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!!!
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,
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
Mowen Solinsky Gallery
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.
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.
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.
This 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?
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.
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.
Dear Friends, Patrons, and Devotees of the Mowen Solinsky Gallery,
More notes from the road: Des Moines , Iowa
"THERE YOU ARE"
HOME FROM HOME
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.
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,
Owner, Mowen Solinsky Gallery
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!
Rob Matthews &
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...>>
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,
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...>>>