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Artisans Festival 2014 – Meet the Maker, Kelly Bechtold

3-350Meet Kelly Bechtold owner and designer of Girl on a Motorcycle.  The lovechild of glamour and grit, Girl on a Motorcycle is a California conceived, Colorado born luxe leather accessories label. Founded in 2007 by Bechtold, the brand has become known for unique handmade “must have” allure. The inspired design & painstaking construction of pieces utilizes the highest quality leather hides, and distinctive riveted hardware. Girl on a Motorcycle style is a blend of 1960’s innocence and 1970’s Rock n’ Roll decadence. Incorporating timeless style with strength and durability, this line has a lasting quality almost unrecognizable in today’s disposable culture.  Bechtold believes in things that last. My bags and accessories are timelessly designed, made by hand and build to endure. No machines, no factories-just Bechtold, a workbench, some hand tools and a good record playing on the turntable. Her materials are sourced of the finest produces American deer, buffalo and cattle hides and feature high quality fixtures and adornments.

Bechtold is one of over 35 artists showing at the annual Artisans Festival, Friday & Saturday, November 28 & 29 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center.   This holiday tradition is one of the longest running festivals in Nevada County and is known for showcasing the exceptional work of regional artisans.  This year’s festival takes the term “Art Party” to another level with dozens of new artists, installation art displays, performance art, live music, children’s holiday art activities, and a rustic, bohemian Acoustic Café and Wine Bar.  Tickets $3, $5 Weekend Pass, Children 15 and under free.  Daily hours are 10am-5pm.

What was the art background of your childhood?

I was raised off the grid in a Colorado mountain canyon by a hippie mom who encouraged me to see the design in everything. She valued taking time for dreaming and hearing the call of my creative soul. She left me with an appreciation of nature’s design and repetitive patterns.

When did you recognize a special talent or interest in art? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember a specific setting?

In my early 20s I worked in a vintage clothing store and was obsessed with making our displays beautiful. After that, I worked as a wardrobe stylist and found I had a knack for set design. I am obsessed with the special arrangement of beauty.

I was surrounded by people who were “fine artists” and didn’t see myself in their league so I kept it quiet. Also, I just never found the fashion industry inspiring or interesting. It had too many rules.

Then, 7 years ago I started making leather bags and found a love for taking a big hide and having the muse bring out the beauty in it. I was only mediocre at first, but persevered until one day I made something “cool!” I felt connected to the divine inspiration and started creating a collection. My family and friends liked them and gave me a lot of encouragement. Now, I consider myself a designer and I love my bags. Each has a personality and is looking for just the right owner.

What did your parents say when you told them you were going to be an artist? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember the specific setting?

My mom always kind of knew I was going to do something artistic and so she wasn’t surprised. She raised me to be independent and a little bit different. Now, she is over the moon proud and couldn’t be happier that my work arises in me from a deep place and is nature based.

Who or what were your early creative inspirations?

My supportive family and teachers I’ve had along the way. And, NATURE absolutely.

Which artists are you following currently?

My musician friends bring life and joy. Rhiannon the bead maker. Her design and color choices bring out the goddess in women who wear her jewelry.

I share fascination with woodworkers who see form in raw materials.

Louise Nedelson. Georgia O’Keefe. Rustic artisans. Those who see what can come from the inside and shine through from its life force. Paco Rabin. “I traded my needle and thread for pliers and a blow torch.”

What, besides the obvious, do you like about selling your art?

I like that I’ve gone from making purses to really creating art forms. I like the direct human interaction and the joy that I see when someone gets something fine for themselves. I like making bags that are “different, unique and get better with time” just like women. I like that my artform gives comfort and beauty that can leave the house with you.

What do you think is the role of art in a society?

To inspire the dreamer in each person and show that there are languages each of us speak and all of them matter. Art allows us to hear the voice of love and that the universe give to us all. Artisans put that love into form and give it away to everyone. Art connects us to other dimensions of the human experience.

What have been the biggest sacrifices you’ve made for your art?

Stability and peace of mind about the future. Being willing to live the roller coaster of success. Wear and tear on my body.

Anything particularly interesting or striking about your story that you’d like to share?

I am self-taught. Everything that comes out of me comes from somewhere unique to me. I’ve never taken classes; no one has taken time to teach me. My art comes out of my experiences and my inner vision.

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Artisans Festival 2014 – Meet the Maker, David Wong

2-300Meet photographer David Wong.  Wong began showing his work only eight short years ago after a prior lifetime career in film production. He was inspired by his teacher, Ted Orland, one of Ansel Adams assistants, who felt he had a unique eye for light, subject and composition. In his work, Wong looks for a unique sense of art and story as created by the subject, light, composition, movement, and other “of the moment” factors. Wong’s soft spoken manner is evident in his photos, each of which offers a calm, peaceful reflection of nature’s beauty.

Wong is one of over 35 artists showing at the annual Artisans Festival, Friday & Saturday, November 28 & 29 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center.   This holiday tradition is one of the longest running festivals in Nevada County and is known for showcasing the exceptional work of regional artisans.  This year’s festival takes the term “Art Party” to another level with dozens of new artists, installation art displays, performance art, live music, children’s holiday art activities, and a rustic, bohemian Acoustic Café and Wine Bar.  Tickets $3, $5 Weekend Pass, Children 15 and under free.  Daily hours are 10am-5pm.

What was the art background of your childhood?

I was a photographer from the age of 15. I did darkroom work and experimented a bit but it wasn’t until later in my life that I “woke-up” to art and photography. I made a switch from engineering and business mentality to an art orientation.

When did you recognize a special talent or interest in art? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember a specific setting?

I had taken a photography class from Ted Orland, who was one of Ansel Adams assistants. I did a photograph of a lighthouse at night for the class and I found out later that he was showing the photograph to his classes. It gave me inspiration and encouragement that maybe I could do this. Shortly after, I entered a number of photographs in a show and was successful in selling many of them. I never looked back.

What did your parents say when you told them you were going to be an artist? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember the specific setting?

My parents were gone by the time I became an artist.

Who or what were your early creative inspirations?

Edward Hopper, Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh

Which artists are you following currently?

Charles Cramer, Annie Leibovitz, Art Wolfe

What, besides the obvious, do you like about selling your art?

I enjoy relating my love of art to the people who enjoy my vision. I very much like teaching photography and getting others to excel in their development of photography and the arts.

What do you think is the role of art in a society?

Art brings great enjoyment and appreciation to life. It expands ways of thinking and creativity in how we tackle our individual lives. I believe that people who learn to appreciate art in their lives tend to be less self-focused.

What have been the biggest sacrifices you’ve made for your art?

I don’t feel that I’ve had to make big sacrifices for my art, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I have gained much by being an artist.

What is the funkiest job you’ve taken to support your art?

I pretty much enjoy all my work.

Anything particularly interesting or striking about your story that you’d like to share?

I didn’t come to art until I was almost 60. I think self-doubt and thinking that you can’t do art is too big an obstacle for many. I never thought I had an artistic bone in my body. I used to hate going to museums and galleries! Now, I am biggest student. Never too late to learn.

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ARTISANS FESTIVAL 2014 – MEET THE MAKER, BRIGITTE MAYER

1-300Meet Davis, CA based artist Brigitte Mayer.  Mayer’s work, whether printing, painting, sculpture, carving, or furniture and lamps – is steeped in the German forms and fairytales of her childhood. The spare tidiness and love of line are the influence of her cabinetmaker father. Finding art in found objects, such as beautifully transformed cocoa pods of hundreds of formica samples, creates the unusual diversity.

Mayer is one of over 35 artists showing at the annual Artisans Festival, Friday & Saturday, November 28 & 29 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center.   This holiday tradition is one of the longest running festivals in Nevada County and is known for showcasing the exceptional work of regional artisans.  This year’s festival takes the term “Art Party” to another level with dozens of new artists, installation art displays, performance art, live music, children’s holiday art activities, and a rustic, bohemian Acoustic Café and Wine Bar.  Tickets $3, $5 Weekend Pass, Children 15 and under free.  Daily hours are 10am-5pm.

What was the art background of your childhood?

My dad was a master craftsman and cabinet builder straight from Germany. I thought it was boring and would never have thought building things out of wood would be my ultimate passion in those days.

When did you recognize a special talent or interest in art? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember a specific setting?

Others in my family had talent, but I never saw it in myself. I was a mom. When my kids got more independent I needed something to do so I started working with a friend who worked with wood. To my surprise, I realized it was fun, interesting, and I was good at it. Then, it turned out people liked it, wanted to buy my art and the whole business started snowballing.

These days, I’m a tool junkie. I love the challenge of finding the right tool for the job and learning to use it with expertise. It’s like a puzzle and I love puzzles.

What did your parents say when you told them you were going to be an artist? Was it a moment or a process? Can you remember the specific setting?

My parents were already gone by the time I started creating things. I took them around to some local shops and they liked my work. and she just kept giving them her works and they kept selling. Decided she wanted a studio and refurbished the garage as a workspace. It was fun, people liked her stuff, and they were inspired by her creations which keeps fueling her craft.

Who or what were your early creative inspirations?

Definitely I was inspired by my dad. He could make anything. I also had a creative aunt who I was named after. She was an abstract painter, ceramicist, and overall fine artist whereas my dad’s works were functional. I guess I’m a bit of both.

Which artists are you following currently?

I mostly see something and the materials catch my eye, not really people or artists. I am always looking for interesting ways to use materials and tools.

What, besides the obvious, do you like about selling your art?

I feel validated. When someone actually pays their good hard earned money for what I create, I feel successful.

What do you think is the role of art in a society?

Art makes us feel alive and separates us from being just pure animals. The ability to appreciate creating makes life bearable and interesting. Creativity has the power to evoke excitement regardless of how the circumstances of the day are going.

What have been the biggest sacrifices you’ve made for your art?

Well, my kids say “It’s all you do!” Maybe, the ability to be nurturing, helpful, and available to the kids on some level.

What is the funkiest job you’ve taken to support your art?

Doing art and making money at it feels like the funkiest job I’ve ever done.

Anything particularly interesting or striking about your story that you’d like to share?

I have a hard time letting go of my art because I love each piece so much.

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Artisans Festival – Meet the Maker, Elany Prusa

jiri_and_elany_pics_for_website_008Meet artist Elany Prusa of Pacific Blue Tile.  Elany is one of over 35 artists showing at the 39th annual Artisans Festival, Thanksgiving Weekend at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center.   This holiday tradition features Northern California’s finest artisans showing original, hand-crafted art.  Meet the artisans and makers.  Expect to find the extraordinary at this show.  November 29 – December 1, 10am-5pm, $3 daily admission, $5 weekend pass.

I am the artist for our family’s small hand painted tile business for 30 years.  I start out making a pencil line drawing of my design which we then make into a silkscreen. My husband then screens a mixture of wax resist and black colorant (manganese) through the silkscreen lines onto a plain ceramic 6”x6” tile.  This is done manually one tile at a time.  When dry I am able to paint & color scheme the tile and fire it to see how it comes out.  Sometimes this involves 10 or more “test” firings therefore 10 more days as it takes a kiln one day to fire and cool off again.  After that we use my chosen color scheme and paint each tile individually one tile at a time using ceramic glazes.  We then fire in our kiln to 1800o and the tiles turn into a beautiful, shiny and durable work of art or for use as a hot plate.

My husband also hand makes misshapen ceramic plates as background canvases for me to do one-of-a-kind original ceramic paintings onto.  We also do large 15/20 tile mural scenes which utilize the same techniques.  I have made all of my tile designs into individual magnets as well – trying to tap into the less expensive gift market. (photos in catalog)  I also started a new line of Dog Design tiles which have become quite popular and I now have 36 different breeds and counting.

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