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Rise Above the Dust - Sept/oct 2004

Rain dampened the ground briefly once or twice, but not our spirits or excitement as the symposium was gearing up. Monday the sky cleared and the day grew warm. A comment was made Sunday that the guests were more focused than usual, and class attendance was great.


While change is frequently met with resistance, the changes at camp this year were met with acceptance and glee. Through the efforts of Rich Andler and Ken Barnes, credit card payments for symposium costs, including sales of the Sculpture Walk, were made possible. The costs of renting the machine and usage will now need to be evaluated to determine its financial burden or benefit. Another change was the name from “Arts Walk” to “Sculpture Walk” which provided the customers a better description of the event. Additionally, thanks to Steve Hendrickson, the “Sculpture Walk” received more marketing, including Channel 5 TV coverage. This translated into an estimated customer visitation between four and six hundred.  Elaine Mac Kay changed the layout of the field, using the concept of her Silver Falls Symposium last year. The result of her revised layout brought the beginners and hand carvers into the fold instead of leaving them on the outskirts as in the past. She placed the power sources at the far end of the field which helped cut down on the noise level. Before we even began to register for the symposium, Gus Schairer stepped in to assist with the brochure design and a new Sculpture Walk flier making both documents look more professionally done.


Instruction for our workshops was organized by Tracy Powell, and our on-site workshop coordinator was Vic Picou. Vic worked hard to set and maintain the schedule once it was published and maintained it throughout camp to avoid confusion. The evening presentations of stories and slide shows included fireside chats, and added to our learning and fellowship. Michael Binkley, our guest artist, set the standard. He ensured everyone knew that they were welcome to ask questions and even ask for assistance at any time while he was in attendance. Michael went as far as to say that if he were spending time working on his piece, he was wasting our time. In other words, he was there to help. Our honored historian Hon Lee provided his touches to a fantastic symposium. Brian Ohno, owner of the Brian Ohno Gallery, provided us with great insight into the mysterious world of gallery acceptance. The beginner class of around six students was introduced to stone carving by Ruth Mueseler and Suz Gentiluomo. Kirk McLean provided an eye opening experience to his students with hands-on granite carving. Design and Large Scale Engineering was guided by Rich Hestekind which started with a simple bar of soap and eventually became a monumental piece touched by all who attended the symposium. Karl Hufbauer provided a hard rock demonstration in Quartzite carving to his class. The blues in his stones were fantastic. Lisa Ponder provided the nuts and bolts of Memorial design and sandblasting to an eager class. For those wishing to gain a better grasp of the human head and face, Tone Orvik provided her class on Clay Portraiture in the camp barn. JoAnne Duby’s traditional pinning, sleeving and finishing classes were again overwhelmingly attended. Tom Urban provided his tried and true class on power tools to an eager group wanting to take the next step in carving.


Steve Sandry chaired the auction along with his team consisting of Meredith Earls, Suz Gentiluomo, Verna Dee Dice, and Barbara Davidson. Arliss Newcomb was the major organizer of the silent auction. The auctions combined with monetary donations yielded over $7,000 for work-study, scholarships and other expenditures as the board sees fit for future Whidbey Island, Silver Falls, and Camp Brotherhood symposiums.


Dan Michael and his crew did a wonderful job providing technical expertise as the Field Tech team.  Sharon Feeney and her team put together both the reception and end-of-camp parties.  Also big thanks should be passed onto the students from the University of Oregon that provided the backbone of our work-study this year.


The 17th Annual International Stone Sculptors Symposium was successful as usual, and enjoyed by all.  Thank you for attending and enjoying the symposium which our committee put together for you.  Please mark your calendars for July 15-24, 2005 to attend the 18th Annual International Stone Sculptors Symposium to be held once again at Camp Brotherhood, Mt Vernon, Washington and provide Verna Dee Dice and her committee the same support that you have provided this year’s committee.


NWSSA at Maryhill - Mar/Apr 2005

We have been invited as ‘Featured’ guest artists for the 2005 2nd annual arts festival, by the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Maryhill Museum Of Art in Goldendale, Washington. The invitation comes from the exposure gained by some of our members who have exhibited sculptures in the Museum’s yearly National Outdoor Sculpture Invitational. The dates are Saturday and Sunday, August 20 & 21.


We will go on Friday to set up our area on Maryhill’s lovely grounds, and can then have a grand time visiting with each other around the campfire that night.

As featured guests, we pay no fee and no commission on sales. In addition to having a display area for sculptures, we get an additional 50 x 100 ft. work area. They would like us to be working on pieces while guests watch, give a talk about stone sculpture, and encourage the guests to pick up a hammer and chisel to try it themselves.


Yes, this amounts to a kind of “mini’ symposium. It is suggested that we NOT bring large pieces since this is only a two day event, but have only smaller pieces, both because they can be priced reasonably, and they can be easily carried when sold. The NWSSA will be highlighted on the poster, advertised in newspapers, and published in other news releases.


Last year’s event, (the first one) was expected to draw only about a thousand guests. They stopped counting when attendance exceeded 2,400! Not bad, given that this museum is way out in the boonies.


There will be about 50 other booth vendors at this event. And Maryhill is providing a food court, a wine garden stocked by local vintners, hourly live music, and free activities for children. (The kids are the reason we will be using hand tools only.)

For those of you who have never been to the museum, this is a great way to see it for free while camping on the grounds for two nights as a group, or staying in local, nearby motels.


Think of it as a mini vacation. The Museum has one of the largest collections of original Rodin sculptures in the world. It is perched on a bluff above the Columbia River, with wonderful grounds and a sculpture garden. We can sleep in tents, campers, motorhomes, under the stars, or motels.


The Maryhill management would like to see 20 to 30 of us participating in this event. As exhibit chair, and having my own sculptures in the garden, I think this as an opportunity to demonstrate how good we can be at this kind of show. Success in August could possibly lead to a year long exhibit in the future, inside the museum! We would like to set a date for a discussion meeting with the curator, to show slides, and to discuss any questions. Please send your RSVP to me, so I can start a list. I need your committed replies ASAP, since newspapers and magazines are asking for names of participants for articles about this event and about us as sculptors.


Also, the curator needs slides, or photos of your sculptures ASAP, so that he can choose a sculpture to be featured on the events poster!  I saw last year’s poster, and it was awesome!  It really got your attention.  Send your slides/photos to Attn; Lee Musgrave, Maryhill Museum of Art, 35 Maryhill Drive, Goldendale, WA 98620.


Would you be so kind to let me know that you will be sending slides/photos when you reply? That way I can track the responses to make sure that we are proceeding in a timely manner. Also, consider this a reminder about our annual member’s exhibit in September at the Kirsten Gallery.  (Dates not set yet) Thanks Gang!  Feel free to contact me: Leon White, (206) 362-2231, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

San Juan Notes - May/June 2005

For those of you not at this symposium, you missed a very unique experience.  The setting in the Westcott Bay Preserve and the Institute’s hospitality (, the weather, the preparations of the organizers, the attendees, and our guest carver Keith Phillips, all contributed to an unforgettable experience.  Especially the early morning bagpipe reveille.


I was concerned on the ferry ride in the rain from Anacortes that we were in for an ordeal.  I was pleased (elated) to see the pavilion-type tents set up on the lawn: I didn’t have to set up my own flimsy canopy.  The big one did a better job of controlling the wind when the tent picked up in the afternoons. But the rain stopped, and the next morning was ushered in by the sun.  The dining pavilion was another tent, with propane heaters to kill the evening chill. The uneven ground required a bit of care eating on the sloping tables.  It served nicely for the auction house, too.


The next three days were sunny, afternoons warming to shirtsleeve temperatures from early morning frosts, and night skies were full of stars.  With all the streetlights and light pollution in the metropolitan area one forgets what a star-studded sky looks like. Lots of individual canopies popped up on the lawn around the pavilion tent as newcomers staked their claim. The 19 acre sculpture park provided a convenient opportunity for a break from one’s work, and inspiration from the many artworks displayed. It’s amazing how much better sculpting is in the sunshine.  Lots of noise, dust, and chips were created as enthusiastic sculptors worked on the stones Marenako’s provided.


Keith’s Thursday evening slide show in Roche Harbor Resort’s meeting hall about the Tenino quarry and examples of stonework masked his sense of humor.  It surfaced more during the daily classes on tools, materials, and moving large stones (more on Keith’s teachings in the article on page 12).


A small roundtable (circle of chairs) discussion on commissions was informative: Respect yourself, including your ideals and time, in dealing with a client; it’s not your responsibility to know what a client can afford. Create a scope of work he can afford, or let him save up his money. Keep involved in the project. Don’t provide free models.  Question the premise: do you want a two-year project, hassles with the committee, no time for other inspiring work?  A consolidation of recommendations may be issued during the next year by the interested members, with legal insights provided by Bill Weissinger.


Tom Small led a four 4-wheel-drive-vehicle expedition for lucky members to his home out on the hills.  It’s probably as far from anywhere as one can get on the island.  Tom has his works-in-progress scattered along the last fifty yards of the dirt road to his home overlooking the San Juan Islands.  Several structures provide shelter from the elements, and stone is scattered and placed around to suit the fantasies of this low-key genius.  A table is crowded with “experiments” where ideas are tested. Another has models of wood, stone and foam presenting abstractions for study. Chips and shards are everywhere. The exposure early in his career to NW Indian art, as presented in an evening slide show, is in evidence all around.  A few finished pieces in the natural setting added to the appreciation of this member’s talents.


Sunday the weather turned sour with spitting rain and strong winds.  Most of us started packing up in the afternoon, as the Institute was sponsoring an art show in Friday Harbor, with the gala reception in the evening. Hors de oeuvres and wine kept the crowd in motion, almost too many people for the relatively small space.  The exhibited sculptures were an amazing representation of skills and imagination. We were on our own for dinner plans, and about a dozen of us invaded the fancy restaurant at Roche Harbor for a sumptuous repast.  I love these symposia where opportunities like this pop up.


With weather getting rainier I loaded my gear after dinner for an early morning drive to Friday Harbor to wait for the ferry.  One of my roommates having moved out I opted to forget the earplugs for sleeping.  Wrong move!  The wind howled and caused the range hood’s backdraft damper to chatter, the refrigerator’s rattle seemed never-ending, electric heaters creaked and popped.  At least there was no bagpipe reveille.  I made the ferry with time to spare, and enjoyed the sunny ferry ride back to the everyday world, recalling the memorable events and inspiration collected for the not-so-great days ahead back in town.