The Incredibly Hardworking, and Beautiful, Lazy Susan — Granite Art by Terry Hoon

Black flecks and tan lines create a pattern across a white-based, granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon
Black flecks and tan lines create a pattern across a white-based, granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon

This is the story of a man, an aggregation of igneous rock, and a fictitious household servant who would have lived, if she existed, in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

The man’s name is Terry Hoon, a lifetime resident of Dayton who is presently retired from the seed processing department at Seneca. At one time, he wrangled as a steer wrestler for the Walla Walla Community College Rodeo Team.

A background of dark green is enhanced by lighter tones of tan and grey. Granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon.
A background of dark green is enhanced by lighter tones of tan and grey. Granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon.

The aggregation of rock is granite, what is called an “intrusive rock,” meaning that it is crystallized when molten material — magma — flows, cools, and solidifies underground. Many of us associate it with high-end kitchen counter tops, and we are drawn to its myriad colors, which the Minerals Education Coalition describes as pink or red (from feldspar), dark brown or black (from mica), clear pink, white, or black (from quartz).

And the servant? Her name is Susan, and despite being known for her indolence — Lazy Susan — she is surprisingly ubiquitous and useful: she is a revolving stand, made of wood, stone,  or other elements, that we set in the middle of the table (to hold condiments), next to the bathroom sink (to hold personal care items), inside a cupboard, or basically anyplace where we have a number of disparate items that we want to easily reach. Indeed, so serviceable is the Lazy Susan, that it seems unkind to denigrate her so.

And so, in this story, we don’t.

The man, Terry Hoon, was visiting his youngest daughter when he saw a Lazy Susan, crafted from granite, on the table. Inspired by its beauty, he went home and made one, and then, because he had a variety of granite available to him, he made another, and another. As useful as Lazy Susans are, however, one can only use so many of them, so he began to give his shaped, polished, and shining creations to friends and family. Eventually, they convinced him to get serious about selling his rock artwork.

With smooth polished edges, this black granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with gold-colored highlights
With smooth polished edges, this black granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with gold-colored highlights

“I got started with some rock given to me by a friend, and now I have a distributor that I work with,” Hoon says. “I choose the pieces that interest me and haul them home myself.”

From there, the rock’s final shape is determined by a chisel or a rock saw, depending upon whether Hoon wants a jagged, craggy edge or a smooth, polished one. Many times, the rock makes the final decision, splitting where it splits, and following a natural line that is not evident until pressure is applied. Each piece is as unique and beautiful as the granite itself, which, come to think of it, is a good way to view other human beings — like servants, for example, whether or not they live in the 17th century or today, and regardless of their appellation.

Almost coal black, this granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with lighter highlights
Almost coal black, this granite Lazy Susan by Terry Hoon is flecked with lighter highlights

“It’s a great mystery,” where the name comes from, according to Sarah Coffin, head of product design and decorative arts department at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, in an interview with L.A. Times writer, Bettijane Levine.

Probably created as a replacement for diminishing household help, Lazy Susans may have found their permanent name through a 1917 Vanity Fair advertisement for Ovington’s, a no longer extant New York department store. The 16-inch, mahogany table top tray mounted on ball bearings is described as follows:

“$8.50 forever seems an impossibly low wage for a good servant; and yet here you are; Lazy Susan, the cleverest waitress in the world, at your service!”

And so she continues to be, in an age when familiarity with household servants, for most people, extends to characters in Masterpiece Theater’s Upstairs, Downstairs, or Downton Abbey. But all of us can own a Lazy Susan, and thanks to Hoon, she can be elegant, tough, classy, artistic, unique, serviceable, and extremely hardworking as well.

“I choose the pieces of rock that appeal to me,” Hoon says. “I just pick what I think is pretty.”

Pretty. That’s such a better  description than “lazy.”

Wenaha GalleryTerry Hoon is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, February 22 through Saturday, March 26.

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.

 

 

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Creating Art Is Such a Joy — The Watercolor Art of Meredith Dedman

Dancing Coneflowers, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Meredith Dedman
Dancing Coneflowers, original watercolor by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Meredith Dedman

So often, it is the small, inconsequential things that make lasting effects on our lives. For watercolor painter Meredith Dedman, her feet were instrumental in choosing the medium of her art.

Hibiscus Blossom, original watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Meredith Dedman
Hibiscus Blossom, original watercolor painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Meredith Dedman

“About 15 years ago, I decided to learn more about art and began taking regular classes,” the Dayton painter remembers. “These classes happened in the evening, after work, and rather than painting with the oils that I had dabbled with a few years back, I chose watercolor.

“Watercolorists sat down to paint, and I was too tired from working all day to think about standing for two hours at an easel.

“Turned out to be a good decision regardless of how silly the reasons were.”

In pursuit of mastery, Dedman took one to two evening classes in the Florida area for 10 years, haunted the local watercolor society, built up a library of how-to and fine art books, and attended workshops by nationally acclaimed artists like Sue Archer, Ann Pember, Tom Jones, Pat Weaver, Diane Maxey, and Karlyn Holman. By the time she moved to the Pacific Northwest 10 years ago, she was confident enough to instruct others, and takes in local students at her studio, a “happy space” with triple French doors, east facing windows, and a generous amount of cupboards to store supplies.

Tangles, by Meredith Dedman
Tangles, by Meredith Dedman

Dedman is generous about passing on what she has learned and is still learning, and one of her major messages is that of encouragement.

“Since I have been using watercolor almost exclusively for the past few years I can tell you that watercolor is not as unforgiving as most people think,” Dedman says. For little “mistakes,” gently scrubbing with a damp dry brush often does the trick, but some techniques are more forceful:

“I have seen people take a garden hose and wash most of the paint off the paper.” Not inside the studio, by the way.

Peacock, mixed media original painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Meredith Dedman
Peacock, mixed media original painting by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Meredith Dedman

While watercolor is and remains a true love, Dedman is continually exploring, and the last few years has forayed into acrylic, colored pencil, and pastel, in this latter endeavor seeking out the expertise of former Walla Walla artist, Bonnie Griffith. When it comes to subject matter, Dedman embraces it all, as enthusiastic about still life as she is landscapes, ready to tackle animals immediately after focusing on houses, or florals, or collage.

“Creating art is such a joy,” she says. “To have an idea, devise a plan, attack a piece of paper or canvas with brush and paint — then you watch magic happen as the paint colors mingle and begin to tell the story you imagined.”

Ideas for the next painting join a mental queue while she is working on the current one, and as the co-founder, with Vivian McCauley, of the area’s Blue Mountain Artists’ Guild, Dedman produces a work each month in line with the group’s theme — a color (red, say, for Valentine’s Day), concept (patriotism, for July 4), or material object (vintage cars, celebrated during Dayton’s All Wheels Weekend). Lately, influenced by workshops given by Karlyn Holman, an internationally recognized artist, instructor, and author, Dedman has been incorporating textured papers, pencil, and crayon into multi-media creations.

Heart of the Woods, original watercolor by Meredith Dedman
Heart of the Woods, original watercolor by Meredith Dedman

“When I first began painting, I felt I had to stick to one medium in order to be successful,” Dedman reflects.

“As a result, I was very rigid in my ideas about art and good painting. But fortunately, I was shown that art can and should be fun, as long as a person doesn’t take themselves too seriously.”

One is serious, yet not too serious: the idea is to pursue excellence, yet cut oneself some slack when things don’t happen the way expected or envisioned, which describes a lot of life, actually.

“The process can be as simple as making marks on paper that are pleasing to a viewer,” Dedman says.

“I simply try to capture the beauty and color in the world around me and capture a moment in time with the filters of my eyes, rather than the lens of a camera.”

Wenaha GalleryMeredith Dedman is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, February 8 through Saturday, March 12. There will be an artist’s reception Saturday, February 20, from 1-4 p.m. at the gallery, during which time we invite you to meet and greet the artist, as well as enjoy free refreshments.

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.

Useful and Usable Sculpture — The Artisan Soap of Walla Walla Soap Works

The unique shape, colors, and scent combinations of Walla Walla Soap Works soap is testament to the artisan flair of its creators, Jesse and Scooter Johnston
The unique shape, colors, and scent combinations of Walla Walla Soap Works soap is testament to the artisan flair of its creators, Jesse and Scooter Johnston

Babylon.

Buried deep within the mists of time, this ancient civilization sends forth its tendrils to touch contemporary society, its effect felt in our religious, scientific, financial, and literary realms. Babylon brings to mind astrology, astronomy, the Code of Hammurabi, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and . . . soap.

Individual bars from Walla Walla Soap Works start out as part of a long log, which itself is cut from a larger shape.
Individual bars from Walla Walla Soap Works start out as part of a long log, which itself is cut from a larger shape.

And while this latter, soap, is not majestic, like the legendary hanging gardens that King Nebuchadnezzar II created for his foreign wife, it’s still around, a 5,000 year-old chemical wonder of fats blended with alkaline salts that in today’s society, approaches an art form. At Walla Walla Soap Works, a family-run business that creates Artisan soaps from luxuriant ingredients that would have been the envy of ancient monarchs, soap is practical, but it is beautiful as  well.

Large wooden trays hold and display the useful, usable soap sculptures of Walla Walla Soap Works
Large wooden trays hold and display the useful, usable soap sculptures of Walla Walla Soap Works

“We get a lot of questions about the unique shape of our soaps,” says Jesse Johnston, co-owner of the business with his wife Scooter, both of whom have been creating this ancient yet modern marvel for 20 years. The couple’s signature Artisan Bar — rectangular with sworls and peaks across the top like frosting —  is like no shape one will find in a store, or even among other artisan soap makers.

“In our early days of soap making, the shape really didn’t matter as it was  purely for our family use,” Johnston explains. “But when we began selling it, we obviously cared  more about its  appearance and quickly became frustrated when our cut bars weren’t the perfect rectangles that soap is ‘supposed’ to be.

And while it looks good enough to eat, the soap from Walla Walla Soap Works feeds the skin with premium, luxury oils such as Shea, mango and cocoa butters, and oils like avocado and hemp
And while it looks good enough to eat, the soap from Walla Walla Soap Works feeds the skin with premium, luxury oils such as Shea, mango and cocoa butters, and oils like avocado and hemp

“When we decided to peak the top a bit to help it appear less uneven, this proved to be the best thing ever, as once you free yourself from the box you really feel the creativity take over.”

Creativity abounds in an endeavor that includes not only Jesse and Scooter’s energy, but that of their now-grown children as well. What began as a personal search for a product that didn’t trigger skin allergies of various family members, has grown into a venture, and adventure, of color, scent, form and formulation. The resulting products range from soaps with names (and corresponding coloration) like Cranberry Fig and Mango Mandarin, to embossed squares incorporating wine as the liquid, to Bar None, the unscented, non-colored bar that is a consistent top seller.

“It’s appreciated by so many others who have sensitive skin,” Johnston says.

With each family member contributing unique strengths and perspective, Walla Walla Soap Works produces soap all year round from the Johnston’s dedicated home studio, individual batches of 40-80 bars requiring a three to six week “cure” before the soap is ready for final sale. Regular vendors at the Walla Walla Farmers Market since 2007, Jesse and Scooter also sell retail through holiday craft shows and online, wholesale throughout the state, and coast to coast at natural grocery stores and gift shops.

Printed with vegetable-based inks, the packaging of Walla Walla Soap Works reflects the owners commitment to natural products and ingredients
Printed with vegetable-based inks, the packaging of Walla Walla Soap Works reflects the owners commitment to natural products and ingredients

“We’ve had customers take it as gifts to Japan, Canada, Australia, England, France, Germany, Mexico, Iceland, and Scotland,” Jesse says.

As artistically pleasing — and unusual — that the shape of the Johnston’s bar is, this very distinctiveness led to challenges when it came to packaging. How does one protect, and display, such an odd shape?

“The more traditionally used cigar-style paper wrap labels, plastics, and boxes just really didn’t make sense with these fun soaps,” Jesse says. The paper labels didn’t protect, the plastic didn’t allow the soap to breathe, and both plastic and paper boxes created more waste than the Johnstons were comfortable with.

“It seemed crazy to create a product so good for the skin but at a cost to the environment,” Jesse observes.

So, as they have done from the beginning, the family came up with a unique solution, signature paper “suit sacks” hand fed into a vintage printing press and stamped with vegetable-based inks. Stacked neatly and safely in wooden trays, the soap exudes a sense of cheerful chromatic harmony, its whorling tops decorated with dried lavender, poppy seeds, or oats, its interior marbled with color. It is, as Jesse describes it, “fun.”

“It is a product we love, and feel passionate about,” he says.

Such is the sentiment that all true artisans, and artists, express about their art, from Babylon to the present.

Wenaha GalleryJesse and Scooter Johnston of Walla Walla Soap Works are the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, January 25 through Saturday, February 20.

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.

Sharing the Studio with Dogs — The Watercolor Art of Jan Taylor

The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at the Wenaha Gallery
The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at the Wenaha Gallery

While initially, it may seem that there is little in common between four Dachshunds, the canals of Venice, and the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux, it all makes sense to watercolor artist Jan Taylor.

White Lily by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist
White Lily by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

Taylor, who has traveled on every continent, paints what she sees, and while she is devoted to one artistic medium, she allows herself the freedom to paint any subject, from safari animals to florals, from antique still life to portraits of Dachshunds which Taylor, by close association, knows are rarely still — or quiet.

“We own three and a half Dachshunds,” Taylor says, her own voice expressing wonderment at the quantity. “One of them is a cross — he doesn’t care, and he thinks he’s quite superior to the girls.”

The “girls” are Lucy, Debbie, and Scarlotte; the mutt is Oliver Twist because he was a foundling, and all four have been featured in paintings by Taylor. Lucy was painted on a cloud with a glittering necklace adorning her neck (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”); the entire menagerie found itself in “The Wiener Dogs of Lascaux,” a whimsical nod to primitive cave art that caught the eye of a collector in Coeur d’Alene.

Yellowstone Lord by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery
Yellowstone Lord by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery

Apparently, Taylor is not alone in her attraction to small, self-confident, yappy (her own observation) animals, as every painting she has created of Dachshunds has found a happy owner.

“I’ve never had more than one dog before,” Taylor muses. “It’s out of hand now. But my husband is a willing perpetrator of it because you couldn’t do it otherwise. Who else would put up with this?”

TePees Three by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery
TePees Three by Jan Taylor, guest watercolor artist at Wenaha Gallery

Acknowledging a love for whimsy, Taylor incorporates a sense of fun and quirkiness in many of her works, but true to her style of not limiting herself to a style, she explores worlds and vistas that reflect life around her, wherever she happens to be that day: her floral works are bold and audacious; her view of Venice channels the viewer between buildings converging into one’s space; three tepees in a meadow acknowledge the artist’s ability to create stories from their surroundings.

“I believe that artistic expression is the fun part of life,” Taylor says. “When I like a work I’ve created, it’s a joy to me, and I hope to others as well.”

Taylor comes to the art studio from what many would consider the completely opposite world of business and computers, having taught 30 years in community colleges primarily in Spokane. Upon retirement, she took up drawing and painting, just . . . because.

Vine Art by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist
Vine Art by Jan Taylor, Wenaha Gallery guest artist

“I can’t talk about some interior drive where I had to express myself — I just started painting for fun.”

She educated herself through college classes and private workshops, benefiting from Spokane’s ability to attract top teachers.

“There are nationally known people who travel through, who have television shows and things like that. One of my favorite workshop teachers was Lian Zhen, an international watercolor artist from China.”

Since moving to Richland two years ago, Taylor has thrown herself into the local art scene, meeting regularly with fellow artists from the online cooperative, Cyber Art 509 (cyberart509.com) started by Tri-Cities artists Patrick and Patricia Fleming as a means of connecting creative people in the 509 area code region.

“I have a lot of fun with these people, and we get together a couple times each month. I get to see their work, and that’s inspiring.

“About 20 of us get together and paint and critique and have demos.”

With 30 years of teaching behind her, and extensive exposure to art classes and workshops, does she lead some of these demos?

“Oh no,” she demurs. “I do not feel that I have an art education.”

The niceties of distinctions aside. Taylor is a student who continuously teaches herself, and she treasures the hours she spends in her 500-square-foot home studio, replete with all the counters and storage an artist could want, as well as a grand, east-facing window which bathes the room with light.

Oh, and there are the doggie beds, because that is where Lucy, Debbie, Scarlotte, and Oliver love to be.

“If I’m in the studio, they’re in there too.”

Wenaha GalleryJan Taylor is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, January 11 through Saturday, February 6.

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.

 

Giving Gifts — Tis the Season, All Year Round — Dayton’s Project Timothy

Project Timothy is located within the St Vincent de Paul building in Dayton, WA
Project Timothy is located within the St Vincent de Paul building in Dayton, WA

Christmas is the season for giving.

It sounds like a Facebook meme, or the inside of a holiday card, and like most pithy sayings, merely brushes the surface of truth.

In reality, people in need — who truly appreciate a timely gift, given — are around all year. Thankfully for those struggling in Columbia County and Waitsburg, there is Project Timothy, an ecumenical ministry spearheaded by the St Joseph (Dayton) and St Mark (Waitsburg) Catholic parishes, but joined by a number of other churches in the area. It provides emergency housing, rental assistance, help with utilities, food vouchers, bus passes, and more for the nearly 700 families that seek its aid every year.

Project Timothy looks to Christ's example as the one to follow. Jesus and the Little Children by Vogel von Volgelstein
Project Timothy looks to Christ’s example as the one to follow. Jesus and the Little Children by Vogel von Volgelstein

“Project Timothy is unique to Dayton,” says Terri Schlachter, president of the 13-member board of the organization. Opening its doors in 1990,. Project Timothy grew out of the energy and vision of Father Paul Wood, who came to the area from the Brooklyn, New York, Diocese, and was struck by the need to collate the benevolent efforts of the Christian community into one place.

“It’s always been meant to be an ecumenical ministry,” Schlachter says. “It’s not just the Catholic Church; it’s the entire community helping.”

Working in cooperation with religious, private, and public agencies, Project Timothy runs from a designated office space in the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on Main Street. Volunteers staff the office from noon to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and off hours, clients can reach an on-call volunteer by going through the Sheriff’s Department.

Operating with funds donated by individuals, private groups, Catholic Charities of Spokane, and grants, Project Timothy strives to be a physical interpretation of the apostle Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, a young Greek Christian who eventually became a bishop of Ephesus in the first century, A.D.:

“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, and to be generous and ready to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18)

We are called to look out for the most vulnerable in society. Suffer the Little Children by Fritz von Uhde
We are called to look out for the most vulnerable in society. Suffer the Little Children by Fritz von Uhde

“Project Timothy works very hard to be good stewards of the money entrusted to us by our donors and grants to help those in need,” Schlachter says. There’s only so much to go around, the need is great, and it is a delicate balance ensuring that the funds go where they are most and truly needed, while every person who enters the office leaves with their dignity intact.

Volunteers, who undergo 20 hours of training in interviewing clients and familiarizing themselves with the bylaws of the organization, must be discerning and kind, wise and compassionate, able to make intelligent judgments without being judgmental. On the wall is a list of phone numbers of various agencies, resources, and organizations in the area, and before any client leaves, volunteers review additional options available for assistance and referral.

Putting into practice the things we read is a focal point of Project Timothy. Seaside Story by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson
Putting into practice the things we read, and meeting the needs of the vulnerable, are focal points of Project Timothy. Seaside Story by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson

As with most giving organizations, Project Timothy finds itself most in demand in the winter months, when higher heating and electrical bills command more of a family’s budget. December’s activities center around Christmas baskets, some 85 boxes which include foods for a holiday dinner such as a ham, vegetables, potatoes, pie, rolls, and canned foods.

“If we have enough donations, we will include Dayton Dollars so families can buy a little something for their children for Christmas,” Schlachter says, adding that vouchers provided for food, clothing, and other essentials stay in the area, benefiting local businesses.

On the opposite side of the calendar, the month of June finds the organization with a request to fund a very specific purpose:

“We have had donations in the summer with the specific request that they go to swim passes.

“This has been a great asset for families as the price for swim passes has gone up. It (swimming) is a great activity for children, but expensive for some families.”

It quickly becomes obvious that Christmas is not the only time of the year for gifts, and quite fortunately, Schlachter observes, the people in the area are conversant with this. The gift of giving runs both ways.

“It is very clearly the Lord’s work, for after 25 years, Project Timothy is still going, even though there have been some real economic down turns in the American Economy.

“Dayton has some very kindhearted people.

“To help someone you know is really in need, it feels great.”

Wenaha GalleryLocated one block away from the Project Timothy office, Wenaha Gallery devotes every January to a food drive supporting the community food bank, one of the organizations to which Project Timothy refers. Each year, people from within and without the community donate hundreds of pounds of food to the effort.

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.

 

A Heritage of Trees — The Woodworking of Ron Jackson

Handcrafted, hardwood sleigh by Ron Jackson
Handcrafted, hardwood sleigh by Ron Jackson

Thanks to the forethought and enthusiasm of 19th century settlers, the Walla Walla (Washington) Valley abounds with trees, its crown jewel, Pioneer Park, boasting 11 of the biggest examples of their kind in the state. To this day, valley residents take seriously the witty quote, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The  second best time is now.”

Demi Lune handcrafted hardwood table by Ron Jackson
Demi Lune handcrafted hardwood table by Ron Jackson

“For over 150 years the people of Walla Walla have embarked on a vigorous tree planting agenda,” says Ron Jackson, whose ancestors settled in the Starbuck and Tucannon areas before the state was even a state. In the mid- to late 19th century under the Homestead Act, he explains, settlers planted groves of trees as part of the agreement with the government regarding land acquisition.

But the thing about trees, he adds, is that they don’t live forever.

“The walnut tree, for example, has an average life of around 100 years. And then it needs to be taken out.”

Handcrafted, hardwood silver chest by Ron Jackson
Handcrafted, hardwood silver chest by Ron Jackson

“Taken out” generally means chopped down, and Jackson, as the retired owner of Jackson-Sanders Hardwood (which he ran with partner Gayle Sanders during the 1990s) knows all about this: the company bought lumber from homeowners and tree services and sold it nationally to custom furniture manufacturers, woodworkers, and even Microsoft, which at one time boasted a woodworking club.

Handcrafted, hardwood sushi table by Ron Jackson
Handcrafted, hardwood sushi table by Ron Jackson

For Jackson, a tree’s life doesn’t end when it’s cut down, and beautiful trees deserve to be turned into beautiful, functional art — cabinets, chairs, decorative boxes, even a children’s old-fashioned sleigh. In his “retirement,” this is precisely what Jackson does, operating out of a woodshop the size of a two-car garage, filled with hardwoods salvaged from the area.

“I let the wood dictate to me what it will be,” the lifelong woodworker says. “Maple trees are like Christmas presents — you never know what you’ll find inside until you cut them down. Black walnut is a most beautiful wood — it’s pretty, it’s stable.” Bird’s eye, fiddlebacks, burls, shimmers — the terms cascade off Jackson’s tongue as he describes the patterns found in a tree’s grain.

Slide lid box with Marquetry inlay by Ron Jackson
Slide lid box with Marquetry inlay by Ron Jackson

Over the years, and in between owning various businesses and working diversified jobs, Jackson has custom built three houses, complete with hardwood floors, and in his current home, all but two pieces of furniture or cabinetry came to life under his hands. (The only items he didn’t build were his mother’s dining room table and china cabinet.)

Whether the project is big or small, Jackson is ready for the challenge, and his portfolio includes everything from a recently completed commission of dining room table and six matching chairs to a sushi table, from a sliding lidded box with inlaid (Marquetry) imagery to a serving tray — cut from the bias of a bough — which became in high demand among the area’s wineries.

Serving Tray, similar to the one created for the wineries, by Ron Jackson
Serving Tray, similar to the one created for the wineries, by Ron Jackson

“One time, one of the wineries contacted me about making a serving tray, so I did.,” Jackson remembers “They just loved it — called me back and said, we need a couple more. Called me back again, said they wanted to sell them. Pretty soon other wineries were calling and wanting them, but there was a limit to how many I could supply as there was a limited supply of that particular wood.”

Despite having no website, social media presence, or even, up to a year ago, business cards, Jackson fields requests for his work from friends, family, friends of friends, and total strangers who have encountered his art in someone’s home, at the Farmer’s Market (“Depending on the weather — I don’t fight the wind or the rain or go if it’s too hot”), or local shows and craft fairs. On occasion, he takes commissions, but for the most part, he lets the wood speak to him, and the finished products speak to the viewers.

“I’ve been a woodworker all my life,” Jackson says. “The fascinating thing about working with wood is there’s always something else to learn — you’ll never get there. By the time you develop one skill you’re thinking about the next thing.”

But quite fortunately for Jackson, wood — unlike money — decidedly grows on trees.

Wenaha GalleryRon Jackson is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artist from Monday, November 30 through Saturday, December 26, 2015.

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.

 

Baby, Even When It’s Cold Outside, Plein Air Painters Paint — The Landscapes of Bonnie Griffith

Summer Fields, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
Summer Fields, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Some people spend a chunk of their day outside — mountain climbers, builders, hotel doormen, and definitely not least on the list — plein-air painters.

Grand Staircase II, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
Grand Staircase II, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

A central facet of 19th century French impressionism, plein-air painting is so called because it is done outdoors, in the plain, fresh air, and those artists committed to the method rival U.S. Postal carriers in their approach to rain, snow, sleet, wind and the occasional, much appreciated, sunny day.

“There really is nothing like painting outdoors; it makes you a stronger artist, I think,” says Bonnie Griffith, a painter who trilaterally focuses on oil, pastel and encaustic (hot wax) as her mediums of choice.

“You are in natural light and not utilizing the eye of a camera to dictate to you what you see to paint.”

Admittedly, she adds, some days are exceptionally inclement, and she has been known to paint from the interior of her heated car. Given the amount that Griffith travels — participating in shows, teaching and attending workshops, and rotating gallery stock throughout the west and Northwest — perhaps the car isn’t such an odd option.

Symphony in Green, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
Symphony in Green, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

“I am a landscape artist, so I am always on the lookout for a place that catches my eye,” Griffith explains. “I love to paint water, so often I am seeking out spots with streams to paint.”

Griffith, who has lived in Walla Walla, WA; Montana; and now Meridian, ID, confesses a special passion for the landscapes of the west, from Canada to Mexico, and is happiest when ensconced in the canyons of the Colorado River, or by the waterways of Montana and Washington, and all that is in between.

“My goal is to create paintings that draw the viewer into the painting, to experience the time of day, the temperature, the sound, the smells.”

River Bend, original pastel by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
River Bend, original pastel by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Much of her outdoor, onsite work is done in pastel, a highly portable medium that has the added benefit of capturing and translating brilliant color.

“It is so pure pigment that you can create this wonderful sparkle with ease,” Griffith says. “Oils can be mixed to create wonderful color and a visual story. And when you combine either with encaustic medium, you get wonderful, often surprise results.”

Good surprises are, well, good, but given that working with molten material presents the potential for perturbation, Griffith does find herself — when working with wax — indoors, in the studio, and well prepared for any contingency.

“I do have a spare room that I work with my encaustics, complete with fire extinguisher since I utilize hot wax and a torch to create these pieces!”

Creekside, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith
Creekside, original pastel painting by Wenaha Gallery artist Bonnie Griffith

Born into a family of watercolorists, illustrators, and musicians, Griffith has been drawing and painting since childhood, seriously pursuing gallery representation and public recognition from the early 1990s. Her work is in the homes of collectors throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Australia, Sweden, Germany, and England.

She has participated in numerous prestigious, competitive shows, including the Pastel 100 National Competition, the Northwest Pastel Society Member Show, the International Pastel Show, Plein Aire Moscow, and Plein Air Moab, garnering professional accolades such as People’s Choice, Juror’s Award, and Director’s Award. Most recently, Griffith has completed a one-month Artist in Residence for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, during which time she avidly painted, gave public demonstrations, organized a community paint along, and provided art projects to the local school system.

Traveling, learning, teaching, experimenting, and transporting medium, substrate and easel from the car to the painting site — it is all part of Griffith’s interpreting what she sees onto canvas or paper so others can see it, too. And when they do, then this is sweet success.

“It is about color and painting a work that invites the viewer to step in and make it their own story,” Griffith summarizes. “I say that, if that happens, than I have done my job.”

Wenaha GalleryBonnie Griffith will be at Wenaha Gallery Friday, November 27 for a special art reception during Dayton, WA’s Christmas Kickoff celebration. Join us at the gallery from 3 to 6 p.m. to meet the artist, view incredible art, and enjoy free refreshments. Griffith’s work will be on featured display through December 12.

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.