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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flying high with wineglasses birdhouse by wenaha gallery artists papa jon's fly inns
Look on your left, and see if you can spot the wineglasses, the little bottle of wine, and that bird-sized loaf of bread. Flying High in the Vineyard by Papa Jon’s Fly Inns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fusing Psychology with Spirituality — The Art of Denise Elizabeth Stone

rock visions watercolor painting by wenaha gallery artist Denise Elizabeth Stone
Rock Visions: The Shape of Things to Come by Denise Elizabeth Stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Denise Elizabeth Stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

The Art Event — Focusing on Pacific Northwest Artists

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

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

Coffee.

Seattle, WA.

Evergreen trees.

Artists.

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

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

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

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

Wenaha Gallery

Shake up Your Walls

Imagine a wall of James Christensen images, dancing and flying and jumping into your day.

Renovating your living space refreshes the way you think about things, and it doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, or require that you pull out the paint rollers and drop cloths.

All it takes is a calendar of your favorite licensed artist and one or more quality frames — and we at Wenaha Gallery can help you with both.

“We have an incredible selection of 2014 calendars that are 40 percent off,” Lael Loyd, Wenaha’s fine art and conservation framer, says. “Whether it’s the fanciful art of James Christensen, the farmland scenes of Mort Kunstler, or the playful cats of Charles Wysocki, our calendars are beautifully printed on high quality paper stock.”

Hummingbirds, flowers, religious scenes, and the American Dream — Wenaha has a little bit of everything depending upon the theme you’re looking to focus on your walls. For aficionados of the pacific Northwest, Kennewick photographer John Clement (who will be teaching a photography workshop at the gallery in May — we’ll keep you apprised) highlights the beauty of Southeastern Washington’s Dryland country.

People who love cats can never get enough of their feline fix. Now, that’s not a problem.

Sale prices start at $7.80 — divide that by 12 and you have an unframed wall art piece for less than 70 cents.  Matting and framing by Lael, per piece, starts at as little as $30, giving you the option to exhibit one, three, seven, or all twelve images of the 2014 calendar that catches your eye.

If you’re not in town, but want to take advantage of beautiful sale prices for beautiful calendar artwork, visit us on our Specials page on the Wenaha Gallery website.

Wenaha and you: we do renovation with style!

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