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Art Battling Hunger, Battle of the Artists and Hot Glass

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Well, it seems that the recurring themes for the arts in the valley this week revolve around glass, pottery, and groups and individuals interested in promoting the arts. Earlier this week I had had the opportunity to watch and even assist Terry Johnson in the creation of wine bottle balloons. These are those fun looking creations which he makes by heating up wine bottles in his kiln then taking a long metal tube which is connected through a special fitting to the opening of the bottle, he blows it up with air from his compressor till it grows to bulbous balloon shape for lack of a better term or description. He then sets this on various other pottery creations.That was fun and to be part of and Terry as always was a hoot to hang with.

Also, this week I had the opportunity to meet and chat with a number of individuals associated with the Imagine South Wenatchee, the Arts Commission and volunteers from Vista AmeriCorps who are involved with everything from gang prevention to the No Empty Bowls project. It was something how so many of the concerned citizens of this valley as well as the volunteers from out of the area, are interested in beautifying and preserving this wonderful valley we call home.

At the Arts Commission meeting on Tuesday, which I attended along with artist Martha Flores, we were able to participate in discussions that overlapped with the Imagine South Wenatchee and present a bit about my Giant Eagle project and the hopes of finding a location in perhaps South Wenatchee to display it when it is completed. Participants there were also interested in the Kickstarter idea to fund it and gave good suggestions about local sources for technical assistance if not funding. That was helpful and appreciated.

Later we met a fellow by the name of Gustavo Montoya who is also involved with the Imagine South Wenatchee and Robert Culver a Vista AmeriCorps volunteer who works in gang prevention and is writing a grant for Together for Drug Free Youth. The idea of painting more murals in South Wenatchee was discussed as murals are a proven means of keeping random graffiti to a minimum. Martha Flores has had some direct experience with this phenomenon as she has painted both privately commissioned murals for the express purpose of limiting gang graffiti and has participated in the painting of the electrical boxes project in Wenatchee through the Arts Commission. Readers may recall that Martha Flores along with school aged volunteers and teachers painted an electrical box at the corner of Orondo and Miller streets last year. There are plenty more of the drab looking boxes around town which are an attractive nuisance to taggers that still need to be painted up with murals. I hope that project continues.

Both Gustavo and Robert were interested in my Giant Eagle project and I think I will get a chance to pic Roberts brain a bit on writing my Kickstarter proposal as grant writing is one of his specialties.

Wednesday was quite the busy day starting with attending an 8:30 am meeting at Café’ Mela from the Wenatchee First Fridays group. Sadly Bill Rietveldt announced he will not be able to continue volunteering his time for this group which promotes the Art Walk on the first Friday of each month. Bill was a key member of this group putting in lots of time to get info needed each month from the various venues in order to put together the monthly flier and more. With the severe cuts to the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center he will need to devote more of his time elsewhere.

Bill, as many readers may know is responsible for putting together the great shows and exhibits at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center such as the recent Lightning Fires photo exhibit and the upcoming Closing Reception for the Beauty of Bronze exhibit which draw so many visitors to the museum from our local community and visitors from out of the area as well. The Beauty of Bronze exhibit, for those readers unfamiliar with this, is the wildly successful art program which reaches elementary school kids from across the area and which is paid for by grant monies that bring funds into our community and is taught by the nationally and internationally renowned bronze sculptor Kevin Patel who has several sculptures around the community and our state.

Also, at the meeting was a fellow named Thom Ness who is associated with Imagine South Wenatchee. It seems I keep meeting folks associated with ISW everywhere I go these days. I think I will definitely attend the next ISW meeting I can get to. Revitalizing and beautifying South Wenatchee just seems like such a great idea on so many levels.

Another person there whom I have met before is the Vista AmeriCorps volunteer Skye White who is working with the Empty Bowles project here in Wenatchee. Speaking with her I was reminded that one in four children in Wenatchee is hungry. Wow! That seems amazing in this day and age but it is a sad fact. She as a representative there for Empty Bowls asked that the community join them in the fight against hunger here in our own community.

Empty Bowls as many readers may know is a grassroots effort growing across the nation and world to fight against hunger. It was designed to raise awareness of hunger in the community while providing local hunger relief by reaching out through the arts. The concept is that artists and community members work together to create and paint ceramic bowls which are then sold at a soup and bread dinner to benefit an organization that provides hunger relief. Inspired by the great success of Leavenworth’s Empty Bowls event, Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council decided to start one in Wenatchee. This year, Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council is hosting the second annual Wenatchee Empty Bowls event. Proceeds will go to benefit the 13 local area food banks.

Here’s how it works: community members can come paint their own ceramic bowl. They ask that everyone to “Bring your family, friends, and kids to one or more of the paintings in the auditorium of the Wenatchee Public Library on November 17th 10am to 4pm, December 8th 10am to 4pm, and December 20th 1:30pm to 6:30pm. Afterwards, your bowl will be fired and you can come pick it up and join us for a simple soup and bread dinner on January 18th at the First United Methodist Church at the corner of Miller St. and Washington St. in Wenatchee. Your $15 includes your finished bowl and the dinner. There will also be an auction for local artist made bowls and platters. To support the food banks even further, come to either of the Blue Spoon Frozen Yogurt locations on December 7thbetween 6pm and 10pm. Profits from sales will also go towards the cause.” I was so glad to bump into Skye at the WFF meeting. Anyone interested in learning more can contact her at or (509)662-6156 ext. 236.

In the middle of the day I visited the NUART Gallery in East Wenatchee at the mall just up from Sears, where Martha Flores and David V35 (Vasqueze) will be on hand live on the Saturday of Thanks Giving weekend for a special holiday art show with music food and liquid refreshments for the public. No fee is required to attend or for the treats… yeah! I’m thinking this may be a kind of visual arts version of a battle of the bands. David and Martha are both really great artists but with very different styles. This event should be a lot of fun and well worth attending. Readers may recall that Martha Flores painted three paintings live while dancing to Latin music last thanksgiving weekend. What a hoot and a holler that was and what a great video came out of it which can be seen at:

As mentioned at the beginning bowls and glass were two of the recurring themes for this week and that was certainly true at the After Hours Business get together held at the Marriott Hotel last night. On hand there was some really beautiful pottery by Kimberly Clark a local potter from Cashmere who volunteers in the art department of Wenatchee Valley College. After talking with her a while and watching Martha Flores buy up a tea set of Kimberly’s for a Christmas present, I think I succeeded in getting her to consider joining Two Rivers Gallery. I think she and her pottery would be a great addition to the gallery. Let’s hope. And, speaking of Two Rivers Gallery, TRG brought a number of paintings and some Terry Johnson pottery down for the event as well. But, the really unusual thing there last night was the outdoor glass blowing put on by West Coast Glass. That was fun to watch although it was a bit chilly outside.

Well, enough for now, so go forth and be creative. And, remember as Nietzsche said, “ The essence of all beautiful art, all great art , is gratitude.”