With the spectacular fountain as its backdrop, a main avenue in Fountain Hills will be transformed into a sculpture wonderland next month when Thunderbird Artists hosts its 2nd Annual Sculpture & Wine Festival Friday through Sunday, Jan. 13 through 15. The juried show will feature more than 60 acclaimed sculptors from around the globe, giving awestruck patrons a chance to view and purchase stunning, diverse pieces made of bronze, stone, copper, clay, wood, metal, glass, gourd, steel, found objects and mixed media. The event takes place from 10 am to 5 pm each day at 16810 E. Avenue of the Fountains. A portion of proceeds will benefit the International Cancer Advocacy Network (ICAN).
Denise Colter, vice president of Thunderbird Artists, says the event will provide a rare chance to meet many of the renowned sculptors in one setting. “There is no other sculpture-only show in Arizona where you can see a breathtaking array of small, medium, life-sized and monumental sculptures,” says Denise. “Whether you are seeking to enhance your home décor or want to begin a sculpture garden, you’ll find a diverse selection of original, high-quality pieces to choose from.”
Wrapping colorful fiber into art
Myra Burg is a mixed media artist from California whose sculptural pieces and “Quiet Oboes,” or cylindrical tapestries, have caught the attention of collectors, interior designers and even Hollywood producers. A native New Yorker, Myra grew up in the Los Angeles area, in the hills just beneath the Griffith Observatory. She loved art as a child and pursued a career in architecture – until a didgeridoo at home got her thinking.
“I realized my didgeridoo was more art piece than musical instrument. I wrapped a companion piece with colorful fiber and named it The Quiet Oboes,” Myra says, adding that each tube she creates is individually wrapped, top to bottom, with sumptuous fiber of varying colors, sheen and texture.
The Quiet Oboes put Myra on a new career path working full time as an artist. The career move made perfect sense to Myra, who always held a fascination for yarn.
“My mother taught me to crochet when I was about eight,” says Myra. “When Mom took me into the notions department to shop for needles, thread and fabrics, the display of all the colors of threads fascinated me. As a teenager, I decided to try some free-form weaving. Years later, in a box of kindergarten and elementary school goodies my mother saved, there were two little weavings from that early era,” she recalls with fondness.
As Myra expanded her Quiet Oboes series, she began to collaborate with Liz Cummings, a mixed-media painter. “We design together and sometimes show and install our collaboratives together,” says Myra. “Quite often, only one of us will be on-site or at a show, and still, we combine our pieces. It seems once the canvas and fiber meet, they take on a life of their own.”
Describing herself as “deeply Jewish and spiritual,” Myra embraces life with the same zest as she does her art. At 33, she began surfing for the first time. Now 57, she and her partner, Charlie Christensen, have competed in several international competitions and won fourth place in tandem surfing at the 2011 ITSA (International Tandem Surfing Association) World Tour.
During the Thunderbird Artists sculpture festival in January, Myra will exhibit a variety of Quiet Oboes. Prices range from $150 for an individual piece to several thousand dollars for larger, more complex installations.
“They’re a little like potato chips,” says Myra. “Tricky to have just one.”
Sculptor carves acrylic sheets
While the surf calls to Myra, it’s wide open desert landscapes, mountain breezes, abundant wildlife and spectacular sunsets a few miles past the far northern edge of the Valley of the Sun that keep Edward Meyrowitz, a Black Canyon City resident, inspired to create his unique, carved acrylic Plexiglas sculptures.
A New York native, Edward lived in California for more than 30 years before moving to Arizona in 2001 to take advantage of the state’s booming art market. The talented artist worked in the aerospace industry for a decade before pursuing his passion of working full time as an artist.
Describing himself as a “modernist dealing with the inner world of feeling” and “spiritual in his Jewish faith,” Edward says his works of art are not just exercises in the principles of design, but also visual projections of interior emotions and experiences: “They are to be criticized and enjoyed as manifestations of artistic impulse fulfilled in the manipulation of the physical elements and psychological effects of the work of art itself.”
Using hand, electric and pneumatic tools – some of which he developed himself – Edward carves acrylic Plexiglas sheets and paints them with automotive and other paints.
“The tools I developed allow me to carve deep into the hard acrylic without breaking it,” he says. “I’ve been working in acrylic for 24 years and I have not come across any other artist who does what I do.”
Edward has been exhibiting his work with Thunderbird Artists for more than 20 years. For the sculpture show in January, he will display a variety of large, multi-piece and freeform designs, ranging in price from $300 to several thousand dollars.
Wine and microbrew tastings
The sculpture festival also combines fine art with an extensive collection of domestic and imported wines and microbrews for tasting. For $10, patrons will receive an engraved souvenir wine glass with six tasting tickets, allowing them to walk the Fountain Hills festival sipping samples, enjoying superb art and listening to live music. Additional tasting tickets may be purchased for $1 each.
Admission to the 2nd Annual Sculpture & Wine Festival in Fountain Hills is $3 for adults and free for children ages 17 and younger. Parking is free all weekend. For more information, call 480-837-5637 or visit thunderbirdartists.com.