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President's Message

President's Message Jan-Feb 2015

One of the things NWWSA members are always interested in, is opportunities to show their work. Here are a few.
Carl Nelson

First is the Seattle Flower and Garden Show Feb 11-15th (see: for more info). In addition to the opportunity to show your work, this is the year we will “refresh” the booth design. If you are interested and can lend a hand in the weeks leading up to the show, contact Pat Barton (425-643-0756 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Cyra Jane Hobson (206-406-0711 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Nicky Oberholtzer (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Next is a three month “NWSSA” show opening May 14th in Bellingham at a new gallery. They want all sizes of sculpture for 600-700 sq. ft. inside and 400-600 sq. ft. outside. NWSSA has been asked to be the first point of contact and Wade Marlow (previously owner of Blue Horse Gallery) will be NWSSA’s contact point. There will be a reasonable sales split in favor of the artist. Look for the details from Cyra Jane in the coming weeks.

The week before Mother’s day (May 2nd to 10th), Lakewold Gardens will offer opportunities for display, sale and education. Cyra Jane will be updating us. Similarly, at Kruckeberg Botanic Garden, in Shoreline, NWSSA has been asked to show outdoor sculpture (small and large) at their Mother’s Day weekend event. Several pieces from members sold last year. Cyra Jane will be handling coordination.

Finally, the weekend of June 20th a one day “Picnic in the Park” at Volunteer Park in Seattle created and coordinated by Cyra Jane. Members will bring their sculpture. NWSSA will provide pedestals, invite the public to bring a picnic lunch, and enjoy the sculpture and talking with our members. If you’d like to help organize a similar event, contact Cyra Jane.

As you see, Cyra Jane has been asked to coordinate the call to artists. With so many events and possibilities, the board wanted to have a single point of contact so things go smoothly, questions can be answered without delay, and details are not dropped. If you have questions or want to know more, contact Cyra Jane.

Over the coming spring and summer months, Pat Barton’s efforts with Rock and Gem Clubs, will bring us opportunities to show at the Issaquah, Puyallup and Everett Rock and Gem shows. Our presence there will help to educate a likely group of new members about stone carving. We will be posting more on our web site and Facebook. Contact Pat if you are interested in participating or helping.

Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park has many of our members’ sculptures and is a strong supporter of our stone carving community. If you have not contacted Karla (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) about showing your work, please do. Recently, Karla has been hosting our hand carving retreat. This year it will be April 24, 25 and 26. Sue Taves will be guest instructor and there will be a show and opening the evening of April 25.

It’ll be a busy spring and summer. I am looking forward to seeing your work in the upcoming shows.
Be mindful, positive, and Carve Proud,



President's Message Nov-Dec 2014

I recently found myself in a conversation with a group of people about selecting art for a show. The topic of “art and craft” came up and I found myself saying: it’s art when the hand is not certain of where it is going before it starts. Otherwise it’s craft.
Carl Nelson

It seemed to make sense and yet so much was left out. Whose hand? Going where? Starting when? Where did I get such a notion? Why does it matter?

On reflection, I realized my point of view is synthesized from Denis Dutton’s The Art Instinct,The Principles of Art by R.G. Collingwood and talks with Batya Friedman and Lee Gass. Collingwood’s point was that skilled work is purposefully directed toward a final product or designed artifact. The craftsman knows in advance what the end product will look like while the artist, still requiring skill and technique, does not know, when starting out, what the end state of the finished piece will be.

While Dutton said, We pay craftsmen to paint houses or repair clocks because of the dependability of learned techniques: these people know what they are doing. But in the sense of using skill to produce a preconceived result, creative artists strictly speaking never know what they’re doing.

Assuming skills and technical ability are the same, the distinction is about intent and goal of an effort.

In an email exchange with Lee Gass his summary was: … a difference between an artist and a craftsman is that the craftsman knows, and can know, the desired outcome. If so, it would mean that a craftsman could plan things in detail. List steps. Make a recipe. Follow it. At least to some extent, according to this idea, an artist must discover the pathway while he walks it, as Antonio Machado suggested about life in general.

In the Artist/Craftsman way of thinking, where does the designer fit in? This question comes to mind, because I have been working with Batya Friedman to set up the January 17th evening workshop: Art, Design, and Intention – All to What End?  She speaks of two different worlds:, …the designer is  intentionally interventionist with a goal of effecting change of some sort, be it imagining a new "thing", a new technology, or a new social structure; in contrast the artist is accountable to form and beauty — magic in the universe. Artists may or may not choose to engage with social or political change. Both designers and artists typically remain open throughout their processes to the direction their work may take them. They are often surprised by what emerges in the end.

Lee Gass thinks we are all designers and some of our work is art.  Where, in your work with stone, do you see your Art, Design, and Craft?  

I leave that as something for you to ponder while you work with your stone. May the coming months be ones of discovery and magic.



President's Message Sept-Oct 2014

The winter months are coming up and for some stone carvers it's the time where they hunker down in their studios and get a bunch of stuff done, for others they take advantage of the longer nights to read, relax, plan and contemplate. I fall somewhere in between.
Carl Nelson

Lately I find myself in the studio, motivated by having attended Silver Falls, visited Corky's Olivine quarry and, recently, the Abstract on Orcas weekend. See Michael Yeaman's presentation online.

Additionally, I have just finished reading Denis Dutton's book, "The Art Instinct". And since, have had several wonderful conversations and email interchanges with Lee Gass. As a biologist, Lee has great insight into the evolutionary aspects of Dutton's ideas. I find myself thinking about Dutton's book on what constitutes art and those qualities by which great art should be judged. If you are new or unfamiliar with art criticism, which I am, watch his TED Talk.

His ideas are starting points for many good discussions (remember, he's looking at ALL art and he's an art critic), I'll throw them out for you to contemplate.

In his opinion, great art has: complexity, serious content, emotion, purpose and distance.

Even more detailed in his "constellation" of what we should consider as constituting art:

Direct Pleasure, Skill and Virtuosity, Style, Novelty and Creativity, Criticism, Representation, Special Focus, Expresive Individuality, Emotional Saturation, Intellectual Challenge, Art Traditions and Institutions, Imaginative Experience.

I believe, in the context of his "art instinct", the words in this "constellation" need to be refined, or regrouped, so as to provide a more succinct accessible and useful vocabulary stone sculptors could use to talk about their work.

I hope these ideas will give you something to contemplate while you are carving or when relaxing. Let me know what you thnk and if it might be a workshop you would attend.