cheese sushi cutting boards hardwood coasters dave ulmen spokane woodworking

The Cutting Edge of Woodworking Art by Dave Ulmen

cheese sushi cutting boards hardwood coasters dave ulmen spokane woodworking

Sushi, cheese, and cutting boards, as well as hardwood coasters by woodworking artist Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

Wood is amazing stuff.

It comes in a variety of neutrals, tans, browns, and even purples. With common sense and lack of greed, it is sustainably harvestable. And in the hands of a skilled woodworking artist, wood is an elegant medium for creating sculpture as well as artisan items we use every day, from wine stoppers to treasure boxes, from bowls to cutting boards.

woodworking hardwood coasters home decor dave ulmen spokane

A collection of hardwood, handcrafted coasters by woodworking artisan Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

It is these latter — cutting boards — that Spokane woodworker Dave Ulmen focuses upon, crafting cheese, sushi, and cutting boards, as well as coasters, Lazy Susans, and wine waves from laminated hardwood in his Spokane shop. Working with his wife Liz, Ulmen has built a thriving business from what started out as the extension of a lifelong interest.

“I’ve been a tool guy since I was a little kid hanging out in my grandpa’s shop,” Ulmen explains. “After both my parents passed, I had a small estate fund remaining. Since tools had always been important in my family, it seemed a fitting investment.

“When I saw what I could accomplish with a few good tools, I was hooked. My adult kids kept encouraging me to offer some work for sale, which got the ball rolling.”

The Woodworking Studio

His dad and grandpa, Ulmen says, would be delighted with his woodworking studio — which started out in a garage and grew into custom built shop — and tools. And while his tools are newer, shinier, and dependent upon electricity, what they represent remains the same:

“There is the satisfaction of creating an interesting and useful object that is pleasing to the eye and gentle to the hand,” Ulmen says.

wine waves hardwood woodworking coasters decor dave ulmen spokane

Wine Waves, with their signature curvature, and hardwood coasters by woodworking artist Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

This is what Ulmen has been doing since 2005, when he launched Dave Ulmen Woods while both he and Liz were still working full time as teachers – he in 7th grade language arts, she in elementary gifted ed. (He describes their teaching careers, from which they fully retired in 2015, as a combined 71 years in crafting skills and critical thinking, “even more rewarding than our woodworking — and that’s saying a great deal.”)

Purchasing hardwood from local distributors a hefty pickup load at a time, Ulmen designs boards with the grain and unique coloration of individual hardwoods in mind. He and Liz saw, joint, glue, sand, finish and oil the completed boards, with each woodworking product passing through their hands multiple times. The wine waves, which incorporate bits and pieces (“post production materials”) into a signature curve, vie with the cutting boards for popularity.

Handcrafted Woodworking Art Sold throughout the Northwest

Ulmen sells his work throughout the Pacific Northwest in numerous gift shops and galleries, including Made in Washington stores; The Highlight Gallery in Mendocino, CA; The Real Mother Goose at the Portland, OR, International Airport; Northwest Handmade Gallery in Sandpoint, ID; and Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, WA. He has shipped to customers in more than 20 states, throughout Europe, and in Canada. In 2007, Made in Washington stores named him Artist of the Year.

“I took great pride in that because it was an acknowledgement of the quality of work, in combination with excellent service provided.”

As a testament to that commitment to quality, Ulmen and Liz still own, and use, the first cutting board they made.

sushi cheese cutting boards hardwood woodworking dave ulmen gifts

Sushi, cheese and cutting boards by woodworking artisan, Dave Ulmen of Spokane, WA

“We just rinse it, wipe it to damp/dry, and stand it on edge to finish drying. We recommend a beeswax/oil emulsion be applied from time to time which we also make and can supply.

“Never soak a wood cutting board!”

Woodworking and Life

In some ways, the properties of wood — its sustainability, its variety, and its connection to the earth and to the past — mirror Ullmen’s own experience in woodworking. He always knew that somehow, he would follow his grandpa’s and father’s interest in and skill with a material that has been part of humankind’s experience ever since there were trees.

“I knew I had the right background to become a woodworker when the time was right,” Ulmen says.

“After raising a few sons of my own, raising a home of our own, and raising a few grey hairs as a middle school teacher, I have been blessed with the opportunity to do my own woodworking.”

It took time to fulfill the dream, but then again, everything about wood, from the growing of trees to the crafting of functional items of beauty, takes time as well.

But it was well worth the wait, Ulmen says, to fulfill a dream he has had “since I ran my fingers through that soft and silky sawdust in Grandpa’s shop when I wasn’t tall enough to reach much else.”

Wenaha GalleryDave Ulmen is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, December 31 through Saturday, January 26, 2019.

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.

 

 

storm landscape snowy white owl flying wildlife keith rislove

Wildlife World — The Acrylic Paintings of Keith Rislove

storm landscape snowy white owl flying wildlife keith rislove

Storm Coming, original acrylic painting by wildlife painter Keith Rislove of Salem, OR.

If the world existed of only science, there would be no art. If all people focused on technology, no one would create paintings. If there were only engineers, there would be no poets. In math class, there is no time or reason to discuss literature.

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Winter Silence, original acrylic painting by wildlife artist Keith Rislove

Life without art is incomplete, and just tucking it in alongside the “important” subjects — science, technology, engineering, math and saying this adds STEAM to the mix — isn’t enough. Being an artist demands as much time, focus, intelligence, and determination as being a rocket scientist — whatever a rocket scientist is — and many people who consider themselves artists pursue this path even in the midst of doing something else to make a living. The very fortunate ones find a career involved with art, honing skills and abilities throughout their lives.

A World of Art and Wildlife

Keith Rislove is one of these people, a lifetime artist who actually started out to be a baseball player, and credits his experience in the Korean War for his eventual career choice.

“When I was in high school, I studied art, and I also played all the sports — after graduation  I received two offers from major league teams,” Rislove, a wildlife acrylic painter from Salem, OR, says. Like many young men of the early 1950s, he found his plans rearranged for him, and a few months after high school was in the Air Force. During his three years in the military, he was assigned to work with an event coordinator doing graphic arts, and when that event coordinator left, found himself with the job.

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Foxy Lady, original acrylic painting by wildlife painter Keith Rislove of Salem, OR

“That’s where my art career began,” Rislove says. “After being discharged, I enrolled in Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR) where I was an art major, then majored in advertising and graphic design at the Los Angeles Art Center.” Over the next 37 years, he worked in advertising and graphic design for national and Pacific Northwest companies, in addition to being a freelance designer, retiring in 1990. Five years later he started his second career as a fine artist, still going strong 23 years later. He focuses on wildlife set within pristine outdoor scenes.

Discovering Wildlife at an Early Age

“My love for the outdoors started with my grandfather who introduced me to fishing and hunting at a very early age,” Rislove explains.

“My approach to wildlife is to be as realistic as possible, which gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Living in the Northwest provides the many visual images of wildlife and landscapes that give me the inspiration.”

A prolific painter, Rislove fits everything he needs into 6 x 10 foot enclosed space in his garage, complete with window, heat, air, shelves, two bookcases and a filing cabinet.

“And I still have room to paint!” he exclaims. “There’s also room for frames, tools, saws, etc., and storage — you have to see it to believe it.”

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Tru Grizz, original acrylic painting by wildlife artist Keith Rislove of Salem, OR

He has shown in galleries in the Salem and Portland areas, as well as the Oregon State Fair, and has served as show judge, teacher, and volunteer for various community art agencies and galleries. His roster of awards — displayed within that 6 x 10 foot studio — include three Best of Show, two People’s Choice, eight blue ribbons, two Judge’s Choice, and a bevy of red, white, honorable mentions, and senior artist awards. His work is in the homes of collectors throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as Texas and Minnesota.

The Hidden World of Wildlife

Getting into some math here, since we started out talking about STEM, 37 years as a graphic designer, plus 23 years as a fine artist, add up to 60, not to mention the time spent with art in high school and the military. Regardless of the final, official number, this signifies a lot of years as an artist — sketching, drawing, painting, creating — and Rislove’s contribution to the world around him consists of showing that world just what is around it — the wildlife that is hidden away, frequently unseen, but extraordinarily beautiful.

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The Catch, original acrylic painting by wildlife artist Keith Rislove of Salem, OR

There is a fox, curled up within a bed of wildflowers. A snowy owl flies over a winter landscape. Mama bear and cub forage for food. An eagle flies, dance-like, over still, mirrored water.

The biologist can define the animals’ kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The engineer studies the birds’ wings and how they achieve flight. The mathematician calculates the weight of food both mama and cub bear need to maintain optimal health — all very important work.

And equally important, Rislove captures the moment, creates the setting, invites the viewer to stop what he or she is doing and enter a quiet, peaceful world. He completes the picture, so to speak, and adds soul to the equation.

“Nature and wildlife are in my heart.”

 

Wenaha GalleryKeith Rislove is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery through Saturday, January 12, 2019. 

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.

 

 

Indian Summer eastern washington country rural farm ranch painting steve henderson

Beauty, Hope, and Joy — The Paintings of Steve Henderson

Indian Summer eastern washington country rural farm ranch beauty painting steve henderson

Indian Summer, original oil painting by Dayton, WA, artist Steve Henderson. “I find much beauty in the patterns of fields cut through by country roads,” Henderson says of why he paints local, Eastern Washington landscapes.

It’s easy to point out what’s wrong with the world. We all do this, although only a few are paid well to impose their opinions on others.

It is far more difficult to see and identify beauty, truth, goodness, joy, peace, and love, and even more challenging to impart these elements in two dimensional form on canvas. But for oil painter Steve Henderson of Dayton, this is what he does every day.

moon rising southwest tucson arizona desert beauty indian woman blanket steve henderson painting art

Moon Rising, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. “The Southwest — its canyons are so deep, so profound, its land is so ancient and yet so quiet and peaceful.”

“I paint in what is called the ‘representational’ style — the world around us that we all see,” Henderson says. “But oftentimes it takes an artist to help us ‘really see’ it. And while items I paint are easily identifiable — that’s a tree; that’s Santa Claus; that’s the Grand Canyon —  each one of these subjects is interpreted by the artist to convey its deeper levels behind the lighting, the shadows, the turn of a face, the brush strokes that make up the form.

“The canvas becomes a stage upon which the artist presents the character actors — color, texture, form, design, value. On that stage, I choose to invite beauty, reminiscence, nostalgia, feelings of serenity, peace, tranquility — those emotions.”

A Tale of Beauty

Henderson’s scope of subject matter reads a bit like the opening lines to Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities: He paints the Pacific Northwest forests; he paints the Southwest canyons. He paints the ocean; he paints the desert. He paints very young children; he paints adult women. What he does not paint is ugliness, despair, angst, fear or hatred: not because those elements don’t exist, but because they do, in too much quantity. It is far too easy, Henderson believes, to spark an emotional response by negativism, and it becomes a cheap, easy way to achieve a reaction.

Although Henderson has always wanted to be an artist — drawing his first three-masted sailboat at the age of five and attracting teachers’ attention throughout his schooldays because of his rendering skill — he almost quit, simply because what he was taught in his university art studies was so opposite to what he believes is commonsense, truth, beauty, and common good.

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Tea for Two, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. “Children can teach us so much — they remind us to look at the world with fresh eyes,” Henderson says, adding that there is great beauty in innocence.

“At the end of four years, I was more confused than ever,” he recalls. “One moment, the professors instructed us not to listen to a thing they said, but to simply follow our muse; another moment they insisted that we essentially copy the latest post-modernist fads emanating from New York City. I found myself painting gritty purple abstract cityscapes, which my professors assured me was expressing what was deep inside me.”

Seeking Beauty, Truth, and Skill

For awhile, Henderson walked away from fine art into the illustration and graphic design industry that his professors declared would destroy him as an artist. Instead, his time in the publishing field further honed his skills as Henderson worked in a wide variety of media, creating everything from cartoon drawings to medical illustrations.

Time, life, and raising a family instilled in Henderson the confidence he needed to eschew the teachings of his fallible professors, and he resumed studying art his own way: one by one, he amassed a library of artists through the ages, and spent uncounted hours poring over their work, analyzing thousands of paintings and the varying techniques and styles of their painters. In the studio, he practiced. He knew what he wanted to achieve — skill, mastery, and the ability to convey beauty and truth — and he also knew that simply relying upon “the Muse,” or the “soul of an artist” was insufficient to do so.

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Sea Breeze, original oil painting by Steve Henderson. “I find the ocean to be a central place for clear thoughts and meditation.”

“We all acknowledge that the piano player requires years of intense practice — his performance is proof of his obvious skill, or lack of it,” Henderson says.

“But in visual arts — both two and three dimensional — we glibly refer to anything as ‘art,’ and anyone as an ‘artist.’ I believe an artist should learn, train, and study as seriously as any orchestral musician.”

The World Needs Art, and Beauty

This learning, he adds, never ends, and there is no pinnacle ledge at which the artist arrives, shouts out Hallelujah, and quits learning, seeing, and experimenting. An artist’s education continues for as long as the artist is breathing, and the beauty that the artist (skillfully) paints gives life and hope to the world in which the artist lives.

“The world needs art.

“It sounds trite, but I believe it deeply.

“It has always been so, but especially today with our corporate, cubicle world and its emphasis on cold scientific facts, we need something more than ever before that speaks of beauty and something deeper that those cold facts.

“We need something that speaks to the soul, the heart, the inner working of our being.”

Wenaha GallerySteve Henderson is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, November 19 through Saturday, December 15, 2018. He will be at the gallery in person during the Christmas Kickoff Holiday Art Show Friday, November 23, from 2 to 6 p.m., joined by Joseph, OR folk art gourd sculptor Sheryl Parsons. Also at the show will be holiday music, artisan treats, a drawing for 3 holiday gift baskets, and up to 25% off purchases of $250 or more made on November 23 and/or 24.

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.

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla

Acrylic Pour — The Happy Abstract Art of Joyce Klassen

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla

Acrylic Pour 9, original painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Klassen

We’ve all heard of peculiar artists and capricious ones, edgy sculptors and angry painters, those who love to offend and shock, unsettle or antagonize. They are the stuff of movie fantasia and social media hype.

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

Acrylic Pour 5, original painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Klassen

But in the real world, populated by real people,  there is another kind of artist: a happy person, loving what they do, creating with the idea of making others happy as well. Fitting into this paradigm is Joyce Klassen, a Walla Walla artist who has worked in everything from watercolor realism to her present abstract acrylic pours. She uses words like “fun,” “rewarding,” and “beautiful” when she talks about her art, as well as life itself.

“I’ve been interested in art since I was in preschool when I cut up my mother’s Simplicity patterns to make my own paper dolls and dress them in pieces of fabric — I only did that ONCE!” Klassen remembers.

This is a person who launches into the room with a smile, who experiments with new techniques and recognizes that failure is as much a part of success as, well, success is. It’s an attitude worth honing when it comes to the challenge of acrylic pour, a process that involves layering multiple colors of paint in a cup and cascading it onto the canvas:

Fun, Caution, Wisdom

The FUN comes from quickly flipping the cup upside down.

The CAUTION demands that the artist upright the cup quickly, then tilt the canvas back and forth so the colors run from top to bottom and side to side.

The wisdom of EXPERIENCE shouts “Stop!” when the pattern looks just right.

“Knowing when to stop is the secret to a successful acrylic pour,” Klassen explains. “Once you have learned to do this — EXPERIMENT and come up with your own unique method.

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

Acrylic Pour 6, original painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Klassen

“When you find something that really works for you, keep it a secret! You want this to be your creation.”

Acrylic Pour Discovery

Klassen discovered acrylic pour literally by accident when she spilled mixed paint on a surface. Fascinated by the resulting texture, color formation and shape, she researched the technique, spending “hours and hours” learning from YouTube.

“I’ve done many forms of art, but I think I love this one the very best because I get so excited as I watch the colors evolve and mix — it often gives me terrific surprises.

“If the surprise happens to not be a good one, I simply wash it down the drain (followed by a healthy dose of drain cleaner) and start over. It’s a ‘Can’t Lose’ process.”

Acrylic Pour: Breaking and Following Rules

As Klassen is discovering, acrylic pour painting involves breaking the rules at the same time one adheres strictly to them, celebrating spontaneity in perfect proportion to meticulous thought. In some ways, this mirrors the yin-yang relationship she enjoys with her husband Randy, also an artist, but in a polar opposite sort of way:

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

Acrylic Pour 1, original painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Klassen

She does abstract; he paints realism.

She’s messy; he’s neat.

She takes up three quarters of their shared studio; he carved out a small space against the window, just enough for his easel and palette.

“When I work on encaustic, he leaves when I light the blow torch.

“When I work on acrylic pour, he covers his work and leaves to avoid the mess.

“He has to find a lot of errands to run .  .  . ”

Oddly, for a person who describes her creative process as messy, Klassen spends a lot of time cleaning their house, because both she and Randy sell from the studio within their home.

“We never know when someone might ‘drop in’ to view the art. We love to share a glass of our local wine as we go from room to room looking at art.

“I’m often told that a viewer is amazed that I work in such a messy art form while still being such an intense ‘neatnik.'”

acrylic pour abstract painting home decor art joyce klassen walla walla

Acrylic Pour 8, original painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Klassen

Helping the Homeless

When she isn’t creating in the studio — something that can happen anytime of the day or even at 2 a.m. if she finds she can’t sleep — Klassen works with the homeless through the Walla Walla Alliance for the Homeless, coordinating the weekly shower project held Mondays at the Pioneer United Methodist Church.

She and her crew of 10 volunteers serve the needs of 10 to 17 people who would otherwise have nowhere else to shower, providing basic toiletry needs along with clean socks, underwear, and other clothing.

It’s all part of a happy artist’s life — giving, experimenting, dreaming, doing, making a mess and cleaning it up. With so much creativity and beauty, there is no place for angst, anger, shock, or awful.

“I love to watch ideas and colors evolve.

“And I love it when someone looks at an acrylic pour that I’ve done and sees something totally different than what I do — it’s almost like playing the game of ‘find Waldo.’

“Art should be rewarding, and especially, fun!”

Wenaha Gallery

Joyce Klassen is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, September 24, 2018, through Saturday, October 20, 2018.  She will be at the gallery Saturday, October 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as part of Wenaha Gallery’s Autumn Art Show, which also features jewelry artist Venita Simpson, a tribute to the late astronaut/artist Alan Bean, and a talk and visit by retired astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger.

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.

happy place necklace earrings murano lampwork glass bead jewelry venita simpson

Murano Glass — The Lampwork Jewelry of Venita Simpson

happy place necklace earrings murano lampwork glass bead jewelry venita simpson

Happy Place, lampwork Murano lampwork glass beaded necklace and earrings by Richland jewelry artist, Venita Simpson

It started out as a palette full of wood and screws and instructions, delivered from Costco. By the time Venita Simpson had finished with it, however, the 80-square foot storage shed had turned into a fairy tale cottage, its inside painted cheery yellow, the path leading up to it bedecked with flowers, windows and glass door inviting in light and view.

desert sand necklace earrings jewelry murano lampwork glass beads venita simpson

Desert Sand, necklace and earrings set by Richland jewelry artist Venita Simpson, featuring handcrafted lampwork beads from Murano glass.

“It’s a sanctuary to leave the world behind and become the artist I dreamed of being for a long time,” the Richland jewelry artist says of her DIY studio. A computer programmer for more than 30 years, Simpson turned to glass jewelry making in 2006 as a mental antidote to the rigidity required by high tech. Now retired from programing, Simpson spends uncounted hours in her studio sanctuary, fashioning her own one of a kind beads using Murano glass from Italy and a flame torch.

Lampwork Murano Glass Beads

Employing a technique called lampwork, Simpson melts the glass at temperatures reaching 1200 degrees. She then forms the molten glass into shapes by using tools and hand movements. The beads are then placed in a kiln to anneal, or gradually cool.

“Working with molten glass requires a steady hand, attention to detail, and a healthy respect for a 1200 degree torch,” Simpson says. “Mixing colors and chemistry of glass results in wonderful reactions in the glass.”

You only burn yourself once, she adds.

sandstone turquoise desert earrings necklace jewelry lampwork murano glass bead jewelry Venita Simpson

Sandstone Turquoise Desert, necklace and earring set by jewelry artist Venita Simpson of Richland, WA, featuring handcrafted, lampwork Murano glass beads

After creating a series of beads using lampwork from the Murano glass, Simpson assembles the finished pieces, generally consisting of necklace and matching earrings, in a spare room in her home. Seasonal colors drive her design and color choices, and she showcases the finished work at Girls Night Out parties in her own home of that of others.

Murano Beads at Girls Night Out

“I’ve sold my work at craft fairs, but I really enjoy explaining my process in a more casual setting,” Simpson says. “I love bringing people into my studio so they can see first hand how the glass is melted. Girls Night Out is a way to bring women together in my home, to enjoy each other’s company, network, and have a great glass of wine.”

The glass that forms the basis for Simpson’s unique accessories is made only in Murano, Italy, a Venetian island that has specialized in the process for centuries. The beads adorn not only the necks and ears of  varied clients — “I like to travel and have been known to sell my jewelry right off my neck to a flight attendant or two!” — but also those of children battling a serious illness, through a program called Beads of Courage at the Children’s Hospital in Orange County, CA.

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Dreamy Blues, necklace and earring jewelry set by Richland artist Venita Simpson, featuring her handcrafted lampwork, Murano glass beads

“Each time the child goes in to receive a shot, an appointment, surgery, x-rays etc., they are able to choose a bead and add to their necklaces to show how each milestone gave them hope,” Simpson explains. “Some of these treatments were painful episodes, but each bead told a story of the brave children and their courageous achievement.”

Since moving from California to the Tri-Cities, Simpson has also donated her Murano lampwork glass beads to Beads Behind Bars at the Benton Franklin Juvenile Detention Center, which, in coordination with Allied Arts of Richland, provides incarcerated juveniles a creative outlet in learning to make jewelry.

murano glass lampwork bead jewelry necklace earrings Venita Simpson

Natural Wonder, necklace and earring set by Richland jewelry artist Venita Simpson, featuring lampwork Murano glass beads

Right Brain Left Brain

In between her career in computer programming and retirement, Simpson took time off to earn her certificate in commercial and residential interior design, and for several years freelanced and did side jobs in a field that used what she calls the right side of her brain. But finances called her back to full-time programming, and her left brain demanded total attention. With retirement, her full brain joins with hands and heart as she enjoys the slower pace of the Pacific Northwest, four definite seasons, and freedom from corporate life.

“Programming makes you very rigid in that you have to test for every scenario, test for every system hiccup, and document each step,” Simpson says of her former life. “I was process oriented, following strict specifications to complete tasks, so it’s been challenging to come out of the box sometimes.

“But since retirement, I’m making great progress with my imaginative side of my brain. Using both sides of my brain has become an asset, firing up both burners, so to speak.”

It’s a jewel of an opportunity.

Wenaha Gallery

Venita Simpson is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 13, 2018, through Saturday, September 8, 2018.  

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.

 

ashton idaho silhouette sky storm clouds joyce anderson watercolor painting

Brilliant Clouds — The Watercolor Paintings of Joyce Anderson

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Glenns Ferry Cliffs — storm clouds in the sky, original watercolor painting by Walla Walla artist, Joyce Anderson

It is fortunate for Joyce Anderson that her latest series of paintings did not involve monsoons or hurricanes.

ashton idaho silhouette sky storm clouds joyce anderson watercolor painting

Ashton, Idaho Silhouettes — dramatic clouds sweeping over the landscape, original watercolor painting by Joyce Anderson of Walla Walla

Because the watercolor artist tends to get really involved with her subject matter, it was wet enough focusing on clouds, many of which were heavy with rain and portending inclement weather.

“Holy cow! We were in our tent trailer during many a torrential, drumbeat, wind-shaking, storm,” the Walla Walla painter says of a recent trip she took to Idaho and Wyoming with husband and fellow artist, Roy.  Other times they were outside, clad in waterproof ponchos as Anderson studied the sky, took notes, and captured reference material in preparation for a series of paintings based upon “spectacular skyscapes.”

“The series incorporates a cornucopia of colors and forms of clouds,” Anderson says, adding that she has spent so much time painting since the couple returned from their trip, that Roy has posted a picture of her on the refrigerator so that he can remember what she looks like.

Creating Clouds on Paper

“My self-set goal has been to use the white of the paper to give me the brilliant gilded edges (of clouds) rather than incorporate white paint,” Joyce explains. “At times it’s been like trying to manipulate a real cloud into a shape I wanted.”

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Impending Storm — rain clouds in the distance — original watercolor painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Anderson

Observing clouds, studying them, learning their names and attributes, wondering how their shapes will change, this is all part of capturing their essence on paper, creating a landscape into which the viewer enters and feels the very breeze on his or her face. After such an intense time of focus, Anderson says that she looks at weather, not to mention clouds, differently:

“I find myself easily distracted now when I see clouds . . . that’s not always good when I am driving.”

The Curious Artist

Doing any kind of art, Anderson feels, requires curiosity — the heart of the eternal student, even when one becomes a teacher. And as a teacher of watercolor for more than 36 years, Anderson has kept that eternal student vibrant and alive, imparting a love of the medium to adults through classes at Walla Walla Community College Continuing Education, Walla Walla Parks and Recreation, the Carnegie Art Center, Allied Arts of Tri-Cities, the Pendleton Center for the Arts, and more.

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Meadow Pond — sweeping clouds over a green landscape — original watercolor painting by Walla Walla artist Joyce Anderson

She has also volunteered at local schools, working with elementary students to integrate art with curriculum requirements. One of the best benefits of teaching children is the same as that of teaching adults: seeing the light go on, the face animate, as the student watches the magic of color on paper, and realizes that combining one line at a time will create any manner of subject.

“None of us need to know it all in order to try something new.”

Anderson has shown her work in regional juried shows, garnering Best of Show at the Allied Arts Juried Show in Richland in 2007, with the added bonus of the painting being sold to a private collector in New York.  She also has work in the city hall of Sasayama, Japan, Walla Walla’s “sister city,” as well a Spokane City Hall. The majority of her collectors live in the Pacific Northwest.

Painting Clouds at ArtPort

Both Joyce and Roy share a studio at the Walla Walla airport region, housed in one of the former military complex buildings. Announcing itself as ArtPort, which most people driving by interpret as Airport, misspelled, the building is large enough to accommodate both artists, and separately and together, the couple puts in hours of painting time each day. It changes the way she sees things, Anderson says.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t observe a subject that could become a painting — the interplay of colors in clouds, the effect of light or lack of, or the patterns of nature.

“Painting allows me to appreciate the ‘eye candy’ around each of us.”

Clouds of Beauty, All Around

But it isn’t just eye candy, she reflects, because the images of nature are more than just pretty scenes, superficial color that sparks a momentary interest, and no more. The images of nature provoke a sense of wonder, of contemplation, of appreciation for the world in which we live and breathe. And that is what she wants to viewer to take away with them when they see her latest series on clouds.

“The message I would like to extend with this display is to take a moment to truly observe the clouds in the sky, colors, shapes, designs, and patterns repeated in everything we see.

“Stop to appreciate what is all  around us.”

Wenaha Gallery

Joyce Anderson is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Wednesday, July 18, 2018, through Saturday, August 25, 2018.  She will join two other artists, Batik watercolor artist Denise Elizabeth Stone and Garrett and Beth Lowe of Timber Bronze 53 home decor at the Summer Celebration Art Show Saturday, July 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free Artisan Treats will be provided, as well as a free Steve Henderson fine art note card to each visitor. 

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.

 

two parakeets wood carving sculpture tupelo jerry poindexter

Carving Birds — The Creative Wings of Jerry Poindexter

two parakeets wood carving sculpture tupelo jerry poindexter

Two Parakeets, original bird carving in Tupelo wood by Spokane artist Jerry Poindexter

When it comes to carving birds, accuracy matters — a lot. Size, shape, color, the creature’s unique attributes — achieving these elements takes a blend of artistic skill and the scientific mind, the willingness to observe, take measurements, record data, and check and recheck the facts. And that’s before the very first cut is made on the wood.

bird carving tupelo wood sculpture jerry poindexter

Bird carving by Jerry Poindexter, woodworker artist from Spokane, WA

For artist Jerry Poindexter, who has been carving birds for more than 20 years, the success of the final sculpture depends upon this preliminary research, and before he embarks upon a project, he gets his hands on some study skins: actual birds, many killed by hitting windows or being hit by cars, dried and preserved, sometimes stuffed with cotton but other times not. Generally not mounted, the skins are stored in trays at places such as Eastern Washington University in Cheney, where Poindexter has spent hours drawing, measuring, and drafting patterns for carving.

After nine years, Poindexter  compiled 50 of these measured drawings, complete with coloration notes, into two books, Songbirds I and Songbirds II.

Drafting Patterns for Carving Birds

“The thought of publishing the books started in 2002 when I carved my first bird for the Ward’s World Championships in Ocean City, Maryland,” the Spokane woodcarver says. “It was after seeing the way people were carving their birds, some of which were too big, and others with the color not even close to the actual bird.

quail tupelo wood carving sculpture Jerry Poindexter

Quail wood carving in Tupelo Wood by woodcarver artist Jerry Poindexter of Spokane, WA

“Carvers had been asking me for my measured drawings at classes that I taught, and at the time I was giving them away.”

Poindexter attracted the eye of the carving world early on, when he entered a bird that no one had seen before at Ward’s, an international event which focuses exclusively on bird carvings.

“The bird was a Varied Thrush, which is well known in the West, but not in the East,” Poindexter says. “I did a half size and was awarded third in the world.” He was also approached by Wildfowl Carving Magazine, which took him on as a regular columnist addressing paint notes and bird measurements.

Judging Carvings as Well as Creating Them

For many years Poindexter has also served as judge at various shows throughout the Pacific Northwest, and is both a regular juror and contributor at the Columbia Flyway Wildlife Show in Vancouver, which attracts fish, wildlife, and bird carvers from throughout the Western United States and Canada. He has sold work to private collectors in Canada, Germany, Arizona, Kansas, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

snowy white owl bird carving tupelo wood sculpture jerry poindexter

Snowy White Owl wood carving in tupelo by woodcarver artist Jerry Poindexter of Spokane, WA

One commission he did for a collector is especially memorable. At a carving show, a man asked how much Poindexter would charge for carving a half-size barn own. Poindexter quoted a price, the man nodded, and walked away. Well, that’s that, Poindexter thought.

“One day, there’s a knock on the studio door, and here was the man holding a piece of firewood. He wanted to have the owl placed on the wood so that he could rotate the owl for different presentations.”

Before leaving, the man pointed to a hole in the firewood and said that he wanted to see a mouse coming out that hole, and the owl appearing to see it. Poindexter agreed, mentally running over the added complexity and difficulty that this would add to the piece.

“When he arrived to pay and said, ‘How much?’ I told him that the owl was now free, but the cost of the mouse would be the original cost we had discussed.”

parrot wood carving tupelo sculpture jerry poindexter

Parrot wood carving from tupelo wood by artist Jerry Poindexter of Spokane, WA

The man not only agreed to the price, but commissioned a second piece.

Carving for Work and Pleasure

Carving started for Poindexter as a hobby, something to do after retirement, and in his early years he created Santas, bears, deer, fish, and even Nativity scenes, but once he discovered birds, he knew he had found his niche. It’s the motion, the texture, the variety and the coloration that draws him to  the world of birds, and it is a place well worth being. There are so many birds, so many projects, that he never runs out of something to create.

“If I kept a count of the number of birds I’ve carved, or the amount of time I’ve spent carving — something I did once and will never do again — I might have quit.

“But carving for yourself is pleasure.”

Purchase Jerry Poindexter’s art online at this link.

 

Wenaha Gallery

Jerry Poindexter is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 18, 2018, through Saturday, July 14, 2018.  

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.

bracelet colorful bead jewelry mary calanche dayton

Beads, Beads, and Beads — The Jewelry of Mary Calanche

bracelet colorful beads jewelry mary calanche dayton

A selection of bracelets, beaded using various techniques and beads, by Dayton jewelry artist Mary Calanche

It sounds like one of those alarming math story problems people avoid if they possibly can:

“How many beads — of all sizes, shapes, and colors — fit into a 12 x 20 storage shed, with room left for the artist to work?”

finger weave jewelry beads blue bracelet mary calanche

Finger weave bead bracelet with blue and aqua beads, by jewelry artist Mary Calanche of Dayton

Beading artist Mary Calanche of Dayton, whose studio is in such a shed, doesn’t have the answer, but she does know this:

“It’s stuffed full!”

Insulated, wired, and lighted, Calanche’s unique workroom is a place for intense concentration, meticulous attention to detail, and now and then, judicious use of the vacuum with a nylon stocking over the nozzle — one of the best ways to remedy the calamity of a flipped tray of tiny, tiny beads.

“If you haven’t ever dropped beads, then you’re just getting started into the craft,” Calanche, who has been creating beaded jewelry and other items for 25 years, says.

beaded necklace blue green beads mary calanche dayton

Beaded necklace by Wenaha Gallery artist Mary Calanche of Dayton

Beads, and This n That

Under the business name, This n That, Calanche fashions earrings, necklaces, and bracelets using  a variety of techniques: stringing beads onto wire or thread, weaving, wirework (which involves coiling, looping, and twisting wire that holds the beads), and bead embroidery (using a needle and thread to attach beads to a surface like fabric, suede or leather). She also experiments with finger weaving, metal work, and kumihimo, a Japanese technique of braiding silk strands to create colored cords.

“This is why I chose This n That as my name!”

Calanche started her foray into beading shortly after marrying her husband, GrayEagle. Watching him do projects for his dance regalia, Calanche decided to give it a try, with her first project being a flat, beaded rose. It remains a favorite piece because of its leather backing, which came from the last deer her father shot.

“It took a long time for me to finish,” Calanche remembers. But from that point, she was unstoppable, poring through books and magazines for project ideas and teaching techniques. There is no end to potential projects, Calanche says.

blue beads necklace bracelet earrings jewelry mary calanche

A selected of blue beaded jewelry by Wenaha Gallery artist Mary Calanche of Dayton

Beads of Every Shape, Size and Color

“New beads of every shape, size, and color come out constantly,” she explains. “You can take an old pattern and change it up. Or you see a new project and change it into something of your own.” Sometimes, if enough time and learning curve has gone by, she revisits something that was once impossibly difficult and discovers that, somehow, it’s not so impossible anymore.

“My favorite project is whatever I am working on! It doesn’t matter if it is a new project or one I’ve done before, I just love to bead!”

The process is soothing, she adds, describing her time in “the shack,” with the family Corgis to keep her company, as crucial me time. Even when a tray of beads drop, or she must undo an “oops,” or the beads on a project are so small that it’s difficult to see the holes, it’s simply an opportunity to practice yet another skill — patience.

“Patience is something I need to practice, and beading is a marvelous instructor.”

black white beads bracelet mary calanche jewelry

A black and white, patterned beaded bracelet by Wenaha Gallery artist Mary Calanche.

Beads around the World

Calanche has entered her work in the Columbia County Fair, and maintains inventory at both Wenaha Gallery in Dayton and Divine Serendipity Spa in Walla Walla. She has sold her creations to buyers as far away as South Korea, Australia, Scotland, and Thailand. When she isn’t beading or learning a new technique in beading, she continues to tackle her storage shed studio, which she describes as being in a state of turmoil ever since she took it over.

“I have painted, changed the tabletops, built shelving. In between all that, I have tried to organize and tidy things up — I think I will get it done in a few years.”

Or . . . not.

What matters is that there is room for the beads and all their accoutrements, and time to transform them into something unique and beautiful. Story problem or not, it’s not the number of beads, but what you do with them, that counts.

To purchase Mary Calanche’s jewelry online, click on this link.

 

Wenaha Gallery

Mary Calanche is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 21, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, June 16, 2018.  Calanche will be in the gallery in person during a special Art Show Saturday, May 26, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., as part of Dayton Days.

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.

 

Florist and Painter — Watercolor Art by Deborah Bruce

still life watercolor floral flowers deborah bruce retired florist

Joy in a Bowl, floral and flower still life watercolor painting by Deborah Bruce, Walla Walla artist and 30-year career florist.

The major rule about crossing the Grand Canyon on a tightrope — assuming that there is a list of rules somewhere — is that you don’t stop in the middle. Not an option.

forest reflections country landscape deborah bruce retired florist

Forest Reflections, watercolor country landscape by Walla Walla painter, and retired florist, Deborah Bruce

And while creating a watercolor painting is not fraught with as many perils, the same requisites apply: you don’t stop in the middle, throw up your hands in consternation, and give up, whether the painting is going stunningly well, or teetering on the edge of collapse.

“My biggest challenge when I’m working on a piece is when I am about halfway through it,” says Deborah Bruce, a Walla Walla painter and retired florist who has focused on watercolor for the last 20 years.

“If I have gotten to where I really like it, I become terrified that I am going to do something to ruin it.

“If I am not liking it, I struggle to keep going.

“I have one rule when I paint, and that is to finish regardless of how I feel about it in the middle. At times I am successful, and sometimes not, but I have found that what I think is a real mess can actually be fine if I just finish and don’t give up in the middle.”

The Florist Philosopher

Wise words, ones that get you over the scary part and to the other side. The medium of watercolor, Bruce explains, is neither forgiving nor easy, but its very difficulties are what make it fun to work with and wonderful to experience. Without the option of painting over mistakes, watercolor artists must plan out carefully where they want to start and end.

Gus Wonder Dog Terrier Pet portrait Deborah Bruce florist

Gus the Wonder Dog, watercolor portrait by Walla Walla painter and retired florist, Deborah Bruce

“It’s more about letting the light come through, knowing what to leave, and allowing the transparency and light and dark values to bring out drama and color,” she adds.

Retired from a career as professional florist for more than 30 years, Bruce is especially drawn to painting flowers, citing their variety, color, shape, and form. And while she loves the bright colors of many blooms, Bruce is intrigued by white flowers, which, when they’re painted, frequently involve no white paint at all. They’re really filled with subtle, but definite, color.

The Florist Painter

Bruce began painting seriously in high school, encouraged by a teacher who saw potential, but like many artists, set the pursuit aside as family and career demanded her limited time. When her sons entered high school she decided to take a watercolor class at Walla Walla Community College, taught by longtime teacher and painter Joyce Anderson, and from that point never looked back.

“I felt like a very important part of me came alive again in that first class.”

downtown walla walla deborah bruce watercolor painter florist

Downtown Walla Walla by watercolor painter and 30-year florist Deborah Bruce

Since then, Bruce has taken several more classes with Anderson, as well as attended workshops by Eric Wiegardt, Birgit O’Conner, Lian Quan Zhen, Tom Lynch, and Soon Warren. Bruce actively participates in Walla Walla Art Walk and the annual Art Squared event, and has shown her art locally at Saviah Cellars, Blue Mountain Cider Company, Plumb Cellars, and a number of area restaurants. She created a wine label for Tricycle Cellars Viognier, and most recently is focusing on commissioned dog portraits.

“I am a dog lover myself and find their faces intriguing. They are all so different and so delightful.”

Gimignano watercolor flower floral landscape arch deborah bruce florist watercolor painter

Gimignano, a cascading floral array and archway by Walla Walla watercolor painter and former florist, Deborah Bruce

The Realist Florist

Working out of a studio fashioned from a spare bedroom in her home, Bruce is highly aware of the season of the year, explaining that she can’t create a snow scene in the middle of summer. Detail minded, she stops short of putting in every point and line, allowing the viewer’s imagination to play. She has never forgotten a conversation in her youth she had with an art instructor, in which Bruce expressed her amazement at the realism of a particular painting:

When Bruce observed that the image looked like a photograph, the instructor replied that it was much better than a photograph, because it was created through a human heart.

“I hope in my paintings the viewer will see a piece of my heart,” Bruce says.

“I hope I can take the viewer someplace they want to be — I love it when a painting brings a smile, and it is my ultimate win when a commissioned piece or a painting I have done for someone brings tears of joy.”

That’s definitely a good end goal to pursue, and an excellent reason for not stopping in the middle.

Wenaha Gallery

Deborah Bruce is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 7, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, June 2, 2018.  

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.

 

two kittens cats snuggling family pet ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Simple Living and Joy — The Watercolor Art of Ellen Heath

two kittens cats snuggling family pet simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Two Kittens Snuggling, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of life with our pets.

Much of life’s most profound philosophy shows up on dish towels.

crab apple blossoms spring flowers simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

Crab Apples, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, celebrating the simple living of springtime blossoms

Most of us have seen a sunny little potted flower image on fabric, with “Bloom Where You Are Planted,” written in script underneath. But with wisdom reduced to one-liners, it’s easy to overlook perspicacity.

There are people, however, like Dixie watercolor painter Ellen Heath, who get it. With or without reassurance from the kitchen aisle at the local box store, Heath understands, and lives, the simple life that adds depth to our existence.

“It would be great to travel to exotic places, but I don’t need to,” Heath, who focuses on floral paintings, wildlife, and domestic animals, says. “I look around me, right now, where I am.”

The Profundity of Living Simple

From her home and studio in the foothills of the Blue Mountains outside of Dixie, Heath finds an abundance of inspiration and ideas by doing nothing more than looking through her window, where mother deer show up with their fawns to eat and play under two ancient apple trees. A country walk with her husband Cliff results in more deer sightings, along with owls, squirrels, and the occasional bear or cougar.

doe fawn wildlife animal spring simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

A doe and fawn, by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of wildlife in the country

On another outing — with the purpose of viewing newborn twin baby cows — a kitten stole the show when it bounced in their path and arched its back.

“He looked so brave and tiny that I took lots of pictures, which I used as reference for ‘Kitten Attack.'”

Heath sells her original paintings, as well as prints and boxes of note cards, to clients who love color and the allure of country life, and she is especially pleased when she hears that a work has been hung in a spot where it can be readily seen and often enjoyed: one couple hung the commissioned painting of their kittens right above the box where the cats sleep. Another purchaser showcases in his hallway a painting of his father’s favorite fishing spot.

Simple Living, Beauty, and Joy

“I want people to catch a glimpse of the beauty and joy that I see in the world around us,” Heath says. “I know all is not this way, but I hope people get a warm, good feeling inside when they look at my paintings.”

leafy bridge country rural forest woods simple living ellen heath watercolor

Leafy Bridge by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple country life of the rural woods and forest.

It may not sound deep and artsy, she adds, but her primary subject matter revolves around happiness.

“I don’t want to spend my days probing the dark and deep depths of the world.”

Heath, who retired from teaching elementary school a year and half ago, transformed an extra bedroom in her house into a studio. She credits her mother, still active and dynamic at 95, for inspiring her from childhood to do art — “She was always painting, creating things, sewing, cooking, and more. There were art supplies, beads, ribbons, yarn, pressed flowers, cards to make.”

Through the years, Heath has studied art at workshops and college classes, and acknowledges Walla Walla painter Joyce Anderson as the major influence toward her decision to focus on watercolor, which is anything but an easy medium in which to work. But the difficulties, Heath adds, are also the advantages.

Watercolor: Anything BUT Simple

“The challenges and benefits of watercolor for me are the same, as in the rest of life,” she says. “It seems that those things that are the most difficult also bring the most joy.”

cat family pet animal simple living ellen heath watercolor painting dixie

Cat, watercolor painting by Ellen Heath of Dixie. Simple living is normal living for our house cat friends.

Watercolor paint doesn’t necessarily stay where you put it, she explains. It can sink into the paper, creating  darker or lighter spots, or it can flow with the water. Sometimes, this results in colorful, swirling images, but other times — not planned and certainly not desired — the hues turn into mud.

To take full advantage of the translucent, exquisite color of the medium, Heath builds a painting in layers, starting with the lightest colors, and often leans the incomplete picture against the wall to dry while she reviews the areas of light and shadow.

“I’ll put it up again and again, sometimes waiting a couple of days in between. It may be a couple of weeks or even more before I’m finished.” And even then, she admits, it’s tempting to go back and “fix” it up after it’s matted and framed.

Simplicity, Tranquility, Clarity

But there’s no reason to overwork things, to add complications where they are not needed, to fret and fuss and brood — ultimately, the image itself announces that it is done, and ready to be launched into the world. What matters is the joy, the beauty, the invitation to the viewer to step into a world of simplicity, tranquility, and clarity.

“I paint things that make me happy and relaxed, either because of the bright colors of the subject matter.

“I hope others will also find a smile or a bit of joy in them.”

Wenaha Gallery

Ellen Heath is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, March 26, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, April 21, 2018.  

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.