Of Rocks and Found Objects; and Art and Found Artists

In Travels With Myself on July 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Sometimes the most interesting things are the unexpected treats. Utah, I’ve discovered, is full of hidden treasures.
Last night, before getting ready for bed, I walked across the road from my motel to get a bite to eat and saw small converted gas station on the opposite corner. The sign said “Love the Art.” I went over and discovered that it was a gallery of stone sculpture and beads. The sop was closed, however, and so I went to bed. This morning I took my time getting started, knowing that I would only be going as far as Beryl, Utah. So when I drove out of the motel parking lot, I noticed that Love the Art was open, and I decided to stop in. Love the Art is an art and beading gallery owned and operated by David Penney and his daughters, Tina Robinson and Desiree Shotwell. The gallery specializes in stone sculpture and gemstone beads. They also serve espresso and coffee.
David Penney gets the rock from Zion, Utah, where he has personally discovered and named a stone called Picasso, a beautiful soft multi-colored stone in grays, ambers and blacks. All three of the owners are sculptors ad they sell a lot of their own work out of the store. They also sell work by other artists around the world who trade some of their pieces as partial payment for shipments of more stone to carve.
Tina was working in the store today and we had a lovely conversation about topics ranging from art and stonework to beading to children, to what it’s like living and working as an artist in Utah and opening a gallery just off the highway in a place called Beaver. In the end I found that I could not resist a Picasso heart to be made into a pennant and a small romantic carving of two horses lying side by side. All of the work was absolutely wonderful, from the whimsical to the highly sophisticated. Large abstract stone sculpture mounted on a desert wood pillar was exquisite.
I remarked to Tina as I was leaving that I would certainly tell people about Love the Art, and that it was always a thrill for me to find artists and artisans living and working in small towns and little shops. This sentiment was made even stronger for me later in the day.
I am staying for a few days with my sister Linda in Beryl, Utah. Linda has a weaving and fiber store called R Ewe Spinning, in Enterprise, about 15 miles down the road from her home in Beryl. After I arrived, Linda and I decided to get a light lunch in Enterprise, so that she could show me around a bit. We went, of course, to see Linda’s store, which shares half of a small building with a stone beads and jewelry store run by a delightful woman named Sandy. R Ewe Spinning is filled with racks of yarn ad fiber, spinning wheels, sewing notions, and beautiful, fun, practical, and original knitted objects created the people who work there, notable Tisha, one of Linda’s daughters-in-law, who was behind the counter: wonderful little knitted booties, some shape like actual boots, one pair a set of knitted “sandals”; clever knitted diaper cover and hat sets; and a remarkable sleeved shawl. Sandy’s shop is festooned with strings of beads and racks of necklaces, there are bowls of stone beads and displays of local stone like snowflake obsidian.
We also stopped was to visit a friend of hers named Joe. Joe makes the most wonderful (and I mean that literally) constructions out of wood, found items (such as old bicycles, a horse’s skull, abandoned toys, old automobiles and other assorted vehicles, and a chaotic assortment of metal parts of all kinds. In his front yard he has an incredible display of his creations, all of which are completely fanciful, but many of which look like they really ought to work that way: a seven foot tall “bicycle” with a large front wheel and a tiny tricycle pushing it along from behind and an old auto headlight mounted on the front with eyelashes; a “locomotive” made of random found objects and a wooden frame, and several tree-slab tables with found-wood pedestal legs. Joe is also a builder of useful things, like an incredible barn-board hutch that lives in Linda’s kitchen. Next to Joe’s house is a small open log cabin that Joe disassembled, moved to his property, and put back together. And I have to mention the horse. A horse’s skull found in the desert has grown with the bleached bones of old trees and other salvaged wood, plus an old ragged saddle into a whole new horse, that stands waiting by the fence.
These artists and artisans and their creations don’t just drop here randomly or accidently. When I say that I am always delighted and surprised at finding such art in isolated places, it is an admission of my own forgetfulness. I am accustomed to seeing similar shops and studios in the tourist clogged little towns of New England – Mystic, CT, for instance, or virtually the whole of Cape Cod. And it’s easy to think that the tourism is what allows the art to survive. Artists like Tisha and Tina and Joe and Sandy exist because art itself is a basic human activity; ad because they have chosen to live in places that feed their souls and their art. The best art, I believe, is organic, it is fed by the artist’s relationship to her, or his, life. That is what delights me: seeing the art that each new place helps to create because artists live there.

  1. I wish there were pictures posted along with these. Would love to see some of this artwork and I’m not due for another cross country trek for awhile 😦


  2. Thank you so much David that was very nice of you! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: