Rock and Stone — The Sculpture of Sandra Matthews-Sarve

perfect pair birds stone carving sandra sarve

A Perfect Pair, stone carving by Sandra Matthews-Sarve of Walla Walla.

We see them every day.

Most of the time we walk by them, ignore them, overlook their existence. There are so many of them; they are so common, so ordinary, so completely lacking in what we consider value, that we accord them little attention or respect.

They’re rocks.

carved rock by road mother child sarve carving

Rock by the Road, mother and child, by Sandra Matthews-Sarve.

“We live on a rock. This planet is a rock,” says Sandra Matthews-Sarve, a stone carver from Walla Walla. “But most people take rocks for granted. They ignore rocks.”

Not so Matthews-Sarve. Finding new life for unexpected or undervalued items has always been an interest for the artist, who has made wall decorations out of old frying pans and kitchen decor from discarded blocks of wood.  She turned her attention to rocks four years ago when she became curious about engraved stones. She made a few, found she liked working with stone, and eventually transitioned from engraving to sculpting.

The Value of Rock

“Years ago, part of the reason I gravitated initially toward discarded items was because they were cheap materials,” Matthews-Sarve explains.

“It was a time when I was single and very poor, but loved to make things.

“But I also realized my attraction to discarded items was making something considered useless into something useful — and maybe even beautiful again.

“I enjoyed looking beyond the expected uses of objects and finding their other uses. Rocks are just another item most people consider useless and ignore or toss aside.”

petal soapstone carved rock pot sarve

Petal Soapstone Pot by Sandra Matthews-Sarve of Walla Walla.

In the world of rocks, there are rocks, and there are rocks. Because humans like to classify, rocks, like other items, find themselves being described as valuable and worthless, essential and unnecessary. Matthews-Sarve sees worth beyond the labels, and works with rocks across the spectrum.

Of course many of us, when we hear of stone carving, immediately think of marble, alabaster, soapstone — the cream of the rock world. They are, indeed, a delight with which to work, Matthews-Sarve affirms. She likes their hidden unpredictability. Cracks and fissures, small pieces of gravel and other material hidden in the stone come into play as she is carving, chiseling or angle grinding.

And while she may enter into a project with a particular result in mind, the stone itself joins in the decision process with its natural shape and buried blemishes.

“One must always be ready to change direction and sculpting plans when working with stone,” Matthews-Sarve says.

She Does Not Limit Herself

Normal carving stones like marble, alabaster, and soapstone, however, can be hard to find, she adds, so as an artist, she does not limit herself.

“It isn’t laying around on the ground. It has to be mined. So it can get expensive to buy it.

“But your average everyday rock is just waiting by the side of the road, or in a river, on a hillside, most anywhere.”

dancer carved stone garden ornament sarve

Dancer, carved stone garden ornament by Sandra Matthews-Sarve

Like its more valuable cousins, ordinary rock also contains hidden unpredictabilities, cracks and fissures, surprises that the sculptor discovers through trial, error, practice, and work. Matthews-Sarve and her husband, Kevin, enjoy exploring the regional roads of the nearby hills, discovering  and picking up rocks along the way. Generally, she creates garden ornaments from these finds.

“Most of the ordinary rocks are basalt — we have a lot of that around here. But some of them seem a little softer and muddier than basalt, and I’m not sure what they are. So I just call them Blue Mountain Roadside Rocks.”

Matthews-Sarve’s studio is outside, alternating between her garage and driveway. Angle grinding, chisel and hammering are driveway projects. Work done with a dremel, file, riffler, and rasp locates itself in the garage or under a canopy. In bad weather, she brings small pieces, like refrigerator magnets, into the kitchen. Projects range from large garden sculptures to tiny little plant pots, and each spends time in her hands and under her eye. The challenge, and reward, lie in finding and shaping beauty, teasing it from the raw, often stubbornly difficult, materials, whether those materials are deemed “valuable” or not.

Intrinsic Value

It’s not a difficult metaphorical jump from rocks to other things, and from other things to people. Matthews-Sarve is especially conscious of this, having worked with and around a disability much of her life. She knows from experience that value judgments are just that, and true understanding takes a willingness to look beyond the surface to the depth beneath. And that’s why she’s willing to look.

“I enjoy making art out of beautiful stone, but I also enjoy making art out of common roadside rocks.

“Most things can be useful or beautiful.

“Sometimes we just need to look beyond the expected uses, and beyond the normal ideas of beauty.”

Wenaha GallerySandra Matthews-Sarve is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from January 26 through February 22, 2021.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

maple burl clock wood pendulum time leonard mcreary

Time to Create: Clocks by Leonard McCreary

maple burl clock wood pendulum time leonard mcreary

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

Time.

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

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

He makes clocks out of them.

clocks wood maple walnut time leonard mccreary

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

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

Clocking Time in the Workshop

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

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

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

maple burl wooden clock time leonard mccreary

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

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

Each Tree Is Unique

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

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

How we spend it, makes a difference.

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

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

kneeling woman green ceramic pottery figurative statue collista krebs

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

cowboy bull important pottery ceramics western collista krebs

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

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

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

kneeling woman green ceramic pottery figurative statue collista krebs

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

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

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

Time and Practice Are Important

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

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

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

cows daisies flowers important time collista krebs pottery ceramics

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

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

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

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

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

Unique and Individual Are Important

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

ceramic pottery bats wall hanging collista krebs artist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New and Innovative Are Important

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

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

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

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

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

Take Me Home

Lighting, Drama, Color — The Watercolor Paintings of Cheryll Root

Winsome, furry, cute, waiting to be cuddled — Take Me Home, original watercolor painting by Cheryll Root

The people we envy says a lot about ourselves. Obvious candidates are wealthy people, powerful people, incredibly good-looking people.

These three factors, however, aren’t what attract the attention of Cheryll Root, a watercolor artist from Troy, ID. The people she envies are . . .  zookeepers. Not because they’re rich, influential, or handsome, but because they work with exotic animals.

“I have a passion for painting animals — I LOVE them!” Root says. “If I lived near a zoo now, I’d love to volunteer there.

Olivia giraffe wild exotic animal cheryll root

Olivia, original watercolor painting by Cheryll Root

“One of my favorite shows is ‘The Secret Life of the Zoo,’ where they take you behind the scenes with the zookeepers and the animals they care for.”

The animals don’t have to be exotic, incidentally. Furry, cute, winsome, noble, adventurous, cuddly will do; just not a snake, though. If there were a position, paid or unpaid, for a “puppy and kitten petter,” Root would gladly apply, but as it is, she finds satisfaction in painting animals, as well as landscapes, floral scenes, and still lifes ranging from tea cups to cowboy boots.

A Doodler from Childhood

An active member of the Palouse Watercolor Socius, where she has served as secretary for numerous years, Root describes herself as a doodler from childhood, when she drew on all the margins of her mother’s piano music books. (Family legend reports that she also drew on white walls with crayon, but Root has no conscious memory of this.) She enjoys the painting challenge of keeping the whites white without using masking fluid. She also tackles the darkest of values, which have a tendency, in watercolor, to dry lighter than one thinks they will. Her goal is to create a work that stops the viewer, attracts their attention, and invites them to step closer and take a long, reflective look.

dayton depot train station cheryll root watercolor

Dayton Depot, original watercolor painting by Cheryll Root of Troy, Idaho.

“I hope my artwork treats the eyes to color,” Root says. “I also like to paint work that has some mystery, or some whimsy, to it.”

Dramatic lighting, vibrant color, intriguing shadows — these elements call out to Root, and in taking reference photos for her paintings, she looks for this triad. While she does paint plein air, she prefers studio work, even if the space where she works is not what most artists would desire. But it works well for her.

“I use my office, and the space I work in is rather cramped. But I do have good lighting and a nice view out the window (we live in the country on Moscow Mountain on 50 acres).”

Small Space, Big Output

A still life of pottery, Arizona Pots, original oil painting by Cheryll Root.

When she and her husband first moved to the area from Seattle, Root envisioned using a shop located in a large outbuilding. It has a wonderful view, lots of space, and great lighting. But what it doesn’t have is running water or heat. And as a less than positive bonus to what it does have: there are mice. And while it’s true that mice are animals — furry, cute, winsome, and potentially cuddly, they’re not on Root’s list of studio companions.

“Being a city girl at heart for all those years, I took the comfort of the house, even with its lesser studio space.”

Because ultimately, what matters is what comes out of that studio space: the finished paintings. Root has shown her work at galleries throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as at juried shows by the Idaho Watercolor Society and the Palouse Watercolor Show, the latter a five-state juried exhibition. In 2016, her painting “Pears” graced the cover of Good Fruit Grower Magazine, reaching subscribers in all 50 states and 50 countries. The space where she works may be small, but the work that she gets done there is big with potential.

“I am always looking to learn more, improve technique, and create work that elicits emotion from the viewer, as well as reflecting my passion for color, and the vibrant world in which we live.”

Wenaha GalleryCheryll Root is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from October 20 through December 14, 2020.

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

 

casey weekender leather bag pozzitive

Leather Lux — Handcrafted Bags by Betsy Pozzanghera

casey weekender leather bag pozzitive

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

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

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

kirsten leather cowboy boot bag pozzanghera

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

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

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

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

Re-purposed Leather

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

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

Karol turquoise suede leather handcrafted purse pozzanghera

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

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

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

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

Leather Is Not a Forgiving Fabric

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

emaline african deer hide bag purse pozzanghera

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

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

Custom Projects Are Especially Meaningful

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

rodeo bull western art animal cattle cow tanna scott

Horse and Cattle — The Oil Paintings of Tanna Scott

rodeo bull western art animal cattle cow tanna scott

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

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

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

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

two horse animal equine rodeo painting tanna scott art

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

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

A Horse That Was a Friend

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

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

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

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

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

“That painting has a home.”

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

longhorn cow cattle livestock farm ranch tanna scott oil painting

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

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

Teaching Art

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

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

purple horse equine animal ranch rodeo tanna scott art

Purple Horse, original oil painting by Tanna Scott

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

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

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

Emotion Connects the Viewer with the Horse or Cattle

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

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

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

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

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

 

pottery mugs production glazes pat fleming kennewick

Pottery Thoughts — Pat Fleming Creates as He Meditates

pottery mugs production glazes pat fleming kennewick

An array of pottery mugs, featuring a variety of shapes, sizes, and glazes, by Kennewick potter Pat Fleming

He teaches, paints, digs clay in out of the way places. And, over an art career that spans 54 years and counting, Pat Fleming has thrown a lot — LOTS — of pots.

“Back in the day,” the Kennewick potter remembers, “the local art community held several annual art exhibits and demonstrations at the local mall.

“While demonstrating at the mall during one of those regional art exhibits, we were approached by a buyer from The Bon about producing pottery for their store. I accepted.”

pottery wheel bowl production pat fleming

Each pottery piece, whether made as production pottery or a one-time-only piece, requires the time, attention, and skill of the potter

And therein Fleming, who at the same time was teaching art in the Kennewick school system, entered into the world of pottery production work. His pottery at The Bon attracted notice from Cole’s Plant Soils, Inc., which distributed his wares throughout the Western U.S. He also collaborated with local restaurants to provide coffee mugs, candle holders, serving items, planters, and ash trays. (“Remember them?” Fleming asks).

Along with that, he adds, his work has been distributed in Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, France, and Spain.

Nowadays, Fleming has scaled down on production work, but maintains two commercial customers for whom he makes stoneware. He also takes commissions from individuals. Intriguingly, he finds the process of production pottery to be not frenetic, but calming.

Meditative and Calming

“Doing production work is meditative,” Fleming explains.

“One cannot concentrate on the process of throwing a pot with a thoughtful shape without concentrating.

“Doing that makes all the worries and concerns of the day disappear. It would appear to the uninitiated as drudgery, but is actually the opposite.

“It is the nature of craftsmanship to require concentration to the point of excluding everything else.”

From soup bowls to serving bowls, from mugs for hot drinks to vessels for wine, potter Pat Fleming is constantly experimenting with techniques and form.

For years, Fleming has been digging clay for his pottery from local areas, starting at the Ringold area at the Columbia River. He later moved to spots around Othello, Prosser, and the Walla Walla River Basin.

Fleming uses the dug clay it by itself as earthenware, or incorporates with fire clays purchased from local building suppliers. He also blends it, along with local soil and wood ash, into signature glazes. These range in color from ochre to brown, black to iron red.

Wood Ash Makes Innovative Pottery Glazes

“The coloring of most of my glazes comes from the iron in the soil, clay, or wood ash,” Fleming says. “I rarely use chemical colorants, and have limited their use to cobalt for blue and copper for green.” One of his more innovative resources for ash, aside from that collected from the Mount St. Helens 1980 eruption, is from Fleming’s barbecue pit.

“When firing a wood kiln, the wood ash flows through the ware chamber and settles on the pots to form its own natural although spotty glaze.”

Like many artists who become experts at what they do, Fleming loves to teach what he knows, and what he knows about a 12,000-year-old craft is significant. In 1971, he began his teaching career at Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, and though after 33 years he theoretically retired from teaching, he never really did, and has been called back numerous times. He also instructs through numerous community venues.

Teaching Is His Passion

“Even though I really enjoy making functional and non-functional ceramic objects, teaching is my real passion,” Fleming says.

“One of the most rewarding positions was at Coyote Ridge Correction Center for Walla Walla Community College. The convicted felons were the most willing and motivated students ever.

“After Covid19 goes away, I will return to Kennewick Community School where I teach drawing and painting.”

Because a teacher, like an artist, never stops. Why should they? They’re creating, learning, innovating, giving, with the result that their job isn’t really a job at all.

“As I look back on my 54 years of art in one way or the other being my livelihood, I wonder how I could have been so lucky,” Fleming muses.

“I wish I could do it all over again.”

Wenaha GalleryPat Fleming is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from September 8 through October 2, 2020.

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

 

java junk journal gift diaray trudy love tantalo

No Rules — The “Junk” Journals of Trudy Love Tantalo

steampunk junk journal no rules trudy love tantalo diary

Steampunk, junk journal by Trudy Love Tantalo.

Rules are funny things.

We’re taught that they make our lives easier and “safer”  by protecting us from all the bad stuff and people.

But they also do something else: they grow and multiply, expand and enlarge, develop to the point where it takes libraries of volumes to contain them, and everyone, at some point, becomes a rule breaker. When rules get out of control, they limit and hinder, circumscribe and restrict, regulate and dominate.

It’s the perfect place to draw one’s thoughts — Art Paper 1 junk journal by Trudy Love Tantalo.

Artist Trudy Love Tantalo discovered this foray into philosophy by, of all things, creating “junk journals,” handmade paper books embellished with additions like lace, fabric, ribbons, even discarded cereal boxes. It was an epiphany.

Initially, the Des Moines, WA, creative “jumped onto the scrapbooking bandwagon” because of her fascination for papers and design. But she found that the emphasis on getting the pages perfect, the unwritten rule of scrapbooking, was stressful.

The Rules of Perfection

She encountered a similar sense of stress upon receiving an especially beautifully bound journal as a gift, after years of using whatever notebook she had on hand. A lifetime lover of journals to record her day or feelings, Love Tantalo noticed an unusual change in her behavior when she used the gifted journal: instead of writing in pen, as she usually would, she used pencil, in case she made a “mistake” and ruined the perfection of the page. Journaling, like creating scrapbook pages, was no longer fun because the emphasis was on perfection, not creativity.

Bird Neighbors junk no rules journal birding trudy love tantalo

For the birder, or someone who loves birds — Bird Neighbors journal by Trudy Love Tantalo

And then she discovered junk journals.

“I happened upon them on Pinterest — the uniqueness and creativity really appealed to me. And the fact that you didn’t necessarily need a lot of fancy supplies or papers fit perfectly with my innate frugality and desire to ‘upcycle’ as much as possible.

“This finally fit the bill for me.

“There were no rules!”

Freedom from Rules

The finding of junk journals released a sense of creativity that Love Tantalo didn’t know she had. She quickly put together her first two journals, choosing folded-over cereal box as covers and incorporating a variety of papers.  One she used as a travel journal on her trip to Europe, filling it with brochures and postcards, tickets stubs and packaging, thoughts for the day. And . . .

java junk journal gift diaray trudy love tantalo

JAVA — coffee comes in all flavors and styles, with no rules to limit its style. Handcrafted junk journal by Trudy Love Tantalo.

“I threw caution to the wind and used a pen to write with!”

Junk journals, to Love Tantalo, perfectly fit her desire to create, her interest in journaling, and the challenge of using items that might ordinarily be thrown away. These were interests, she realized, that other people had as well. She turned a second bedroom into her studio, filled it “to the rafters” with a variety of papers and all manner of upcycled items (“AKA ‘junk'”), and got to a most pleasurable and productive work.

“My biggest problem is becoming overwhelmed with all my ideas and possibilities,” she says.

Lots of Space for Writing and Drawing

“Because I am a journaler and use my own creations, I always make sure there is plenty of writing space in each one, although I want to make it fun and interesting to look at and use, too.”

Junk journals, like the precious people who use them, are unique, Love Tantalo says, and there is no one way, no incontrovertible series of rules, to use them. Some people use them as diaries, others as doodle spots. Some draw in them. Others write quotes, list what they’re grateful for, tuck in mementos, pen prayers, fashion collage.

Or do it all.

Because, after all . . . there are no rules.

Wenaha GalleryTrudy Love Tantalo is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from August 11 through September 4, 2020.

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

moccasin lake evening landscape photography bill rodgers

Landscape Magic — the Photography of Bill Rodgers

moccasin lake evening landscape photography bill rodgers

For Bill Rodgers, photography is all about capturing the mood, the moment, the emotion of the landscape. Moccasin Lake Eve, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

Because we are all incredibly unique human beings, we gravitate toward interests that fit our distinctive abilities. It is for this reason that not everyone is a mathematician, or a writer, or a mechanic.

And it is the reason that Bill Rodgers, of Waitsburg, is a photographer as opposed to a painter.

“For as long as I can remember, I have always loved landscapes,” Rodgers says.

wallouse palouse landscape spring winter snow bill rodgers photography

On a cloudy day, the transition of winter into spring adds an element of delightful drama to the landscape. Snow Drifts, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

“I originally wanted to be a landscape painter until I realized that I would probably starve for a very long time.

“My eyes and hands have never communicated well, and after a few college painting classes I realized that I was not going to be able to paint the kind of landscape I wanted to paint.”

But Rodgers is an imaginative, creative man, and he was not satisfied with not being able to do what he set his mind upon doing. When, 51 years ago, he received his first “real” camera, a 35mm Mamiya DTL 1000, Rodgers began a lifetime journey of fulfilling his goal with landscapes.

Being in, Moving through, the Landscape

“I like being in landscapes, moving through them, looking at them,” he says. His images, he adds, are a playground for the eyes and mind of the viewer.

old grain elevator country landscape rural farm bill rodgers photography

An old grain elevator stands sentinel in a timeless rural landscape. Old Grain Elevator, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

Many of his fine art photography pieces focus on the landscapes within a 30-mile radius of his Waitsburg studio, a region he has dubbed “The Wallouse,” to distinguish it from the rolling hills of the nearby Palouse. And while he loves the Palouse (he grew up in Spokane), he finds the landscapes of the Wallouse to be subtly distinctive. Traveling along remote, gravel roads, he teases out emotional impact through the composition of his images, instead of heavily relying upon subject matter.

His goal as an artist, he says, is to take beautiful photographs. This differs from just taking pictures of things, or worse, depending upon familiar landmarks to carry the day.

“I know the ‘great places to photograph,’ and religiously avoid them because they have been photographed to death.”

Stonecipher Trees forest bill rodgers photography

Just the right amount of mist creates the perfect feeling. Stonecipher Trees, fine art photography by Bill Rodgers.

Rodgers’ photos reside in the homes of collectors throughout the country, and a number have been used in brochures and periodicals published by the Blue Mountain Land Trust, a conservation group that focuses on the scenic, natural, and working lands of 11 Washington and Oregon counties. The Trust’s coffee table books of the Blue Mountain region include many of Rodgers’ works. He is presently compiling and editing Volume 5, which will feature landscapes in the Trust’s eight-county John Day service area.

The Waitsburg School of Landscape Photography

A retired geologist, Rodgers turned to full-time photography in 2012. Part of this second career includes teaching at his Waitsburg School of Landscape Photography, where he leads regular workshops.

“The focus of the WSLP workshops is not technical. It is more about learning to find beauty in the mundane. I also teach my students to look for compositions — not things — to photograph. For me, it is the composition that makes a strong image — not the subject.”

He is always looking for what he calls a Magnificent Image. Rodgers defines this as a two-dimensional image in which all the elements of composition and content work perfectly to create a sublime whole that compels the eye to return and linger again and again. If he makes any statement with his art, this is it:

“My statement is, ‘Isn’t this a just a gorgeous landscape? I was privileged to be there at that time.’

“Enjoy.”

 

Wenaha GalleryBill Rodgers is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from July 28 through August 21, 2020.

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

mountain sunrise photography landscape wessels galbreath

Photography in Action — By Gary Wessels-Galbreath

mountain sunrise photography landscape wessels galbreath

Rich colors in the clouds portend a magical day in the landscape photograph, Mountain Sunrise by Gary Wessels-Galbreath

A simple gift does more than tell the recipient that you care about them. Many times, that Christmas or birthday present sparks a response in the receiver that lasts far beyond the holiday.

This is what happened to Gary Wessels-Galbreath, who received a 110 Kodak Camera for Christmas when he was a teenager. The Olympia photographer and graduate of Dayton High School went on to complete his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, with an emphasis on photography, from Evergreen State College in Washington in 1985. He has been snapping, and shooting, and experimenting with both film and digital photography, as well as printmaking, ever since.

moss trees photograph light shadow wessels galbreath

Light, shadow, texture, silhouette — all work together in Moss on Limb, photography by Gary Wessels-Galbreath

“I enjoy ‘bending’ the rules that I am presented with and taking things a step further,” Wessels-Galbreath says, explaining that he works out of both his home studio and at community and university photo labs to produce his work. One of his experimental forays is cyanotype printing, high contrast images on paper, canvas, and metal, through solar printing in his front yard.

“I focus on landscape images for the most part,” Wessels-Galbreath says. “I attempt to allow viewer to see things they walk by every day without noticing the intricate details of the natural world.

“My hope is that they slow down, stop for more than a moment, and really see the beauty of nature.”

Slowing Down and Seeing the World

Slowing down, Wessels-Galbreath feels, is integral to seeing and understanding the world around us. That world is varied and changing, colorful and unusual. One thing it necessarily isn’t, however, is perfect, a message he tries to get across in the many photography workshops that he leads in the Olympia area.

highway 12 photography landscape farm dayton washington wessels galbreath

A graduate of Dayton High School in Dayton, WA, Wessels-Galbreath photographs his childhood town.

“Last year I worked with a group of 12 high school students collaborating on my American Crow series,” Wessels-Galbreath recalls.

“Each student was given a high contrast crow image and invited to create whatever inspired them.

“Of course I heard, ‘But I’m not an artist — what if I ruin it?’ I reminded them that we all have the ability and magic to create, and that in itself is art.

“All the images created in that workshop were beautiful. There are many more workshops that I have presented, but I really enjoyed that one.”

In addition to conducting workshops, Wessels-Galbreath also regularly participates in collaborative artistic gathering with photographers throughout the world. Through both these collaborations as well as sales, his photography has found collectors in Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Washington, New Zealand, and Canada. In 2018, his work was accepted into the International Juried Exhibition, Natural Studies of Wonder, at the Spectol Art Space in Bridgewater, VA.

Teaching Life, and Photography, by Example

american crow photograph silhouette wessels galbreath

Fascinated by crows, Wessels-Galbreath experiments with their shape and from in his photography.

That same year, Wessels-Galbreath received the “Teaching by Example” award from the Longhouse Educational and Cultural Center at the Evergreen State College. The award honors artists who have made significant contributions to their community.

With a day job as bulk foods buyer at the Olympia Food Co-op, Wessels-Galbreath volunteers three days each week at Evergreen, working with photography students. He wants to inspire them with the same sense of wonder he received upon opening that 110 Kodak Camera. That great big world out there, he believes, is worth exploring, seeing, celebrating, and capturing as artwork.

In that way, he believes, we share the wonder with those around us.

“I start by taking a long walk, and begin listening with my eyes.”

Wenaha GalleryGary Wessels-Galbreath is the featured Art Event at Wenaha Gallery from July 14 through August 7, 2020.

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