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,
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.
Can take our breath away.
So, breathtakingly so.
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,
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery
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.
Spalted Maple and stone wall sculptures by Marguerite Wagner undulate under the light.
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!
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....>>>
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.
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.
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery
"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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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...>>>
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.
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
THE DOCTOR IS IN!
Now the sun.
With continued appreciation,
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery
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, 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.
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.
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.
"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 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...>>>