide and Seek, a compilation of 24 smaller paintings of brown and white paint horses set against rocks and snow, the words “Hide and Seek,” once seen, are never unseen. They become one with the work, and the viewer feels as if he shares the secret, and the pun, with the artist.

But sometimes, according to Loyd, viewers see things that even the artist doesn’t know are there.

“Once Doolittle became known for doing camouflage, that’s what collectors began seeing,” Loyd says, “but as Doolittle herself says, not all of her work uses this technique.

“I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘Look — I see a fish in that rock!’ when there isn’t one, but I’m sure Doolittle wouldn’t mind.

“With both her ‘camo’ and her regular work, Doolittle has given collectors much variety.”

The Arrival, for a long time, was hidden to those who knew it existed, but couldn't find it.

The Arrival, for a long time, was hidden to those who knew it existed, but couldn’t find it.

One of Doolittle’s earliest ‘regular’ works, painted in 1977, is The Arrival, depicting a group of Indian scouts spotting the season’s first herd of buffalo. Sold to a private collector, the painting vanished from public view, and Greenwich Workshop made a concerted effort to find it.

“They knew it was out there, but they just didn’t know where,” Loyd says. “When they did find it, and secured permission from the owner to make limited edition prints from it,  it added to the history of the Doolittle collection. It tells a beautiful story, like so many of her works do, and I’m glad that this story can be told to more people.”

Doolittle is still telling stories, and in the spirit of adventure and the great outdoors, she adds additional diversity — more writing, as well as different media and sculpture — to the work done in her California studio. As she told Ralph Cissne, author of the 2015 article about Doolittle, Hidden in Plain Sight, in Chrome Magazine,

“You don’t really retire from art. Hopefully, I can keep going until I fall over on my brush.

“The West is an endless source of ideas for paintings and stories.”

Wenaha GalleryWenaha Gallery is featuring a collection of hard-to-find Bev Doolittle limited edition prints at our latest Art Event, running from Monday, October  19 through Saturday, November 14. Central to the Event are 14 framed pieces dating from Doolittle’s earlier paintings. Also included is The Arrival, released in 2010, and Beyond Negotiations, a limited edition of Doolittle’s first acrylic in 30 years.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Belle, by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Life Is a Journey — The Primitive Rock Art Paintings and Sculpture of Monica Stobie

Belle, by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Belle, by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Some humans live for many many decades, while others measure their lifespan in moments. But all humans, whether or not they ever physically walk on the earth, leave a footprint. It is part of their journey.

A Little Attitude by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

A Little Attitude by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

For fine artist Monica Stobie, the concept of a journey is simultaneously highly personal and sweepingly universal, embodying the distinctive experience of the individual in concomitance with the lives, stories, and existence of people throughout history. Stobie, whose subject matter — and passion — is rock art, creates pastel, oil, mixed media, collage, and sculpture that draw inspiration from the petroglyphs (pictures carved into rock or stone) and petrographs (pictures drawn or painted on a rock surface) of ancient people. Raised on an apple ranch in the Yakima Valley, Stobie was attracted from a young age to the symbolism and animal imagery of Native American culture, and when, years later, she stumbled upon rock art at a site near the Snake River, she was, as she phrases is, “hooked.”

Cowbird by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

Cowbird by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie.

“I have traveled extensively, exploring rock art sites, which has given me an unlimited source of inspiration,” Stobie says. “I worked for several weeks one summer documenting rock art sites on private land. Having a Navajo guide provided a unique perspective on these ancient sites. “Hiking through harsh desert conditions gave me an understanding of a much more difficult time of survival for ancient peoples.”

Fly Away by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Fly Away by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Stobie translates this understanding, empathy, and fascination into two- and three-dimensional format, and over a professional art career spanning 30 years, she has evolved her technique and style through exploration of various mediums. “Originally, I worked with paper collage — kind of a paper marquetry –fitting different pieces of paper into a design, much like a puzzle.”

Constant experimentation with papers led to her discovery of Mexican bark cloth, a heavily textured paper made from indigenous tree bark that holds layers of rich pastel colors and texture. The next step was sculpture, in response to requests by various galleries carrying her work, and the most recent path is that of oil and mixed media. Throughout all the variance and experimentation, the research and exploration, however, the crux of the matter, which forms the basis of her pilgrimage through both life and art, remains constant:

“When I look at the journey, the prevailing theme of textures, primitive imagery, and animals are prominent,” Stobie observes. She loves the mystery of it all. Life is, after all, a mystery to and for all of us, with none of us knowing where the next step will lead.

Red Hills by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Red Hills by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

In Stobie’s case, art has been a part of her life since early childhood, when she learned under the aegis of her grandmother, a watercolorist.  Early school experiences reinforced a fledgling artistry, when a second-grade teacher praised Stobie’s interpretation of a bird as a sign of outstanding creativity. Adulthood found her graduating from Eastern Washington University with a degree in Art Education, which she put to use for 15 years teaching junior and senior high art in Walla Walla, WA, and Milton-Freewater, OR. Moving to Dayton, WA, coincided with the decision to turn her steps to a new path, one that plumbed the adventures of independent, full time, professional fine art.

Whispers by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

Whispers by Wenaha Gallery artist Monica Stobie

“Working in a converted bedroom turned into a studio, I began my trek to carve a place in the art world,” Stobie says.

Given her chosen subject matter, it is ironically appropriate that Stobie chooses the word “carve.” The impact she has made extends far from her Dayton venue, as she shows and sells her work to a diverse and widespread clientele.

“During the span of my career I have shown in galleries, mostly throughout the Northwest but also Wyoming, Colorado, and California. In recent years, fellow artist Jill Ingram and I managed our own gallery in Dayton.”

And now, it’s a new adventure, a new direction on the path as Stobie and her husband prepare to move to the Southwest, using this new home as a base from which to travel.

As with all of life’s experiences, some things change, while others stay the same: in a new home, a new venue, a new adventure, the studio, for now, will start out in the familiar fashion of a converted bedroom. But it’s all part of the adventure. “And so,” Stobie proclaims, “a new journey begins.” Wenaha Gallery

Monica Stobie is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Saturday, August 22 through Saturday, September 19. An Artist’s Reception is scheduled Saturday, August 22, from 1 – 5 p.m. at the gallery, during which time Stobie will be present to meet viewers and talk about her art. Free refreshments are provided.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment.

Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Hand thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

Beautiful Lizards — The Pottery of Roberta Zimmerman at Sun Lizard Studios

Hand thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

The shape, form, glazing, and decoration of Roberta Zimmerman’s hand thrown pottery pieces is inspired by Native American design

Even the most urban-based child manages to find enough dirt and water to create mud pies at least once in their lives, but for Dayton potter Roberta Zimmerman, three out of four of the sacred elements — Earth, Air, and Water — were an integral part  of every childhood summer. (Fire, she added when she was an adult.)

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

“I was born in Arizona, the first-born daughter of a real cowboy and a homemaker,” Zimmerman says. “We lived all over Arizona on cattle ranches and movie sets, as my father worked on all of John Ford’s western movies shot in Arizona.”

While Zimmerman’s father attended to the stuff of legends, Zimmerman focused on that legendary childhood stuff — mud pies, baked under the scorching Arizona sun. When it got too hot for inedible culinary production, Zimmerman did what any sensible child would do and ran around barefoot.

“We found Indian arrowheads just laying all over the land. Another favorite pastime was chasing lizards — it was a challenge to be fast enough to catch them!”

Such is the stuff of memories better than legends, and in Zimmerman’s life, those memories have shaped the art that she does today: hand-thrown, hand-painted pottery designed to endure (because of that Fire she added, pushing the temperature in her studio kiln to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as be used for the cooking and serving of food (definitely not recommended with mud pies).

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

The lizards she chased and the arrowheads she admired factor strong in the decorative inspiration she adds to her finished work, expressing her reverence for and respect of Native American art and artists.

“The works I create reflect my love of the West and the ancient people who came before us,” Zimmerman explains. “Each and every piece is thrown on the pottery wheel, so there are no identical pieces — no molds.

“The paintings are free-hand paintings, no stencils. All the glazes are lead free to be safe for dinnerware.

“It is my deep wish that folks will enjoy using these pieces I create.”

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

In between childhood mud pies and adult work with clay, Zimmerman’s residence in the art arena took a break as she ceded to the demands of the work world, serving 11 years as a police dispatcher and 11 years as a correctional officer at Washington State Penitentiary (she and her husband, Ralph, who also worked as a correctional officer, like to tell friends that they met in prison).

When severe back surgery in 1999 resulted in an earlier retirement than Zimmerman had initially envisioned, Ralph’s practical, yet encouraging, nature propelled her forward when he asked,

“What do you want to do?”

Pottery. The answer was out before the question was finished.

“I just always wanted to do that ever since I was a little girl,” Zimmerman says. “So I started taking classes at community college, Ralph bought me a wheel and a kiln, and I was off and running.

“I bought every book I could get my hands on and highlighted and highlighted, and just tried and tried.”

Through the years, in addition to working with white stoneware, Zimmerman has explored Raku, pit-fired, black smoked, and horse hair pottery, and she has sold her work through art fairs, regional shows, gift shops, co-ops, and at Sun Lizard Studios, the brand name for her work which she creates from her Wolf Fork home.

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

Hand-thrown pottery by Roberta Zimmerman

An inveterate learner, she has added the Internet to her repertoire of information resources, communicating online with artist colleagues in Germany, Israel, and throughout the world. Ralph, ever the encourager, owes gratitude to the opportunities technology offers, remembering the five-hour driving detour they took once in Nevada so Zimmerman could visit a potter’s studio she had heard about.

“It turned out to be a fascinating place,” she remembers.

But just as fascinating is Sun Lizard Studios, named when Zimmerman’s daughter playfully observed, “Well, Mom, you are just an old sun lizard!” In this mountain retreat, where a bear swimming in the pond or turkeys strolling through the yard replace lizards darting underfoot, the child who spent her summers slapping mud seamlessly picks up where those joyous days of abandon left off.

“Making pottery has been the fulfillment of a dream for me.”

Wenaha GalleryRoberta Zimmerman is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Monday, July 13 through Saturday, August 8.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

Handcarved Eagle Flute by Wenaha Guest Artist Roger McGee.

The Sensual Flutist — Roger McGee Hand-Carves an Ancient Instrument

Handcarved Eagle Flute by Wenaha Guest Artist Roger McGee.

Handcarved Eagle Flute by Wenaha Guest Artist Roger McGee.

The hauntingly beautiful music of Native American musicians Carlos Nakai and Mary Youngblood is nothing short of sublime. And while neither Grammy Award winner is a resident of Oregon or Washington state, some of the flutes that they have played originated in the studio of Roger McGee, a master flute maker from Joseph, OR.

Egret bronze sculpture by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Roger McGee

Egret bronze sculpture by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Roger McGee

“What a fine and gentle artist this man is,” Youngblood described McGee. “(The flute is) almost Georgia O’Keefish . . . very sensual and so carefully carved.”

McGee, who has created more than 1,000 custom, hand-made flutes, is a professional sculptor of 35 years standing, making his initial mark as an artist of western and wildlife bronzework. As a Vietnam War veteran, he considers it a high honor to have created four monuments placed in the Pacific Northwest, including the Jonathan Wainwright statue at the Veterans Medical Center in Walla Walla, Peo Peo Mox Mox near the Marc Hotel in the same town, and the VFW Globe in Salem, OR.

The path to creating Native American-style flutes, he explains, was a winding one. Like most artists, McGee listens to a variety of music for inspiration while working in his studio.

Detail from hand carved Horsehead Flute by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Roger McGee

Detail from hand carved Horsehead Flute by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Roger McGee

“I was particularly captivated by the haunting sounds of the Native American flute and wanted to learn as much as possible about this small instrument with the powerful voice.

“I was inspired to make a Native flute, and the awesome sound of the flute that I made captured my soul. It has changed my life and given me a new way to express myself with my art.”

Now, in addition to his bronzework, McGee has added the intricate detail of hand making, one at a time, highly individualized Native American flutes, an instrument with a history dating back reportedly 60,000 years (they are said to be the third oldest known musical instrument in the world). McGee creates all artwork, painting, woodwork and sculpture on his flutes free hand, burning the holes in with a hot metal rod.

Not Forgotten Bison bronze sculpture by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Roger McGee

Not Forgotten Bison bronze sculpture by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Roger McGee

“I guess you could say that I follow where the artistic spirits guide me,” McGee says, adding that he not only makes the flutes, but plays them — with two CDs to his credit — as well as teaches others how to do so.

“Over the phone, I taught a Navaho Indian (Fred ‘Yellowknife’ Keams) how to make and play flutes . . . I also taught a Buddhist Monk (Park Jin Hong) from South Korea how to play the flute using Skype and the Internet!” McGee sells his flutes throughout the world, with other noted names who play McGee’s instruments including Grammy Award nominee Peter Phippen and recording artists Robert Mirabal and John Two-Hawks.

Inlaid shells, buffalo teeth, carved totems, feathers, beads, and paint are all part of the customized creations, with themes ranging from rattlesnakes and scorpions to horses and bears. In 2013, McGee won the Best Cultural Heritage Award at the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts for his Stone Crushed Inlayed American Flute, and in past years, his work has captured Directors Choice awards.

Detail from White Canoe hand carved flute by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Roger McGee

Detail from White Canoe hand carved flute by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Roger McGee

As beautiful as the flutes are to look upon, however, their ultimate test takes place in the playing, and McGee’s numerous clients have much to say about the creator, and what he creates.

“The beauty and soulful sincerity of this amazing instrument is only surpassed by the incredible artist who created it,” one musician writes on McGee’s website.

“The tone is amazing,” another fan said, describing how her husband, not knowing that she was playing her newly-purchased instrument, marveled at how much she had improved. “The flute made the sound jump a quantum leap — I sure wasn’t doing anything else much differently. The flute’s voice is just awesome.”

In his spare time, which he somehow finds despite a fulltime art schedule side-by-side with that of his wife, cut paper artist Cheri McGee, Roger has lately taken on refurbishing a totem pole, which when repaired, will return to the Creating Memories Camp for Disabled Children in Joseph. At the moment, the pole is in pieces as McGee fixes broken parts, fills cracks, sands, paints, and reassembles.

It’s all part of following that artistic muse, one that entered his life when he was the youngest of nine children growing up in the deep South, always using his hands to make things.

“It was easier to make myself a toy than it was to wait to get a store-bought one,” McGee remembers. “I have been very blessed!”

Wenaha GalleryRoger and Cheri McGee are the featured artists at Wenaha Gallery’s Art Event from Monday, May 18 through Saturday, June 27, at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA. There is a reception for both artists on Saturday, May 23 from 10:30 a.m. (immediately after the town Memorial Day parade) until 2:30 p.m. Roger will play the flute during the reception. Free refreshments are provided.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Palus Museum historical site in Dayton WA showcasing the Palouse Indians Lewis and Clark and the pioneering homesteaders

Honoring an Ingenious People – The Palus Museum Celebrates the Heritage of the Palouse Indians

 

Palus Museum historical site in Dayton WA showcasing the Palouse Indians Lewis and Clark and the pioneering homesteaders

A large painting of Palouse Falls, surrounded by displays of artifacts, greets visitors as the enter the Palus Museum

We live in an area rich with history, steeped with the life stories of brave, hardworking people.

Frequently, those of us who reside in the West now associate those brave, hardworking people with the pioneers, many of whom did not make it here without losing someone along the way. But history goes back further than that, and before there were pioneers, there were brave, hardworking people who eventually lost a way of life: the Cayuse, the Nez Perce, the Umatilla, and the Palouse.

Palus Museum historical site in Dayton WA showcasing the Palouse Indians Lewis and Clark and the pioneering homesteaders

A thoughtful coyote and bronzework take viewers to a different place and time at the Palus Museum.

It is for this reason — that life changes, and we do not want to obscure or forget the past, and we wish to bring honor to those who live in the present — that a group of local people in Dayton joined together to create the Blue Mountain Heritage Society in 1999, with a focal interest to engage the public in the rich and diverse regional history of Columbia County and its environs. And one of principal people in this rich history are the Palouse Indians.

A small tribe in Southeastern Washington and Northern Idaho that was culturally related to the Nez Perce, the Palouse (or Palus) “were a very smart people and a very strong people,” according to Rose Engelbrite, one of the founding members of the society and the manager of the Palus Museum in Dayton.

“The things they had to make and do just in order to survive were very involved, from making shoes and arrowheads to gathering food.”

A hand woven basket, a baby carrier, and a trunk dating from 1812 are a link to the past at the Palus Museum.

A hand woven basket, a baby carrier, and a trunk dating from 1812 are a link to the past at the Palus Museum.

The museum, which possesses an unpretentious exterior that belies the treasures within, is home to numerous and diverse artifacts, from beadwork to handspun rope, bone hairpieces, clothing, hand crafted tools, a medicine bag, and — the foundation upon which the collection was started — arrowheads gleaned from the area by local resident Wayne Casseday.

“Collecting artifacts was a hobby of his, and he wanted other people to see them,” Engelbrite explains. “He asked us if we would be interested to set up a place where these could be shown and not be stored away out of sight.”

Palus Museum historical site in Dayton WA showcasing the Palouse Indians Lewis and Clark and the pioneering homesteaders

From the outside, Palus Museum gives no clue to the historical treasures within.

The arrowheads are all colors and sizes, painstakingly and skillfully crafted for their specific purpose, testament to the artistry and personality of their makers. One of Engelbrites favorite artifacts, however, looks like a long, slim rock, about the size of a small foot, and slightly curved, just like a foot. This is no accident, she says, but further evidence of the Palouse Indians’ astute resourcefulness.

“It’s a last,” she explains, “which is an object that shoemakers build their shoes around. Back then (the 1800s, and earlier) many shoes did not have a right shoe and a left shoe, but it was the same shape for both feet.

Barbed Wire at the Palus Museum

Who would guess that there could be so many varieties of barbed wire?

“The Palouse Indians used this last which has a light curve at the top, so they were able to make one shoe, a right one, and then flip over the last and make a left one.

“As I say, they were an ingenious people.”

The Palouse were noted horse breeders and traders — the Appaloosa, with its distinctive spotted coat, drawing its name from that of the tribe. Numbering around 1,600 during the expedition of Lewis and Clark, the Palouse tribe migrated between Palouse Falls in the winter, where the fishing was plenty, to the Dayton area in the summer, where they collected berries.

But as we know, with the advent of explorers, trappers, and pioneers from the east, this way of life drastically changed, and two cultures clashed until the Palouse, dwindling in size, no longer roamed the land they once lived. The museum itself addresses the issue, with exhibits featuring relics from both the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the pioneering homesteaders.

Set next to a woven cooking basket made from cedar root and cedar root skin is a small, handmade trunk, consisting of rawhide and fur over wood and lined with newspaper dated 1812. An annex to the museum houses the homestead room, with butter churns, washboards, a cast iron wood stove and an impressive display of the many styles of barbed wire used for fencing.

Most of the historical items are local, donated by families of the area, interested in the historical society’s mission and eager to contribute so that the past, though it is in the past, will have its place in the present.

“This is the history of the area in which we live,” Engelbrite says, “and it is a part of all our heritage.”

Wenaha GalleryThe Palus Museum, at 426 E. Main, is located two blocks from Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, WA, and is well worth a visit to view. Admission to the museum is free, with donations gratefully accepted. The museum is open Fridays and Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, contact Rose at 509.337.8875, or contact the historical society through its Facebook Page.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Ring Handled Vessel, pottery sculpture by artist Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery.

Celebrating the Extraordinary of Ordinary — Anne Bullock’s Raku, Stoneware, Pottery and Multi-Media Art

 

Ring Handled Vessel, pottery sculpture by artist Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery.

Ring Handled Vessel, pottery sculpture by artist Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery.

Woven baskets and clay pots — these humble vessels have been used by ordinary people throughout history. And although they have been and still are a major factor in the daily lives of many, humble vessels are frequently overlooked and discounted in the worlds of both academia and fine art.

Corn Box potter sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

Corn Box potter sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

It is the rare, sensitive eye that sees the value of the prosaic, and Anne  Bullock, a Walla Walla mixed media artist who, until her death in 2014, celebrated the history and culture of the Plateau people, recognized and respected the expertise and creativity of Pacific Northwest, Native American artisans.

“Anne always worked from a place of deep spiritual meaning,” her husband, David Bullock, remembers. “She found meaningful inspiration in the way these skilled designers used materials at hand in environmentally sound ways to create beauty as well as function.”

Anne’s interest in indigenous baskets took her throughout the region, as she explored the exhibits of the Wanapum Heritage Center Museum, Maryhill Museum, The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, Sacajawea State Park, Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, The Northwest Museum of Art and Culture,  the Fort Walla Walla Museum, and numerous other historical locations.

Blue Vase pottery sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

Blue Vase pottery sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

“Vessels are a metaphor for my life and work,” Anne said in her artist statement. “I’m impressed with how early Native American Indian artisans worked with indigenous ‘of the earth’ materials. The gifts of the earth were revered; only what was needed was taken.”

In the spirit of the people she admired and honored, Anne worked in multiple mediums, both two- and three-dimensional, primarily in pottery, but her skills, like her interests, extended a wide range.

“She worked with charcoal, colored pencil, pastel, acrylics, and mixed media assemblage,” David says. “She also augmented her art with work in bamboo, wood, stone, wool, and paper.”

Untitled pottery sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

Untitled pottery sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

A most outstanding piece, remembered by artist friend and curator of Anne’s work Colleen Sargen, is “Earth, Wheat, Fire,” consisting of 36 tiles which needed to be precisely placed at the former Willow Gallery in Walla Walla, WA, during Anne’s Interwoven Exhibition there in 2010.

“She impressed wheat, other flora objects to honor the earth, bark of trees lost in the Walla Walla wind storm of 2007, and specific items such as sand dollars carefully placed, to honor individuals dear to her who have passed on,” Sargen says.

Adding especial interest to the installation was that the tiles were still being created during the week that Sargen was installing the show. “Because the tiles were still smoldering in the fire pit, the fire needing to extinguish naturally, we waited, realizing it would be the last piece installed!” Sargen recalls. But the wait was worth it.

Plateau Series Relief on Panel by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

Plateau Series Relief on Panel by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

“It is a stunning work, and Anne’s wish was that it be placed in a health care facility.”

These wishes are completely in line with who Anne was, Sargen continues, describing her friend and colleague as “so very tender hearted, it seemed that she herself suffered for the pain of others and actively took steps in daily life to ease pain and bring peace.” One means by which Anne accomplished this was through the March of Peace events that she organized in 2008, involving community members in the creation of small, clay “pinch pots” that were placed in an outdoor art installation at the Walla Walla Foundry’s sculpture garden.

David explains, “Anne sought every opportunity to involve community in her art, in ways such as attaching prayers to her bamboo prayer walls, tying personal mementos to a community memory strand, and even using puzzle pieces from second-hand puzzles to make vessels.”

Throughout Anne Bullock’s life, and during the 38 years she worked and created in Walla Walla, community was a driving factor. Whether that community consisted of the town in which she was living, or the memories of the people who had lived in the area centuries beforehand, she devoted her energy, her skill, and her art to acknowledging and honoring the contributions of ordinary, every day people:

“I am compelled to tie, bind, glue, blend, melt, carve, coil, weave, overlap or somehow piece together media in any way materials allow or dictate,” Anne’s artist statement outlines her deep-set beliefs.

“Integrating materials through these processes gives voice to my themes of honoring the earth, its resources, and inhabitants.”

Wenaha GalleryAnne Bullock’s collection of two- and three-dimensional work is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest feature at Wenaha Gallery from February 23, 2015 through March 21, 2015 at Wenaha Gallery’s historic Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.

“Anne had a special connection with the Wenaha Gallery for many years, and I hope this showing of her work here can honor that connection and provide her community of friends the opportunity to remember and appreciate her creative endeavors.” — David Bullock

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.