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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight: Jim Ballard

Background“ThresholdJim Ballard stands beside “Threshold”, installed at the Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood, WA, California black granite, 4'H x 2'W x 6"D at the base, tapering to 3 1/2"D at the top, on sandstone pedestal and sandstone base, 9' tall overall.

When I was ten years old, my father built himself a darkroom in the basement of our home. There he taught me how to develop film and print black and white photographs. This initial interest in photography continued throughout my life and I was fortunate to teach darkroom techniques and camera operation classes at community colleges in the Seattle area for about twenty-five years. I later supplied photos to Getty Images, one of the largest stock photo agencies in the world.

I enjoyed taking and making photographs but I wanted to explore 3D art forms. My cousin made a living carving realistic fish using cedar and other woods. He helped me select wood carving tools and I began carving many different kinds of fish, at first imitating his carving style but later developing my own interpretative method. I carved about sixty wooden fish, some fanciful and some realistic.

While I was carving wood in the late 80s, I read about the Northwest Stone Sculptors Association. The idea of carving stone as well as wood greatly appealed to me, even though I knew nothing about stone sculpting. I joined the NWSSA in early 1991 and attended my first stone-sculpting symposium at Camp Brotherhood in August of that year. It was here that I first met Richard Hestekind, an individual who conveyed his passion for carving stone to all of us attending that symposium and many others. Richard and I eventually shared a carving studio at the Marenakos Rock Center near Preston, WA.

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Giant Lizard Comes to Art City!

"Lizard" Jim Heltsley Oolitic LimestoneMy studio is located at Art City Studios in Ventura, California. It is one of 24 spaces rented to artists by Paul Lindhard – owner/operator/artist. Jim Heltsley & Duane O'Connor at an early stage of carving the Lizard.

A few years ago, Paul came to me asking if I would like sculpt something large with one of his stones. Over the years I have carved quite a few lizards out of pumice, limestone and marble and had always wanted to do a large lizard with a saddle on his back.

I had imagined doing a piece with an invitation to interact with it. It could be a photo opportunity for parents to take a picture of their kids riding it. A possible entrance to a zoo, a large hotel or a park.

I told Paul about this idea of mine and the next day he came back to me and told me, “I found your lizard.” It was 7 ½ feet long X 3 feet wide X 4 feet high and about 2500 pounds of oolitic limestone. I sat on that stone every day for about a week and finally I saw the lizard!

I lost a large portion of my eyesight over four years ago and taking on this project alone was a daunting task. At the time I was working with another artist from Art City named Duane O’Connor. We had been working together for about a year and he agreed to work on the lizard with me. That was the spring of 2014.Kids taking their first ride on what is beginning to look like a lizard.

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Artist Spotlight: Kentaro Kojima

Meet Kentaro Kojima Kentaro Kojima

I was born and raised in Guatemala. My parents, both Japanese, met in Guatemala and had a family and, in fact, they still live there.

In the 60’s, it was very rare and difficult for a young Japanese artist/designer to get out of Japan, but it was rarer still for a single woman, in her early twenties, to go out of Japan. It was pretty much unheard of at the time. Even today, I am constantly surprised at the resistance some young Japanese people seem to feel about going outside of Japan, let alone altogether moving out of it. So, you might say that the two black sheep that were my parents, met in Guatemala and raised a family of black sheep. (Their life story is a lot more interesting than mine.)

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Artist Spotlight: Bob Leverich

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT •	Home and Away, Lavender Gray Maine Granite, 9’-2” H x 7’-10” W x 22’-10” W Bob Leverich
By Bob Leverich

Who are you and how has art come to fit into your life?

I grew up on a dairy farm in western Wisconsin not far from the Mississippi, in an era when rural kids had the whole world to range over – pastures and fields, orchards and woods, hills and streams, in all seasons. There was always work to do on the farm, but it afforded a closeness to the natural world that still informs who I am and how I think about much of my work. I count myself lucky for that.

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Brian Goldbloom's “THRESHOLD”

BrianinholeA Multi Pieced Work in Granite
for Portland’s TriMet Milwaukie/Main Street Light Rail Station in Milwaukie, Oregon. 

“Threshold” spans the length of the Milwaukie/Main Street Station, with three pieces that take their cues from the site’s history. The north end of the platform is in downtown Milwaukie, while the south end faces Kellogg Lake. The lake began as a natural creek before becoming a millpond for a largeflourmill in the mid 1800s. Later, it was enjoyed for recreational use until around the mind-1950s when it began to decline. Now there are ongoing citizen efforts to restore its scenic integrity and healthy habitat.

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Artist Spotlight: Rich Hestekind


After two and half decades of membership in the NWSSA I thought I would share a few observations and thoughts on who we are and what we do.

In the spring of 1991, while working on a design project in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle, I ran into an old friend and mentor, Everett Dupen. He was the former head of the sculpture department at the University of Washington where I received both my BFA and MFA. He excitedly expressed his enthusiasm in meeting a group of stone sculptors and encouraged me to attend a symposium they were having in early summer at a place called Camp Brotherhood. Stone was always my preferred medium for personal expressive sculpture. At the time and for the past number of years my energy had been focused on social and environmental art. The return to personal expression and the visceral allure of stone propelled me to attend.

Arriving, I absorbed what was happening in this extraordinary environment. I experienced a transformation. The feel of community was immediate and warmly embracing. Full supportive resources of material, tools, and instruction was there to receive. Each participant was subtracting chip by chip, layer by layer their vision embedded in the stone they now embraced.

The fountain that Rich designed and created in the Magnolia Courtyard of the Bardessono HotelHow and why? This was not some militarized artisanal boot camp nor was it some hierarchical art academy with its cannons of performance and its standards for righteous achievement. This seemed to be a focused community thriving in a nurturing supportive setting. The participants, regardless of experience or recognized achievement, seemed to be flourishing in each other’s company. It was amazing. I had stumbled into an experience of such deep and resonant personal value, a culture of trust and sharing. I needed to embrace and commit myself to this community like so many others have done.

I came to know the vision and goals of the core establishing members: Vic Picou, George Pratt, Meg Pettibone, Tamara Buchanan and others.

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