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The Best Thing to Do with Wood in Alaska — the Sculpture of Pat and Peggy Bookey

a selection of woodturning and wood piercing art by Pat and Peggy Bookey

A selection of woodturning and wood piercing art by Pat and Peggy Bookey.

When you live in Alaska, what do you do with wood?

For wood artists Pat and Peggy Bookey of North Pole, AK, you don’t necessarily burn it, even though, according to Pat, “The lows here can be between -50 and -60 F!”

When you are the Bookeys, both retired teachers, you fuse your separate skills together to create ethereal, airy sculpture out of native Alaskan birch (Betula neoalaskana) or Koa (from Hawaii). Pat turns the wood into thin-walled bowls, vases, bottle stoppers, and pet urns while Peggy, often using a dentist’s drill, pierces the creations with intricate, lacelike designs incorporating flowers, birds, Pacific Northwest animals such as wildcats or wolves, and, oddly for people who live in a place called North Pole, Hawaiian flora, birds, turtles, and whales. There’s a reason for that, which we’ll get to later.

Birch Butterfly Bowl by Pat and Peggy Bookey

Birch Butterfly Bowl by Pat and Peggy Bookey

“This all started because I needed something to do during the long Alaskan winters,” Pat says of their joint effort at producing fine, yet functional, three-dimensional art. In the initial years, Pat worked alone on his woodturning creations, while Peggy focused on hand carving,  delicately etching scenes on eggs from chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, and eventually, the exotic emu and ostrich. Despite working side by side, in a small garage workshop,  for several years, the couple never thought of coalescing their skills until one day, Pat happened to ask Peggy to carve a scene on one of his turnings.

They never looked back. The ensuing collaboration has taken them out of the workshop into various geographical areas as they distribute their work to galleries and gift shops, and one of those areas has been Hawaii.

“We love to visit that state every year to defrost, so it made sense to seek out opportunities there,” Peggy explains. Their big break came when a sales associate at Martin and MacArthur, an island-based dealer in fine gifts, home accessories, and furniture, insisted that they show their work to the CEO, Michael Tam, who fell instantly in love:

“He couldn’t stop turning the bowl over and over, commenting on the intricate pierced holes and scenes on the wood,” Peggy says. With a strong presence and interest in Hawaii, the couple  added Acacia Koa, a native Hawaiian wood, to their materials, and began incorporating native designs and elements.

In the earlier years of their working together, it was difficult finding the enough time, because even though Pat and Peggy were retired, “We had a significant role in raising our two grandchildren,” Peggy says. When the children were younger,  “we developed a system where Pat would turn a vessel while I looked after the kids, then we would switch and I’d work as fast as possible on the piecing . . . it was one heck of a feat working at that speed. I really pushed that drill!”

Dragonfly Lidded Koa by Pat and Peggy Bookey

Dragonfly Lidded Koa by Pat and Peggy Bookey

As the grandchildren grew older, Pat and Peggy were able to slow down from high speed, but so much practice resulted in pretty near perfect: PJ Percy of TreelineUSA, a woodcarving supply establishment, says of Peggy:

“She is one of the fastest piercers I’ve ever seen.”

The Bookeys, and their work, have been featured in Woodturning, the largest international woodturning magazine, as well as Woodturning Design. One of their favorite sales stories involves the King of Morocco, who visited one of the Martin and MacArthur stores and purchased several pierced Koa bowls to be shipped home.

“The employees couldn’t wait to tell us this good news!” Peggy remembers. Another favorite sale happened at the museum gift store at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, involving a large pierced vase, entwined with dragons, that the new owner hand carried back to China.

Pat and Peggy work together, and work together well, constantly encouraging, pushing, nudging each other to new heights of skill and art:

“Peggy’s relentless suggestions give me the confidence to continue to improve,” Pat says while Peggy notes,

“I was going to stop piercing about six years ago, but Pat pushed me on and supported me along the way. If it wasn’t  for him, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Pat and Peggy Bookey are the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery June 9  through June 28, and you can  enjoy a selection of both their Alaska birch and Hawaiian Koa creations at the downtown Dayton, WA gallery, 219 East Main Street.  Wenaha Gallery

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

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

One, Two, Three Artists Are a Charm — Caprice Scott (Ceramics), Joyce Wilkens (Author) and Wanda Thompson (Graphite)

porcelain art by caprice scott

Porcelain art by Caprice Scott.

Good things come in threes. Consider this: how many important decisions are made with the simple game, Rock, Paper, Scissors?

There were three wise men, three Bronte sisters, and three muskateers; there are three essential ingredients in the bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich, no recipe necessary.

And for three weeks in June, three Pacific Northwest artists in three completely different mediums, will collaborate on an Art Event at the Wenaha Gallery, Dayton, WA.

Two are from College Place; all three have studied at, or graduated from Walla Walla University. And all three are fervent about what they do: Caprice Scott from College Place creates functional and decorative porcelain; Joyce Wilkens of Spokane is the author of coffee table books; and Wanda Thompson of College Place captures nature’s quiet places in graphite.

Caprice Scott

“God created me to create, and I feel a spiritual connection with Him when I’m working on pottery or sculpture,” says the maker of three-dimensional ware that spans the gamut from vases to lidded boxes, from ceramic fruit to purses in porcelain.

“In creating something I feel is of beauty, I have a tiny idea of who God is and the joy He takes in His creations.”

Scott’s hand-built pottery incorporates images from the natural world , and inspiration derives as well from her three years of living in Europe and traveling the globe to 11 countries. Throughout the seasons, Scott takes regular drives to the Blue and Wallowa Mountains, in search of greenery to press into clay.

teacup art book by joyce wilkens

Teacup Art . . . and Reflections by Joyce Wilkens

“In the Wallowa Lake area, there is a small grove of Aspen trees where I clip some leaves,” Scott explains. “I also look for pine cones. Although I’ve used a lot of things for clay impressions, my go-to and first choice is always something from nature.”

Language, as well, is a driving force in Scott’s art, and she finds various way to incorporate the written word into her work.

“It is beauty in itself, whether in a book, a love letter, or scrawled by a child with a piece of chalk on the sidewalk.”

Joyce Wilkens

While watercolor, oil, wood, and fabric are all mediums in which Wilkens works, books are a focus of her time these days, and her two recently published works are Teacup Art . . . and Reflections and Walking Sticks — Wanderings and Wonderings. The unusual subject matter appeals to a broad audience, and copies of her books reside in the libraries of Conrad Anker, the renowned mountain climber of Everest and K2; Tom Till, one of the nation’s top photographers; artist Guy Buffett; and former President George Bush.

The books, it seems, are as well traveled as their author.

“We spent three months working in Africa in 1985, ” Wilkens says. “That’s when I started up photography.”

That’s also when she and her husband, Keith, started their walking stick collection, which has grown, along with Joyce’s passion for hiking, nature, the beauty of wood, and the stories behind what is made from that wood, all of which fuel Wilkens’ inspiration for her books.

graphite art by wanda thompson

Langs De Stuwepad Dichbij Vilsteren by Wanda Thompson

“On a mission service trip in 1998, I traveled to a very primitive area of southern Madasgascar,” Wilkens remembers.”I took with me a watercolor painting I had done of lemurs in trees. I found a small craft store and asked if someone there could carve me a walking stick with a lemur on it, in exchange for the watercolor painting.”

The deal was struck, a one-of-a-kind walking stick found its way to Wilkens’ home and into her book, and “Madagascar not only has a piece of my art, but also a part of my heart.”

Wanda Thompson

Finding inspiration in nature and the quiet places of Europe, Thompson focuses on peacefulness, and often, on trees.

“I love trees!” Thompson says. “In our home, we have eight tall-to-the-ceiling Ficus trees plus two other large ones.

“But my favorite theme is bare trees because I love the shapes of the bare branches.”

While Thompson’s primary focus is on graphite and watercolor drawing, lately she finds that her camera is becoming a close friend, because she is always keeping her eyes open for unique trees and unusual landscapes to interpret in her studio.

From the highlands and islands of Scotland, to the Dolomites in Italy and Lapland in Finland and Norway, Thompson absorbs nature through hiking and hillwalking, “away from the rush and noise of the world.”

They are three different artists, working in three completely different formats, who all share an appreciation of nature, peacefulness, serenity and form. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good working definition of art.

Wenaha Gallery’s Triple Play Art Event, featuring Caprice Scott, Joyce Wilkens, and Wanda Thompson, begins May 27 and runs through June 14 at the downtown Dayton, WA gallery, 219 East Main Street. A reception for the artists is scheduled Sunday, June 1 from 1-4 p.m., with all three artists in attendance and refreshments served. Wenaha Gallery

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

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

Birds and Antlers and Frogs — Oh My! The Sculpture Art of Ralph Trethewey

miniature pecan antlers by wenaha gallery artist Ralph Trethewey

Though these antlers are much, much smaller than the original from which they are inspired, they retain the accuracy and attention to detail of full size. Pecan Shell Moose by Ralph Trethewey.

Most people think of pecan shells as something to throw away after eating the nut within. For sculptor Ralph Trethewey, however, the material on the outside is far more valuable, and he has carved, quite literally, a career out of those pecan shells. Credited with discovering a form of sculpture unique in the world, the Walla Walla artist creates miniature masterpieces by carving, with rotary power tools and small knives, Lilliputian antlers, which he mounts to small-scale walnut plaques.

“My grandpa raised pecans in Phoenix, AZ,” Trethewey explains. “We would visit there in the winter, and one time when I picked up the shells I noticed the curvature, which is similar to the outer curvature of a mule deer’s antlers. I made a mental connection, and the next step was making the carving.

“It’s kind of nuts, isn’t it?”

Crazy or not, the resulting original and precision works are in the hands of collectors as unique and distinguished as the artworks themselves: Ripley’s Believe it or Not owns a set, as does contemporary Western artist Bev Doolittle.

“I was antler crazy at a young age,” Trethewey says. Raised in the Mojave Desert of California and near the Wasaatch Mountains of Utah, Trethewey grew up listening to the hunting stories of his father, John Trethewey, who once shot a buck with an eight-point rack on one side and twenty on the other.

“Every time I asked him where those antlers were, he simply said, ‘I just left them out in the cedars because we only needed the meat.'”

Trethewey recalls regularly embarrassing his father by asking total strangers where he could find antlers, and while he received some funny looks, he also picked up good tips, following up on them by looking in gas stations, on garages and fence posts, even straining to peek into bars to see antlers.

“It was a healthy addiction for which no support groups existed.”

Perhaps it’s a good thing no support group existed, because the result was that Trethewey directed his energy, and his passion for antlers, to art, cultivating what he considers a God-given talent for woodcarving into a career as a professional artist which he has been pursuing since 1973.

hand carved wood goldfinch sculpture by wenaha gallery artist Ralph Trethewey

Hand carved from wood and hand painted, Goldfinch by Ralph Trethewey meets the strict standards of approval by experts like the wildlife biologists of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“I began carving as a boy and got affirmation for my first efforts,” Trethewey remembers. “I turned to Utah’s aspen trees and would carve deer from these which sold for $25.”

In addition to miniature antlers made from pecan shells, Trethewey carves full sized antlers in wood, which he reproduces in limited edition cast polymer. He also creates original wood carvings of birds and other wildlife, as well as limited edition bronze sculptures. The next time you’re in downtown Walla Walla, walk to the southeast corner of Main and Third Streets to enjoy The Thinker, a whimsical frog based upon the iconic work of Auguste Rodin.

The various homes for Trethewey’s works are as varied and eclectic as the works themselves, and along with municipal public art and a presence at Ripley’s, Trethewey’s creations — from his realistic carved birds to his signature “Wyoming Wonder” World Record Antler sculptures —  have been purchased by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, musician Hank Williams Jr., and former governor of Oregon Barbara Roberts.

Trethewey has received numerous First Place, Best in Show, and People’s Choice awards in various group exhibitions, and he garnered Best of Show at the 17th Annual American National Miniature Show in 1992. His Thinker sculpture received the Walla Walla Architectural Award. To this point, he has produced 47 limited edition sculptures, many of which are sold out.

“The statements I make (with my art) are basically a love of nature and an attempt to duplicate/interpret realistically its beauty,” Trethewey says.

“Life is all about learning. It postpones the onset of Alzheimer’s.

“In summary, I love what I get to do!”

Trethewey’s many and varied artworks are on display at Wenaha Gallery’s Art Event  in his honor, which runs from April 28 – May 17 at the downtown historic gallery, 219 East Main, Dayton, WA. Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery Website: www.wenaha.com

Read more about Art Event, our celebration of Pacific Northwest Artists,  here.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

Not Just Your Standard Birdhouse: the Art of Papa Jon’s Fly Inns

Ladybug Cottage bird house by Papa Jon's Fly Inns

An amply sized, glorious ladybug sings of spring, all year round. Ladybug Cottage by Papa Jon’s Fly Inns.

For sculptors Jon and Marilu Bryan, art is for the birds, literally.

The Dayton couple, who operate under the name of Papa Jon’s Fly Inns, create hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind birdhouses that look like something one would keep on a special shelf in the living room, but are fully functional outdoor homes for wildlife, designed to handle wind, weather, and wet.

“They’re made to be outside and for birds to really use,” Jon Bryan says, “but I have people who  plug the holes in them so birds can’t get in. Some people put them all over their houses as decor — in the kitchen, in the living room. We have Realtors who put them in houses that they’re showing.

“Other people put them outside and let me know about the different birds that have nested in them.”

Designed for small birds, the house shells are built out of premium, long lasting cedar topped by a hand-hammered, galvanized metal roof, which is insulated to protect birds from the heat. The entrance holes are sized to invite in small nesting birds, like chickadees or finches, but keep out predators and “undesirables,”  like starlings.

“We don’t want anything to get in to hurt the eggs or the chicks,” Jon says. “I did a lot of research about making a birdhouse that is usable by birds. I wanted to make sure that the materials were friendly to the birds, as well as the design.”

That being said, his part is the easy one, Jon insists, crediting his wife and business partner, Marilu, with creating — by hand — the decorations that festoon the houses, adornments that are carefully chosen and arranged to portray a particular subject matter or motif: There are coastal-themed birdhouses, complete with shells from the sea, driftwood from the beach, and Marilu’s quirky interpretation of a pelican. A farm-themed house features real straw, artfully strewn around a cow and a chicken.  There are trains, frogs, cactus, and a moose. One piece, a particularly tall edifice entitled Flying High in the Vineyard, features a tiny table with miniature wineglasses and a dainty loaf of French bread.

Standing in front of an array of these avian domiciles, the viewer understands the quandary of whether to hang the work up outside, for the birds to enjoy, or keep it inside, where human decor preferences prevail. One hopes that a happy compromise be established, and as it is recommended that the houses be brought in during the winter months, peace between species should prevail.

Flying high with wineglasses birdhouse by wenaha gallery artists papa jon's fly inns

Look on your left, and see if you can spot the wineglasses, the little bottle of wine, and that bird-sized loaf of bread. Flying High in the Vineyard by Papa Jon’s Fly Inns.

Started nine years ago as a means of supplementing their retirement, Jon and Marilu’s part-time project quickly grew into one that can take all the time they’re willing to give to it. Initially, they exhibited in art fairs and garden shows throughout the Northwest, but since moving to Dayton from Olympia five years ago, they have scaled back, and keep busy enough fulfilling orders from people who find Papa Jon’s Fly Inns at their Etsy shop, or who discover them at Wenaha Gallery in Dayton.

Over the years, Jon and Marilu’s’ birdhouse sculptures have won numerous awards, including Best of Show at Allied Arts Art in the Park in Richland and the Apple Blossom Festival in Wenatchee,  and Judge’s Choice at Issaqua Salmon Days and the Chelan Fine Arts Show.

Oddly, or maybe not, the couple does not keep their birdhouses on their own country property, adjoining the Touchet River a few miles out of  town.  One would think that the birds would be delighted with such a setting. Jon agrees, but explains, “I’ve kept a few birdhouses up at our place in the past, but I don’t tend to do that now because I end up selling them.”

So birds at his place, unfortunately, must scrabble together a home on their own, without a table, wineglasses, and a loaf of bread.

“Our art is created with a sense of humor and light heartedness,” Marilu says. “There’s a sense of adventure: life and art should be fun and colorful.”

Gallery artists at Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, Jon and Marilu Bryan of Papa Jon’s Fly Inns are the featured Pacific Northwest artists for Art Event, a three-week showcasing of their works, beginning Monday, March 31, at the gallery. Bryans’ Art Event runs through Monday, April 21, 2014.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.  

Fusing Psychology with Spirituality — The Art of Denise Elizabeth Stone

rock visions watercolor painting by wenaha gallery artist Denise Elizabeth Stone

Rock Visions: The Shape of Things to Come by Denise Elizabeth Stone

We’ve all heard of the artist’s Muse. While some artists credit (or blame) an outside source of inspiration for their work – whether it is one of the classical Greek goddesses or an actual human being – painter Denise Elizabeth Stone of La Grande, OR, interacts with a unique, physical muse, consisting of the very materials that she uses.

Stone’s signature medium, batik watercolor, is an intricate process that integrates handmade Asian papers, beeswax, watercolor or gouache, and ink to create what Stone describes as “creative descendants of traditional silk and cotton batik fabrics.”

Viewers find Stone’s work to be richly colorful, exuberant, and full of texture. Due to the batik watercolor process, which involves painting on the paper, coating it with a paraffin/beeswax mixture, crumpling the paper to crack the wax, ink washing, and ironing the wax out, Stone never knows exactly what she will find at the end of the process.

“Paint behaves very differently on the Asian papers,” Stone explains, “Sometimes, it’s almost like painting on tissue paper – the paint spreads out, and it’s hard to control.

“You have to accept that this is a joint creation between you, the paint, and the paper.”

It’s almost as if there were a psychology to the process, which is not an inapt description, given Stone’s career background as a psychotherapist and vocational rehabilitation counselor.  Upon moving to Oregon, Stone retired from her day job in order to pursue art fulltime, and she credits her experience and training in the world of psychology as definite influences in her art.

Artist Denise Elizabeth Stone

“I have taken the long road to full-time art, a scenic route winding through the vistas of science, spiritual studies, and psychology,” Stone says. “As a former psychotherapist, I have an abiding interest in the psychological nature of transformation, archetype, and the Divine Feminine.”

Ideas for Stone’s paintings often begin as dreams or sudden revelations, with images of trees, caves, birds, fish or other animals being prominent. While not seeking to convey a specific message of spirituality, Stone aims to express a feeling of sacredness and connectedness, reflecting her tremendous respect and reverence for the natural world. Because the essence of Stone’s art incorporates universal symbolism, viewers find themselves drawn into a story, one that often expresses a common human experience.

Primarily self-taught, Stone has taken classes and workshops in art, and she finds continued inspiration through her association with the Batik Convergence, a collaboration of four fulltime artists who specialize in the batik watercolor medium.

“The BatCons provide constructive critiques, invaluable support, and wild and wacky ideas!” Stone says. “They give me that extra little push to create, to try something new, to stretch in new directions.”

Dance of Sun and Sea original painting by wenaha gallery artist Denise Elizabeth Stone

Dance of Sun and Sea by Denise Elizabeth Stone

Stone has exhibited her work in shows and exhibitions throughout Oregon and in Washington, and she has received numerous awards, including Second Place at the 2013 Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts, a competitively juried exhibition drawing the top artists of the Oregon/Washington/Idaho region. Her very first award, at Baker City’s Art at the Crossroads, is her most memorable, as it included Honorable Mention for one painting and People’s Choice for another.

“It just knocked my socks off!” Stone remembers. “I have received different awards since then, but this first one was the biggest thrill because it was so unexpected.”

Stone shows her work online at www.therowdygoddess.com, a name she chose to remind herself to not be afraid to shake things up a bit. Professionally, she uses her full name, Denise Elizabeth Stone, in honor of her grandmother, whose middle name is Elizabeth as well, and also in honor of her mother, who named her for strong women.

A gallery artist at Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, Stone is the featured Pacific Northwest artist for Art Event, a two-week showcasing of her works, beginning Monday, March 17, at the gallery. Stone’s Art Event runs through Monday, March 31.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

The Art Event — Focusing on Pacific Northwest Artists

Our feature arena, immediately to your right as you walk in the front door, is the place to find Art Event’s Pacific Northwest Artist.

When someone says the words, “Pacific Northwest,” what image immediately comes to mind?

Coffee.

Seattle, WA.

Evergreen trees.

Artists.

In an area known for individualism, creativity, and hard work, the Pacific Northwest attracts artists with a style and attitude as unique as the area they live in. At the Wenaha Gallery, we are celebrating these gifted individuals with our Art Event — Showcasing Our Pacific Northwest Artists.

Every two weeks, we will single out one of our talented Pacific Northwest artists,  featuring a selection of their work in our designated showcase arena, immediately to your right as you walk through the front door of the gallery. Each event lasts two weeks, and is an excellent opportunity to learn about an area artist and his or her artwork — oil paintings, watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, wood sculpture, metal work, jewelry, ceramic, pottery. We represent a large and growing selection of work by Pacific Northwest artists from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana.

Follow us on Facebook and this blog to find out who will be coming when, and what art will be featured.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available.

Wenaha Gallery