March 16—April 16, 2018
Join us for both of our evening receptions: March 16 and April 6, 5-8 pm.
All art involves an artist taking up some media and transforming it into a new form or image that comes from their vision and imagination. Artists take many different types of materials and give them a thorough and dramatic change in form or appearance wherein it undergoes a radical transformation to become a piece of art. Some artists start with a lump of clay or precious stones and metal. They take these materials and mold them into beautiful bits of sculptural art. Other artists begin with a blank piece of paper and by using paints, inks, or photography create an image no one else has created before. Artists transform what most people see as ordinary into something extraordinary, unique to their way of seeing the world.
“Transformation” is a gallery show that looks at the journey of three local artists and the materials they use in their creative process.
Julia L. Wright, long known for her feather masks and jewelry, has been expanding her artistic palette to incorporate nature photography. As she hikes she takes images along the trail. Then back at home she transforms those photos into kaleidoscopic digital art.
Jerry Rhodes starts with clay and transforms it into dramatic vessels and sculptures. His raku work incorporates disparate concepts and elements drawn from a global, temporal, and cultural palate into harmonious designs.
Ace McCasland’s jewelry has a rustic, eclectic, industrial feel and for this show she is considering how seeds transform into plants as diverse as grass and trees. Using ancient metal-smith techniques she strives to create modern, one-of-a-kind designs.
Julia L. Wright
Talk a little about yourself
Creating art in many forms has been the basis of my life starting with theatre when I built sets and directed others in High School and college. I created a variety of art using a myriad of fibers. Feathers were added to many of my art creations, and I am best known for creating feather masks and other artful accessories using feathers and found objects.
I have taken thousands of photographs on my hikes and in many gardens. About five years ago started using my realistic nature and other photos to illustrate my books and journals. And some of them got a bit twisted to fit into the idea I was trying to illustrate.
About 2 years ago, I “fell down a rabbit hole of creativity” using my Nature photographs to create abstract, kaleidoscopic and mandala style images. I find a little part of a Nature photo and by playing with it in on the computer; I transform it into a totally different type of image.
What does making art mean to you?
When I am in my studio or sitting at my computer, I get totally lost in the process and my imagination can run pretty wild thinking about how to take the materials at hand and create something totally unique and fun.
Taking photos on my hikes always has my creative juices flowing. I enjoy watching people try to imagine how I went beyond a simple Nature photograph when looking at my artwork. I am constantly looking for some new way to use the images I begin with to create a bit of awe and wonder when someone sees the finished art.
What inspires you in your art?
Nature is my most powerful inspiration. When hiking or passing a beautiful garden, I often stop to take in the amazingly beautiful natural creations that surround me. A driftwood stump or a rock formation or a bit of moss can be as enticing to my eye as a beautiful wildflower. Each one makes my heart sing and my spirit soar with joy when I take the time to really look at the beauty others pass by each day without noticing it.
I realize there are hundreds of people who take beautiful Nature photographs, so I wanted to do something a little bit different with mine. I really enjoy finding a hidden piece of a Nature photo to twist and turn into a totally unsuspected image. Watching people look deeply into the images and point out to friends what they see and get a conversation going about that image is a joy to watch.
Walk us through your production process.
I take lots and lots of pictures on a hike or in a garden, and then sort through them to find which ones will work for various types of art projects I may be working on. Sitting at the computer, I will crop out extraneous objects for a book illustration or to use in a deck of cards. The real fun comes when I see a piece I want to play with to create a mandala or kaleidoscopic or surrealistic abstract image. Each one of these can take hours and many twists and turns, and sometimes changes to the coloration, to get to the place I feel satisfied with the final image.
What reaction do you want to achieve in the public looking at and buying your artwork?
I want people to look deeply into each of the abstracted photographs use their imagination to discover images within them. I want people to use their imaginations and discover a myriad of images within each image. I enjoy asking if they can see the starting image or if it just all melts into one new piece of art.
What is your recent favorite piece? And why?
I have had lots of fun creating these images. I do hope some will inspire others to gain an appreciation for Nature and this beautiful planet we live on. But more than that, to let their imagination run wild when looking at stump or rock formation or a bit of moss and see a fantasy creature that may inspire a poem or story to tell their children.
I think my most favorite surrealistic image I have in this show is the “Magic Mushrooms Reflected in the Aspen Pond”. What a great hike that was! Actually, hidden in this image is a reflection of my shadow, very hard to see. The magical feeling of the golden Aspen leaves floating on the water still evokes a feeling of joy I felt on that hike walking through the autumn splendor in silence only broken by the wind and the cry of birds.
Here are two sets of images:
Each one has the original image, then the cropped piece I used and the final image that will be at the show. Both came from this hike and have Aspen leaves in them, but from different ponds. Both use most of the original image, but the “Magic Mushrooms“ image has many more twists and changes to it.
The little piece of driftwood looked like he was praying or looking up on wonder. So “Prayer Circle” came about as a kaleidoscopic image.
Where can we find your work?
1. Web sites:
My books are also on Amazon
And I usually have 2-3 images showing in the Manitou Art Center member Gallery and at Commonwheel Artists Co-op.
In a short paragraph, tell us about yourself
I think it was 1995 or 1996 when I went to a Renaissance Festival and saw these hand-made beer steins that I really liked. I was too cheap to buy them, and I was convinced that they were probably really easy to make. How hard could that be, right?! So I decided to go to a craft center and teach myself to throw pottery. After many, many years, I amassed a garage full of ashtrays, flower pots, and a few artistic pieces that were kind of ok. I decided to take some pieces to galleries in Santa Fe, Taos, Denver, and around Colorado Springs, and the owners actually consigned a few--so that's how it started. I still consider pottery a bad hobby I got into, and I STILL haven't made a good set of beer steins.
What does making art mean to you?
I've never really philosophized deeply about what my art means to me. I don't try to make socio-political statements with my work. I don't feel I need to create an homage to any genre, trend, style, or palate (although I do favor Raku). I don't try to emulate famous artists. I don't care that my technique is all wrong. I don't have an insatiable urge to create...I just like make pots. The ultimate satisfaction for me is pulling a piece out of the kiln and saying, "Yeah, that's ok. I like that one."
What has inspired you for this show?
My inspiration for this show was forgetting that I signed up months ago to do it, and then panicking and trying to get a bunch of pieces done at the last minute.
For this show specifically, tell us about your process.
The process is pretty straight forward: throw the pot, trim the pot, bisque fire the pot, glaze the pot, Raku-fire the pot, hope it doesn't break during any of the steps above. I've posted a few "Befores-and-Afters" on Facebook.
What emotions do you want to explore in the public looking at your artwork?
I'd hope that others looking at my work don't try to overanalyze it or look for profound meaning. If you like a particular piece, great. If you think it's crap, that's great, too.
What is your favorite piece for sale at this event? And why?
I think my favorite pieces, for now, are the Sagar-fired Bonsai tree pots. They're not quite where I want them to be stylistically yet, but the technique offers an almost limitless variety of experimental approaches.
Where can we find your work?
I have a website that I haven't updated in years: www.jerryrhodespottery.com, and galleries in Charleston, San Francisco, New York, Golden & Manitou, and a few other places.
In a short paragraph, tell us about yourself.
we are all seeking, exploring, wondering, dreaming... after years of adventuring and wandering the western landscape, I’ve begun to express these experiences with a variety of artistic mediums. being an avid traveler, I am especially drawn to art you can easily take with you, and even better, wear. My jewelry designs are earthy yet industrial, eclectic, and unpretentious, often incorporating materials that challenge preconceptions of what is 'valuable'. I experiment with unusual techniques such as hammering annealed metal against concrete or railroad track or melting scraps of leftover silver into a ring band, for a truly unique texture. I create my own chains, jump rings, ear wires, clasps, and much more, finishing each unique piece with heavy oxidation, buffed slightly for highlights, to create an archaeological 'freshly unearthed' creation. I work intuitively, so each day I enter the studio, I rarely know what is going to happen, but the opportunity to elevate something common into something precious is a challenge I look forward to each time, and often surprise myself with the results.
What does making art mean to you?
My work can be described as 'wild-crafted metal': inspired by the wild, crafted by hand, incorporating the exquisite textures and patina of metal with minerals, gemstones, found objects, and organic material. My creations embrace personal adornment as small sculpture that is worn upon, and interacts directly with, the body. I seek to create an abstract story with my art, as jewelry especially becomes intimate and expressive for the wearer, in turn becoming a part of their own story.
What has inspired you for this show?
For this show, “Transformation”, I am exploring the idea of change, of alchemy, of growth. The tiniest capsule of a seed holds the most profound and exquisite example of transformation, able to alter itself into a simple blade of grass, or a stately redwood tree. This thought has inspired organic pieces evocative of that moment when a seed first sprouts, that moment of unrealized potential, when slender tendrils reach passionately and determinedly toward the sky. Other pieces are simply inspired by the transformative process of changing raw and often recycled or found materials into wearable pieces of art for the body.
For this show specifically, tell us about your process.
I have included a process photo collage that documents the transformation of raw materials, in this case scrap silver, into a ring band: first the scrap is laid out onto a charcoal block, then fire is applied, melting the bits to each other without completely melting it into a shapeless blob. I take this strip and hammer, file, edit, and shape, ultimately forming a ring band. After studying the shape and potential negative space, I may discover a natural spot to place a gemstone, here, a warm glowing citrine is placed into a hand fabricated prong setting, then the piece is complete.
What do you hope people to experience when looking at your artwork?
Jewelry is an exquisite medium that allows one to wear art that directly interacts with the body. Jewelry becomes personal and expressive for the wearer and becomes a part of their own story. To be able to create a piece of jewelry that becomes so intimate and meaningful for someone is extremely gratifying as an artist. I often ask the viewer or the wearer to step outside of their comfort zone. Push the limits, bend the rules, poke at the ideals of perfection. I do not seek to express flawlessness, I seek authenticity. I seek the truth within the layers. I seek the nitty gritty, the weathered, the worn, the discarded, the overlooked. We all have rough edges we try so hard to conceal. I choose to reveal those flaws, to embrace the ragged, the wild, the raw. It is in these moments of pushing our own limits, we will discover ourselves.
What is your favorite piece for sale at this event?
to be determined...... possibly meaning it hasn't been made yet... ha!
Where can we find your work: website, social media, local stores.
Locally, my work can be found at:
Poor Richard's Downtown (320 North Tejon)
G44 Gallery (1785 S. 8th Street)
by Leti Wesolowski, contributor
“The Artful Garden” is a joint art show between Caron O’Neil and Ace McCasland, two local artists passionate about creating art with the most unusual things. Their theme this time is: living plants. Discover beautiful artful ideas to decorate your home and garden and get ready to enjoy Spring!
“The garden is a sacred place where you can lose yourself and find yourself at the same time,” says Ace McCasland. “Reconnect. Rediscover. Breathe. Plunge your hands into the soil, feel the earth... Listen closely, your garden has secrets to share.”
Ace delves into many different forms of artistic expression, including being a well accomplished metalsmith (www.studiolunaverde.com), a mixed media artist, and an avid gardener. (Ace describes herself as a true cactus hugger who brakes for wildflowers!) When asked what ‘Art’ means to her, she replied: “Art is expression, exploration. Art can make loud, passionate, political statements, or gentle whispers from a quiet soul. The act of making art uses one's whole body: the hands manipulate, the head resolves, the heart gestures, the shoulders shrug, the soul sighs. Art keeps me constantly investigating, exploring, learning, striving, wondering, discovering, breathing, losing myself, then finding myself again... art is life is art.”
After a promise of challenging herself and pushing her personal limits to create something out of her comfort zone (i.e.: not using fire and metal) she found concrete as the primary material to begin exploring, together with plants and patina.
“I've often wanted to integrate living plants into my work, which isn't always practical, but with the increasing popularity and availability of tillandsias, or air plants, I saw a way to use them in small sculptures,” Ace says. “It also gave me an opportunity to explore the metaphor of plants emerging from cracks in concrete, thriving despite adverse conditions, always reaching for the light. Contrasting the hardness of concrete with the soft textures of the plants is quite satisfying.”
She also experimented with different types of outdoor “wall” art that explore patina as a surface embellishment slowly changing over time as a result of exposure to the elements.
“I created a few assemblage pieces from recycled cedar fence paneling and found objects, all tough enough to handle being outside, where certain parts may spin in the wind, bells will jangle, rust will develop and trickle, but you may be tempted to hang them inside as well.”
Ace is particularly excited about her concrete and patina panels, a series of intriguing squares with inserted deeply oxidized metal bits and found objects that will continue to oxidize and drip and change over time. “I've always been drawn to how rust can drip and oxidize concrete, creating an abstract painting that may take years to develop.”
For more explorations and fantastic designs, follow Ace on Facebook www.facebook.com/studiolunaverde and Instagram www.instagram.com/studiolunaverde
Our second artist, Caron O’Neil, uses found objects and discarded materials to create fun art expressions with the hope to enhance one's garden naturally, and at the same time help protect the environment and improve our overall health.
Her strongest interests and influence have always been Old World cultures, ethnic art and the connection to Earth and its protection. A Colorado native, Caron spent her teen years in Montana but returned to Colorado to become the first female park ranger in Colorado Springs for thirty years. Now retired, she focuses on her passion to create art and take care of her garden. “All my life I’ve loved playing in the dirt and growing things. Buying a house with a big open dirt backyard was a dream come true… Growing my own food is so gratifying and therapeutic to me,” she says.
One of Caron’s favorite concepts explored for this show is the Kokedama balls. Kokedama is a Japanese word that translates from “koke” meaning moss and “dama” meaning ball. Sometimes called the “Poor Man’s Bonsai,” the art of binding plants into green moss balls dates back centuries to the Edo era in Japan between 1603 and 1868. Suspending these distinctive moss balls from strings and displaying them in large groups is called “String Gardens,” makes an adorable decoration for any home. Caron loves these moss orbs because very few people have ever seen them and “the concept of hanging a plant in a moss ball in the air fascinates me.”
Another new idea Caron explored for this show is Bug boxes. These boxes are meant to attract and create suitable habitats for beneficial bugs such as bees, ladybugs and butterflies, to help contribute to the health of plants in the garden naturally. Worm towers are another form of Earth friendly art pieces, employing leftover food waste and composting worms (red wigglers) to sustainably improve the soil in the garden without artificial chemicals.
Caron wanted to express peace and harmony with nature with her interpretation of indoor Zen Gardens for the home. She has collected a variety of found objects with a Buddhist theme and artfully rearranged them into different containers with small pebbles. These gardens come with dried decorative cuttings but they can be substituted with fresh stems or flowers by filling with water the slate stone container (hidden beneath the pebbles) that houses a metal ‘flower frog’ in it to keep the stems upright. Each Zen garden is assembled lightly so as to be rearranged into different ways and with different plants of your choice.
Other pieces in the show are just fun assemblages made with salvaged objects meant to bring visual joy to any garden. “Being an artist is a way of life,” Caron says. “It’s in one’s DNA. I can’t imagine not being creative in some way that brings joy to yourself and others. Knowing that someone wants what you’ve created to bring happiness to their lives is so gratifying. What’s better than that?”
Find more of Caron’s fun creations at Commonwheel Artist Co-op.
Ace and Caron have created an amazing body of work for “The Artful Garden” to build awareness of easy garden improvement ideas and to spread joy and creativity to your garden and living spaces. Join us for the opening reception May 19th at our Creekside Gallery from 5 to 8pm. Come, meet the artists and enjoy their artistic offerings perfect for Spring time! “The Artful Garden” will be on display and for sale until June 12th.
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Step out of your comfort zone and feel the exhilaration of trying something new. Explore the possible creative ways of displaying and enjoying your beloved jewelry pieces by integrating diverse artistic mediums. You might find that an exotic pendant can be displayed in your home on an interesting wall art piece when it is not hanging around your neck. A gorgeous ring or bracelet may have a place to rest in a small shadow box that has a poem or haiku specifically written for the piece of personal adornment. A painting can become three dimensional when adding another artistic component. The possibilities are endless. Can you visualize a wonderful piece of pottery embellished with a removable piece of jewelry
Opening Reception Friday, April 15, 5—8 pm
April 15 to May 16, 2016
Commonwheel Artists Co-op invites you to free yourself from your comfort zone and open yourself to creativity!
We’re offering a place to explore new ideas in personal adornment and innovative home décor items, providing a sensory delight for our art loving customers. Why not display an exotic pendant on a beautiful ceramic sculpture when it is not hanging around your neck? Why not showcase a gorgeous ring or bracelet in an evocative shadow box? Why not exhibit a dazzling showpiece within an embellished painting?
Our next gallery show, “Dare to Express,” will playfully provide you with interesting ways to incorporate wearable art into your home décor and innovative displays to showcase your beloved jewelry pieces.
On April 15th join us for our gallery opening reception and get a chance to meet in person the creative masterminds behind this one-of-a-kind show, while tasting hors d'oeuvres and enjoying Colorado Bluegrass music.