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Artisans Festival 2014 – Meet the Maker, Liz Collins

2-300Meet Liz Collins.  Collins 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.

Despite compelling argument that she should become an architect, Collins graduated from The University of Colorado with a Bachelors of Fine Art and a lot of “tsssk tsssk’s” from the sidelines. Noting her artwork’s odd perspective with walls and windows out of plumb the consensus was that it was just as well she didn’t follow their advice. It is exactly this off-kilter look that has become the signature style of her work.

Collins began by doing serigraphs (silkscreen prints), quickly moving into oil pastels, and then onto mixed media, always retaining a certain whimsy to her work. Evident in every medium is her familiar infusion of life and movement in all things. Breaking up the usual planes of color with maps, sheet music and poetry keeps her work dynamic, never stale or static.

More recently her fascination with maps and travel has added another dimension to her work. “Travelling the world I have realized how I love to watch people in their every-day activities, whether it be selling chai on the bustling street corner, or riding a bicycle through inconceivable traffic. I love to watch their limbs, their movement, the subtle ways they hold themselves, their feet, their hands. Using maps, or poetry or music, to me, adds an element of surprise as well as a sense of place.”

What was the art background of your childhood home?

My parents didn’t talk a lot about art though they did take us to museums in NYC. They had one artist whose original art was in our home. My mom would also buy original art in galleries when we’d go to the Jersey shore.

I remember the romance of finding a set of hard pastels in a wooden box in my Gmas attic.

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 remember it as a moment in the 4th grade. I had always liked to draw, but Laney Crawford in 4th grade was really good and could draw anything and she showed me how to “draw what you see.” It was like a Zen moment of realization. Suddenly, I realized I could draw anything. I’ve always loved art; the smell, the look, being alone, the doing of it.

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 wanted me to be an architect because that was the practical thing. They appreciated my talent, but didn’t think I could make a living at it. Then, in my last year of high school, my lifelong friend, Emmy, said “of course you’re going to major in art.” And, that was that. They got used to the idea.

Who or what were your early creative inspirations?

Laney Crawford in 4th grade. My friend and co-worker, Ann, in Boulder, CO when I was a young sign painter. She started actually selling silk screen art. I thought, if she can do it, I can do it so I did.

Artistically, Thomas McKnight who was a silk screener. I saw his stuff in NYC gallery and loved it. He painted interiors looking out into the moon and night sky. They were happy and bright. Also, Thomas Hart Benton of the 1930s. He painted rolling landscapes and motion.

Which artists are you following currently?

Nobody, really. Maybe modern artists. Contemporary paintings. I am inspired by the new look of contemporary, modern art.

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

I love talking to people about my art. I like hearing what people see in my work. It’s interesting what it brings out in people.

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

Art has the capability to make people happy. It brings out good feelings. It brings out deep feelings in people. It has the ability to revives them and add passion to their lives.

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

I am lucky enough to have always made my living as an artist.

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

My current work celebrates my life and my life as a traveler. The maps, the nostalgia they hold for the days of map travel, bring depth and a shared appreciation of how the world is changing. Maps evoke both adventure and safety because they indicate you are on an unknown road and actually tell you where to go.

I honor and appreciate map makers and the beauty they put to their task.

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Artisans Festival 2014 – Meet the Maker, Shawn Ray Harris

2-300Meet San Francisco based photographer Shawn Ray Harris.  Harris’ development as an artist has been of two paths: the first path, exploring the medium itself by making three-dimensional photography while working in manufacturing; and, the second path, using photography traditionally, exploring his personal interests, often with a sense of humor. He recalls an art teacher saying, “Have a job and make art on the side. Eventually, depending on your commitment, one will win out and you will find yourself doing what you were meant to do.” This holds true. Six years ago, Harris began making art full time. His art also had two separate paths that became one: he focuses on making work that is deeply personal and that also pushes the boundaries of photography.

Harris thinks of the camera/photography as a tool, as an in-depth sketch book that captures ideas. He uses a camera, sometimes in a traditional sense, most of the time in tandem with a computer and editing software. Cameras, film, software and technologies will change. He enjoys working through how to best use available tools to capture, record, and translate his imagination. That’s what’s important to him. “Along the way, if I enable myself and a few others to laugh…then I feel I am doing what I was meant to do,”

Harris 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 did landscape oil painting on the side, but put it away early on. My mom always doing crafts for sale. Their interests gave me the ability to do my own thing because there were always supplies to tinker with. They definitely put value put on creating things.

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

My interest and talent were always there as long as I remember. I wasn’t interested in other subjects like math. Art always held my interest. It gave me direction. My teachers in mid school and high school saw my talent and interest. They were good at inspiring me to keep doing art as a valuable and pursuable field.

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?

I wasn’t a moment. I went to art school because it became the obvious choice. My parents always supported doing that which you love to do. They, probably like other parents, were a bit concerned about me making a living at it, but realized it’s important to do what you love in life.

Who or what were your early creative inspirations?

I saw other students at school who were really good and that was motivating. I wanted that, too. I specifically remember noticing good imagery, Annie Leibowitz especially. She blew my mind with her intelligence, creativity and playfulness. Jerry Ueslmann, who was a traditional dark room photographer. He did some super surreal work and I was amazed he could do that with photography.

Which artists are you following currently?

No one especially. Just my muse. Street artists if anything catches my interest. I have a total respect for spray can art. I am inspired by their ability, the design, the place, the temporary nature with danger in the background. The way they do it makes art available to everyone, not just art people. They put it right in our backyard.

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

I like the gauge on how it’s being received. The instant feedback. Being acceptable and being affirmed encourages me to move in further and keep going. The fact that I can make art that is interesting to me and can be sold is pretty fantastic.

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

I hope the role of the artist is to point out and/or comment on society at large. I think I’m still working on my art as a comment on something larger than dressing up in masks and taking pictures of myself. Art is so much more enjoyable, approachable, deeper, broader and bigger than just something for sale.

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

I’d say sometimes I am too focused and keep on track at the expense of people around him.

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

One eclectic urban patron of mine had me gold leaf a gorilla skeleton. That was weird. I Pop Arted it.

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

I am also an oil painter and mixed media artist. I see myself as just an average Joe plugging away.1-3004-300

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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Artisans Festival – Meet the Maker, Paul Steege

Meet ceramics artist Paul Steege of Sweetland Pottery.  You might have seen his beautiful pottery on the cover of the Union’s Prospector this week.  Paul and his wife Tina are 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 have always found joy in working with my hands, whether the material is wood, fiber, metal, or clay. It was not until I was in college in the 80s that I learned how to throw pots, whiling away many hours in the University of Vermont Pottery Co-op. In 1993, after having moved to the Sierra foothills, I resumed the study of clay with Francesca Roveda, who not only helped me develop my skills, but also introduced me to the possibilities of making a living as a studio artist.

In 1995 my wife, Tina, and I started Sweetland Pottery, making pots in a little studio adjoining our home and taking them around to craft shows on the weekends. I did all of the wet clay work, while Tina glazed and fired the ware in electric kilns. In about 2001, after moving to a new location, a new gas kiln was built. At this time I took over all of the studio work, though Tina continues to support me, handling administrative tasks, bookkeeping, traveling to shows with me, and sometimes assisting in kiln loading.

My current line of high-fired functional porcelain ware includes cups, bowls, teapots, soup tureens, storage jars, and various table items. I also make complete dish sets to order. Most pieces are made on the potters’ wheel with subsequent alteration techniques, and some pieces are constructed from clay slabs. The ware is fired to cone 10 (about 2300 degrees F) in a gas kiln. My glaze palette includes traditional Asian-style glazes, such as a smoky gold shino, a fluid wood-ash glaze, and a rich dark temmoku. Many of my pieces are distinguished by handles I make from manzanita twigs I gather on my land in the Sierra foothills. This softer wood element compliments the hardness of the ceramic forms. I work to find a balance between precision and happenstance. I am also trying for a fluidity of line and surface that porcelain lends itself so well to.

Although my work reflects forms and textures in nature as well as qualities I have seen and admired in the creations of people, I believe that my pots possess a style that is an expression of who I am and what is important to me. Values I strive for include simplicity, integrity, and beauty. It is my hope that these values are imparted to those using this pottery.

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Artisans Festival – Meet the Maker, Cindy Hintz

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Meet fiber artist Cindy Hintz of Pine Street Porch.  You might have seen her beautiful art on the cover of the Union’s Prospector this week.  She 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.

Cindy was born and raised in California. Her education is in Interior Design. Cindy worked as a custom sewing fabricator for an upscale boutique as she completed her education. Upon graduation, Cindy began her career as a design coordinator, moving into a full- fledged project manager for over 15 years. She worked overseas in Singapore as the project manager, leading the design effort for a 220,000 sq. ft. headquarters building for a Silicon Valley Company. It was during this stay overseas that Cindy traveled widely and she developed a love for Asian art and fabrics, so evident in many of her fiber art themes. In 2009 Cindy left the corporate world, and opened her business “Pine Street Porch”. She found her passion lies in creating fiber art in the form of exquisite tapestry wall hanging originals. Her studio is in Nevada City, CA.

Cindy, opened Pine Street Porch in 2009. Her art creations take the form of original wall tapestries comprised of both commercial and rare vintage fabric finds. Cindy’s concept will come as a simple thought, often inspired by her exquisite garden and nature scenery in her home town of Nevada City.

As a detailed concept builds over time, Cindy mocks up a full scale sketch, and then begins the elaborate process of layering fabric after fabric embellished with hand or machine appliqué, quilting, embroidery and beading.

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Artisans Festival – Meet the Maker, Painter, Jude Bischoff

Jude BischoffMeet artist Jude Bischoff.  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.

Jude Bischoff and his daughter, Bevin, topped out on Cathedral Peak in Yosemite’s Toulumne Meadows.  “That was one of my finest moments in climbing, sitting on the summit of Cathedral Peak with my daughter  looking down at Half Dome and the Grand Canyon of the Toulumne .  We summited in late October and it was bitter cold.  We were so stoked to be reveling in such beauty and to share this moment with each other.

Jude’s  outdoor adventures find him climbing up the side of an imposing cliff face or mountain biking cross country on forest and mountain trails.  After getting what Jude describes as, his Ya Ya’s out, he can settle down to paint on the side of a mountain stream.  The wild life he encounters when camping make their regular appearance in Jude’s art.  Coyote and fox that wonder into camp, Buffalo, Bear, Ravens and Wild Donkeys are familiar subjects in Jude paintings.

Jude began his art career at age 4 when his talent was discovered while cutting out figures for a Nativity scene.  Since then Jude has sharpened his art skills along with his love for nature

plein_air_bear_iv_fs-2Nature swims through these paintings like a fat bellied fish in a mountain stream. Spending about 6 months a year camping has its rewards.  Painting a landscape on site or meeting an animal in person gives you a tremendous sense of connection with the subject.  When you hear the rushing stream, the song of the birds and the wind blowing your canvas, this is a direct connection to the driving forces of the universe, both seen and unseen.  “Meeting an animal and personally capturing the photo to work from, elevates the energy of the painting tenfold, because that moment of connection follows you”.

Rhythms found in nature, the same rhythms found in music, flow off of the brush and onto the canvas. These shapes dance across the paintings with purpose and a life force.

“Every day is a blessing as an artist.  I cannot wait to get into the studio or out in nature and get going on the next painting.  Sometimes it is like a fullback finding his opening, patience is a virtue. When the front line creates an opening, he sprints up the field towards the goal line. With patience, the artist will know when he is in the flow and it is time for him to paint.  You must be physically available when the inspiration lands.

Recently, while camping in Joshua Tree National Park, the urge to paint hit strongly after 5 days of climbing and exploring.  When the inspiration arrived,  it was just a matter of letting  the image flow onto the canvas.  Jude paints from his heart, there are no preliminary drawings or idea sketches.  The painting progresses as he goes, drawing with the brush.  When he attempted to attend a life drawing session last year, Jude discovered he did not own a drawing pencil.

party_buffalo_iv_fsWhen giving workshops Jude encourages the participants to let the art flow from their heart. Never do you question your direction, just do it. This knowing combines with the right technique and experience will produce a lot of fun and enjoyable art.

An artist has a responsibility to create joy in his art, Jude says.  When love and joy goes into a painting, and that work is purchased and brought into someone’s home., that same love and joy radiates off the wall and into the whole environment.

Jude received his formal art degree at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.  He has been living in California since 1982.

Jude and Laura live on a beautiful forested property with their border collie, Flyzo, near grass Valley CA. The studio backs up to open space and the Empire Mine State Park.  Deer and coyote are a common site.  An occasional bear will wonder in and stir things up in the neighborhood.  For more on Jude’s art visit www.judebischoff.com