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sundance plein air landscape country watercolor vogtman

Plein Air Complexity — Watercolors by Jan Vogtman

sundance plein air landscape country watercolor vogtman

Sundance, plein air watercolor landscape painting by Jan Vogtman

Plein air painters get used to all sorts of weather. Because of the nature of their studio — outside, in the plain air — they operate without a roof over their heads. Unless, of course, they choose to bring one of their own.

“During the Paint du Nord Quick Draw competition in Duluth, MN, we painted in a huge rainstorm,” watercolor artist Jan Vogtman remembers. “The competition lasted two hours, exactly — they blow a horn to start and stop.”

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Bob’s Pond, plein air landscape painting by Jan Vogtman.

Told to paint what she saw, Vogtman took the challenge literally.

“My painting shows all the artists painting around me with colorful umbrellas.”

Another time, the Troy, ID, painter joined three plein air artist friends out in the wilderness, keeping watchful eye as a memorable storm took an hour to build up.

“When the wind and rain came, we huddled in the car, ate lunch, and had a few beers. But the storm had no intention of stopping anytime soon, so we gave it up and went home.”

Even Vogtman’s trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, had its moments. While the weather was grand during the Andy Evansen watercolor workshop she took there with a friend, sunny skies disappeared on the way back.

“We got stranded in Seattle during the Big Blizzard and got home two days later than planned.”

Not Just the Weather

Weather inconsistencies, however, are so much a part of plein air painting that one comes to accept them as constants. So is the issue of travel. Because landscapes do not transport themselves to the artist’s studio, it’s up to the artist to transport herself. And for Vogtman, who lives on Moscow Mountain, four miles from the nearest city of Troy (population 600), getting together with plein air artist friends for an afternoon of painting often involves significant time in the car.

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Exhibit Bee, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“Because I live rural, my travel time is normally one hour each way.”

Vogtman discovered watercolor 24 years ago while working at the University of Idaho. Side by side with students barely out of high school, she took as many university level art classes as she could while maintaining a full work load. Plein air she discovered in 2009, and since then has competed in regional plein air competitions as well as the event in Duluth. She is a member of the Palouse Watercolor Socius, the Idaho Watercolor Society headquartered in Boise, and the Northwest Watercolor Society in Seattle.

All A’s in Art, Not Math

And while art is something she was interested in from a very early age, it was not something she was able to focus on until she was an adult and had a “real career” in the business and academic worlds. That’s just the way things were when she was growing up, even though all her A’s in school were in art, and not math.

Vogtman recalls the time she entered a drawing competition sponsored by the Minneapolis Art Institute in her hometown.

“I was maybe around 12 years old — and when I saw this competition in the newspaper, I entered. I think the amount of the prize was $250, which had to be used for classes.

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Palouse Falls, watercolor painting by Troy, ID, artist Jan Vogtman

“My parents could not afford to send me then or at anytime for art education. I was told I could not collect the award.”

She went to school to become a secretary. In a career spanning 36 years, Vogtman worked up to Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Northern Europe for the Control Data Corporation in Minneapolis, and later, upon moving to Idaho, served as the Coordinator of the Executive Speaker Series, reporting to the Dean of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho. On retiring in 2000, she challenged herself to dive into the art world, returning to the passion of her childhood.

The Hobby That Became a Business

In addition to plein air, Vogtman paints in her studio, a daylight basement of her home where furry forest friends peek through the window and watch. Most recently, she has added teaching workshops to taking them herself, conducting an introductory course for 20 students at the Center for Arts and History in Lewiston, ID. She has had a studio at the Artisan Barn in Uniontown, WA; earned her merit membership with the Idaho Watercolor Society upon being juried into three annual shows; and served as treasurer of the Palouse Watercolor Socius.

What started out as a hobby has become a business. And what’s perfect about that is how the non-art experience blends and melds well with the brush work of paint.

It’s unexpected, and not something that could have been predicted when she exchanged an art scholarship for business school. Life, though, like weather for the plein air painter, is never static. The best stories — and often paintings — involve the stormy days.

Wenaha GalleryJan Vogtman is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 29, through Saturday, August 24 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

 

 

blue rocket ceramics pottery mugs kassie smith

Ceramics Dynamics — The Pottery of Kassie Smith

Ceramics Artist Teaches with Passion

By the time she was 17, ceramics artist Kassie Smith was done — absolutely DONE — with school, and wanted nothing to do with college.

So, in one of life’s unique twists, the Moscow, ID, artist found herself completing eight years of higher education, resulting in a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Studio Arts from the University of Idaho. She stayed on to work as a ceramics instructor. A short time later, she moved to Washington State University, where she joined the ceramics department there. When she isn’t at WSU, she’s the Dahmen Barn, an artisan instruction and studio co-op in Uniontown, where Smith both teaches and manages the pottery studio.

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Rocket-themed ceramic bowl, bottom view, by Kassie Smith of Moscow, ID

“I realized there was nothing I could do with my life without a degree,” Smith explains, adding that since childhood, she has always wanted to work with clay and glass art. The turning point came when she met an artist at a Baltimore gallery who created an “alcohol reduction” process similar to Raku.

“He took time to explain the process and connect with me, a 17-year-old rebellious creative soul who wanted to completely abandon academia, on a very human level. His passion was evident. After that interaction, I gave up the quest for glass art and focused solely on ceramics.

“I have kept his passion and philosophy, seeking to use my work and research as a way to connect with people, and hopefully spark a similar passion in others.”

Functional — and Beyond Functional — Ceramics Art

One of Smith’s specializations is functional pottery: she creates custom ceramics ware for local restaurants. She also focuses on female empowerment — both as a female entrepreneur and artist serving as a role model for other women, as well as with the specific subject matter she chooses.

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Smiling Teeth Mugs by Kassie Smith of Moscow, ID. The gold tooth in each features real gold.

“The content of my art often has imagery relating to the female body — either with objects that suggest a relationship or forms that allude.

“Most of my work is meant to be introspective, but recently I’ve been getting louder and more bold, getting closer to a ‘statement.'”

Although she has dug and processed her own clay — a process she calls both fun and incredibly labor and time intensive — Smith generally orders a pallet with 1,950 pounds of material. It’s cost effective. It also requires a lot of storage — in both its raw state and in the finished products.

“There’s never enough space,” Smith says, describing one of the many challenges of the ceramics lifestyle.

“Build shelves, fill shelves, need more shelves.”

The Benefit of Challenges

Finding enough space is just one challenge, or as Smith prefers to call it, life benefit. Another challenge/benefit is clay itself, because the material is a never-ending source of wonder. It adds a scientific element to the art that demands constant learning and experimentation.

“Clay is a fickle material, and all clays are different,” Smith says.  “Firing clay is an art form in itself.

“I am a super nerd for glaze chemistry. There is never enough time to run all the experiments I’d like. I could spend the rest of my life on glaze chemistry if I didn’t get tired of wearing a respirator.”

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Rocket-themed pottery mugs in red tones by Kassie Smith

Another challenge involves waiting, something every ceramics artisan spends more time doing than they’d like.

“Waiting for kilns to cool down is challenging. I want to see the things NOW!!!

“Patience . . . ”

Smith has shown her work at the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts in Joseph, OR, as well as at the Moscow Farmer’s Market, every Saturday from May through October.

She shuttles her work in progress between three studio spaces. One is at WSU, one at her home in Moscow, and a third at the community pottery studio at the Dahmen Barn. Logistical planning for transporting ceramics is a nightmare, she admits.

“And I break things.

“But having three studios keeps me on my toes.”

Clear as Mud

Learning, teaching, researching, experimenting, creating, even the interminable waiting. It’s all part of being a ceramic artist, well worth all the extra schooling it took to get here. Whether in classroom or studio, Smith is where she wants to be, doing exactly what she wants to do.

“There are very few things I’d rather do than be elbows deep in the mud.”

Wenaha GalleryKassie Smith is the Featured Art Event from Monday, July 15, through Saturday, August 10 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

Motovun europe city acrylic painting flowers summer barcenas landscape travel

Travel the World — Summer Barcenas Paints Europe

Motovun europe city acrylic painting flowers summer barcenas landscape travel

Motovun, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas, chronicling her European travel

Travel changes things.

Stop and think about where you live — Walla Walla, Dayton, Waitsburg, the surrounding areas. This is home. But for others passing through, it’s a destination spot, a place to vacation, a tourist experience. What’s ordinary and everyday for us is new and exciting for them.

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Andalucia, original acrylic painting by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla, painting her travel images of Europe

Capturing that ordinary and everyday, in conjunction with new and exciting, is the artistic challenge for Summer Barcenas, a lifelong Walla Wallan who visually chronicles her European travels in acrylic paint on big, big canvases.

“The main theme of my art is wanderlust,” Barcenas says. “I want to open people’s minds to the journey, the exploration, and the beauty of each culture, country, and place.”

Bitten by the travel bug when her family uprooted itself  to journey throughout Europe for two years, Barcenas returned for another year as an exchange student in France. During her sojourn there she haunted the Louvre, Picasso, Matisse, and Magritte museums. She sought out perches over picturesque landscapes, where she opened her sketchbook, and drew.  She took endless photos of everything, with the intention of recreating the feeling, the emotion, and the color of her experience so that others, too, could experience it.

After Travel: She Wanted Two Things

And by the time she returned to Walla Walla, she wanted, really, only two things:

“I requested to be met with dill pickles and thin mints.”

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Bicycle and Flowers, original acrylic painting of her travel Europe experience, by Summer Barcenas of Walla Walla

That’s one, even though it’s sort of two.

The second thing she wanted was retreat to her art room and paint.

“When people look at my art, the bright colors, textures, and strokes of the paint, I want them to feel something,” Barcenas explains.

“I want them to feel the emotion that I pour into each painting, because every piece of art is dedicated to a moment in my life when I was full of emotion.

“Awe, wonder, excitement, tranquility, everything. I want people to feel those emotions, to step into that painting and experience it for themselves.”

Painting, and Dreaming about Travel, from Childhood

Barcenas has been drawing, sketching, painting, and creating from childhood. Her decision to paint large came about when she was raising money for her travel exchange student year. That’s when her mother, whom Barcenas describes as having a “go big or go home” attitude, purchased 25 canvases up to 5 x 4 feet in size.

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Downtown, original acrylic painting by Walla Walla artist Summer Barcenas

“I tried my luck on a canvas working for the first time with acrylic paints and a surface that big. I repainted the painting six times.

“When I finally had an art show at age 17 to raise money for my year abroad, that painting was the first to sell.”

Through her paintbrush, Barcenas believes, she can travel anywhere. Describing painting as not a hobby, but a way of life, Barcenas mentally returns to the places she has seen, discovering, during this revisit, things that she didn’t fully appreciate before.

“As I paint, I am mesmerized by the beauty I may have missed. I recreate these places that I long to travel back to, painting them exactly as they were on the most perfect of days.

“So later, I can stare at my canvas and remember.”

Being an Artist

The very process of painting is one of exhilaration and satisfaction, Barcenas says. Each stroke of paint on canvas adds to the story that the artist is painting, and the possibilities of what and how to paint are endless.  This is the “rush” of being an artist.

“Being an artist isn’t easy,” Barcenas says. “But it’s not always a choice. It’s who you are.

“Creating art is what fuels your soul, and you can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s how it is for me.

“It’s how I’m wired, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Wenaha GallerySummer Barcenas is the Featured Art Event from Monday, June 3 through Saturday, June 29 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

polymer clay bead jewelry nostalgia journals dawn moriarty

Nostalgia Journals and Chic Jewelry — The Art of Dawn Moriarty

polymer clay bead jewelry nostalgia journals dawn moriarty

Jewelry and Nostalgia Journals by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty

Yard sales are places to find unexpected treasures, but when I stopped at one last year I never knew the treasure I found would be a new artist for Wenaha Gallery. I mean, I was just looking for little boy baby clothes.

There weren’t any. But what there was were colorful, unique, and trendy necklaces and earrings — an entire tableful.

“Did someone make these?” I asked two women sitting in chairs nearby.

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A selection of necklaces and earrings by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty

“She did,” one replied, nodding toward the other. “She creates all this amazing jewelry and didn’t know where to sell it. I said I’d put it in my yard sale.”

And so I discovered Dawn Moriarty, a geriatric nurse at Booker Rest Home in Dayton, WA, who prolifically fashions in her spare time not only chic jewelry, but nostalgia journals assembled from repurposed paper products. She works out of a “woman cave” studio in the basement of her home, and many years ago turned to both jewelry and paper crafts as a means of bringing a peaceful balance to her life.

Not wanting to fuss with a website or Etsy store, she stored her art in boxes. When one was full, she took it to work and sold to friends and coworkers.

“The positive feedback there would ‘fuel my fire’ and keep me inspired to create,” the Dayton artist says.

Selling Nostalgia Journals and Jewelry to Co-Workers

But at some point, there was more artwork than co-workers, and Moriarty looked around for other places to share her wares: hence, my fortuitous discovery at the yard sale. An added bonus were the nostalgia journals, a high-demand item that Moriarty brought into the gallery on a whim, unsure of how they would be received.

“She asked me, ‘Do you think anyone would be interested in these?'” gallery framer Savonnah Henderson recalls. “I said, YES! Do you think you can keep us supplied?”

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Vintage style nostalgia journals by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty incorporate all forms of repurposed paper, textiles, and lace

Quite fortunately, Moriarty loves spending time in her woman cave, dividing time between the journals, jewelry, and yoga. When she isn’t in her domestic subterranean environment or working, she’s on the hunt, scouting out raw materials. This activity she describes as being as fun as creating the art.

“To find the material for my journals, I go to antique stores, junk shops, yard sales, estate sales, secondhand stores, library sales — anywhere I might find objects that I can re-purpose and reuse,” Moriarty explains.

“Once in an antique store in La Grande, OR, I found an 1889 original almanac, and in the spine was an old sewing implement, kind of flat, metal with engraving on it and some brown wool thread in the eye — it’s beautiful!

“I look for used paper products from tags, receipts, stationery, old sewing patterns, diaries, textbooks, ledgers, and so on. I also look for vintage textiles from fabrics to trims and lace.

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Field notebook nostalgia journals by Dayton artist Dawn Moriarty feature soft, flexible covers

“I use rusty metal bits, broken watches, the list goes on and on, and it’s a never ending treasure hunt.”

Vintage Chic and Fashionable Nostalgia

That’s just for the journals. For the jewelry she routs out vintage glass and metal beads — she has a selection that were once on a beaded curtain in an old shop in Seattle. Gems and semi-precious stones she sources from Shipwreck Beads in Lacey, WA, where she makes a yearly trip to stock up. And the polymer clay beads she creates in her woman cave, a happy place of relaxation and inspiration.

“Working with polymer clay is a great stress reliever. There is a lot of squishing and squeezing going on.

“Then you take your lumps of conditioned clay and mix, twist, layer, and press to create something pretty.”

Each piece, whether jewelry or nostalgia journal, is a statement, Moriarty says, and the basis of that statement is the vintage status of the materials she uses. Not only does this ensure that each piece is one of a kind, never to be replicated anywhere, it also adds feeling, significance, and humanity.

“I love knowing that each piece has a history,” Moriarty says. “I wonder about the lives that it touched. There’s a connection to the sentimental value of each item, whether it’s jewelry or a journal.

“And with the journals, it’s an awesome feeling knowing that there are people out there writing down their thoughts and storing their memorabilia in books I created.”

Wenaha GalleryDawn Moriarty is the Featured Art Event from Monday, April 22 through Saturday, May 18 at Wenaha Gallery.

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

 

 

storm landscape snowy white owl flying wildlife keith rislove

Wildlife World — The Acrylic Paintings of Keith Rislove

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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.

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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.

victorian dream santa christmas holiday gourd sculpture art sheryl parsons

Christmas Cheer — The Holiday Gourd Art of Sheryl Parsons

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Santa Claus in gourd and paper mache, celebrating the whimsical aspect of Christmas, by Joseph, OR, artist Sheryl Parsons

When we are children, life possesses a magical fantasy interspersed with reality. This juxtaposition, seamless in the mind of a child, colors our memories and affects the adults we eventually become. For this reason, adults who are wise learn from children as much as they teach them, often by getting “down” to their level.

“My mother was a fabulous artist who loved to share her talents with me,” says Sheryl Parsons, a Joseph, OR, artist who specializes in folk art holiday sculpture made from gourd, polymer, and clay.

autumn harvest christmas holiday santa sculpture sheryl parsons artist

Autumn Harvest Santa, hand-crafted Christmas holiday gourd sculpture by Joseph, OR artist Sheryl Parsons.

“She would get on the floor with me when I was little and show me how to create shape and definition in the pictures we colored in my coloring books. She taught me basic sketching techniques such as shapes and human anatomy while we sat at the kitchen table. We dabbled in pen and ink, along with pastels, and she always had a stack of Walter Foster how-to art booklets around that I loved to look at.

“I dreamed of becoming as good as what I saw in those pages.”

Christmas Gourd & Holiday Folk Art

Parsons’ dream has come true in her folk art and sculpted pieces which celebrate holidays especially enamored by children, most notably Halloween and Christmas. It is testament to the child within that her work finds (adult) collectors from around the world, through her participation in major Halloween craft festivals in Petaluma, CA, (All Hallow’s Art Fest) and Bothell, WA, (Hallowbaloo), as well as selling via her Etsy shop, website, and Reasons to Believe, a year-round Santa Claus shop located in Kirkland, WA.

While art in general has been a part of Parsons’ life  since she was a child with a particularly perspicacious mother, the focus on Santa started years ago when Parsons lived in — really — North Pole, AK.

“I was a stay-at-home mom looking for a way to make some spending money when I came across the Better Homes and Gardens Santa Claus magazines full of artists from all over who used sculpting, carving, and sewing skills to create stunning Santa  figures.

northwood stump wooden santa sculpture Christmas art Sheryl Parsons Wallowa Oregon

Northwood Stump Santa, Christmas gourd art by Joseph, OR artist Sheryl Parsons

“While chopping wood one morning, I noticed that some of the slabs that chipped off when I missed the center of the logs had a shape that would lend itself to painting Santa figures on. The flat sides only needed a little sanding, and the rounded bark backs made for unique pieces.”

Christmas at the North Pole, Utah, & Oregon

Soliciting the assistance of her three children, who earned pocket money by helping their mother paint Santa ornaments and magnets made from wood chips, Parsons sold her work through the Knotty Shop on the Alaska highway.

On moving to Utah, Parsons continued her folk art sculpture, entering, winning awards, and later judging at the Utah State Fair in Salt Lake City. Relocating northwards to Joseph, Parsons now shows her gourd and other sculpture work at the art-themed town’s various galleries, and the only bad thing about her new home, from the standpoint of art, is that the gardening season is too short for her to grow her own gourds. But, actually, that’s not a problem.

“It’s funny: gourds seem to find me through friends, yard sales, and so on.

“Two years ago, an artist was moving away from the valley and gave her stash of gourds to another local artist, who then called me — and so I scored ten large bags of gourds of all shapes and sizes for free!”

victorian dream santa christmas holiday gourd sculpture art sheryl parsons

Victorian Dream Santa, Christmas holiday gourds sculpture by Joseph, OR, artist Sheryl Parsons

In addition to working with the gourd, Parsons innovates with repurposed materials, one of her favorite projects involving burnt out light bulbs or discarded glass bottles, which she covers in clay to become Santa, a snowman, or a Halloween-themed piece.

“Candlesticks, vintage tins, salt and pepper shakers, oil, cans, wood textiles bobbins — they’re all inspiration for a new holiday piece,” she adds.

As much as Parsons enjoys Christmas and Halloween, however, neither holiday is her favorite, with that accolade going to Thanksgiving, which she describes as a time to reflect on the blessings of the year past.

Celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween

“There’s little commercialization of the day itself, so for me Thanksgiving is a time for family, and making memories, unencumbered by gift expectations.

“I take each season in turn, relishing in the delight of each, and don’t want to rush into Christmas before it’s time to — although it’s my favorite season to create for.”

The celebration of holiday seasons — Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter — inspire the child within, and with every hand-crafted sculpture, Parsons seeks to send a message of goodness and hope:

“For me, I want my art to be something that brings joy, peace, or pleasure to the owner or viewer,” Parsons says.

“I like to focus on the positive, whimsical, and good in life. People and nature are my inspiration: I see the hand of God in all.”

Wenaha GallerySheryl Parsons is the Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, November 5 through Saturday, December 1, 2018. She 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 Dayton painter Steve Henderson. Also at the show will be live 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.

butterfly blooms photography fractal art tulips debbie lind

Fractal Fascination — Photographic Art by Debbie Lind

butterfly blooms photography fractal art tulips debbie lind

Butterfly Blooms, Debbie Lind’s first, and prize winning, foray into photographic fractals art.

You don’t have to like broccoli to admire it.

Seriously.

Broccoli and its close friend, cauliflower, consist of the same small shape multiplied into a larger one, a phenomenon both scientists and artists call fractal or algorithmic art. The term, coined in the 1960s by Polish mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, describes using mathematical formulas to create digital artwork from the same repeating shape.

love layers red heart flower fractal art photography debbie lind wallowa

Love in Layers, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR, artist Debbie Lind

“Fractals are a repeated shape that I didn’t give much thought to until I discovered them when reading a book about shapes to kindergartners visiting our public library where I’m the library director,” says photographer Debbie Lind of Wallowa, OR.

“I read to them about shapes like circles, triangles, squares and all the basic shapes we know, but when I read to them about fractals, a light went off and I thought right then, ‘How can I use fractal art in my photography?'”

Fractal Tulip Turns into Butterfly

Lind’s first experiment with fractal art involved her photographic image of a red tulip with rain drops on it. She began playing about with the shape, intending to create a conch-like snail shell from the repeating tulip blossoms, but “it wasn’t meant to be.

“What I created instead was a butterfly wing. From that I created a butterfly I named ‘Butterfly Blooms.’ I entered it in my first professional art show and won a blue ribbon.” (As an added bonus, a monetary prize accompanied the ribbon, a fact Lind says came as a complete, but welcome, surprise.)

Money or not, from that point on, Lind was hooked on fractal art, experimenting with more flowers and butterflies, then moving on to other shapes and subjects, such as a bright orange Koi fish, repeated smaller and smaller, in a series of bubbles. She prints her images on canvas and paper, as well as large format art cards that she sells in galleries, gift shops, and local businesses.

dragonfly delight purple insect fractal art photography debbie lind wallowa artist

Dragonfly Delight, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR artist Debbie Lind

Describing herself as a photo artisan, Lind has been playing with imagery, cameras, and technology since she was 15, when she received a 110 pocket camera as a gift. From there she moved onto an Olympus OM-1 35 mm, and once she entered the digital age, she found that the time spent behind the computer screen playing with an image was as fascinating as time behind the camera lens.

Fractal Art and Emotive Photography

“My goal is to create photography — fractal or not — that moves me first: it can be a child, flowers, landscapes, or a person leaning up against a truck,” Lind explains.

“My other goal is if my art can give someone a good feeling — to enhance their good day and help them on their bad day — then this is what I hope my art can do for them, even if it’s just one person.”

koi joy orange fish fracta art photography debbie lind wallowa artist

Koi Joy, photographic fractal art by Wallowa, OR, artist Debbie Lind

Since that first memorable and financially satisfying professional art show, Lind has entered many others, as well as published her work in calendars, telephone books, brochures, and flyers. Wherever she goes she has an eye out for the next intriguing shot, and while she describes herself as not a photojournalist, she seeks to create images that spark conversation, imbue emotion, and catch the viewer’s eye and soul.

“If I’m in the right place at the right time, I’ll be taking photos of it.”

Living in a rural area provides plenty of subject matter, but the downside is that if the printer runs out of ink, only two sheets of photo paper remain in the packet, or none of the frames in her studio are the right size, she can’t pop down to the local office or art store to replenish supplies. For this reason, she has commandeered the largest bedroom in the house for her studio, occasionally spilling into the guest bedroom with supplies and inventory.

Letting the Creative Process Lead

Prominent on the studio wall is a quote she found in a magazine, which she says encapsulates how she approaches her photographic and fractal art:

“Let go of needing to know what you will create before you have begun. Instead, allow the creative process to be one of self-discovery, moment-to-moment revelation, and pure freedom.”

Every day is a new opportunity to learn more about art, photography, the digital world, fractal creativity, running a business, and life in general, and while trying new things has its unnerving side, it results in great satisfaction as well. Lind reminds herself of this as she experiments with new ways of marketing her photography, the latest involving selling fine art cards at local farmers’ markets where, incidentally, one finds broccoli, and cauliflower.

“As I get older, I feel a little braver in putting myself ‘out there.’ I’ve been telling myself, if not now, when?” Lind muses.

“I’m almost, or already, considered a senior citizen: I already get discounts at restaurants.

“So what’s next for me? I’m taking chances.”

Wenaha Gallery

Debbie Lind is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, October 22 through Saturday, November 17.

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.

big sky mustangs dream old west montana horses tobias sauer

Montana Dreams — The Western Art of Tobias Sauer

big sky mustangs dream old west montana horses tobias sauer

Big Sky Mustangs, capturing the old west and the new, by oil painter Tobias Sauer. Sauer’s childhood dreams, while growing up in Montana, were to be a full time painter, and he is turning this dream into reality.

Dreams. Goals. Aspirations.

All humans have these, born within our childhood when we don’t realize how impossible what we want to do actually is. Some people abandon these dreams entirely, citing the need to be “realistic,” but others, who combine realism with hope, hard work, and a stubborn tenacity to get up when they’re knocked down, keep chipping away, moving forward, walking steadily toward that dream.

ogalala cowboys horses night dreams tobias sauer western art

All Night to Ogalala, oil painting by Coeur d’Alene artist Tobias Sauer, who is turning his childhood dreams into a very realistic art career.

Tobias Sauer is one of these people. As a child, raised in the Montana outdoors, he and his father biked, hunted, kayaked, and hiked; evenings, he joined his artist mother in trying to paint what he had experienced that day, frequently getting frustrated when what he saw in his mind did not make it successfully onto canvas.

“These are 40-year-old artist’s hands,” his mother would tell him. “You have little 5-year-old hands. When you have 40-year-old artist’s hands, you’ll be able to make it look just right, too.”

Dreams Die before They Live

Long before those hands could be 40, however, it looked like the dream had died.

“I started off as an art major in college, but quickly became disillusioned with the emphasis of abstract expressionism and the lack of instruction in form and technique,” the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, oil painter says. “I graduated in environmental science and worked in that field for years.”

Though he tried to continue painting, an injury followed by surgery and a series of painful life events drove him into what he calls a personal “wilderness,” one that drained him of time and energy, of dreams and the desire to create.

herdsire cow bull livestock cattle Montana rancher's dreams tobias sauer western art

Herdsire, embracing the rancher’s dreams of the future herd. Oil painting by Coeur d’Alene oil painter Tobias Sauer

But he kept chipping away, continuing to get up each time he was knocked down. After a long hiatus from painting, Sauer found an old watercolor set while going through his storage unit, and gave it a try.

“I wondered if I could still paint, or if I had lost it all . . . but you know, after all that time of not painting, I had somehow gotten better. It was the weirdest thing, and I still can’t figure it out — I don’t know if it was that suffering or just age had made me a more mature artist, or just a more patient person.”

Visions of Montana

Whatever it was, it impelled him forward, and Sauer found that his hands — still not yet 40 — were capable of making things look just right. Bison, elk, moose, cowboys, mountains, meadows — Sauer draws, literally, upon the scenes of his Montana childhood in celebrating both the Old West and the New.

“I grew up in Charlie Russell country, and I grew up wanting to ranch,” Sauer says. “My heroes were cowboys. I loved rodeo, ranching, and outdoors, and since I couldn’t live the life of a cowboy, I like to paint it.”

intense montana mountain lion puma wildlife cat western art tobias sauer

Intense, a moment of big cat reflection and dreams by western artist Tobias Sauer.

As paintings began to sell, Sauer gained confidence along with skill, and he soon entered the world of major juried and invitational shows: The Cowboy Classics Western Art Show in Phoenix, Arizona; Heart of the West in Bozeman, Montana; Miniatures by the Lake in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; The Oldfield Art Show in Puyallup, Washington; and, appropriately, The Russell Exhibition and Sale in Great Falls, Montana.

Because he is gregarious and enjoys connecting with clients and art lovers, Sauer attends many of these shows in person, traveling back to back from March through September with his wife in a camper trailer.

The Reality of Living Dreams, In and out of Montana

“I see new places, go to places I never thought I’d go to,” Sauer says.

“I like the personal connection with the collectors and the feeling that the collector is buying a part of me.

“I also travel to workshops because I want to seek out the best artist to study from for the kind of work I want to do, and the artist who will most likely help me with specific goals I am trying to achieve.”

office space Montana cowboys herding cattle livestock cows western art tobias sauer

Office Space, embracing the dreams of office workers everywhere, by western artist Tobias Sauer of Coeur d’Alene, ID.

And then, when he isn’t traveling, Sauer is painting, marketing, blogging, connecting with collectors and galleries who are increasingly noticing his work. He presently sends his art to galleries in Sedona, Arizona; Coeur d’Alene and Moscow, Idaho; Whitefish and Billings, Montana; and, most recently, Jackson, Wyoming, resulting in his paintings residing in homes throughout the nation, west and east, north and south.

Dreams Achieved

It’s a lot of work for those not quite yet 40-year-old hands, but Sauer delights in the busy schedule, in the challenge, in the fulfillment of dreams that are very much imbued with reality. Because achieving dreams is not necessarily unrealistic:

“I thought an art career would be like the closing credits of Little House on the Prairie, with Laura Ingalls running through a beautiful field without a care in the world, but it’s not like that,” Sauer observes.

“It’s hard, stressful, nerve-wracking, self-esteem killing, and filled with deadlines and insecurity.

“But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s the most rewarding thing in my life outside of my marriage and my daughter.”

Wenaha Gallery

Tobias Sauer is the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, August 27, 2018, through Saturday, September 22, 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.

 

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