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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, LeeAnn Brook

PaintingSundownMeet LeeAnn Brook a Nevada City, California-based artist whose works explore landscape through color and movement. Using an expressive layering of colors, textures, and awareness of light, Brook’s paintings are inspired by environments of water, grasslands, gardens and forests that surround us.

Brook 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.

Filled with intensity of color, light and unique textures, Brook’s large format contemporary landscape paintings are built with layers of color and patterns that reflect the layers of nature. Depth is created with the use of subtle patterns and textures that are then integrated into the painting as a whole, where the technique becomes secondary only to the full effect of a vibrant landscape, encouraging us to notice what is beneath the surface of what we see every day.

What was the art background of your childhood?

My dad was an artist, but he died when I was six. My mom was not artistic so she put art mentors in my life, starting with a neighbor boy who taught me about classic art and artists.

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 kindergarten I knew I would be an artist. Literally, it was the very first time the teacher said “tomorrow we’ll be working with paint.” I brought my brush, my smock, and cousin’s majorette baton to paint. I loved that thing and when I painted it the other kids kept coming around saying it was good and asking if I was going to be an artist someday. I said, “yes” and that day encouragement set the course of my life.

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 knew I loved art and continued to support my talent. She also made sure I developed my secretarial skills. I suppose she thought art would be my hobby.

Then, when I was a senior in high school, I took a graphic arts class and loved it. My family wasn’t able to pay for me to go to college, but my teachers and guidance counselor encouraged me to apply to a graphic arts school. The day I told my mom, she said something like, “Oh no, honey, you need to be a secretary.” And, then I went to graphic design school.

Who or what were your early creative inspirations?

I’ve had a lot of mentors who helped me recognize my inspirations.

There was an older kid in my neighborhood who was very artistic. My mom got him to come and teach me to paint. I lived in a very rural area where there wasn’t much exposure to art. He gave me the classics.

Then a neighbor moved in who also recognized my talent and mentored me.  I attended a great high school that had an incredible art program.  And, then, at 18, met a man who was an abstract painter and he introduced me to the art scene; and the ins and outs of being an artist like museums, supplies, other artists.

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

I love talking about art. The first time I did open studios, finally after 40 years, I was able to overcome my shyness and just couldn’t shut up. I feel that’s what doing art shows is about; the conversation between artist and collector is one about what turns you on. I thrive on the direct interaction and connection.

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

My role as an artist is to do art that gives enjoyment to someone else. My art is made to bring beauty to a patron’s home. I get to share and pass on beauty. Art brings beauty and appreciation.

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

I don’t feel I have sacrificed. My life has been nothing but full and rich. Being an artist has brought so much to me. I am humbled by the life I get to live.

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

Luckily, every job I’ve worked in has been related to being an artist and a businessperson. The funkiness is just that it’s my business and I do everything from toilets to windows.

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

Most of my career has been as a graphic designer. I started painting again about 12 years ago and now I have 2 studios.

I just published a book that will be out by the time of Artisans. It is about my work and how in art one medium affects another. It’ll make a great gift item.

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