Join us at First Thursday, June 6th to meet our guest artists- Gail Simmons and Julie Koch.
During the June 6th, First Thursday from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, enjoy the music by Dian McCracken, light snacks, and help us celebrate these artists’ fine work.
Gail Simmons- Painter
“Figures in the West” is a salute to my parents Helen June and Jim Simmons and to Georgia O’Keeffe through both the urbane studio I inhabit during the year and the high desert of New Mexico which I visited last September. I seek to discover the secrets beneath the skin we call ourselves – faces, gestures, combined with subtle skin tones, evocative pigments, the landmarks of our quotidian existence, the armor behind which we often conceal the connections to each other, rather than plumb who we are. A tattoo, a glance, a bowtie, lipstick, polka dots, this too, defines us, the way the sagebrush, crosses, cacti, skulls key into landscape.
On a recent fall trip to Ghost Ranch, I sat under the porticoes, carved out a small work space, choosing a wrought iron chair outfitted with my portable water color kit. I was looking for a composition to quickly sketch and memorialize in hopes of capturing the essence that is the adobe laden Southwest, where I grew up many years ago. The day before, my companions and I had surveyed and painted Ranchos de Taos church, a favorite subject of Georgia O’Keeffe.
Surprisingly, the ideal vista turned out to be my trusty steed Gaucho on the Ghost Ranch trail ride. The girl wrangler, Sara, placed me at the back because I had minimal, but critical riding experience. Though not the position I would have chosen for myself, not only did I have a view of the entire line of perhaps 13 horses, but a view of the exquisite blue mountain, Pedernal. Sara sat twisted backwards toward us, as her horse’s head bobbed forward on the trail, telling stories of this place and of the Anglos who inherited the land after the cattle rustlers had left it, or died in feuds. Georgia’s mountain, Pedernal, engulfed Sara’s form as we trekked and clopped across this purple dust ridden territory. O’Keeffe and her predecessor, Arthur Pack, who assured the lasting legacy of Ghost Ranch, both inhabited a house adjacent to the stunning rock formations of Heaven’s Gate and Chimney Rock. Sara, disappearing in and out of gullies on her Pinto, presenting to us greenhorns the disappearing tracks of an artist’s life forged from the land, imbued the ride with the mystery they must have felt to be inhabitants. From atop Gaucho; I wrangled a system to render one handed iphotos and drew sketches to match on my return to Portland, Oregon. Trail Ride Ghost Ranch and Return from Pedernal, both watercolors, represent these memories. Another oil painting, Puye Cliffs 1962, represents my father’s vision through a camera lens, 50 miles to the south, and my interpretation of his emotion in that moment.
Julie Koch – Mosaics
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t do art. Given my current age, that’s a lot of years. I live in the Cascade foothills on a small farm, and get lots of inspiration from what’s growing and living nearby. Watching the creek meander by or a fern uncurl is mesmerizing.
I spent 30 years in education, and since retiring, have no clue how I found time to work.
I believe that looking at art gives you the chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Making art gives you the chance to share your vision with others, as well as offering you the chance to be introspective as you work.
My art revolves around giving items that might otherwise be tossed out a new life or purpose. The substrates come from thrift stores, behind our barn, or even alongside the road. Since I tend to be a little off-center, and a connoisseur of unusual items (read: collector), I like to incorporate different elements in my work. I rarely use a pattern, and generally let the shape of the piece inform the design. While this may sound like a ‘the piece is speaking to me’ statement, I actually just don’t follow directions well; including my own. So, my work evolves. Some pieces are done fairly quickly; others may take several days, or even weeks. It’s a wonderful process, however long it takes. I hope you enjoy my work, and that you are inspired to look at broken pieces in a new way.