talented trio artists rastovich ostergaard

Talented Trio — Three Different Artists Keep it All in the Family

talented trio artists rastovich ostergaard

The Talented Trio of Michael Rastovich, LuAnn Ostergaard, and Joseph Rastovich inspire one another to heightened creativity

We’ve all heard that two heads are better than one.

But then again, too many cooks spoil the broth. And because it’s wise to take all maxims with a grain of salt, we recognize that the truth lies somewhere in between.

Numachi abstract photograph print LuAnn Ostergaard talented trio

Numachi, abstract photograph print by LuAnn Ostergaard, one of the Talented Trio family of artists

Such is the experience of the Talented Trio — a husband/wife, parent/son amalgamation consisting of Michael Rastovich, illustrator and animator; his wife LuAnn Ostergaard, digital abstract photographer; and their son Joseph Rastovich, metal sculpture artist of both home decor and public art.

The Kennewick family works, lives, collaborates, encourages, critiques, and innovates together as professional artists, or as LuAnn puts it,

“We are closely connected in our personal lives, and it shows in our collaborative, creative professions as artists. There’s a lot of cooperation. We work together to help the others with inspiration, new ideas, and methods of creating.”

Joseph agrees, wryly observing:

“Art by committee is fraught with difficulties.

“However, when the right minds come together, the synergy can create outstanding results.”

Joseph: “Powerful Brainstorming” by the Talented Trio

Crediting his parents as critical mentors in his creative career, Joseph describes “powerful brainstorming” sessions featuring (three) different perspectives, sometimes vastly contrasting, with an outcome that is often superior to the original single perspective.

metal sculpture home decor furniture lamp joseph rastovich talented trio

A metal sculpture home decor lamp by Joseph Rastovich, the youngest member of the Talented Trio

For Joseph, art has been a part of his life since childhood, growing up with full-time artist parents, and being “unschooled” in a creative environment that allowed him to have the time, freedom, and tools to create whenever he wanted. By the age of 25, he had installed 11 public art projects throughout the Pacific Northwest, in addition to creating an array of home decor wall art and furniture that he sells through various art galleries, festivals, and retail stores.

“He literally grew up with a paintbrush in his hand, and flourished as a young artist,” LuAnn says.

LuAnn: Leaving the Corporate World

She, however, experienced a different world before she entered that of a full-time independent artist. Though LuAnn comes from a long line of artists dating back to her great grandfather, she started out in a corporate work environment. The memory of a different way of doing things enhances her gratitude for the way things are now.

“After spending five years working in a windowless office with a powerful, good -paying job in the corporate world, I made the decision to take the journey as an artist,” LuAnn says.

“Some evenings, when I came out of the building to go home after work, I would see a glorious sunset and realize I was missing it. I would just stand there, reveling in it as it quickly faded away.”

chalice drawing colorful michael rastovich illustration talented trio

Chalice, original drawing by Michael Rastovich, the patriarch of the Talented Trio

She wanted to do work that she believed in, experiencing a flow of creativity in which she expressed her own ideas. Seeing the world with an intensity that caused her to notice thing other people didn’t, she wanted to bring her creative visions to tangible reality. So when she walked away from her corporate job, she never looked back: every day since then reaffirms that decision.

“I take pride and have a sense of accomplishment when completing my creative work for the day.”

Michael: A Passion for Drawing

Michael knew from a very young age that he was an artist, incorporating both commercial and independent work into his professional dossier: he does design, animation, illustration, etching, digital, and graphics, with his true passion being drawing.

“I have spent my life trying to understand our world, by drawing it,” he says. “The challenge of seeing the world, and suggesting its forms with accuracy, economy and simple tools is joyful for me.”

Michael studied under master artists Siegfried Hahn and Howard Wexler, living in an adobe hut in the New Mexico desert while honing and perfecting his skills. He has worked for a museum design company in Portland, OR, creating conceptual drawings for the creation of new museums through the U.S., and presently develops animation projects for businesses of all sizes and scope. He also custom builds the framing boxes upon which LuAnn mounts her digitally enhanced, abstract photographs.

A Trio of Talent and Collaboration

It’s all part of working together.

“As a family of working artists, we spend nearly every waking moment creating and helping each other with our creations,” Michael says. “Over the years, we have each developed specific skills, and we depend on each other for support in this sometimes challenging, but always rewarding, life as artists.”

“Holidays, weekends, and down-time are meaningless,” LuAnn adds. “You are an artist, and your life’s work is all that matters.

“You were born to be an artist, and it is your purpose in life and your life’s work — you can do nothing else.”

Wenaha Gallery

LuAnn Ostergaard, Michael Rastovich, and Joseph Rastovich are the featured Pacific Northwest artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, November 6 through Saturday, December 2, 2017.   The Talented Trio will be at the gallery in person Saturday, November 24 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., for a special show also featuring Kennewick watercolor artist Laura Gable.

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

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Wilburton Pottery

Wilburton Pottery

Wilburton Pottery

It’s difficult to see how 14th century Chinese history and the 21st century design of printed circuit boards relate to a successful business of creating hand-carved garden tiles. Difficult, however, is not impossible.

For Bob Jewett, the potter and painter half of Wilburton Pottery of Bellevue, WA, it’s all part of a rich life history, one that started out with two masters degrees and the pursuit of a PhD.

“Bob stayed in college until he was 35,” says Iris Jewett, the other half of the marriage and the business (she’s the glazer). “He was getting his PhD when he was advised there was no hope in getting a teaching position.

“This was in the 1970s and there was little interest in Chinese history, especially the Ming dynasty.”

So Bob did a 360 and started designing those printed circuit boards, originally working for large corporations in Los Angeles until moving to Seattle where the couple started their own business there. And while business was successful, something was missing, and Iris suspected what it could be.

“I suggested to Bob that he needed an artistic outlet, and he started taking ceramic classes at Bellevue Community College.” Iris remembers. “An inability to throw pots led him to hand build garden pots.”

So build garden pots, Bob did. Because the couple is avid about gardening (“fanatical, actually,” Iris says), Bob developed a method to make pottery that could be left  outside all year round, something that was not common at the time. He also focused on carving intricate designs in the pottery. In 1993, when the couple participated in the Bellevue Arts Fair with their wares, Wilburton Pottery officially launched.

Lauralee Northcott

Lauralee Northcott

“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.

“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.”

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.

“Our shows feature great music, cowboy poetry, and lots of humor,” Northcott says, adding that they often travel with poet/comedian Dave McClure.

“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.”

Mary Briggs

Mary Briggs

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

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

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

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

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

“My work is not about politics or social commentary.

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

sculpture woman seated skirt pink shelia coe

The Dentist Artist — Sculpture by Shelia Coe

sculpture woman seated skirt pink shelia coe

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

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

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

cow sculpture by dentist artist shelia coe walla walla

Cow sculpture by dentist artist Shelia Coe of Walla Walla

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

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

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

Looking for a Creative Outlet

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

fish sculpture shelia coe dentist artist walla walla

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

“After the first class, I was hooked.

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

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

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

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

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

An Unusual Studio

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

horse sculpture shelia coe wenaha gallery

Horse sculpture by Shelia Coe, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

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

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

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

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

World Traveler

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

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

Her mother would be pleased.

Wenaha Gallery

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

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

 

 

Felted wool vessels and table runners by Sally Reichlin of Olympia

Fiber Finesse — The Felted Wool Art of Sally Reichlin

Felted wool vessels and table runners by fiber artist Sally Reichlin of Olympia

Felted wool vessels and table runners by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

When Sally Reichlin was a girl of four enrolled in her first art class, she had no idea that someday, she would have incredibly strong, well-shaped arm muscles — because of art.

“I’ve had instruction in drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, and printmaking,” the Olympia-based artist says, but it is her present focus, fiber arts, that doubles as a fitness workout.

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin of Olympia, WA

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Reichlin creates wall art, table runners, and three-dimensional vessels with roving, carded wool with short fibers that she overlaps by hand, in layers — three layers for flat pieces, six for vessels. With the flat pieces, she creates finished fabric by rolling and rotating the thoroughly soaked layers with a cylindrical tool.

Back and forth. Back and forth, for two to three hours. Two, or three . . . hours.

“Felting is an art that requires patience, and it can also be physically demanding,” Reichlin observes.

To create her three-dimensional vessels, Reichlin puts away the cylindrical tool and picks up an inflatable ball. After layering the roving in alternating directions over the ball, Reichlin covers the mass with tulle and nylon netting to keep the layers intact, then immerses it all in a hot bath of water and olive oil soap, where the ball is rubbed and rotated for . . . two hours, until the fibers mesh into fabric.

“Once the layers of netting and tulle are removed, the ball is deflated, and the piece now resembles the shell of the ball,” Reichlin explains.

“It has no defined shape at this point, and it basically looks like a flat, wet sock.”

Framed felted wool art piece by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Framed, felted wool art piece by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

But not for long: Reichlin alternately stretches the newly formed fabric by hand, kneads it, and tosses it back into the hot water bath until she likes the shape. By this time, another two hours later, the piece has shrunk by 40 to 50 percent from where it started. Once the piece is dry, Reichlin embellishes it by sewing on, by hand, glass, stone, and/or semi-precious beads, a process which takes anywhere from one to five hours.

It is good that she is, as she describes herself, “slow and determined.” She is also experimental, valuing the process as much as the finished product, which is a major reason why she knows how to create such unique art pieces in the first place: she taught herself, through hours of poring through books, watching online videos, and just doing it.

“I look for ways to be challenged, to experiment and learn from my mistakes,” Reichlin says. “If I am not getting enjoyment from the process, I stop working on that particular piece and come back to it later.

“This gives me time to think about the direction I want to take and changes I might make.”

Felted wool vessel by Olympia fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Selling her creations in galleries, gift shops, and at Olympia Arts Walk, Reichlin has clients throughout the Pacific Northwest, on the East Coast, and in Denmark. For the past 15 years, she has offered private and group instruction, and her home studio, a converted one-car garage, is a model of organization with six rows of 18″ x 18″ x 18″ cubicles spanning one wall. When she isn’t working on a felt piece (with larger works, directly on the floor), she is standing at the easel, painting on canvas. Throughout the day, she is moving, standing, lifting, rolling, and going above and beyond whatever minimum amount of time is recommended for a person to exercise.

It’s all a process: learning, discovering, doing, re-doing, observing, trying, questioning, and finessing, but for Reichlin, the process is as intricately linked to the finished art piece as the wool roving is meshed and merged together. One does not get the final work of art without all the hard work — physical, yes, but mental and creative as well.

“The one thing I feel most passionately about is the importance of process,” Reichlin reiterates.

“I place more value on the process than the finished product, because it has always been my greatest teacher.”

Wenaha GallerySally Reichlin is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, December 5, through Saturday, December 30.

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 the gallery today!

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Desert Grass, public art piece in Richland, WA, by Joseph Rastovich

Public and Private Art — The Metal Sculpture of Joseph Rastovich

Desert Grass, public art piece in Richland, WA, by Joseph Rastovich

Desert Grass, public art piece in Richland, WA, by Joseph Rastovich

Falling metal, flying shrapnel, punishing heat, blinding light, loud noises — it doesn’t sound like an artist’s studio, but then again, the making of Joseph Rastovich’s art doesn’t fit into a small space. The Kennewick artist, whose primary medium is fabricated sculpture in steel, designs wall art, furniture, and lamps, in addition to significantly sized public art pieces.

Lady Tree, side table furniture, by Joseph Rastovich

Lady Tree, side table furniture, by Joseph Rastovich

He started working with metal when he was 14 years old, after inheriting classic cars from both sides of his family.

“I had to learn metal work to fix these cars, and that quickly transformed into my art career,” Rastovich says. “I had a job as a dishwasher at a jazz and wine club during that time and spent my paychecks solely on metal working tools.”

Ten years later, Rastovich’s studio, which is primarily outside his home (“luckily all my neighbors like me and accommodate my unusual profession”), boasts a plethora of the specialty tools necessary for metalwork: welders, plasma cutters, air compressors, grinders, sheet metal roller, clamps, gantry cranes, vises, sandblasters, an oxyacetylene kit, and forklift among others. These are just the tools. Finding the supplies with which to create is another matter.

“Unlike most artists, when I go to an art supply store, there effectively is nothing I can use,” Rastovich says. “Instead, I source my materials and supplies from industrial stores such as steel yards, welding supply stores, and industrial paint stores.”

Tree of Zen, wall art by Joseph Rastovich

Tree of Zen, wall art by Joseph Rastovich

The son of two artists — LuAnn Ostergaard, whose box mounted art prints are sold to private and corporate collections nationwide, and Michael Rastovich, an artist of multiple mediums whose resume includes creating a float for the Portland Rose Parade — Rastovich was “unschooled” for much of his educational career, an experience that allowed him to pursue creative endeavors with full focus.

“Curiosity and awe is the foundation of which intelligence is built,” Rastovich says.

“I was free to study philosophy, learn quantum mechanics, create music, look at great art, witness the running of a business, build things, and commune with nature.” The result, for him, is a 21st century Renaissance Man who not only has a passion about everything, but is extremely fit.

“It is a very physical profession,” he explains, one of the reasons he calls himself a metal wrangler, complete with signature cowboy hat, that is, when the situation doesn’t require a hard one.

Vortex sculpture by Joseph Rastovich

Vortex sculpture by Joseph Rastovich

“Everything is heavy. Before I bought my forklift, half my time was spent just moving steel plate with pry bars, rollers, and blocking.” And while the forklift has made certain aspects of his job easier, it still isn’t . . . easy. Because the work takes place primarily outside, Rastovich finds himself in all types of weather, ranging from 120 degrees to 0 degrees, from full, blazing sun to pouring rain and falling snow.

Rastovich sells his smaller work through galleries as well as furniture, gift, and jewelry stores throughout the Pacific Northwest. His larger, public works are installed in parks, schools, business districts and hospitals in the Tri-Cities, Spokane, and Tualatin, OR. He also attends select art festivals, including the Sausalito Art Festival in California and the Bellevue Art Festival, both prestigiously difficult to get into.

“At art festivals, I often admire jewelers because their entire inventory fits in a suitcase,” he observes wryly. “I have had shows where I needed to bring a forklift. But alas! I enjoy the scale and gravity of my work.”

Visual art, he believes, is like a static form of music, and like music, has the ability to bring forth powerful emotions in the viewer, from tears to joy, from quiet contemplation to the impulse to dance. It is his goal that his own art, large pieces or small, bring on a sense of awe and inspiration.

“I create art to provide relief from normalcy.

“What was a bare wall of insignificance becomes a reason to stop and slow down.

“What was empty space becomes a place for inspiration.

“What was a normal average day can be transformed into a power memory, when one encounters art.”

Wenaha GalleryJoseph Rastovich is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, October 10 through Saturday, November 5.

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.

Green Head on Rock, sculpture by Penny Michel, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Ancient Art of Modern Day — The Clay Sculpture of Penny Michel

Green Head on Rock, sculpture by Penny Michel, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery. Photo credit Leaman Studios.

Green Head on Rock, sculpture by Penny Michel, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery. Photo credit Leaman Studios.

Childhood memories are powerful ones. Where we lived, whom we knew, the games we played — these shape our lives as adults in unique and characteristic ways.

For ceramic artist Penny Michel, the summers spent at the grandparents left a mark that touches the work she creates today.  Born in Tunisia, a former French protectorate located in North Africa, Michel  moved with her family to the United States when she was four years old, but visited extended family every year in an ancient land, with a history rich in venerable cultures.

Sitting Lady, Clay sculpture by Penny Michel

Sitting Lady, Clay sculpture by Penny Michel

“In Tunisia, we lived near Carthage on the beach, and we were surrounded by ancient ruins and different cultures,” Michel remembers.

“Often when houses were built or renovated, ancient artifacts were found. Archaeologists were always working in the area.

“Consequently, since a young age, I have been drawn to ancient art such as the art of Mesopotamia, Greece, Oceania, and the Ottoman Empire.”

With a B.A. in art from Western Illinois University, Michel focuses on clay in various sizes and formats, from wheel-thrown bowls to hand-crafted vessels, from small sculptures for the home to large scale, site-specific commissioned pieces, but before she really got into doing her art, she got out of it first.

“After getting my degree, I didn’t work in art for about ten years,” Michel says. “I didn’t think I was ‘talented enough,’ so I took a detour into banking for awhile.”

But the detour led back to the main road, and for the last 30 years, Michel has been fashioning sculpture that is redolent of those summer days of childhood. An homage to the past, offering hints and traces from another era, Michel’s work looks like something an archaeologist would excitedly find and remove — with great care and precision — from the dig. Surface design, multiple glazing, and texturized elements combine into exotic, willowy statuettes;  layered masks; primeval fish; and human faces — set upon armatures created by local Walla Walla artist Doug  Geise — that look like mummies.

They’re haunting, mystical, fascinating, and teasingly enigmatic.

Small Green Fish, Clay sculpture by Penny Michel

Small Green Fish, Clay sculpture by Penny Michel. Photo credit Jenna Gard.

“My art work definitely has another-world quality,” Michel says. “Like it was just dug out of the ground or found in the ocean and from another world or culture.”

Michel has shown and sold her work worldwide, including to collectors in Ios, Greece, and Brussels, Belgium, and in 2012 completed the Artist in Residency Program at the International Ceramic Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary, which houses one of her pieces in its permanent collection. Gallery representation has ranged from Chicago to San Francisco and embraces her present home, Walla Walla, where she is a resident artist at Studio TwoZeroTwo in downtown Main Street.

Ice Woman III and Ice Woman IV by Penny Michel

Ice Woman III and Ice Woman IV by Penny Michel. Photo credit, Wardell Photography.

One of her larger pieces, for several years exhibited outside the Sonoma Museum of Visual Art in California, is now part of the permanent collection of the Corliss Estates on Second Street in Walla Walla. A similar piece is in the permanent collection of the di Rosa Preserve in Napa, California, considered the most significant holding of Bay Area art in the world. Set in a 200-acre park-like setting, the collection houses more than 2,000 works of art by 800 artists.

“The di Rosa preserve is one of the most beautiful art venues I know,” Michel says. “I encourage art lovers to visit it.”

In addition to creating, showing, and selling her work, Michel offers regular ceramic sculptures classes in her studio, working closely with three or four students at a time. Many have been with her for awhile, finding in their own histories a connection to the past that ties in with the present.

Art, whenever and wherever it is, never goes out of style.

“My work is heavily influenced by ancient cultures and civilizations,” Michel says. “And while texture and surface are very important to me, I do not try and make a specific statement with my art.

“I want the viewer to get what they need out of it.”

Wenaha GalleryPenny Michel is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, July 18 through Saturday, August 13.

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.

 

Copper Wheat metal sculpture by Richard Czyhold, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

Upcycled Chic: The Recycled, Refashioned Art of Czyhold Metal Design

Copper Wheat metal sculpture by Richard Czyhold, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

Copper Wheat metal sculpture by Richard Czyhold, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

One of the challenges of living in a throwaway society is that we are in danger of losing our connection to the past. For example, it’s difficult to comprehend that the ubiquitous plastic gallon milk jugs, which most of us see as trash, are possibly the blue-glass medicine bottles of a century ago. By the time we realize that what we call junk isn’t always rubbish, newly appreciated material may not be around anymore.

An altar design and pulpit by Ben Czyhold

An altar design and pulpit by Ben Czyhold

Thanks to imaginative, foresightful, and artistic people like the Czyhold (Sea’-Hold) family, however, the stuff of the past is not doomed to be buried in landfills. The three-person team — consisting of Richard and his recycled metal sculptures; Richard’s wife Judy and her recycled copper and found object jewelry; and the couple’s son Ben, a working blacksmith — creates new fashions from old things, or, in the case of Ben, from old techniques.

All three work in designated studio spaces at the Walla Walla family home, which continues to operate as a working farm. Indeed, it’s that farming background that launched the whole process, beginning in 1995 when Richard was commissioned to create a sculpture for the neighboring Bunchgrass Winery. Inspired by nature as well as an innate drive to recycle and reuse , he looked around at what he had — a vast quantity of farm machinery parts — and saw, not junk, but future native grass, cat tail, and wheat sculptures welded and melded from metal.

“‘When farm machinery is repaired, most farmers have what is known as a bone yard where they pile all the worn out parts,” Richard explains. “On our farm, we try to reuse parts, but when that is no longer possible, they become artwork.”

As the family became more involved in metal design, they found, ironically, that they didn’t have enough extra material to keep up with demand,  so they started looking around for more.

Bracelet by Judy Czyhold

Bracelet by Judy Czyhold

“We use found objects that come from all different sources, auctions, and yard sales,” Richard says. “Many times, other farmers and clients will bring me parts, bits and pieces of unusual things.”

Not all of these unusual things wind up in Richard’s sculpture, especially if Judy gets to them first. Using traditional metal smith techniques of riveting, brazing, or soldering, Judy transforms disparate matter such as recycled copper roofing, electrical wires, engine parts, and pieces of 40-foot aluminum sprinkler pipes into bracelets, necklaces, and earrings with no twin on earth.

“Scrounging in the junk bin at the shop has produced many great found objects to incorporate into my pieces,” Judy says. Literally, it’s a treasure hunt.

Fortunately for the couple and their voracious appetite for salvaged materials, their son Ben works primarily with new steel. What is old in his art is the occupation itself — blacksmithing — and the venue in which he does it.

Ben Czyhold in his blacksmith shop

Ben Czyhold in his blacksmith shop

“My shop is on the family property,” Ben says. “The overall design and layout of it was influenced by another blacksmith shop that once existed on my family’s land over 70 years ago.” Ben creates everything from household hardware to architectural ironwork, maintaining a product line of small hardware and decorative pieces for sale at various venues. And while much of his larger work — like a customized wrought iron porch railing, or gate hinges shaped like a fleur de lis — is not portable, he is, transporting the necessary equipment to the Walla Walla Farmer’s Market to do live forging demonstrations near Richard and Judy’s vending booth. Beginning in June, the family will also show at the Richland Farmer’s Market.

“We meet such great people from all over the world at the markets, and they really enjoy seeing Ben hammering,” Judy says. During the off-market season, the trio travels to 6-8 arts and crafts shows throughout the Northwest.

It’s something new from something old, beauty from trash as opposed to rising from the ashes. And thanks to the cosmopolitan nature of today’s community markets, Czyhold creations are in homes throughout the United States, as well as Europe and Japan. Innovation is timeless, Richard points out.

“Our favorite part of the whole process is taking something that would have been thrown away and transforming it into something that brings a smile.”

Wenaha GalleryCzyhold Metal Design is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, May 23 through Saturday, June 18. There will be a special show Saturday, May 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gallery, where Richard and Judy will be on site with their artwork. A short distance away, at the Dayton Historic Depot, Ben will do live forging demonstrations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free refreshments provided at the gallery.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. 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 Incredibly Hardworking, and Beautiful, Lazy Susan — Granite Art by Terry Hoon

Black flecks and tan lines create a pattern across a white-based, granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon

Black flecks and tan lines create a pattern across a white-based, granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon

This is the story of a man, an aggregation of igneous rock, and a fictitious household servant who would have lived, if she existed, in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

The man’s name is Terry Hoon, a lifetime resident of Dayton who is presently retired from the seed processing department at Seneca. At one time, he wrangled as a steer wrestler for the Walla Walla Community College Rodeo Team.

A background of dark green is enhanced by lighter tones of tan and grey. Granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon.

A background of dark green is enhanced by lighter tones of tan and grey. Granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon.

The aggregation of rock is granite, what is called an “intrusive rock,” meaning that it is crystallized when molten material — magma — flows, cools, and solidifies underground. Many of us associate it with high-end kitchen counter tops, and we are drawn to its myriad colors, which the Minerals Education Coalition describes as pink or red (from feldspar), dark brown or black (from mica), clear pink, white, or black (from quartz).

And the servant? Her name is Susan, and despite being known for her indolence — Lazy Susan — she is surprisingly ubiquitous and useful: she is a revolving stand, made of wood, stone,  or other elements, that we set in the middle of the table (to hold condiments), next to the bathroom sink (to hold personal care items), inside a cupboard, or basically anyplace where we have a number of disparate items that we want to easily reach. Indeed, so serviceable is the Lazy Susan, that it seems unkind to denigrate her so.

And so, in this story, we don’t.

The man, Terry Hoon, was visiting his youngest daughter when he saw a Lazy Susan, crafted from granite, on the table. Inspired by its beauty, he went home and made one, and then, because he had a variety of granite available to him, he made another, and another. As useful as Lazy Susans are, however, one can only use so many of them, so he began to give his shaped, polished, and shining creations to friends and family. Eventually, they convinced him to get serious about selling his rock artwork.

With smooth polished edges, this black granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with gold-colored highlights

With smooth polished edges, this black granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with gold-colored highlights

“I got started with some rock given to me by a friend, and now I have a distributor that I work with,” Hoon says. “I choose the pieces that interest me and haul them home myself.”

From there, the rock’s final shape is determined by a chisel or a rock saw, depending upon whether Hoon wants a jagged, craggy edge or a smooth, polished one. Many times, the rock makes the final decision, splitting where it splits, and following a natural line that is not evident until pressure is applied. Each piece is as unique and beautiful as the granite itself, which, come to think of it, is a good way to view other human beings — like servants, for example, whether or not they live in the 17th century or today, and regardless of their appellation.

Almost coal black, this granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with lighter highlights

Almost coal black, this granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with lighter highlights

“It’s a great mystery,” where the name comes from, according to Sarah Coffin, head of product design and decorative arts department at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, in an interview with L.A. Times writer, Bettijane Levine.

Probably created as a replacement for diminishing household help, Lazy Susans may have found their permanent name through a 1917 Vanity Fair advertisement for Ovington’s, a no longer extant New York department store. The 16-inch, mahogany table top tray mounted on ball bearings is described as follows:

“$8.50 forever seems an impossibly low wage for a good servant; and yet here you are; Lazy Susan, the cleverest waitress in the world, at your service!”

And so she continues to be, in an age when familiarity with household servants, for most people, extends to characters in Masterpiece Theater’s Upstairs, Downstairs, or Downton Abbey. But all of us can own a Lazy Susan, and thanks to Hoon, she can be elegant, tough, classy, artistic, unique, serviceable, and extremely hardworking as well.

“I choose the pieces of rock that appeal to me,” Hoon says. “I just pick what I think is pretty.”

Pretty. That’s such a better  description than “lazy.”

Wenaha GalleryTerry Hoon is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, February 22 through Saturday, March 26.

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.