John Mowen leaves legacy of creativity, fearlessness
by Katrina Paz
January 23, 2014
Special to The Union Newspaper

The community lost an ardent soul last week when John Mowen, owner of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery, died after a brief illness. He was 60 years old.

Mowen, who moved to Nevada City in the early 1980s, had briefly owned another gallery in Nevada City before opening the Mowen Solinsky with Steven Solinsky in 2004.

File Photo — John Mowen stands next to his bronze sculpture
at Mowen Solinsky Gallery in Nevada City.

“John was always willing to take a risk, always pushing that way,” Solinsky said. “He loved the excitement and potential, loved the possibility of what might be revealed, what he might find, what he might see.”

Mowen's enthusiasm carried through his personal, professional and creative life; he was known for taking adventures and new paths.

After working in leather for 30 years, he ventured out into different mediums, discovering stone and bronze sculpture, which, according to his son Sky, ignited a passion that quickly grew.

“When he was creating in the shop, he had an excitement in him, especially when he was creating new works instead of pumping out pieces for orders or shows. I could tell he was excited, skipping around the shop.”

Art shows played an integral part in Mowen's career and the success of the gallery.

It was the arduous work and travel of attending shows that brought the two men together, but Solinsky said that the idea of staying home and selling their works sounded much more appealing than traveling every weekend.

When the gallery's current Broad Street location opened up, the two tapped their resources to fill the space with a unique and upscale selection of works, many of which were from artists they had met at various shows.

“We realized to have a gallery that appealed to all different tastes, we needed to have a good sampling of different types of works,” Solinsky said.

“We knew where to find great work, and John was a good front man for the gallery — had a lot of friends and connections. He was a good negotiator.”

When the economy began to waver, Mowen considered closing but persevered, incorporating more functional art with lower price points.

Though he anticipated taking a more relaxed approach after Solinsky retired, Sky insists he just got “fired up.”

The father-son team would attend shows and Mowen would connect with five or so artists, packing their van to bring more pieces back to Nevada City.

“I'd ask him, 'Where are we going to put all this stuff?'” Sky said.

“He had a passion for it. He had a crazy artistic eye, knowing what works and what doesn't work. He was always looking for the next killer artist.”

Mowen believed art had the power to create change on a large scale, those who knew him said. In a recent interview on Art Revealed, he stated his interest in medicinal art — “the capacity of a piece of art to create ease as opposed to disease.” Fellow artist Paul Steege met Mowen at the Mountain Stream Meditation Center, where they were both very involved.

The two also attended many art shows together.

He recalled a recent show in Mill Valley where he noticed how people entering Mowen's booth were immediately affected by his art, then the man himself.

“His booth was kind of like a sanctuary,” Steege said.


Submitted Photo: "Of all the pictures of my dad from his trip to Spain, this one embodies
the true spirit of wanting to capture the beauty of nature everywhere he went," said Sky Mowen.

In addition to his love for art, Mowen also had an affinity for poetry, a strong passion, most would say. He was an aficionado of the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi, whose words were integrated both figuratively and literally into his artwork.

His love for poetry and verse spilled into his everyday life and business, as Kathy Frey, who helped compose the gallery's newsletter, found.

“I thought it'd be a straightforward newsletter, and he ended up writing letters that were more like poetry,” Frey said.

When not in the gallery or on the festival trail collecting awards and new artists' work, Mowen fed his wanderlust with adventures most only see in movies.

He completed the Camino de Santiago, a 500-plus mile journey across Northern Spain, just this past spring to commemorate turning 60.

“He loved to travel,” Sky said. “He'd been to Nepal, Tibet, Southeast Asia and recently a big part of Europe. Traveling was one of his main passions.”

Solinsky fondly recalled a trip where they sailed the islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

“John wanted to live now, not put it off,” he said. “It was little risky in some ways. He was willing to take the risk. Life was always interesting around John.”

Katrina Paz is a local freelance writer.


John Mowen

John Mowen
5 September 1953 - 12 January 2014


PERSPECTIVES:
December 2013

A mere week or two after John wrote this letter back in October, he learned about a battle being waged inside his body. He officially entered retirement from his art fair travels and has started on a new journey. Thanks to Franceska, you can learn more about John's progress and send words of encouragement through CaringBridge. There's also a journal available in the gallery for your kind words and messages. This is much easier than individual emails.

John sat down with Kathy for a conversation on a warm day in November. A small part of the conversation appears below. The full conversation will be available in coming weeks. We will publish the full conversation to our Perspectives blog and post links to the Mowen Solinsky Gallery Facebook page and in future newsletters.

We hope to see you in the gallery for holiday shopping while we count down these last days to Christmas. We appreciate your ongoing support on many levels.

We wanted to reprint this letter due to its poignancy:

Dear Friends, Patrons, and Devotees of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery,

Thank You once again for taking a few minutes to check in on us.

Today is a wild day Not like any other.
Fall wind blowing Pine needle showers.
Soft waves crashing through tree tops.
Overtones of mystery, and a relentless bass note reminder of change.

I love this time of the year when we know and feel that excitement floating all around us.

Leaves just beginning to change color.
Nature prepares for another fall.
A whole life in transition taking place before our eyes.
No resistance Just change The retirement of leaves.

I recently had a short conversation with a friend I hadn't seen for some time.
Upon meeting I quickly asked, "How are you?"
His response quick and clear, "Great, I'm Retired."
His answer celebratory, and carried the tone of a joyous declaration of a changed Life.

Most of us have pondered the ideas around "retirement" and what that might mean for us.
Do I like the idea of that? What would I spend more time doing? What would I finally begin?
A wild ride of questions, and hopefully some very juicy answers.

Maybe the real question though is, what am I doing now that I don't want to be doing?
And why am I still doing that?
Yes, we do have the duties of maintaining a life and well being for us and our families.
And yet, the question does seem to want to be noticed, and we do.

Stephen Levine wrote a book titled "A Year To Live."
Given the knowledge of this enormous life detail of knowing we only have a year to live,
This book is an exploration into the Realm of Choice.

Needless to say, this would be a total game changer for most of us
To say nothing of the elephant in the room.
There are no guarantees we will wake for tomorrow anyway.

The book challenges us to re-create a life based on the inevitable truth of impermanence.
A reminder that we can retire from old ideas and ways of being in the world
that just don't serve us anymore.

So what do we want to retire from???
What are we ready to let fall???

For me I am Retiring my membership to the mind state organization that promotes
The shoulda, woulda, coulda cult that I seem to have fallen in with. I want my dues back!

So let's maybe, just begin to think of Retirement as something we actively do our whole lives.
The joy of doing is not just reserved for the working artist or those that make things.
The creative spirit most likely moves through all good intention and doing.
A blessing on our humble human experience.

It turns out this month Kathy is chatting with my young old buddy, one of the co-founders of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery, Steve Solinsky.
And wouldn't you know it, Steve is now officially retired.
Yep, retired and loving it. Busy as ever. GOOD WORK, BROTHER!!! Visit John Mowen's gallery page...

As usual we invite you to come steep in the beauty of so many working artists,
Gathered together here for you.

Best wishes for a creative life,
John Mowen
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery


Wood Boxes: a special discount for the
last shopping days though December 24th

Special on wood boxes for December

With any purchase of more than $25, buy a wood box at 20% off. This includes any of our wood boxes, from Terry Evans' intriguing ribbon vessels to Roger Bulkley's inlay boxes and Ken Bolstad's jewelry boxes to name a few.

There's no requirement on what the initial purchase needs to be, although you may want to scroll down to see what new jewelry collections we have in store to make the gift extra special.

Newest Additions to our Jewelry Cases

Almost all of our jewelry artists have sent new collections for the holiday season, including Roné Prinz, Kathy Frey, Lisa D'Agostino, Mark Needham, Keith Lewis, Jordan and Blue Bus Studios.

We have also added several new artists whose work in unusual materials and incredible eye for design make them irresistible:

Earrings by Tessoro Flying Anvil Jewelry Suzanne Linquist Kimberly Navratil

Tessoro's contemporary jewelry features bark and lichen nestled amidst silver, gold leaf, pearl, gemstone and Roman glass accents. Each design is unique, and the jewelry is lightweight despite being incredible statement pieces. Prices start at $46.

Hand-picked beach stones are at the heart of Flying Anvil's jewelry. The Michigan artist, Julie, selects each stone and incorporates glamorous details such as inset garnets, twinkly white topaz, and luminous freshwater pearls. This collection has been well received, yet we still have 2 dramatic rings and several necklaces perfect for holiday parties or gift giving.

Suzanne Linquist, known for her silver inlay in ebony, sent a collection with bright pops of coral. We are excited to have her clean lines back in our jewelry cases.

Kimberly Navratil has been busy forging new jewelry directions in her Montana studio. Her textured line posts will easily become everyday earring favorites, and her stacking cuff bracelets will artfully complete the statement.


A Conversation with John Mowen

Since our last artist conversation featured Steve Solinsky, Kathy thought it would be interesting to talk with John about his ever-changing art career. John's storied life adventures are woven through the entire conversation. This is the first few minutes of the discussion -- the full conversation will be transcribed in coming weeks.

KF: How did art come to you?

JM: I feel very fortunate. I came into the art scene by sheer accident.

I had some friends that had a leather shop in Ohio, and the guy that was working for them -- Jerry, who was a complete psychopath, but he did incredible leather work -- was killed by the police in a shoot out. He worked for the two brothers that owned this leather shop.

I was working for this little restaurant -- I was barefoot with my shirt off and my dog in the restaurant... I mean, it was a hippie restaurant -- across the street and would run lunches over to them.

That little restaurant was run by a drug addict, and he was more into doing drugs than anything. So as the restaurant started to fail, I found myself without a job, basically sitting on the street.

Ascension by John Mowen, bronze and stone

The guys at the shop let me make a leather cap one time. I've always been so completely into making things. They loved that enthusiasm.

Anyway, this guy had just been killed. They had just gone through this whole shoot out. I was available, so they hired me. I went to work for these two brothers and was completely thrilled.

It was the best thing I could've ever done. I learned a lot: garments, footwear, hard leather, soft leather...I learned so much. This was the greatest job I could ever have imagined.

Not that I knew I wasn't going to stay in Ohio... that I would need to buy tools and materials to continue...

KF: Wait a minute. Did that literally start your art career? Have you pretty much done art since that point?

JM: Yes. I was 19 when I got a job with them, and that's how I was making my living. So I've been making my living in the arts for 41 years now.

So, after a couple of years of working for them, I had a few hides, some tools, and had designed some of my own stuff at that point. We had a workshop in the old house we lived in back there.

In the middle of winter, in a snowstorm actually, I was loading up my truck and I said you know, I'm going back to California.

When I got out here, I discovered there was a weekend art show in Southern California -- it was a party every weekend! People were smoking pot, playing guitars and selling what they were making, their artwork.

I thought how good is this?, you know? So I went out, and I did it. I made 4 times what I was making back in Ohio. And it went to 6 and 8 times, sometimes 10 times.

I was making all this money, and I was on fire. It was just fun. I was equally excited about the business aspect as well because what I was seeing was "wow, I sold 3 of those, and, if I'd had 4 or 5, I might've sold 4 or 5."

Then somebody would ask for it in a different color, so I thought, "if I could have this in 3 or 4 different colors and have backup stock..." the business side just said: let's get smart here, and let's have what they want.

So I started investing in equipment and blah blah blah. Mark left Ohio 6 months after I left and moved out to California so we could continue to work together.

I was in the leather business for 25 years. The last third of that I was also playing with sculpture, and I was doing sculptural bags to be able to get in the American Craft Council (ACC) shows, which were the hot shot shows at that time.

In the old days, you would generally show 1 or 2 one-of-a-kind show pieces, and then you would show a few production things for your application. That would usually get you in the show if you had nice work. I would do travel bags with all kinds of stuff on them. It was fun.

KF: When did you make the leap from leather to... I don't know what your next step was. Was it to stone?

JM: Yeah, it was playing around with stone, and I was experiencing what, come to find out, was just plain burnout.

We were doing so many shows, and this woman, who was a well-known stone carver who lived in Ventura, kept saying, "You should come carve a rock. Come carve a rock." And when I finally did it, it was great.

My son, Sky, was 4, 5, or 6 years old at that point -- down at our first house here in Nevada City -- and I remember him and I taking this big giant piece of black soap stone and hand sawing it into quarters because I was going to do studies of these archetypes. King, Warrior, Magician, you know,... I had read a book about it -- I was reading that stuff pretty intensely -- and I thought, okay, I'm going to do something that has some suggestion of each of these archetypes with these 4 pieces.

It was really great because Sky was this little kid. I'd say to him, "Should we go work on our rock?" and he'd go,"Yeah!" We'd get down there, and he'd saw for 10 minutes and be done. Over several months, though, we cut this big cube into 4 pieces by hand sawing it.

So that was more than 25 years ago when I started playing with stone. Meanwhile, the leather business was so intact and so functional and easy. I had a woman who worked for me for 10 years. She would come and sew, and she would do everything while I would go out and do the shows. I would tease her and say, "You know, you're doing most of the work. You should buy this from me. You would make all the money."

One day she comes in and says, "Are you serious about selling the business?" I said, "Yeah, totally." So we had a few meetings, sat down, worked it out... and I sold it.

KF: So Mark had his own separate leather business?

JM: At one point his wife wanted to go home and be back in Ohio. Since that's where we started, they had all kinds of connections for machinery and stuff, so it was easy. We divided up the inventory, dyes and such, and then they moved back.

There was no way I was going back to Ohio. No way.

More to come after the holiday rush...


PERSPECTIVES:
October 2013

Dear Friends, Patrons, and Devotees of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery,

Thank You once again for taking a few minutes to check in on us.

Today is a wild day Not like any other.
Fall wind blowing Pine needle showers.
Soft waves crashing through tree tops.
Overtones of mystery, and a relentless bass note reminder of change.

I love this time of the year when we know and feel that excitement floating all around us.

Leaves just beginning to change color.
Nature prepares for another fall.
A whole life in transition taking place before our eyes.
No resistance Just change The retirement of leaves.

I recently had a short conversation with a friend I hadn't seen for some time.
Upon meeting I quickly asked, "How are you?"
His response quick and clear, "Great, I'm Retired."
His answer celebratory, and carried the tone of a joyous declaration of a changed Life.

Most of us have pondered the ideas around "retirement" and what that might mean for us.
Do I like the idea of that? What would I spend more time doing? What would I finally begin?
A wild ride of questions, and hopefully some very juicy answers.

Maybe the real question though is, what am I doing now that I don't want to be doing?
And why am I still doing that?
Yes, we do have the duties of maintaining a life and well being for us and our families.
And yet, the question does seem to want to be noticed, and we do.

Stephen Levine wrote a book titled "A Year To Live."
Given the knowledge of this enormous life detail of knowing we only have a year to live,
This book is an exploration into the Realm of Choice.

Needless to say, this would be a total game changer for most of us
To say nothing of the elephant in the room.
There are no guarantees we will wake for tomorrow anyway.

The book challenges us to re-create a life based on the inevitable truth of impermanence.
A reminder that we can retire from old ideas and ways of being in the world
that just don't serve us anymore.

So what do we want to retire from???
What are we ready to let fall???

For me I am Retiring my membership to the mind state organization that promotes
The shoulda, woulda, coulda cult that I seem to have fallen in with. I want my dues back!

So let's maybe, just begin to think of Retirement as something we actively do our whole lives.
The joy of doing is not just reserved for the working artist or those that make things.
The creative spirit most likely moves through all good intention and doing.
A blessing on our humble human experience.

It turns out this month Kathy is chatting with my young old buddy, one of the co-founders of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery, Steve Solinsky.
And wouldn't you know it, Steve is now officially retired.
Yep, retired and loving it. Busy as ever. GOOD WORK, BROTHER!!! Visit John Mowen's gallery page...

As usual we invite you to come steep in the beauty of so many working artists,
Gathered together here for you.

Best wishes for a creative life,
John Mowen
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery

First Friday Art WalkFIRST FRIDAY ART WALK
Friday, November 1st, 5:00-9:00 pm

Join us for the final First Friday Art Walk of the season (returning in the spring). We have 3 talented artists in the gallery throughout the evening.

Known for her striking combinations of silver and gold, nationally-known jewelry artist Lisa D'Agostino will be bringing new jewelry for our cases just in time for holiday festivities.

Ceramicist Paul Steege has become a gallery favorite. Paul has expanded his glaze offerings, and we are stocked for holiday gift-giving now. Paul will be in the gallery on Friday between 6-9pm.

Niche Magazine-Autumn 2013

David Wellner constructs layered, mixed-media collages and presents them as beautiful objects of art. Their appealing sizes, shapes and textures work well in groupings

National Exposure

The Mowen Solinsky Gallery has national exposure this season, gracing the cover of Niche magazine with a full-length feature inside. Kudos to John, Franceska, and the gallery staff! Now the rest of the country knows what a great gift this gallery is for artists and the arts community at large. Scroll below to the "Connecting the Dots" article to read an excerpt. Print copies will be available for perusing in the gallery soon.

A Conversation with Steve Solinsky

For Steve Solinsky, part of the namesake of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery, retirement does not mean kicking back and doing nothing. Steve talks with Kathy Frey about how his spiritual life has blossomed and how that has increased his awareness around photography, which he still very much enjoys when time allows. An interview with Steve Solinsky-October 2013

KF: What's been going on in your life and studio lately?

SS:This is interesting because in the last couple of years being "in retirement," but really still being busy, what I've been doing has been more developing my meditation practice, my spiritual self. Part of that - I've had a long, ongoing project of something I've been wanting to do - is to put together a book of images.

For a long time it's been a question of having the images yet wondering what the book is going to be. What's going to bring them together? That's the key. If I look around and see what other books of photography are, a lot of times people will do a subject or a place.

In reflecting on my work - I've done a lot of reflecting - it's like ok, I love my photography and it's really intuitive for me, but what the heck does it all mean? What am I doing? I'm putting a lot of energy in that direction with asking myself those questions because that's what I want the book to be. I want the book to be about what I do and what happens. What the process is.

As it turns out, it ties in really well with my spiritual practice. And so what I've seen is a parallel between the two - my photography and my spiritual practice - so that is how I'm going to approach it, by weaving in the photography and what I would call "the art of seeing" with development of a spiritual self.

It's a process of awakening, even though I use that word with some trepidation because I think it's misused a lot and not really well understood. But it's definitely in the process of how I see myself right now, awakening.

I see photography as being very similar. It's a process of awakening to the senses. Mostly your visual sense. Developing that art of seeing. Which is something we're not taught anywhere... how to see. It's something intuitively I figured out along the way was happening with me.

Read the entire interview with Steve Solinsky on our gallery blog at
mowensolinskygallery.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/a-conversation-with-photographer-steve-solinsky/


Connecting the Dots
By Rosemary Carstens
1 October 2013
Niche Magazine, Autumn 2013

Gallery owner and fine artist John Mowen stands next to one of his own works, a 7­foot­high limited-edition bronze sculpture titled 'Moving Within.' Photo credit: Izzy Schwartz

Gallery owner and fine artist John Mowen stands next to one of his own works,
a 7-foot-high limited-edition bronze sculpture titled “Moving Within.” Photo: Izzy Schwartz

Building relationships with both patrons and artists is our primary approach to customer service, with each playing a vital role in our sustained success,” says John Mowen, owner of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery in Nevada City, Calif. Located in a spacious 1870's building in the heart of one of the state's best-preserved historic Gold Rush towns, its modern interior features a unique mix of contemporary art. “The gallery is a stop no one wants to miss,” Mowen continues. “It has been an art destination from the day we first opened our doors in May 2004.”

Initially the gallery was a spirited collaboration between Mowen, a nationally recognized bronze and stone sculptor, and Steve Solinsky, a well-known fine art photographer. They ran it together until Solinsky retired in 2009 and Mowen became its sole owner. But it hasn't always been easy. As Mowen emphasizes, “The recession was a significant challenge. We began with a high-end showcase model, but in time we realized we needed to be more inclusive and to make some proactive decisions about cutting expenses.”

Lowering overhead was first on the list. An innovative campaign created incentives for patrons to buy gift cards with a 10 percent bonus added, which allowed the gallery to purchase its lease and reduce monthly outgo dramatically. An investment in environmentally friendly “green” lighting cut its utility bill in half. Changes were also made to inventory and to more inclusive price points.

These days, the gallery exhibits a broader range of mediums, including sculpture in bronze, steel, wood, wool, clay and glass; paintings in oil, acrylic, pastel, encaustic and watercolor; photographs; pottery; jewelry and more. The gallery's mix is about 60 percent two­- and three­-dimensional art and 40 percent fine art craft.

A sidewalk view of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery at night. Photo: Izzy Schwartz

A sidewalk view of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery at night. Photo: Izzy Schwartz

Building Relationships

As businesses nationwide are discovering, relationships are as important as product. They are the water that can bring a desert to life. Mowen Solinsky focuses on a trio of finely tuned, interactive relationships between management, artists and patrons. Good will and sensitive appreciation for the needs of each employee, artist and patron are the magic ingredients that drive sustainability and have made the gallery a place where everyone wants to be. Niche Magazine-Autumn 2013

It begins at the top, with an experienced reliable manager. Franceska Alexander, who has been with the gallery since its beginning, fills this role handily. She has an extensive art background and is well-versed in the gallery's business aspects. “Each customer is greeted upon entering the gallery,” Alexander says, “and we take pride in our follow-through. We work closely with each individual to satisfy their particular needs, including special orders, gift wrapping, shipping, installation or interior design consultation. It's all a creative collaboration.”

Mowen Solinsky represents presently active local, national, and international artists, often those Mowen connects with directly when he's out on the juried art show circuit. Unlike many galleries, they pay their artists first, creating an atmosphere of trust and confidence that can't be underestimated.

To read the complete version of “Connecting the Dots,” order a copy of the Autumn 2013 issue of NICHE magazine.


PERSPECTIVES:
September 2013

Dear Friends, Patrons, and Devotees of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery,

A few months ago now, while on my walk across Spain,
I found myself on the site of an amazing discovery.

It seems this was one of those places where some of the oldest human remains were found. 700,000 years was what the sign said, and signs of habitation as much as 1,000,000 years ago.

Whew! To wrap a mind around that many years is beyond beyond.
What I was even more intrigued with though, was the statement that they also found evidence of "unnecessary markings." Could this be the discovery of Art?

I was immediately reminded of the minimally aware idea that "art is a luxury," basically "unnecessary."

Turns out though, that most of what we possess, protect, and prefer could be said to be "unnecessary."

As working artists, we are in some constant degree of inner dialogue with this process, the predicament of necessary or unnecessary.

What of the intended beauty invoked with the perfect curve of a carved surface? Or not?
The last brush strokes, the last stanza in the perfect poem?

What if you hadn't? What if you don't? What if you do?

An endless journey of creatively evaluating the physical world and our relationship to it.

I've always felt Art's greatest offering is its capacity to turn us back toward our humanness.

The Feeling Life, ever encouraging us to deepen in our trust and appreciation of the "unnecessary," and to find that base goodness, which is the point of a journey well done.

And yes, that Humanness comes with its little bag of tricks, those parts that can rush in when we are not paying attention, planting seeds of regret or other unnecessaries.

But maybe, just maybe, it's the unnecessary markings in a life well lived, that become the
Blessings we leave behind.

Rumi encouraged us to "start a huge foolish project, like Noah." We just never know!

I encourage you all to come see what's new in the gallery, do something unnecessary!

This month Kathy's conversation is with Jeff Margolin. Jeff's work is an exemplary example of an artist that, when creating his work, goes beautifully, way beyond the necessary. The hand carved surfaces of his vessels reflect artistic depth, and the joy of an experienced maker.

Best Wishes for a long walk,

John Mowen
Owner
Mowen Solinsky Gallery

First Friday Art Walk - Harvest SeriesFirst Friday Art Walk
Friday, September 6th, 5:00 - 9:00 p.m.

The First Friday Art Walk energy continues as this Nevada City event continues to gather momentum. For this event we will be welcoming four local artists into the gallery.

Jack Richardson is well known for his stone forms that are finely turned on a lathe. He works in alabaster, soap stone, and many other types of stone to create bowls, goblets, and lidded vessels.

Sculptor Mark Oldland blends utility and artfulness in much of his work, as shown in the new floor lamp that's available the gallery. We also have a mirror, a wall sconce, a side table and chair in addition to his well-known gates. He is an artist who also creates custom pieces for individual and corporate clients. This is a great opportunity to connect with him for any projects you have in mind that could use an artist's perspective.


Jack Richardson

Mark Oldland

Faducci

Terra Nyssa

Solomon Bassoff of Faducci Designs will be joining us on September 6 as well. He is a well-known public works artist, and we are lucky to have several of his concrete and Italian glass mosaic sculptures, including lady bugs, sunflowers, and a sea turtle, all of which are suitable for indoor or outdoor installation.

Terra Nyssa is passionate about saving our salmon, and many of her paintings present this subject matter in a dynamic and artistic way. Terra will be bringing new pieces to the gallery in time for the Art Walk.

Think Big

Gary Mitchell: Recycled Aphordite
Recycled Aphrodite by Gary Mitchell

We all know there are times in life when it's okay to think small. There may be financial limitations yet still the desire to have art in your life. We receive so much positive feedback in the gallery for bringing in functional yet artistic pottery, having handmade jewelry available in the $50-100 price range, and limited-time discounts in our Sale Room.

On the flip side, we don't want to discredit the idea of "going big." Sometimes a grand gesture is needed. We all know the Wow impact of one large painting rather than several small ones. A large piece of art invites commentary and interaction by attracting attention in a way not possible with smaller pieces.

A large painting or sculpture becomes Art with a capital A and leaves a lasting impression. It has the power to transform a garden into an outdoor retreat; it can help your home portray a facet of your personality not often shown. It completes the picture by starting the story, making a statement that welcomes conversation.

If you live locally and have walked by the gallery lately, most likely you have stopped in your tracks and taken notice of the new sculptures we have by Gary Mitchell. He hand-forms aluminum and rivets it together to create large scale torsos that are at once reminiscent of Italian stone carvings and the aircraft industry from whence he originated.

Earlier this month, John and Sky Mowen installed Moving Within at a private residence. As you can see, they can help facilitate installation challenges...it's not often we get to see 500 pound sculptures flying through the air.

We are here for you in the gallery to help you think big. We can do art consulting and bring pieces on site. We can arrange for layaway and help with delivery and installation. We are here to help you live and interact with art and beauty on an everyday basis.

A Conversation with Jeff Margolin

Jeff MargolinThis month Kathy Frey had a conversation with ceramicist Jeff Margolin. It took some interesting directions -- heading into terra incognito about politics for Kathy -- as Jeff shares his perspective on being a political individual as well as an artist. They shared a surprising connection of each having lived in Inman Square in Cambridge/Somerville, Massachusetts in the '90s, although this snapshot of their conversation keeps the reminiscing they enjoyed to a minimum. We hope you appreciate this artist perspective that talks as much about life as it does about art, since a well-experienced life is what contributes to the evolution and refinement of Jeff's intricately carved forms and vessels.

KF: How did art come to you?

JM: My art is a conglomeration of work I've always done. I've been doing this since I was a little tiny kid. I never thought about being an artist -- it's just what I do. I never went to school for it. I've just always carved -- whether it's wood, clay, or something else. Since the age of 6 or 7 I remember drawing designs and trying to make them 3D.

Along the way I've picked up different influences from native sources, nature, and other artists that have helped my work evolve.

There's a number of things I like to do with clay -- throwing, carving, burnishing -- that don't necessarily go together, but I put them together because I enjoy them. I'm not into glazing and firing. Color is not that important to me. I like form and texture.

My work is an exploration of what I like to do. I've explored everything with clay, and this is what I do because these are the things I love to do.

KF: What do you do beyond art?

Jeff Margolin

JM: I've done many other things with my life. In school I studied economic and political theory. I try to live my life according to my political ideology, which is pretty socialistic.

Sometimes I do small or medium business consulting. I've helped run public ceramic studios -- including the hiring, firing, budgeting and all those business components. I live in a warehouse cooperative, and I'm the financial officer... I deal a lot with that.

For fun I also collect cars. Old Alpha Romeos. The shapes, especially from the '60s, show up a lot in my work. Automotive designs are so thoughtful and beautiful; look at the level of detail in taillights and fenders. Italian designers are especially amazing.

Another thing I do is take care of old or disabled people. I help with their physical needs as well as their financial needs. This has been showing up for me in the past 10 years, which has been interesting. It's actually really satisfying.

People, especially disabled people, have physical needs they can't manage for themselves. Whereas, if they have that assistance, they can have a life. That's what I'm giving them.

Right now I'm helping one elderly friend with the Social Security bureaucracy because he's stopped receiving benefits due to a mistake in paperwork. It's like we walk on a tight rope and, if we fall off, it's hard to get back on. This has been taking a lot of my time lately.

That's what I do outside of clay.

Read the entire interview on our gallery blog at
mowensolinskygallery.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/a-conversation-with-jeff-margolin/


First Friday Art WalkFIRST FRIDAY ART WALK
Friday, August 2, 5-9:00 pm

We love the new, fresh energy around town that the First Friday Art Walk has brought... come see what all the buzz is about and support our arts community! Each month several of our local artists will join us in person for part of the event. This is a great opportunity to connect with artists and get their personal view point as well as simply put a face with a name/artistic style.

This Friday, August 2nd, we will have three artists in the gallery.

Phil Brown is an oil painter and pastel artist known for capturing breath taking vistas of the Yuba River and river scenes complete with swimmers.

Gail Rushmore tells stories, and some of these stories become sculptures. Her mostly figurative forms are hand built from clay and raku fired. This is a great opportunity to hear the stories in person that make her pieces come alive. Gail will be bringing several new pieces with her as well...come get the first choice!

David Wellner will be bringing in a new series of 3-dimensional wall prints of his mixed media collages.

Tentatively, we have a number of our in-house Artists signed up to be present for the up-coming Art Walks as well....in September, we'll have Faducci, Terra Nyssa, Mark Oldland, and Jack Richardson; October will feature ceramists Kris Marubayashi, Barbara Prodaniuk, & Barbara Sebastian, plus local potter Paul Steege; November jeweler Lisa D'Agostino is slated to be in the gallery; and steel sculptor Tye Trevethick arrives in December.


PERSPECTIVES:
July 2013

Dear Friends, Patrons, and Devotees of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery,

More notes from the road: Des Moines , Iowa

"THERE YOU ARE"
SETTLING IN
HOME AGAIN
HOME FROM HOME

AND AGAIN
NOW GOING
NOW GONE

STILL HOME
AND AGAIN
SETTLING IN
STILL.

There is this wonderfully simple teaching most all of us have crossed paths with at some point in our lives. "Wherever You Are, There You Are"

Having been born with the Nomadic Gene, I have my own particular appreciation for this bit of life Wisdom. But more than that, I love the truth it offers up for our ponderous moments, as we seemingly race through our lives. Not to mention the wonderfully painful humor woven in.

I have recently returned home from a very long walk in a far away place, continuing my explorations into this idea of Pilgrimage, and the illusions of arrival.

Traditionally Pilgrimage is thought to be a sort of religious journey, something the pilgrim does, moving from point A to point B on some sacred path with the promise or hope of receiving some sort of Divine Merit. Though I love the simplicity in the idea of this I didn't find it in and of itself a very compelling reason to take that very long walk in a far away place.

What I have come to see though, is that one of the facets of this Nomadic Gene tends to move us away from the traditional approaches, and encourages us to wander in the unfamiliar. This element of the unknown seemed compelling enough to want to begin.

John Mowen in Spain, Spring 2013

This of course completely facilitates the Creative life, and I'm not just talking about making things, but more so the way way we creatively hold "Wherever We Are."

The Pilgrim like the Artist learns as he or she moves.
Slow and steady the distance is covered, next steps revealed,
The Stone shaped, Now, finally ready for the final sanding to begin,
that massaged satin finish the pilgrim longs for, some kind of arrival.

So our journeys go on. We continue to creatively work with what is given, move quickly toward Gratitude and just keep going!

Life at the Gallery continues to move along in a very similar fashion, a constant exploration of the Artists' creativity, the fruits of each of their own life wanderings in the familiar and unfamiliar.

A few days ago Kathy had a very interesting conversation with one of our artists Gretchen Papka. Gretchen's work is a multi-faceted experience, bringing the realm of story and process to life using found objects, encaustic, and a deep understanding of the nature of things.

As always, you are invited and encouraged to visit us to see what's new.

Best Wishes for a long walk,
John Mowen
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery

First Friday Art WalkFirst Friday Art Walk
Friday, July 5, 5-9:00 pm

Nevada City now officially has an Art Walk the first Friday of every month. More than 30 places in town will remain open, live music will be featured on casual outdoor stages, there are pop up galleries, and many local artists will have art available at locations around town. June was the inaugural Art Walk, and there was a new, fresh energy around town... come see what all the buzz is about and support our arts community!


James

Mullen

The Gickers

Rob Matthews &

Leslie Guinan

Mixed media artist James Mullen will be with us in the gallery from 6-7:00 pm. We have a grouping of his 8x8 wall series, and he will be bringing some larger sculptures in just for this event.

Rob Matthews and Leslie Guinan of Hidden Spring Design will also be in the gallery from 5-7:00 pm. Their concrete and glass art forms provoke quiet reflection. We feature a rotating selection of sculptures (including Twin Pools, shown above) and benches in the gallery, and they will be bringing some wall pieces for the event.

Carri and Jeremy Gicker will be in the gallery for the Art Walk with a new collection of jewelry. Their bold stone pieces and hand crafted metal work evoke the ancient art of adornment with a contemporary aesthetic.

Art is often about connection. The way you connect with a piece and what a piece of art awakens inside you. As a gallery, we understand that interaction with the artists can deepen this connection or enhance appreciation and understanding for a body of work. Since we will mostly be featuring local artists, these interactions can also deepen connections to our community here in Nevada County and to the art world as a whole.

Do come join us for this opportunity to talk directly with the artists and see their newest creations. We look forward to introducing you to the different artists that will be joining us each month.

Teresa Eaton: a perspective
by Franceska Alexander

Not too long after we opened the gallery in May of 2004, we were lucky enough to acquire Teresa Eaton's artwork. Teresa began her art career as a weaver in 1978, selling hand woven clothing designs in silk, wool and mohair throughout the country. She lived with her husband and cat in Santa Clara, California. She shifted her artistic direction into mixed media collage-assemblage after her cancer diagnosis. For several years Tom Eaton, her husband, regularly delivered her art from the bay area to our gallery.

Passages 7 by Teresa Eaton

Teresa was creating large and small canvas works with hand-dyed handmade papers, color pigments and beeswax from her studio. She painstakingly stitched intricate assemblages in distinctive expression layer upon layer, piece by piece from natural materials, breast x-rays, used tea bags, personal writings and thousands of odd objects she had collected. She traversed a spiritual travail between life and death with this exceptional work that seemed to carry her spirit through to the very end. The gravity of her circumstance fed her soul, it is here the artist became the alchemist, her art became her medicine, and the passing of her life was articulated with dignity. “Shrines for wellness”, she called them, messages from beyond, guiding her way, now left to the intrepid to decipher.

As a collection in the gallery, Teresa's artwork hung with beautiful presence. I was continually captivated by her enchanting detail. Though Teresa Eaton died in 2007, the poignancy of her artwork continues to emphasize the sacred in the mundane. Only one 12x12 canvas from Teresa's original collection is in the gallery, “Passages Number 7,” an array of deep jeweled periwinkle blues, hints of brick reds and natural, it awaits the collector searching for a rare gem of genius.

A Conversation with Gretchen Papka

This month Kathy Frey talks with Mixed Media Artist Gretchen Papka. Gretchen's work has layers of beeswax on panel (called encaustic) and often includes a variety of found objects. They discuss everything from the creation process, moving, growth and learning, to how Gretchen's studio is organized so she can find just the thing she wants to add to a piece.

Benchmark by Gretchen Papka

KF: What does the journey look like when you start a piece?

GP: I'm process driven. I almost always work in a series of 5, sometimes 3 -- it's always odd numbers. An idea starts to form of what I want to do, whether it's a theme based around a memory, a series of landscapes, a specific place or experience.

In the studio I may have East Indian or classical music playing. When starting a series, I'll lay all the panels out because I'll start work on one piece, which triggers ideas for the next and so on. Once I start working, I'm no longer aware of time.

The whole encaustic process is about layering -- layering hot wax and colors and then evening it out with heat. The whole process is meditative for me.

I try to get all the pieces in a series at the same stage with the encaustic process so I can then approach the found objects. Often in my pieces I will leave a cut out niche in the middle. I pull out found objects and try them to see what works in the niche as well as what works with the theme.

KF: Do you pre-plan or trust the moment when making a piece?

GP: I think about the theme, but otherwise it's just doing. One idea flows to another and another and another. There's some thinking and manipulating but always doing, trying and feeling what's right.

KF: How long is this creation process?

GP: Because I work in series, it takes me longer to produce a finished piece because I'll never present a piece until the whole series is done. A series of 5 may take a month or more.

KF: How do you know when a series is done?

GP: At a certain point, I begin to know when to stop. When you do art a lot, you just get to know this sensation and trust it.

Click here to continue reading A Conversation with Gretchen Papka...>>

PERSPECTIVES:
our monthly gallery newsletter
May 2013

Dear Friends, Patrons, and Devotees of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery,

Once again change is in the air.
Once again the onslaught of Summer, bright, and moving in on us.

We love those warm sunny mornings,
And the light of the evenings that seem to expand our energy,
The unexpected willingness to spend more time doing,
Or just Being,
Awake!

On my morning walk as I ascend a particular hill,
The sun is almost blinding as it rises over the horizon.

A new light has pronounced itself.
Today though,     ahhh today,     was especially Beautiful.

The 10,000 sticks of fresh oily poison oak on the hill
Had unfurled their small red translucent leaves,
Only to be completely illuminated by the morning sunlight.
The hillside was on fire, lit up like a cathedral window on a sunny Sunday. MERCY!

In that moment, the poison oak was only about Beauty.
No itchy, no scratchy, or any demonic projections, just Beautiful Illuminated Red!

And once again we are reminded that our moments live in the realm of choice.
Beauty or beast, engaged or disengaged, loving or not loving.
Feeling deeply,
Falling deeply,
Can take our breath away.
So, breathtakingly so.

Visit John Mowen's gallery page...

In the Gallery our mission search for Beauty continues.
Maybe a pilgrimage.
A search for that which moves us, deepens us, or maybe just warms the heart.
Form, given a Mindful Moment, can take us to a new and exciting place.

Travel well pilgrim,
John Mowen
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery

Quiet Meditations

This month we welcome the work of Nichibei, long time ceramists Cheryl Constantini and Mikio Matsumoto, who create fine handmade pottery with a Japanese flair. Their work is a fantastic example of Pure Form, quiet elegant shapes finished with the most beautiful earth tone glazes. We have a selection of sensual nested bowls, vases and drinking cups.

Nested Bowls are functional and beautiful. Earthy vases invite blossoms or are serene as a vessel. Bamboo graces the sides of teacups and mugs hand formed by Cheryl and Mikio.

Marguerite Wagner's reclaimed wood and stone wall sculptures have been a wonderful addition to the gallery. Several of her one-of-a-kind pieces have found homes due to their beauty and humble price points (all the pieces we have are under $500), and she has created several pieces for clients at certain sizes. We have 10 new pieces to show. Marguerite considers herself a "reverse woodworker;" she rarely works from a plan -- she lets the raw piece of lumber evolve into its ultimate state.

Marguerite Wagner

Spalted Maple and stone wall sculptures by Marguerite Wagner undulate under the light.

Sale Room

New Beginnings

This Spring we are trying something new in the gallery by offering a selection of artwork at reduced prices. There are a few "seconds" (small chips, etc.). Some pieces are the end of a particular series. Other work is ready to go back to the artists; rather than spend the money on return shipping and logistics, we would rather pass this savings on to you.

We are in partnership with each artist, and we all appreciate the value of the work. This is an unusual opportunity, so come in to see what surprises we have in store!

A Conversation with Claudia Zeber

In our conversations with artists, Kathy Frey chats with Claudia Zeber from Zeber-Martell Clay Studio. The work of Claudia Zeber and Michael Martell is a multifaceted creative endeavor. Their functional clay forms become a canvas for an array of shapes and colors, each a painting in and of itself. The feeling of their work carries a soft playfulness to it, and commands the status of "centerpiece" in any setting.

KF: John mentioned that the two of you once had an interesting discussion about the book "The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business and Your Life" by Geshe Michael Roach. I've also read that book and am interested to hear your thoughts.

CZ: I loved that book. So much hit me, all at my core values I've always had.

In the book, he talks about working hard. Hard work is not an issue for me as an artist. It takes a long time to do quality work. That's something both Michael and I are invested in.

He also writes about having integrity in life as well as business. Integrity is one of my core values, to treat people well and fairly. What we give to our customers is light and art. Sometimes my husband and I are generous almost to a fault, except I don't believe that's possible. Yet I back off from any aggressive customers because they don't get it. We want our work to be about connection, and positive connections are important to us. The best compliment we receive is: your work makes me smile.

Being harmonious with the environment is also one of my core values as well as Michael's. We are together 24/7 and come from a similar vision in these ways.

The book also emphasizes the importance of planting seeds for the future. I would love to go on a pilgrimage or take 2 weeks in the woods. I haven't found the time to plant those kinds of seeds, yet I live my life daily with that in mind. Reading this book, I'm sure I learned more things, but it's more that my own values got reaffirmed for me.

KF: You must be planting other types of seeds, with your work and your art?

CZ: In our gallery, much like the Mowen Solinsky Gallery, I'm sure, we provide an oasis of peace in the world. We create space for everyone's own being.

We need that after something like the Boston marathon bombing, to re-energize. I've stepped away from that news. I stay informed, but I don't want that type of news and energy to inform my work and daily life.

I love quotes and surround myself with inspiring ones. I read once: "The best that we can do is do the best in our community. That's how we help our world."

Click here to continue reading A Conversation with Artist Claudia Zeber....>>>

PERSPECTIVES:
our monthly gallery newsletter
April 2013

Dear Friends, Patrons, and Devotees of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery,

Spring has sprung here in the Sierras. The daffodils seem more abundant than ever. Along the trails the pungent ceanothus is overwhelming, and the manzanita's tiny white bell blossoms are scattered everywhere.

Yellows, whites and purples, all this new color to remind us of a new cycle beginning. A time to clean, refresh, and renew.

But, I have to say, my favorite point of attention in this time of new beginnings is the garden. With a little bit of mindfulness, our preferences around what we plant seem to be completely acknowledged by the earth. A perfect opportunity to indulge our creativity, a perfect way to be with nature!

For the working artist living in that state of 'what's coming' or 'what's next' can be a rich reflective time. Metaphorical suggestions around new growth, or new beginnings, fire us up for the next wave of doing.

The Spanish poet Antonio Machado writes about the care of the Inner Garden. He has the wind asking us:
"what have you done with the Garden that was entrusted to you?"
Not always an easy or clear answer.

We carry this reflective tone to the gallery where we grow a sort of garden of creativity. The fruits of our labor here continue to expand and blossom.

We are currently enjoying the new spring work of a number of artists. Jane Aukshunas' new oil pastel landscapes on wood panels are wonderfully vibrant and exude a bright joyful quality. Diana Stetson's new large lotus mono print is a stunning presence in the front of the gallery.

In our conversations with artists this month, Kathy covers some very soulful subject matter with Diana Stetson. Diana's work is a visual reminder of the sacred aspects living in all things.

Visit John Mowen's gallery page...

We, as always encourage your visits to our humble garden setting.
To pluck something ripe and fresh directly from the vine is the best,
sweetness for the heart and soul.

John Mowen
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery


Welcoming Spring

"Happy Day" by Jane Aukshunas can feed your inner garden.

The "Daybreak" bench by Hidden Springs Design is a beautiful collage of wood, concrete, and glass. How perfect would this be for putting on shoes before trekking out the door?

For a truly magical garden, the entrance is everything. A gate, like "Dance Lesson" by Mark Oldland, can create an artful statement while welcoming visitors and keeping out unwelcome garden intruders. Mark can design and make custom gates to your specifications.

We have several garden sculptures by Faducci available that can keep your garden beautiful even in the dark of winter.

STAFF NEWS

When you come into the gallery, call or email, you will often interact with one of the many faces of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery. John Mowen is known as the featured artist and gallery curator, and he has filled the gallery with creative, multi-talented, and helpful employees. This newsletter is the voice of the gallery, so we will include some staff connections here on occasion.

Franceska Alexander
Congratulations to Franceska for a hugely successful show of her new work! The show will hang till April 15th at California Organics in Nevada City.

Franceska has been with the gallery since the very beginning, during which time she received her MFA from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Big leaps ahead.

John Mowen
John will be embarking on a pilgrimage in Spain for 55 days this spring. Bon voyage, and we look forward to lots of deep thoughts from the journey ahead.

Staff Pick: what's your favorite piece in the gallery right now?

Andrea Baruch
To narrow down a "favorite" is almost impossible -- but I can choose for this moment and know that, at the same time, my mind and heart reel with what surrounds me here at the Gallery... everyday and it keeps coming.

There's always initial excitement as a box is opened. The wrapping flies and we all stand, aw struck, pondering, sometimes with oodles of comments or with simple quietude.

Scott Wilson

That instant reaction, that pin point to the gut and intake of breath, still happens each time I look at this Scott Wilson -- I love language and communicating, but his work stumps my vocabulary, my explanation of why.

I love the spontaneity, hints of structure, tones that both blend and oppose. There's a strong dance with light. I can go to one corner, reflect or question, and next want to stand back and view (suck in) as much as possible. My visceral reaction is wholeness.

A Conversation with Diana Stetson

Diana Stetson

Hopefully you've had the opportunity to walk into the gallery lately and be welcomed by the vast array of images we have hanging in the front atrium by artist Diana Stetson, calligrapher, printmaker, painter, poet. Let's welcome the beauty as Diana shares some insights into her work with Kathy Frey.

KF: How would you describe your work and the images and themes you work with?

DS: I'm really committed and connected to beauty. That is my main motivation. It's really popular right now to be edgy, to confront difficult issues. For me as an artist, I'm not called to that. It's more the opposite. I don't want to make work that is pretty. I want to make beautiful work, powerful work.

I had a remarkable childhood. Spending lots of time alone in nature and learning a lot from it. That's been the biggest part of my work. That connection. Americans have been less connected to nature. We don't find spiritual peace there as much as other cultures. I'm trying to help people remember that connection and get back to it.

KF: Here in California, we are thinking a lot about Spring since it seems to have arrived early after a rather mild winter. Do you have a favorite season?

DS: I've lived all over the world and in almost all the states. In the Hudson River Valley, where I grew up, Spring was my favorite. All the flowers and lush beauty after a harsh winter.

In New Mexico it's windy. Spring is not the best. Here, Winter is my favorite. It's a very deep, introspective, quiet time.

KF: What is Spring like in New Mexico?

DS: Spring is still a special time. I have a Spring birthday; I'm an Aries. There's the Vernal Equinox. I planted a willowy tree in my yard on my birthday one year, and each year the chartreuse green leaves emerge and announce Spring.

I live in Albuquerque. Most people don't know Albuquerque; they know Santa Fe. People should come here and walk. Albuquerque is beautiful; the Rio Grande runs right through the city. Albuquerque has orchards, vineyards, fields - a whole culture of irrigation - it's all about water. There are hundreds of irrigation channels; it's wonderful walking there since there are no cars. They are not beautiful when they are empty, but the water goes into the ditches in March. It's a big celebration. The water is powerful in this desert environment.

Click here to read the complete conversation with Diana Stetson,
view more of her work, and read several of her poems...>>>

PERSPECTIVES:
our monthly gallery newsletter
March 2013

Dear Friends, Patrons, and Devotees of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery,

This month's greeting is coming to you from the road.
Specifically West Palm Beach, Florida, the destination of my next show.

It is raining.

My adventures out from Nevada City continue to play an important part of my life as a working artist.

An act of faith that so far seems to keep working.

This lifestyle of "venturing out" comes with a full spectrum of experiences. The blessings AND the challenges. Sometimes, the venturing out is more to the point of venturing in!

The mystics tell us that,
"What we truly love,
What we ultimately long for,
Lies just beyond our comfort zone"

Or what about Blake's encouragement?
"If the Fool would persist in his folly,
he would become wise."

I've crossed hundreds of state lines from here to there and back. But maybe crossing over the line from the literal, that which is known, To the metaphorical, that which is unknown, is a more moving and truer reflection of a successful journey or creative life.

Foolish or courageous? No matter.

For us Old Timers, road time and the questioning seems to be ongoing.

Still raining.

I find myself sometimes just hanging out in the parking lot of Whole Foods.
I came here for breakfast. 1 phone call, 10 emails, and this note to you.
It is now time to re-enter for lunch.
Some mysterious comfort comes with being close to good food (not always a given).

Moving around the country with this part of the art world,
my admiration of this semi nomadic community continues to deepen.

Visiting with an old friend of 33 years, a ceramicist who now lives in Detroit (one of our gallery artists), I was reminded of how fortunate I am to be able to infuse the gallery with the original artwork of this spirited community. The infusions are constant and often.

In our interview this month, local artist Kathy Frey chats with ceramic artist Sally Jaffee, one of those Old Timers I mentioned earlier. Sally's restrained color palette creates a peaceful calm the mind longs for.

As always, we invite you to come in as often as possible for a beauty hit.
Better than a flu shot, and since art IS medicine,
you need only step inside the gallery to know
Visit John Mowen's gallery page...THE DOCTOR IS IN!

Now the sun.

With continued appreciation,
John Mowen

Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery


Art of the Unknown

These days, the only known seems to be change. We are in the season of change as winter metamorphoses into spring. There is added movement as buds emerge and birds migrate back to once familiar surroundings. Time shifts. Many artists operate in the realm of the unknown, whether challenging our thinking, releasing all thought to see what happens when hands are left to their own devices, or simply giving in to folly and happenstance with unexpected results.

Taem

Taem, one of our Thai artists, paints birds sitting on wires...some are social, some are stopping for a rest. The simplicity of these oil paintings is enhanced by the "canvas," which is corrugated steel that has been flattened. The rusted surfaces are varied and add interesting depth and commentary on how nature can reclaim and overcome.

Taem

John Charbonneau envisions a world all his own, like in this piece "Thinking About Her," where birds seem to have merged with humans. He creates digital composites from his own photographs (and he is often the model in his own work). Come in to explore the often humorous, always thought-provoking, images that we have both framed and unframed starting at 8x10 inche sizes up to 36x40 inches.

Greg Milne and Heather McQueen

It's hard to imagine the metamorphosis that a ceramic vessel must go through in a raku firing. Earthly clay becomes sublime. Colors emerge like Northern Lights, they are not applied as in traditional glazing. Greg Milne and Heather McQueen create one-of-a-kind vessels alive with unexpected color. This large, vibrant urn is the last of their ceramic forms we have available...this stunning piece can take an art collection to a bold new place. It's dramatic on a pedestal, or it can also hold its own on the floor.

Taem

"Set Me Free" is a one-of-a-kind sculpture by ceramic artist Barbara Prodaniuk. The bamboo cage opens and closes with a sliding gate door that goes up and down in front. Inside lies a heart and several cast metal keys. Her signature crackle glaze and expressive crow add layers to this piece. The wings are outside...the cage is the bird...the keys are inside...the heart is protected inside. We don't overthink it, yet we sure do love the quirky-ness of it all.

Sally Jaffee

A Conversation with Sally Jaffee

Sally Jaffee, a self-proclaimed grass roots potter from the '70s, talks with contemporary jeweler Kathy Frey about the simplicity of her life in Middletown, California and how she got to this point, with little jaunts into the realm of the unknown.

KF: Sally, can you give a brief overview of your art career arc?

SJ: For almost 40 years I've been making a living as a potter. For the first 20 years, I didn't do shows; I just sold to galleries, did some consignment, and had a storefront with a co-op in Seattle. I just did what I wanted. There were no production demands, and I kept my expenses down.

When I moved to California, I started doing a few shows. Suddenly I wasn't enjoying my life as much. There were so many deadlines and a constant demand for production. So now I'm at a point where I'm taking a break from shows. I'm enjoying being off the road. I want to be in my beautiful home, spending more time in the life I created. I have a strong spiritual practice.

I'm still creating a lot because I'm in my studio everyday, yet I make what I want. My galleries are much happier since they can have all my pieces, and my sales are great since they have more inventory.

KF: What is your daily life like?

SJ: I wake up, hike for a few hours with my dog, then I'm in the studio the rest of the day. That's my day, every day. I'll take a break to walk the dog in the afternoon and things like that, but I'm pretty much a hermit. I can go days without seeing other people.

The thing is, this is my life. There's no separation between work and play. It's what I do; it's what I love. I love being a potter. I want to make pots. I'm so thankful that I get to do what I love and live the life I love.

KF: You mentioned having a strong spiritual practice. Is that something that's part of your everyday routine?

SJ: 15 years ago I discovered a guru. There's a strong community of devotees in this area - that's why I moved here. He is a Realisor. It's not Buddhism, not Hinduism. It's his own great tradition.

Nothing is separated out. Whatever I'm doing, I'm invoking this guru. It's moment to moment participation. I have no highs and no lows; my life is very calm and steady. This might be boring to others.

Even in my work, there's a lot of repetition; I don't even have to think. I work 7 to 8 hours every day, yet it's not work. It's very calm and meditative. If I wasn't doing pottery, I would probably be counting prayer beads or something.

I'm so fortunate to be a potter... that connection with the earth, the clay. My home is unbelievably beautiful. My studio is downstairs, so it's all contained.

My life is incredibly simple. I live alone. I consider myself a "single celibate." There's no drinking or smoking, and I mostly eat raw. I'm in my 60th year. I don't view the world the way most people do. I've had many great, passionate love affairs, but now I'm detached from the bodily experience. That's part of not doing shows; it's too much energy. I'm in the world, not of it.

Click here to read the whole Conversation with Sally Jaffee on our Blog...>>>