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high jumper fosbury flop kessie lewis

Fosbury Flop — Sweet Success in Bronze

high jumper fosbury flop kessie lewis

In the foreground, The High Jumper, by Larry Kessie; in the background, You Can Fly by Clay Lewis. The athlete is jumping with technique called Fosbury Flop.

Nobody embraces or welcomes bad experiences.

But here’s an odd thing about bad experiences: sometimes they produce sweet fruit.

high jumper bronze statue fosbury flop larry kessie

The High Jumper, bronze statue by Larry Kessie, captures the competitor just as he begins to leave the ground.

That’s what Clay Lewis and Larry Kessie, both of Richland, WA, discovered, years after they were in fifth grade together, and one of them was wrongfully accused of misappropriating a pencil. Through efforts to punish the alleged miscreant, their teacher unfortunately exacerbated a deplorable situation into a traumatic one, the results of which stayed with both men well into their adulthood.

Seeking Closure and Finding Friendship

“Even though Clay and I attended Kennewick High School together, we had not linked up until a few years ago, through the common denominator of my wife who had worked with him and urged me to have a discussion on how that event had affected me,” Kessie remembers.  “When we did link up, I found that it had negative impacts on Clay’s life as well.”

The result of this meeting was unexpected and . . . sweet. Not only did both men move toward closure of a negative experience, they opened up a novel, exciting chapter in their lives. As their newly revived friendship grew, they embarked, together, on an unforeseen direction: bronze sculpture and something called The Fosbury Flop.

The Fosbury Flop

Neither man had sculpted before. Kessie worked 35 years as an architect. Lewis’s career took him into coaching track and field, where he achieved a reputation as a guru of high jumping, most notably in the technique known as the Fosbury Flop.

you can fly fosbury flop clay lewis bronze statue

You Can Fly, bronze statue by Clay Lewis. It captures the high jumper just as he is clearing the bar. The backwards leap is the Fosbury Flop.

This backwards leaping technique, named after Dick Fosbury, who jumped 7’4.25″ to win the Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympics, captured the attention of then 16-year-old Clay Lewis. He taught himself this new unique style of high jumping, and was soon recognized as one of the first Fosbury floppers in Washington State. As years went by, Lewis —  inducted in 2009 into the Washington State Hall of Fame for coaches — found himself speaking at a number of Northwest track clinics, giving specifics on how to do the Fosbury flop. As a visual aid, he was limited to using Barbie dolls to demonstrate the technique, and for varying reasons, was frustrated with the limitations Barbie invoked. He was looking for a better visual aid that wasn’t quite so . . . distracting.

A Life-Changing Idea

That’s when Kessie had an idea, and the two men started on their journey into the world of bronze sculpture.

“I bought two human armatures, some clay, and a lot of anatomy books, and we got started on creating the coaching aid Clay needed,” Kessie remembers.

larry kessie sculptor high jumper fosbury flop bronze

Larry Kessie, architect and sculptor of The High Jumper

“We both had no idea where this was going, or how they were going to turn out. We each selected independent positions of the jumper so that Clay would have two independent aids.”

Kessie’s sculpture, The High Jumper, focuses on the jumper just before he leaps; Lewis’s work, You Can Fly, catches him mid-air, clearing the bar. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, because that’s when the sculptures were done. Getting there took a lot of time, effort, researching, and determination.

“Our learning curve was very steep,” Kessie says.

“Correct form and musculature were very important to both of us. We continually reviewed the anatomy through pictures and anatomy books for artists and sculptures. We also used YouTube extensively.”

But . . .

“We found that the clay sculptures were developing in a manner not anticipated.”

Unsure of the direction things were going, Lewis invited a local international artist friend to give the two friends feedback on the project.

“The artist’s summary blew us away in that he compared our statues to some of the best he has seen professionally,” Kessie recalls. “He was amazed that it was our first sculptures, and there were two of them at that level.”

From Visual Aid to Bronze Sculpture

That was the encouragement they needed, and Kessie and Lewis advanced from clay prototypes to deciding to have their work cast into bronze at Valley Bronze in Joseph, OR. That move opened up a whole new dimension to their project, and the resulting art pieces encouraged them to broaden their horizons beyond a visual teaching aid —  because one thing they discovered upon receiving the finished sculptures is that large bronze works, with stands and tables upon which to place them, are cumbersome to transport from coaching clinic to clinic. It’s not impossible, just difficult, and there are better alternatives:

clay lewis coach hall fame sculptor fosbury flop

Clay Lewis, 2009 inductee into the Washington State Hall of Fame for coaches. He is the sculptor of the bronze, You Can Fly.

“I photographed both sculptures and have shown them to my track athletes,” Lewis says. “What I have found is, coaches and athletes are getting inspired by just seeing a photo as well as the fact that we created something that represents what they love.

“To quote one coach, ‘They are jaw dropping.’

“They do take apart and transport okay, but we don’t want them to flop, drop and break. So for the most part I will use the photos of the works.”

And the works themselves? They are now limited edition art pieces, with a 25 run for each. Each man is planning a second sculpture, as they continue walking on the new adventure path of marketing the first ones. They hope to inspire not only athletes, but anyone with a dream and desire.

The Sweet Fruit of Fine Art

“This experience, this sculpting journey has been what ‘art’ is supposed to be, at least in my mind,” Kessie says. “Art is integral with the culture of life.”

Lewis agrees.

“The sculptures represent a life changing time in one’s life who has had the experience of jumping. It is an emotional but gratifying time in our lives.

“To jump over a person’s own head is not a normal thing to do.

“We’re hoping that the sculptures will spark not only an interest in track and field, but in art and sculpture.

“It’s fun, rewarding, and therapeutic.”

Not to mention, sweet.

Wenaha GalleryLarry Kessie and Clay Lewis are the featured Art Event artists from May 11 to June 7, with both of their sculptures on display, and for sale, at the gallery.

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

 

 

 

Rock and Stone — The Sculpture of Sandra Matthews-Sarve

perfect pair birds stone carving sandra sarve

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

We see them every day.

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

They’re rocks.

carved rock by road mother child sarve carving

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

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

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

The Value of Rock

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

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

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

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

petal soapstone carved rock pot sarve

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

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

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

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

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

She Does Not Limit Herself

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

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

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

dancer carved stone garden ornament sarve

Dancer, carved stone garden ornament by Sandra Matthews-Sarve

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

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

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

Intrinsic Value

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

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

“Most things can be useful or beautiful.

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

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

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

 

rainbow trout fish carved wooden sculpture art tom schirm

Fish Tales: Wooden Sculptures by Tom Schirm

When Tom Schirm tells a fish story, it’s not your usual Big One That Got Away tale.

Schirm, a habitat biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin counties, has spent 35 years of his professional career protecting fish and wildlife. For this reason, many of his fish stories have to do with poachers. Lately, however, an increasing number of his tales have to do with the more pleasant topic of woodcarving. Schirm uses his knowledge of fish, their habitat, and their unique markings, and turns this into sculpture.

golden trout fish wooden sculpture tom schirm

Golden Trout, wooden fish sculpture by Walla Walla artist Tom Schirm.

It all started in the mid-1990s when Schirm was working as a game warden in Wyoming.

Fishing for a Hobby

“A girlfriend asked if there was anything I would like to do as a hobby besides hunt and fish. Since I chased poachers, and dealt with hunting and fishing in my job all the time, she thought some other hobby might be good.”

So . . . Schirm decided to carve fish. He started with a book, bought by the girlfriend, by Bob Berry, considered the father of the fish carving art form.

“I played around with it for many years, but started to get serious about improving and carving more compositions in 2008,” the Dayton artist says.

Using both hand and power tools, Schirm works with exotic sounding woods like tupelo, jelutong, or basswood. Prized for their softness for carving, they are also prone to splintering. This adds to the challenge and beauty of the final work, Schirm says.

Scraps Schirm converts into rocks and other habitat components. The finished markings – a detail to which Schirm pays assiduous attention – he hand paints and airbrushes in acrylic paint.

Depending upon the sculpture size, each lifesize fish takes anywhere from 60 to 200 intense, careful, concentrated hours. Working primarily on commission, Schirm has sold works to collectors throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as Wyoming and Iowa.

Rescuing a Prized Catch

“I remember one buyer who came to me with a damaged taxidermy mount of a big Smallmouth Bass his father had caught many years before,” Schirm says.

“Most of the fins were broken or missing, and his father had thrown it away.

“He took it from the garbage and asked if I could replicate it in wood, and do a composition including the lure his father had caught it with.

“It was about a 7-pound Smallmouth Bass. I broke two saw blades and nearly burned up my band saw cutting such a thick fish shape out of the block of wood.

“However, it turned out well, and his father was surprised and happy.”

white sturgeon fish wooden sculpture tom schirm

White Sturgeon, wooden fish sculpture by Walla Walla artist Tom Schirm

Five years ago, Schirm tested the waters, so to speak, of woodcarving competitions, and the result has been one to please both fisherman and artist. At his very first competition, the Artistry in Wood Show in Kennewick, Schirm walked away with First Place in Class, Best of Division, and the People’s Choice Award.

Shortly thereafter he entered national shows. In 2017 at the World Fish Carving Championships, sponsored by the leading taxidermy journal, Breakthrough Magazine, he garnered first, second, and third place prizes. This spring at the same competition, Schirm’s Westslope Cutthroat Trout took the Open (Top Level) Decorative Lifesize, Third in the World Award.

Westslope cutthroat trout sculpture tom schirm

The Westslope Cutthroat Trout wooden fish sculpture, winner of multiple national awards, by Tom Schirm

“One Special Fish”

The prizes for the Westslope Cutthroat Trout are especially meaningful because of another fish story in Schirm’s repertoire. Created for a colleague, the sculpture was meant for the colleague’s wife who had always wanted such an artwork, but unexpectedly passed away before it could be completed. Schirm borrowed the piece back for the 2018 and 2019 competitions.

“That’s one special fish,” the sculpture’s owner says.

Over the years, Schirm has carved 103 fish, and he is nowhere near being done – neither with the carving nor the entering of competitions. His next major goal is to win Judge’s Choice and Best of Show at a future World Fish Carving Championship.

But his constant goal, with each and every composition, is to re-create a snapshot in time of the fish within its natural environment.

“I want to show the beauty of nature and the complexity of creation,” Schirm says.

“My goal is to create the finest examples of fish sculptures I can.

“I enjoy it when someone thinks a composition is a real fish, or when a customer smiles with happiness when they receive their fish sculpture.”

Those are fish stories well worth telling.

Wenaha GalleryTom Schirm is the Featured Art Event from Monday, June 17, through Saturday, July 13 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.

 

cow baby calf farm animal david partridge oil painter artist

Partridge and Soap — Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Art

cow baby calf farm animal david partridge oil painter artist

Cow, original oil painting by Walla Walla artist David Partridge. In addition to painting, Partridge also creates metal sculpture, woodcarving, and tooled leatherwork.

David Partridge’s 60 years (and counting) as an artist started with a fourth grade art assignment and a bar of soap. Or rather, the lack of a bar of soap.

“We were told to carve a buffalo out of soap, but my family did not have the money for a bar of Ivory Soap,” the Walla Walla oil painter recalls of his childhood in rural Idaho.

“The teacher, Mrs. Hill, wanted to know what I was going to do for a grade. I told her I was going to do a painting of a buffalo.”

hooked fish spotted trout david partridge oil painting art

Hooked Fish, original oil painting by Walla Walla artist, David Partridge.

“Amazed” upon seeing the completed watercolor, Mrs. Hill framed and hung the work in the school trophy case for a year. Partridge, encouraged and emboldened by the experience, began incorporating art studies and artwork in all his grade school and high school classes. As an adult in the early 1960s, he took advantage of two six-month tours for the Navy in Naples, Italy, to learn oil painting techniques from local artists.

Millwright Partridge

And then later, during a 33-year career as a journeyman millwright with Boise Cascade, he honed his art skills, both two- and three-dimensional, at every opportunity.

“The meaning of the word ‘millwright‘ comes from making the mill right, so my job was to keep Boise Cascade running properly and to fix anything that was broken,” Partridge explains. The welding skills he developed to both fix broken things and create new ones — such as catwalks and handrails — now translate into metal art sculptures, many of which incorporate horseshoes in their design.

Colleagues and management at the mill, when they noticed Partridge’s ability to draw, increasingly approached him with art-based projects and jobs.

colorful bear animal wildlife david partridge oil painting artist

Colorful Bear, original oil painting by David Partridge of Walla Walla.

“Boise Cascade commissioned me to do as many paintings as I could do in thirty days for the new human resource building,” Partridge remembers. They also commissioned him to paint a mural depicting how paper is made, create coloring books for children on safety issues at the mill, and develop the image for Gus the Goose, the mascot for the Wallula Paper Mill. Engineers at the plant asked him to make drawings of projects so they would have an idea of what the job would look like when it was done.

Painting Partridge

Outside the mill, Partridge painted western landscape and wildlife scenes, which he showed and sold throughout the Northwest. In the 1990s, he joined a group of artists who worked with the late Idaho artist Robert Thomas to paint the murals on Main Street in Dayton. Upon retirement from Boise Cascade, Partridge plunged full time into art, varying what he does with the seasons: in the winter, he paints, carves wood, and tools leather; in the warm months he welds, sculpts, and builds covered wagons reflecting the 19th century. His latest summer project is a doctor’s buggy fashioned from white oak. The wheels, made out of hickory, took two years to complete.

barn country farm ranch rural david partridge oil painting art

Barn, original oil painting by Walla Walla artist David Partridge.

“I like to change what I do so I don’t get tired of the same medium,” Partridge says.

Hundreds of Paintings

Over the years, Partridge estimates, he has done hundreds of paintings, including a large image of an elk that hung for years at the former Walla Walla Elks Lodge on Rose Street. Locally, he has shown at various Walla Walla businesses and The Little Theatre, and served as a coordinator for a Fort Walla Walla western art show. His most memorable award to date is the Grumbacher Award for best use of color, which he received at a Milton-Freewater art competition.

But what is most satisfying, Partridge says, is challenging himself to do new things and create artwork that others enjoy.

“To brighten just one person’s day with a form of art — that is why I paint. I love having the opportunity to take a small portion of what surrounds us every day and put it on canvas for people to enjoy.”

And to think that it all started, really, because of an inability to buy a bar of soap, and Mrs. Hill’s insistence that the problem, somehow, be solved.

Whatever happened, by the way, to that very first painting that launched it all?

“I gave it to Mrs. Hill.”

Wenaha GalleryDavid Partridge is the Featured Art Event from Monday, May 6 through Saturday, June 1 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.

 

Metal (and Horse) Lover: The Steel Sculpture of Anne Behlau

forkupine porcupine fork steel metal sculpture anne behlau art

Forkupine — a metal sculpture of a porcupine fashioned from forks. Steel metal sculpture by Anne Behlau of Milton-Freewater, OR

If you ever have a run-in with a porcupine, you’ll probably remember the experience. Anne Behlau certainly has.

“When I was a six-year-old child, a porcupine came into the tent I was sleeping in with my brother on a mountain pack trip,” the Milton-Freewater metal artist recalls.

“It ate the tops out of my cowboy boots.”

horse equine metal steel sculpture anne behlau art

Metal Horse, steel sculpture art by Milton-Freewater artist Anne Behlau

Years later Behlau, who creates steel sculpture from found, repurposed, and recycled metal, fashioned a forkupine, a whimsical, 3-D statuette of a porcupine created from forks.

A Family History of Metal and Blacksmithing

A retired registered nurse, Behlau grew up on small farms, and has been involved with animals all her life. As a young adult she moved to Dayton and raised four children on a 100-acre farm on the North Touchet, and after the kids grew and flew, went back to school for her RN degree. After 27 years of working in the medical field, she retired and turned to the welder, torch, and blacksmith forge. She now also trolls through salvage yards, junk piles, yard sales, and farms looking for metal materials to transform into her art.

“My father was a blacksmith and farrier,” Behlau explains. “My brothers continued the tradition as well as my nephew.

“Since there was such a strong family tradition of blacksmithing, I was drawn to metal work utilizing welder, torch, and forge.”

There is a learning curve, she says. In the three years she has been honing her skills with her tools, she has encountered challenges along the way.

Red Hot Metal

“Working with red hot metal can be tricky and painful at times if you are not careful,” Behlau says. “The upside of working with metal is that, unlike with wood, if you cut it wrong or put it together wrong, it is very forgiving.

small scotty dog animal sculpture metal steeel anne behlau art

Small Scotty Dog, metal sculpture by Anne Behlau, artist from Milton-Freewater, OR

“It can be cut apart and rewelded until it looks how you want it. It just takes patience and persistence . . . which I have a lot of.”

Citing a love for all things cowboy, Behlau expresses enthusiasm for creating metal sculptures of horses, ranging from the whimsical to serious.

“I have a lifelong love for horses. I’ve competed in horse shows, trained horses, team roped, barrel raced, and ridden in endurance rides.”

While raising her children, she threw herself and them into 4-H and FFA. Nowadays, that love for horses comes out in the work of her hands.

metal rose steel sculpture art anne behlau

Yellow Rose, metal sculpture by Milton-Freewater artist Anne Behlau.

Behlau does not limit herself to equine subjects, however. All farm and ranch animals, as well as porcupines, attract her interest, along with flowers, people, and graphic design shapes. Her two Scotty dog pets provide constant inspiration, and she has created a 30-pound Scotty sculpture using sections of heavy walled metal pipe, as well as a tiny Scotty, fashioned from a railroad spike. People who see both sculptures express surprise over what makes up the finished product.

Turning Metal Scraps into Art

From forks to garden tools, from scraps of farm machinery to old horseshoes, they all find themselves with new life in a new shape, after a little bit (or quite a lot, actually) of heat and inspiration. What Behlau ultimately creates depends upon the materials she has gathered, along with ideas she picks up from the Internet, personalized by her own spin.

Working out of an unattached shop/garage at her Milton-Freewater home, Behlau markets her work as Anvil Annie Metal Art. She has sold her pieces as a vendor at festivals, through her Facebook page, and at Hamley & Company Saddle and Western Store in Pendleton, OR. Learning as she goes with “a little instruction along the way,” she never quite knows what she will make next, but is certain that it will reflect her love for country and for country life: its people, its animals, its lifestyle.

“My art,” Behlau muses, “is inspired by things that are deep in my heart.”

Wenaha GalleryAnne Behlau is the Featured Art Event from Monday, March 25 through Saturday, April 20 at Wenaha Gallery. She will be at the gallery Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a special Spring Art Show, where she will be joined by Kennewick photographer John Clement and Dayton jewelry and nostalgia journal artist Dawn Moriarty.

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.

 

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.

Felted wool vessels and table runners by Sally Reichlin of Olympia

Fiber Finesse — The Felted Wool Art of Sally Reichlin

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

Felted wool vessels and table runners by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

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

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

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

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Framed felted wool art piece by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Framed, felted wool art piece by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

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

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

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

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

Felted wool vessel by Olympia fiber artist Sally Reichlin

Felted wool vessel by fiber artist Sally Reichlin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit the gallery today!

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

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

Public and Private Art — The Metal Sculpture of Joseph Rastovich

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

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

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

Lady Tree, side table furniture, by Joseph Rastovich

Lady Tree, side table furniture, by Joseph Rastovich

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

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

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

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

Tree of Zen, wall art by Joseph Rastovich

Tree of Zen, wall art by Joseph Rastovich

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

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

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

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

Vortex sculpture by Joseph Rastovich

Vortex sculpture by Joseph Rastovich

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

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

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

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

“I create art to provide relief from normalcy.

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

“What was empty space becomes a place for inspiration.

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

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

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

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sitting Lady, Clay sculpture by Penny Michel

Sitting Lady, Clay sculpture by Penny Michel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small Green Fish, Clay sculpture by Penny Michel

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

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

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

Ice Woman III and Ice Woman IV by Penny Michel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

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

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

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

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

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

An altar design and pulpit by Ben Czyhold

An altar design and pulpit by Ben Czyhold

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

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

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

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

Bracelet by Judy Czyhold

Bracelet by Judy Czyhold

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

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

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

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

Ben Czyhold in his blacksmith shop

Ben Czyhold in his blacksmith shop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.