Home Features GO Magazine Hammer, anvil, forge turns out art
Hammer, anvil, forge turns out art
• What: Third Thursday Art Walk
• When: Open houses generally run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
• Where: Downtown La Grande
• Details: Meet the artists, see their work and maybe even get a free treat
Several La Grande galleries are opening their doors late for the Third Thursday Art Walk, running from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Potter’s House, corner of Sixth and Penn, is featuring the work of blacksmith Matt Orthmann during this month’s Art Walk. Just graduating from Eastern Oregon University, Orthmann said he is excited to share what he creates with art lovers.
“Growing up, I watched my father, a carpenter for the better part of 30 years, as he would share one of his most precious gifts with others,” Orthmann said. “Friends who needed help building their house could count on the expertise of my father.”
When the family needed something as small as trivets for the dinner table, or something as great as a new home, Orthmann’s father was able to use his knowledge and skill to get the job done.
“And along with teaching all of us kids the importance of using our skills to serve a greater purpose, my parents also instilled a true love and appreciation for the beauty of nature,” Orthmann said.
Eventually, Orthmann realized that what he has always wanted or, more importantly, needed was right in front of his face all along.
“I have always loved making art and sculpting three dimensionally with my hands, which led right into my newfound passion,” Orthmann said. “It came in the form of a hammer, anvil, a fiery forge and glowing hot steel.”
Like his father before him, he wants to put his knowledge, craftsmanship and skills to use to create beautiful work that serves a greater purpose for others.
Creative process energizes
The Blue Turtle Gallery, 1124 Adams Ave., is presenting the work of Susan McKean Collett as featured artist in June. A popular artist in the gallery for several years, Collett presents the question of how to remain energized in the creative process. Collett has begun working with metal clay, as she says, “to try something totally different than what I was doing with the using patina, beads and charms.”
Even though the Wallowa County artist has happily found some success with that, it gets routine and she finds herself wanting more creative stimulation.
“It has been challenging in trying to teach myself this,” Collett admits. “The clay is malleable — but doesn’t always do what I want it to.
When she began working with bronze metal clay, she found purchasing a jewelry kiln to be necessary.
“I couldn’t really find a workshop or an expert who could teach me basics within a reasonable distance so I had to do a lot of experimenting with the temperature of the kiln,” she recalled. “Thank heavens for YouTube, how-to books and calling the clay distributors for advice.”
Through it all, she has gained a better understanding of the kiln and the properties of the clay.
“I am enjoying the progress I have made and not dreading what’s going to come out of the kiln,” she said. “Now I’m having fun playing with the clay and actually making some wearable jewelry.”
When asked how sense of place influences her work, she replied, “I love where I live and it truly inspires me. The jewelry I make besides the clay has always been based on that. I thought I might go with that using the clay, but I have found that I’m really interested in designs that are more primitive and basic — but still the natural world is what I love to incorporate on some level.”
Designing with the clay, she said, turns out to be bolder than what she was doing with beads and charms.
“I have always loved ethnic symbols of animals, especially. I also love plain lines and shapes, so that is what I am doing because my skill level is still in the learning phase. I do use some stamps because I like the designs and they are obviously easier to produce. I do a lot of simple lines and textures of everyday surfaces like the veins of a leaf or hammering the surface. I do a simple sketch of an idea before I roll out the clay,” she said.
Hopefully, when things slow down with her other jewelry making, Collett said she wants to use sculpting wax to make her own stamps.
“The more I make, the more ideas can change,” she said.
The Art Center at the Old Library, 1006 Penn Ave., is featuring the work of Dean Smale, professor at Medicine Hat College, Program of Visual Communications in Alberta, Canada, in an exhibit titled Veridical Paradox, which runs through Saturday.
An artist reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. during Art Walk. Light, gluten-free refreshments will be provided.
This exhibit contains nudity and may not be suitable for kids.
For many years, his creative energies have been split into two disciplines: the visual arts (painting/drawing) and music, songwriting and sound.
One main goal of his sabbatical project was to find a way to synergize these dissimilar disciplines. Since video is time-based as well as visual, it provides an obvious connection between Smale’s pictorial and sound work. The video/sound piece titled Veridical Paradox is the result of this synthesis.
He wanted the visual and auditory linked together so as to have equal emphasis where the sound is not a mere backdrop, but rather used to enhance visual gestures, the content of the narrative, and to heighten the emotive quality — to give the work an uncomfortable edge.