Art season is in full swing this month with two juried art shows featuring acclaimed artists, wine tastings, delicious edibles, live musical performances and plenty of inspiration!
Thunderbird Artists hosts its 7th annual Waterfront Fine Art & Wine Festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9, 10 and 11 at 7135 E. Camelback Road in downtown Scottsdale, and a week later, the Gilbert Fine Art & Wine Festival takes place Feb. 16, 17 and 18 at the Gilbert Civic Center, 90 E. Civic Center Drive in Gilbert. Both arts festivals are open from 10 am to 5 pm each day.
Denise Colter, Thunderbird Artists’ vice president, said both festivals will offer a diverse selection of original paintings, sculpture, glass, wood carvings, jewelry, photography and mixed media pieces.
“The Scottsdale Waterfront is always a big draw for our patrons, and we’re equally excited to expand our venue location to include Gilbert this year,” Denise says. “As one of the East Valley’s fast-growing communities, we think Gilbert is a great fit for residents seeking fine art.
Glass artist breaks through his fear
Bobby Harr’s junior high school teacher told him he would never be an artist. While he was always creative, that remark not only kept him from discovering his talent, he wouldn’t go near a museum or art gallery unless he was invited to go with friends.
Today, Bobby is a successful glass artist who will exhibit his Judaica, wall art and men’s accessories at both Thunderbird Artists’ shows this month.
“I didn’t create my first piece of art until I was 48 years old, when I gave myself permission to find the right medium,” says Bobby. “I was watching a PBS program showing Dale Chihuly blowing glass, and that was before he became famous. Something just clicked and I knew I wanted to learn how to create glass art.”
Finding someone to teach him, however, was a challenge, especially because most of the renowned glass artists worked for large production companies in other states. “I read books, watched cassettes and tried to teach myself until I found help from a local glass shop,” he said.
After experimenting with different techniques, he was drawn to fusing glass, a technique that involves cutting flat sheets of glass, layering it and cooking it in a kiln for several hours between 1,400 and 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bobby was active in the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix many years ago. He also has taught glass art at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center, and his work has been featured in the Jewish Museum in New York City and the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
He said lately people can’t get enough of his mini-menorahs and Judaica wall art.
“I think people are looking for pieces that are different from their grandparents’ Judaica,” he says, adding that his cufflinks for men also are in demand.
Jeweler is living her dream
For as long as she can remember, Cindy Bolin wanted to be an artist. As a child, she looked up to her older sister, who was painting at that time. She went to art camp in Flint, MI and later studied at the University of California at Santa Barbara, exploring many mediums, including pottery, printmaking and painting.
She didn’t find her true passion until she began to experiment with metalsmithing to create jewelry.
“My father had taught me to solder,” says Cindy. “I purchased a torch, hand tools, a rolling mill, copper, silver and I set up a bench in my studio. I tried to imagine what I wanted to wear and I would draw designs and write phrases for inspiration, all while focusing on my metal fabrication skills.”
Today, she still sketches her designs and tapes drawings and stories onto the walls of her studio to keep her motivated. Working with a collage of sterling silver, copper, gold and various precious and semi-precious stones, she solders, etches, hammers and sculpts pendants, earrings, bracelets, rings, belt buckles, key chains and other art objects. She will exhibit her newest designs at Thunderbird Artists’ Scottsdale Waterfront festival.
She finds inspiration for her work from her childhood in Michigan, her life in California, her travels and her love of big band music, which she credits her mother for.
“I find working with metal is a great way to tell a story,” Cindy says, adding that she also strives to make her pieces comfortable.
“Women aren’t dainty Victorian flowers – they have full and busy lives. I try to construct jewelry and accessories that are comfortable, durable and age well,” she says.
One way she accomplishes this is by using a rolling mill to thin out metals. “It makes the piece lighter,” says Cindy. She also uses a sander, a buffer and other hand tools to “sculpt down” the metal in certain areas.
Cindy was raised in a mixed family, but has fond memories of going to synagogue with her favorite aunt and cousins.
“For me, God is always there,” she says. “The Jewish faith has always been around me through my family and friends.”
Admission to both arts festivals is $3 for adults, and free for children 17 years or younger. For more details, call 480-837-5637 or visit ThunderbirdArtists.com.