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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight - Martin Beach

Meet Martin Beach  Brancusian Obelisk  - 2013 - 11 x 11 x 56 inches - Indiana Limestone

Q. What is your life history as it relates to being an artist?
A. Prior to my junior year at The Evergreen State College, I had throughout my entire life focused on computer science and mathematics, probably because it had something to with both my parents being computer engineers. In my junior year I switched over to a visual arts education. Upon graduating in 2010, I moved to Indiana but still continued to explore, learn and create.

Q. Why did you become an artist?
A. I needed a life change; science is great, but I finally realized that I had no passion for doing it. So I tried doing the opposite and became an artist, and haven't looked back.

 'Lunar Colony van der Rohe'  - 2012 - 17 x 28 x 7 inches - Granite on Indiana LimestoneQ. What key life events affected your direction in art?
A. During my senior year at Evergreen, I was taking a program called "Studio Projects – Land and Sky," which dealt with identity and interpretation of landscape through various media. There was a 3D project that could involve any medium of our choosing. The professor, Robert Leverich, challenged us with the possibility of using stone. It was love at first sight. It started at first with chlorite, but after a few months I was into granites and basalts.  
A little less then a year after graduating, I began to work as a studio assistant for Bloomington, Indiana sculptor Dale Enochs, building a large public piece for the University of Central Florida out of limestone and steel. As a studio assistant I not only picked up valuable pragmatic skills, but also learned a mindset. As an undergraduate, the studio was a sandbox. I had a million ideas running through my head, and a need to test every one of them. Though that was an important process and learning experience, most of the earlier work was hastily made, unrefined, and non-coherent. Dale noticed that and gave me a challenge of taking one form I had made and duplicating it and to see what happens. From that exercise not only did I begin to develop my own personal design aesthetic by focusing on one thing, but also started to gain an ability to really filter the chaos of those millions of thoughts into something coherent.

 'Nautical Maneuver'  - 2013- 20 X 28 x 16 Inches Morton Gniess on Indiana LimestoneQ. Who or what has influenced your art form?
A. The people that have influenced me the most have been artists Dale Enochs of Bloomington IN, Bob Leverich of Olympia WA, and Verena Schwippert of Arlington WA. Working alongside them has offered a first hand array of outlooks, insights, and processes. 
Other artists and architects have been Isamu Noguchi, Antoni Gaudí, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Dan Kiley, Roberto Burle Marx, and Henry Moore. However, I think one of the biggest influences has been forms and energy I see when exploring landscapes, whether it be the pronounced peaks of the Olympics and Cascades, or the subtle curves of the rolling hills of southern Indiana. 

Q. What is art for to you?
A. Art is the lens I use to interpret, re-interpret, integrate, investigate and evolve my perception of the world in and around me. The physical art is a by-product of experience that serves as a record to what one has learned.

Q. How has the NWSSA influenced your work as an artist?
A. NWSSA has provided an open forum via the Camp Brotherhood symposiums I have attended in which I could talk to others and really see what else was happening outside the confines of my studio, to engage in different insights, share techniques and to work with new tools. Seeing many different designs, processes, and material all in one place at one time, has really inspired me to engage and branch out into avenues I wouldn't otherwise.'Tribe of the River and Hills'  - 2012 - 27 x 37 x 24 inches - Skykomish River Granites on Indiana Limestone

Q. Describe your art in your own terms – focusing on your stone carving.
A. My art is an exploration in techniques that allow me to imbue a material that is generally seen as something inert and inanimate with a life force through minimalist form, that embodies a very primal but refined elegance, and all the while keeping it clearly recognizable as stone. Using the stones that I find from rivers on mountain sides, to the bottom of a quarry, I begin to contrast curves with line, rounded with pointed, lights with darks, smooth with rough, etc, until the stone starts to develop its own personal identity that we as observers want to instinctually interact with.

Q. How do you develop and get your ideas and finally translate them to stone?
A. I tend to get ideas from creating a mental palette of existing design and philosophy, both human and natural, that I believe to have worked already in their original intended purpose, but to redefine them in order to fit the criteria of my own artwork. Later, should a redefinition be coherent enough to be added or translated into stone, I try to scribble it down on some paper as a reminder. From that reminder, I make refinement sketches to make it clear for myself what it is I actually want to convey. I probably would best describe them as a pictorial mission statement. When the idea becomes clear enough, I switch over to stone. At this point I am still making design decisions and refinements that inevitably make the form and look different from what I originally had on paper, but the core idea and statement still remain the same, which allow for a controlled fluidic leap from paper to stone, or the mental idea to physical artifact.

 'Slowly Flowing'  - 2013 - 17 x 32 x 10 inches - Morton Gniess on Indiana LimestoneQ. Can you briefly describe a recent piece or two?
A. A recent piece "Slowly Flowing" – Morton gneiss on Indiana limestone, addresses a space beyond the confines of the limestone. The ribbon form is lifted up above the two planes via three peaks that provide a look as though there is a floating heavy mass, while the subtle pulsing curves of the horizontal provide a feel of gentle movement. Finally with the two sharp tips extending beyond the footprint of the limestone, the limestone is no longer a static frame but just the place that the gneiss happens to be gliding over in that moment in time.

Q. Do you work part or full time as an artist?
A. I work full time as an artist, but also work landscaping full time to pay for it.

Q. What stones do you prefer?
A. Granites and gneisses, but I have been recently utilizing Indiana limestone as a core component of my work for geographical reasons. The closest place for igneous stone is about 700 miles away.

Q. Do you do one piece at a time or do you have several in process at once?
A. I will very rarely have more than two projects happening at once. Things get too chaotic for my liking.

'Untitled Lithomorph'  - 2012 - 36 x 28 x 30 Inches - Granite on Indiana LimestoneQ. What tools do you use?
A. The five most commonly used tools I use to form stone are a hammer, chisel, angle grinder, pneumatic hammer, and polisher.

Q. Where do you exhibit your work?
A. Like many other artists, most of the work is stationed around the yard and tucked away in the garage. Though there is no permanent place of exhibition, I do have a piece in a show at the Jacksson Contemporary Art Gallery in downtown Columbus, and coming up for the month of February 2014 a show at the John Waldron Center for the Arts in Bloomington Indiana. Previous shows have included a winter 2012-13 exhibition at the Columbus Learning Center in Columbus Indiana, an April 2012 show at the Waldron, and of course at the NWSSA's Camp B Symposium this past summer.

 'Tiered Horizon'  - 2013 - 24 x 18 x 12 Inches - Granite on Indiana LimestoneQ. How much work do you complete in a year?
A. Last year I would say around 20 Pieces that I would be willing to admit too. However, I have been pushing to work bigger so that number may decrease for 2013.

Q. Do you teach art?
A. No, but I would be lying if I said it hadn't crossed my mind. "Professor Martin," now there's something I could put on a plaque.

Q. What scale or size do you work in, and do you have a favorite scale?
A. Most of my pieces hover around a footprint (Limestone) of 25 x 20 inches. And I am really enjoying working at that size, but I am trying to go bigger, and have only just recently been able to do so. So in the coming year, I suppose I will be finding out.

Q. What have been your satisfactions in your life as an artist? 'Altar and Sacrifice' - 2012 - 17 x 26 x 13 Inches - Granite on Indiana Limestone
A. Waking up in the morning knowing that something will be there to challenge me, to go farther, walking out the door and to see or meet someone or something new, and of course when you achieve those meditative moments of clarity when working with a material you love.

Q. What obstacles and challenges have you faced or are still facing?
A. Like with other artists, one of the biggest challenges that I face and realize is just how non-pragmatic being an artist is. It is a lot of hard work. I suppose it's like JFK said, "We don't do these things because they are easy, but because they are hard." And I just had to fall in love with stone...

Q. What are you looking forward to? 'Traveling on Jupiter'  - 2013 - 17 x 24 x 10 inches - Morton Gniess on Indiana Limestone
A. I am looking forward to the gallery show coming in February, and just being as productive as I can for the next 5 months when the chill of the winter slowly creeps in.

Finally, I just want to say....
Rock on!


Artist Spotlight - Tracy Powell

Meet Tracy Powell 'Eternal Embrace', granite, 6 ft, x 2 ft, x 2 ft, Tracy Powell

Q: So what have been up to?  

A: Carving and looking for answers. Fortunately for me, I belong to this wonderful tribe, NWSSA, who have taught me everything I may know about stone sculpture, and freely given friendship, inspiration, and challenge. On top of that,

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Artist Spotlight - Gerda Lattey 2013

Meet Gerda Lattey -Again  "Two Rivers" 5' 2" high, Basalt, by Gerda Lattey

Gerda was in the spotlight for the first time in the fall of 2007. You will see that her work has changed in the last six years.

What is your life history as it relates to being an artist?
I'm essentially a self-taught artist and started carving stone by accident. It seems to be what I do now.

"The Traveler" 33" high, Basalt & Cast Resin, Gerda LatteyWhy did you become an artist?
We've been batting it out for quite some time, art and me, and I've tried quite hard not to become an artist. There comes a point where it simply just is what you do. I do think

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Artist Spotlight - Dirk Van Der Minne

Meet Dirk Van Der Minne 'Path to Heaven' 2009 12" high, Pyrophyllite on Soapstone, Dirk Van Der Minne

My goal is to get across that not all sculptors are grade B+ or better. Many of us are just happy campers, sometimes, doing our thing and feeling fulfilled. My article is not a standard question and answer, but a mini-autobiography. The photos are mere illustrations. With the latest technology one could get better and bigger pictures but they will never get close to the feeling of the real sculpture. I hope you will look upon all this as a sincere effort in my individual style.

My name is Dirk and I was born in Holland in 1932. Besides all the things mothers do, mine was good with crafts, leatherwork, wool and so forth. My father, My father, in his free time, was an antique furniture maker. Hand tools only. So I grew up between sawdust, bits of leather and wool and a taste for beauty and style. My first attempt to express myself freely, artistically, happened when I was eleven; drawing a big tree on a piece of ordinary paper. I thought it was well done but no compliments were forth coming. My next artistic effort was in grade twelve when I carved two bookends, two ships, in Italian nutwood. I remember I was pleased with them. 

'Three Faces', Dolomite, 2011 Dirk Van Der MinneAnd then a long time nothing. University and medical career, family, and immigration to Canada kept me occupied. Some furniture making in 60's and 70's and later boat building in the 80's and 90's. First canoes, then row boats then a small motorboat. All wood. The boatbuilding seemed to me the first evidence of the rebirth of my need to express myself artistically. But I had to change direction.  'Father and Son', Soapstone, 2007 Dirk Van Der Minne

In June of 2007 I visited the "Quadra Island Artists Studio Tour" and ended up in the studio of Lee Gass. I told him I was stuck. "Don't know what I am getting up for in the morning. I'm finished with boat building." He says, "You want to try this?" He gives me a hammer and a chisel and a piece of stone. I do get a few chips off but that was it. He suggests I see Chris Rose. He is a soapstone carver of high quality and a teacher in this field. 

I went to see Chris and he showed me his setup. Beautiful workbenches, lots of air-pressure and suction. Two months and fifty hours later I finished something, a piece that is titled "Father and Son." 

'My Hand', Soapstone, 2008 Dirk Van Der MinneWhat an eye-opener. I had carved something when I was eighteen, then some ducks in the 80's. Now thirty years later I am writing about my "old age sculpture experience." 

'Orca", Soapstone 2008 Dirk Van Der MinneSo I made half a dozen soapstone carvings including my hand and an orca. In 2008 I was traveling in the S.E corner of BC and found a dolomite mine. I picked up some 100 pound pieces. It was free! Out of one piece came the "Moon." The second piece became the base for "Three Faces": man, woman and child as part of a self-imposed exercise of how to carve a face. Michael Binkley gave me the idea of the mobius. 

'Split Mobius' South African Wonderstone, 2012 Dirk Van Der MinneI experience stone sculpture only as pleasure. There are no mistakes, only retakes. It always gets better. The sculpture will be there for you tomorrow, unchanged. Not like music from the piano disappearing as soon as you make it. 

I cannot sell anything as I would expose myself voluntarily to a judgment and I am afraid of that judgment. Plus, I like the sculptures too much. On my 80th birthday recently, I gave one carving to each of my five children. That felt just great. My wife has been totally supportive in my endeavors while I support her in her athletic ambitions. I do lay awake at night thinking about my sculptures but that helps my concepts or ideas to grow. There are about three or four projects circulating in my head and in the studio at any one time. 'Abstract' Brucite-Dolomite Marble, 2009 Dirk Van Der Minne

Because of dust, noise, expensive stone and equipment I will stick to stone up to a hardness of 5 or 6 and use no air tools. Stones I use are up to 100 lbs. I use an angle grinder, a die grinder and Foredom plus all the little stuff that comes with them. And hand tools and sandpaper! 

Dirk in his studio, working on 'Seashell'I work in a 10 x 14 steel-framed industrial tent in the back yard and have very friendly artistic neighbors. 

We have five senses. I lost my smell after a skull fracture and concussion (2010) but stones don't smell. I have lost a great deal of my hearing but it is not the stone which makes the sound. But I can see, feel and hug my stone. 

Camp B has been a Godsend. I went twice, 2009 and 2011. NWSSA has given me an entrée into the stone sculpture milieu which has led to a feeling of belonging and support. 

By having incorporated stone carving into my later life, sculpting has become one of several reasons for continuing my existence, to celebrate my being. 

I close with what I wrote in the Oct/Nov/Dec 2009 issue of Sculpture NorthWest. 'Moon' Dolomite, 2011 Dirk Van Der Minne

"When I carve I see me and my soul in the stone. At the same time I open my soul to others who wish to see my sculpture and who will, maybe, allow a relationship to form with me and the stone and fall in love with the stone and maybe me. And that is what keeps us together. Thank you all. From a novice. What a week."

Artist Spotlight - Craig Breitbach

Meet Craig BrietbachsmCraigBreitbachwithRaven

Craig is one of our most recent new members. But, as you will see, he has been carving for a few years and has several public art pieces displayed in the North West. We hope you enjoy this view of his work. You can view more of his work at:

"River Dance" Basalt by Craig Breitbach, Shown in Oregon CityWhat is your life history as it relates to being an artist?

Born and raised in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, I grew up with a huge appreciation for the outdoors; my dad took us fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping often. He also taught me to whittle at an early age and both my parents dallied with art, so I took what art classes I could in high school.

I was always good with my hands and mechanical things as well, so my first career was actually in aviation mechanics, first for a small commuter airline out of Port Angeles and then shortly thereafter for Alaska Airlines in Seattle. But I never lost my passion for creating art. When I stumbled across a class at Pratt Fine Art in stone sculpting in 2000, I realized I had a knack for it and was hooked immediately. Our house began acquiring rocks of all shapes and sizes."River Harmony", Basalt by Craig Breitbach

How do you get your ideas?

My art is mostly influenced by nature. I began by focusing on salmon in great, realistic detail, but now I carve many other wildlife forms.

Some of my best pieces evolved from the shape or color of the stone from which they started. Or more often I have an idea and wait until I find the ideal stone for it.

How do you develop them (by direct carving, drawing, modeling, etc.)?

I mostly sketch a carving before I start. Sometimes I make clay models to make sure the design will fit within the chosen stone. I research a lot of pictures of wildlife to try and include realistic details.

"Morning Song", Basalt by Craig BreitbachDescribe a recent piece or two.

Recently I’ve been intrigued by birds. I came across some basalt from the Columbia Gorge which has a wonderful bronze color when polished. I finished a hawk in that stone which has become one of my favorite sculptures, and am working on a series of bird sculptures in the same stone.

What do you like about them?  

The contrast of the bronze patina of the polished stone to its rough natural surface is wonderful. The accidental cut marks from a diamond blade led to a nest pattern on the base that I really like. I also made a stand for the base out of metal that is shaped like a talon and makes it more unique.

Do you work part or full time as an artist?  "Crab Tidepool" Basalt by Craig Breitbach

When the airlines were laying people off en masse, I jumped at the chance to take an early retirement and pursue my art full-time. It’s hard to believe I’ve been a full-time artist (and dad) for seven years! I’m thankful that I’ve had that opportunity.

What stones do you prefer?

I love Washington’s columnar basalt. It comes in all sizes and shapes, just ready for a sculpture to be born out of it, and the contrast between natural and polished basalt is striking. I’ve also worked in brucite, marble, alabaster, granite, and soapstone, but all my larger sculptures are in basalt.

"Falcon Pride", by Craig Breitbach, shown at Fall City Elementary SchoolWhat is your working process – do you do one piece at a time or do you   have several in process at once?

I start new pieces all the time. I like to start one while the idea is fresh in my mind, even if I won’t get around to finishing it until later. Right now I have at least five pieces in the works.

What tools do you use?

Being a mechanic and an artist, I’ve always had an addiction for tools (the right tool for the right job). I use all kinds of electric and pneumatic grinders, a core drill, diamond saws, water polishers, as well as more traditional hand tools for the finer details. I look forward to someday buying a hydraulic driven diamond chainsaw and ring saw.

"Whale of a Bench" Basalt, by Craig BreitbachWhere can people see your work?

Several Northwest cities have purchased my sculptures for public display, including Oregon City, Puyallup, Issaquah, and Fall City.  One of my favorite pieces, Whale of a Bench, is currently on loan to the Westcott Bay Reserve sculpture park on San Juan Island. I often display my smaller pieces at Up Front gallery in Issaquah. You can also visit my studio or website to see my latest work.

Where do you work?

When we built our house in Fall City six years ago, we designed a studio for me, so I have a very short commute!  I have different work areas for wood, metal, and stone, including a curtained area for the dirtiest work, although I still have dust everywhere. But I also do a lot of my stone carving outside where I have a warm water faucet (and a gantry crane for the heavy stuff).

What are you looking forward to (goals, commissions, new ideas, flights of fancy)?

I have some big ideas for groupings of large-scale sculptures for which I hope to find the right commission or callout. These groupings can tell more of a story than a single sculpture can.

What have been your satisfactions in your life as an artist?

When I finish a piece that looks as good as or better than the idea I had in my head, I am content. What makes me even happier is having others enjoy it. I am really proud to have a few large pieces in my own town; I drive by them daily and am grateful that they are in a fine location on the Snoqualmie River. 


Artist Spotlight - Anthony Kaufmann

Tony KaufmannMeet Anthony Kaufmann  

Tony’s stone sculpture is very colorful – so is Tony. It is because of his desire to show the fuller spectrum of his work that Tony volunteered to pay the extra cost of printing his Artist Spotlight in color. Thank you, Tony, for being the first to bring color to Sculpture NorthWest.

"Neutron Minotaur" Universal Family Series, Anthony KaufmannWho are you?

I was born in the Basalt and sage lands of rural Central Washington. On the family farm I learned the values of creative resourcefulness, self-reliance and the will to triumph or fail on my terms; I spent little to no time indoors, choosing to make playthings in the shop or explore on my dirt bike. Freedom was a big part of my youth. My family have been farmers for three generations. Plants, stone, soil and water will always be my heart’s materials. Detail of the heart; "Neutron Minotaur", Anthony Kaufmann

Why did you become an artist?

My path towards the arts has been organic in its unfolding. It was created by closed doors as much as open ones; punctuated by blind faith, will, natural sensitivities towards material and a series of fortunate apprenticeships. I never really started out to be an artist, it’s just an area that, because of my love of detail, I feel most useful in.

"Nebula Face Girl at Event Horizon", Anthony KaufmannWhat has influenced your art form?

The top four things, among many, would be:

1. The fact that entanglement theory is not a theory, Quantum entanglement is the Idea that all particles are interconnected. Based on an experiment where two photons of light were split apart and shipped 11miles from each other. One photon was altered with an electromagnetic charge and the other reacted in real time as if connected.

2. Reverence regarding the mechanisms of nature, the vastness of time.

3. Order out of Chaos

4. The freedom of smallness  

How has NWSSA influenced your work as an Artist?"Moultant Heart Venus", 2008 Anthony Kaufmann

With the community brought together by the NWSSA, I get a sense that my brand of loony is shared by others -thus a sense of confidence.

What can you tell us about your art?

I employ a philosophy of carving that allows equal say between my intent and the will of the stone. This style utilizes direct carving in an aggressive fluid process. The unfolding design process leaves plenty of room for spontaneous reaction to the stone’s mother shape and will. This embracing of passions of the now, when carving, creates a kind of crucible of inspiration in the forward steps, and a reverence in the backward steps.

'Columbria's Song', Anthony KaufmannHow do you develop your ideas?

Choosing to rework sculptural standards. Seeing (the works/the pieces/ the sculptures) as half-loaded vessels. I infuse them with the essence of the ideas garnered during the course of production.

I do not work from drawings or models of any sort, preferring ultimate freedom, employing the chaos of the journey, and the will of all factors involved.

What is the overall theme or intent of your work?'Quantum Fudo', Geologic Series, 63" x 16" c 6", Grey Granite & Italian Marble, 2010 Anthony Kaufmann

Reverence. I build speed bumps. I use beauty, mass and scale to attract. The pieces being meticulously worked inside as well as out bring people in through a soothing tactile journey. This is to bring the heart and mind out of 24 /7/365 in hopes to recalibrate to cosmic time. This is no different than Chaco Canyon or Stonehenge.

What materials do you primarily work with?

Columnar basalt, granite, onyx, marble. I like to unite stones from diverse geological situations as I would like to see humans unite from different cultural backgrounds. I love the universality of it.

'Galapagos Itakawa' 2004 Anthony KaufmannWhat is your working process?

I am truly monogamous; I only work on one sculpture at a time. When blocks or bad breaks occur I prefer to stay and hammer it out. Working towards my favorite time; when all panels/pieces fit together, the shapes have been negotiated to my liking and the will of the stone. I work towards the diamond love, the great caress that makes the stone reach out and kiss the sun.

'Our Lady of Singularity' 2003 Anthony KaufmannWhere do you exhibit your work?

I have hosted an open studio every year for the past 12 years. Lake Oswego Arts festival - Received the Jurors award. Marenakos Stonearium group show.

I have two public pieces in Seattle and one in Moses Lake. I have three pieces in private gardens.

'Sunyanata Illuminata', 6'6" x 33" x 18", .75 tons of Columnar Basalt and green granite, 1999 Anthony KaufmannHave you been influenced by any particular artist?

Yes, by Isamu Noguchi and by Kazutaka Uchida.

What have been your satisfactions in your life as an Artist?

Communication with the inner self, and sharing that conversation with others. I recently had the great joy of a special visitor to 3000bc studios: Kazutaka Uchida one of the few distant guides that spoke to me via the wind requested to see the work in person and it was the best day of my artistic life. I have survived and had tiny triumphs thus far, which gives me great hope.

What obstacles and challenges have you overcome? Three sculptures in the Universal Family Series, Anthony Kaufmann

Let me preface this answer with the statement:

They are the same obstacle that comes back in different forms, and still present a battle. I accept that!

a. cyclic poverty

b. self-doubt

c. lovers jealous of the time and attention that my dream consumed.

d. professional frustration.

e. The view by some that I am wasting my abilities on a crazy notion.

My obstacles are shared by all to some degree, and some have persevered to add their work to the great collective, and that gives me perspective and hope.

"Membrane Kiss", 2012 Anthony KaufmannWhat are you looking forward to in your professional life?

I want to finish the Planetary Series before I pass. I have one in the series done: ‘Moultant Heart Venus 2 Sings Columbria’s Song’ and eight more to go.  Anthony Kaufmann Studio Anthony Kaufmann