Celebrating the Extraordinary of Ordinary — Anne Bullock’s Raku, Stoneware, Pottery and Multi-Media Art


Ring Handled Vessel, pottery sculpture by artist Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery.
Ring Handled Vessel, pottery sculpture by artist Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery.

Woven baskets and clay pots — these humble vessels have been used by ordinary people throughout history. And although they have been and still are a major factor in the daily lives of many, humble vessels are frequently overlooked and discounted in the worlds of both academia and fine art.

Corn Box potter sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery
Corn Box potter sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

It is the rare, sensitive eye that sees the value of the prosaic, and Anne  Bullock, a Walla Walla mixed media artist who, until her death in 2014, celebrated the history and culture of the Plateau people, recognized and respected the expertise and creativity of Pacific Northwest, Native American artisans.

“Anne always worked from a place of deep spiritual meaning,” her husband, David Bullock, remembers. “She found meaningful inspiration in the way these skilled designers used materials at hand in environmentally sound ways to create beauty as well as function.”

Anne’s interest in indigenous baskets took her throughout the region, as she explored the exhibits of the Wanapum Heritage Center Museum, Maryhill Museum, The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, Sacajawea State Park, Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, The Northwest Museum of Art and Culture,  the Fort Walla Walla Museum, and numerous other historical locations.

Blue Vase pottery sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery
Blue Vase pottery sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

“Vessels are a metaphor for my life and work,” Anne said in her artist statement. “I’m impressed with how early Native American Indian artisans worked with indigenous ‘of the earth’ materials. The gifts of the earth were revered; only what was needed was taken.”

In the spirit of the people she admired and honored, Anne worked in multiple mediums, both two- and three-dimensional, primarily in pottery, but her skills, like her interests, extended a wide range.

“She worked with charcoal, colored pencil, pastel, acrylics, and mixed media assemblage,” David says. “She also augmented her art with work in bamboo, wood, stone, wool, and paper.”

Untitled pottery sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery
Untitled pottery sculpture by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

A most outstanding piece, remembered by artist friend and curator of Anne’s work Colleen Sargen, is “Earth, Wheat, Fire,” consisting of 36 tiles which needed to be precisely placed at the former Willow Gallery in Walla Walla, WA, during Anne’s Interwoven Exhibition there in 2010.

“She impressed wheat, other flora objects to honor the earth, bark of trees lost in the Walla Walla wind storm of 2007, and specific items such as sand dollars carefully placed, to honor individuals dear to her who have passed on,” Sargen says.

Adding especial interest to the installation was that the tiles were still being created during the week that Sargen was installing the show. “Because the tiles were still smoldering in the fire pit, the fire needing to extinguish naturally, we waited, realizing it would be the last piece installed!” Sargen recalls. But the wait was worth it.

Plateau Series Relief on Panel by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery
Plateau Series Relief on Panel by Anne Bullock at Wenaha Gallery

“It is a stunning work, and Anne’s wish was that it be placed in a health care facility.”

These wishes are completely in line with who Anne was, Sargen continues, describing her friend and colleague as “so very tender hearted, it seemed that she herself suffered for the pain of others and actively took steps in daily life to ease pain and bring peace.” One means by which Anne accomplished this was through the March of Peace events that she organized in 2008, involving community members in the creation of small, clay “pinch pots” that were placed in an outdoor art installation at the Walla Walla Foundry’s sculpture garden.

David explains, “Anne sought every opportunity to involve community in her art, in ways such as attaching prayers to her bamboo prayer walls, tying personal mementos to a community memory strand, and even using puzzle pieces from second-hand puzzles to make vessels.”

Throughout Anne Bullock’s life, and during the 38 years she worked and created in Walla Walla, community was a driving factor. Whether that community consisted of the town in which she was living, or the memories of the people who had lived in the area centuries beforehand, she devoted her energy, her skill, and her art to acknowledging and honoring the contributions of ordinary, every day people:

“I am compelled to tie, bind, glue, blend, melt, carve, coil, weave, overlap or somehow piece together media in any way materials allow or dictate,” Anne’s artist statement outlines her deep-set beliefs.

“Integrating materials through these processes gives voice to my themes of honoring the earth, its resources, and inhabitants.”

Wenaha GalleryAnne Bullock’s collection of two- and three-dimensional work is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest feature at Wenaha Gallery from February 23, 2015 through March 21, 2015 at Wenaha Gallery’s historic Dayton, WA location, 219 East Main Street.

“Anne had a special connection with the Wenaha Gallery for many years, and I hope this showing of her work here can honor that connection and provide her community of friends the opportunity to remember and appreciate her creative endeavors.” — David Bullock

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

Wenaha Gallery 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.

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.