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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight - Renda Greene

Renda with A Gift From the Sea ShellI can’t remember a time when making art has not been a part of my life. My dad commented once that I was born with a pencil in my hand, and he did so much to keep those “pencils” around me.

In kindergarten, my favorite place was at the mini easels, spreading brightly-colored tempera on large sheets of newsprint. I wasn’t satisfied with a single-colored finger painting, and insisted on three or four colors that I would mix and blend, and I would use more than just my fingers to find different textures. Sandbox time would have me creating large piles of packed, damp sand that I would carve into turrets, towers, and moats, using popsicle sticks taken from the art corner. My kindergarten teacher was a very tolerant woman.

All through school, I gravitated to classes and projects that allowed for my need to create. This was difficult sometimes, as we moved almost every year during my middle school and high school years. I was able to take art classes the last two years of high school and got my first taste of stone carving when I released a small seal from a block of soapstone.

It was no surprise

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Artist Spotlight - John Thompson

AND NOW THERE BE STONE…..  1. Scafti and me

For the last 25 years I have been sculpting and carving almost daily, but I came to this via a love of art and rocks in my childhood and then intaglio etching. I did the formal education thing, getting a Bachelor of Arts. I tried many things: drawing, painting, ceramics and photography. I have a 2000-pound etching press that was my artistic outlet, and for several decades I was a printmaker. Then an opportunity opened up, and now the press sits with dust on it and I am a dedicated and happy sculptor.

My introduction to sculpting came through wood carving. I began by drawing the horses that were to become the wooden ponies for the Missoula Carousel Project in 1991. I was the carousel “artist” with the opportunity to help design the more than forty carousel critters. I couldn’t resist the lure of carving and joined in the efforts to create the horses as well as designing them. I was hooked. Great carousels always have a ring machine to allow the riders to get the brass ring, and I decided ours needed to be a dragon. Since the carousel’s inception, I have added a 6’ x 6’ square Indiana limestone relief sculpture to the outside of the carousel building.

In 2008, I attended a stone sculpture symposium in Marble, Colorado and put a chisel to a piece of marble. WOWZA!! Since then,

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Artist Spotlight: Eirene Blomberg

Transfiguration 2012 Carrara Marble and Black Onyx 18.5in tall 2nd            I am a maker and creative being to the core. I have painted, woven, felted, sculpted, sketched, and more, but still hadn't thought of myself as an artist. I knew that I needed to create in order to stay balanced and centered in my life. Art was more of a by-product of what I was doing — whether that was cooking, baking, gardening, or basket-weaving, art would infiltrate in as a driving philosophy, both consciously and subconsciously. Growing up in California, I took art classes in high school and entered college as an art major. Intimidated by the art world, I quickly switched majors and ended up getting a degree in Cultural Ecology with an emphasis in agriculture and became a gardener and herbalist by trade.

           Eirene sketching on stone I spent the next few years working on Organic and Biodynamic farms in Indiana, New Jersey, and Tennessee. Eventually I landed on 150 acres in the backwoods of Tennessee where a lifelong dream of homesteading with a small community of friends was brought to fruition. Five years later, yearning for the waters and mountains of the Pacific Northwest, I ended up settling in Washington State on Lopez Island. I still live there today with my husband and daughter in the home we built. I did a lot of exploring and creating during this period but I didn’t do much classic ‘art.’

            It was not until I was dealing with a medical condition in 2012 that I really opened up to  art again. In the process surrounding my condition I thought a lot about the finite reality of life, and the dreams I still wanted to manifest. Sculpting stone was high on that list, so I contacted Tamara Buchanan, a local stone sculptor and long time NWSSA member. We scheduled a class a few weeks out. As soon as I put chisel to stone I was hooked, and have been carving stone ever since. Tamara has been my teacher, mentor and dear friend, sharing her studio, tools, and wisdom. Working with Tamara Buchanan, taking classes, participating in Symposiums and being a member of the NWSSA have all played very key roles in my development as a stone sculptor. 

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Artist Spotlight: Kirk McLean

Seedling Kirk McLeanMy first serious encounter with stone was a mixed-materials piece in 1982, featuring a 300-pound granite glacial erratic that I had dragged from the woods. Working on this piece got me totally hooked on stone and particularly on granite. Since my training was in metal casting and fabrication and I knew nothing about carving stone, I naturally decided to become a stone sculptor.

My art in the three-and-a-half decades since divides into three phases: eighteen years of abstract granite and basalt sculptures in human scale, a decade of chasing the metaphor of a tree growing from rock, and my recent series using visual metaphors autobiographically. My process has always started from a vision that pops into my mind suddenly, although often after I’ve been thinking about a subject for some time. I work the design further in my head and on the stone, rarely using drawings or maquettes. When I did the Rock Becoming Tree series, the essence of my sculpture became conveying the metaphor using a limited number of symbols. In the Love & Loss series that I just finished, the most important feature was communicating emotion."New World" Soapstone 2014 Kirk McLean

The recent change in my work came from my wife Judy’s illness and death from Alzheimer’s Disease. Family caregivers for someone with dementia die at a rate sixty-three percent higher than the general population, because the experience is so exhausting and traumatic. After her death, I felt totally crushed and floundering in a world with no meaning. Caregivers are encouraged to write about their experience in order to process their grief. I decided, instead, I would use my years of training to make sculptures about it.

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Artist Spotlight - Cyra Jane Hobson

My identity as an artist is embedded deep in my psyche; for me there is no choice and there is nothing else. Yeah, I do other things, but creation is a primary force of my personality, and the narrative I live is entwined with my artwork in a way that it is the literal visual record of my experience. I use art to purge, to define paths, and to embark on new journeys.

As a child growing up in the stark farmland of Illinois, surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans, I dreamt of growing up to be a published poet, performing opera singer, or professional visual artist. In higher education I trained in the first two, up through degrees in writing and choral competitions while painting secretly in my room. I refused teachers in visual art until much later, intent on developing my voice first. And while I had always considered visual art to be the least strong of the three for me, it’s what ended up becoming my dominant path over the course of my 20s.

Partly, the reason for that is how my narrative, my personality, and my creativity melded. For me, my art is my breath. I wither and suffocate without paints, stone, or tools. I have nightmares of losing my hands and won’t ski or ice skate or otherwise put them in danger.

I painted almost exclusively until 2009, until coming home from a 3 month walkabout to 11 major cities in Europe and North America. I went to every art museum, letting myself be drawn where the magnets were. The stone statues in particular—I was so mad they wouldn’t let me touch them. So at some point, I gave myself permission to make my own so that I could: I gave myself permission to sculpt. the Knife

So I came home and dove into whatever I could learn. I joined a Burning Man blacksmithing collective where

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Artist Spotlight: Bruce Kleeberger

“Blushing Rose” Alabaster 12″ h x 14″ w x 12″ d  Bruce KleebergerFirst of All
Many thanks to Penelope Crittenden, Lane Tompkins, and Ben Mefford for the opportunity to share my sculpture experience with Sculpture NorthWest readers. The NWSSA is the most welcoming and supportive organization in art I have ever experienced. I am an “emerging” artist, in my second career: my first being a satisfying and rewarding career as a dentist.

BS (Before Stone)
Although I have dabbled in drawing and three-dimensional art for twenty-five years, I no longer “live by the clock” or have the responsibility of raising my children. Now I focus on satisfying my curiosity through working with stone. If ten thousand hours is a measure of mastery of a skill, I am about one-third of the way up this learning curve. Although I also sculpt wood and clay, I keep returning to stone. My association with the NWSSA is no small part of that.

Art and Science: Discovering Stone
When discussing my art with me, people often assume a correlation between my experience in

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