“Hare” works by Christy Puetz

“The rabbits mingled naturally. They did not talk for talking’s sake, in the artificial manner that human beings – and sometimes even their dogs and cats – do. But this did not mean that they were not communicating; merely that they were not communicating by talking.”

Richard Adams, Watership Down

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Rabbits. Rabbits will indeed communicate with you this month, if you come by Practical Art to view our latest show, “Hare.” Christy Puetz has out done herself with her whimsical and thought-provoking sculptures. Her rabbits will make you laugh, make you ask questions, make you frown, make you smile– her rabbits will make you feel.

Inspired by the rabbits of Watership Down, Christy has built her works using fiber art covered in combinations of tactile materials, like glass beads and repurposed or up-cycled items. The decorative outer layer represents a unique ‘skin,’ the pattern of which tells (or emphasizes) the story of the piece.  Christy explains her methods, saying, “I use absurdity, beauty, and humor to comment on issues in a way that makes difficult subjects more approachable– issues like how the history of disease has shaped the world, how humans affect animal habitat, and the mysteries of human behavior.”

To find out more about her art, we asked Christy to answer a few questions about the show. Here is what she had to say:

What processes/materials did you use to create the pieces?

I, first, envision the storyline for each piece and how the pose should look.  Then I create the pattern for forms, and hand construct them.  Last, I complete the glass bead embroidery (each bead is sewn on a few at a time).

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What inspired your work for the show?

I have wanted to do a show of all rabbits for a long time– their ears and symbolism intrigue me.  I was also inspired by the novel by Richard Adams, titled Watership Down, and the animate film by the same name.  I really wanted to capture particular emotions in both the pose and the bead pattern for each piece.

What is your favorite part about making art?

Making art is like mind yoga to me, it is an outlet for my energy.  I have so many ideas, the slow and repetitive process helps me to relax.  

Do you have a favorite piece in the show? If so, what is it?

I have two:  Dandelion and Irma.  Dandelion was the first of the series, finishing this piece inspired me to do more.  Irma was inspired by a friend that continues to influence my life.

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If you had to describe your show in 5 words or less, what words would you use?

tactile, sentimental, symbolic, humorous, beautiful

 

Meet Christy’s rabbits throughout the month of August, here at Practical Art. Come by this Friday night, August 5th from 7:00-9:00 for a special artist’s reception, and meet Christy for yourself. We can’t wait to see you there!


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“Support: something that holds up structure” works by Molly Koehn

Beginning July 1st, Practical Art will feature the amazing work of local artist, Molly Koehn. Come by and explore the relationship between humans and nature in her show, “Support: something that holds up structure.” Attend our Artist’s reception on Friday, July 1st, from 7:00-9:00pm, and meet the artist herself!

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We asked Molly to give us some insider information about her pieces, and she was happy to give oblige:

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  1. What processes/materials did you use to create the pieces?

Many of my pieces use a process called eco-printing. It is a natural dye process that uses leaves to create a print on the fabric. The leaves are bundled up in fabric and steamed for an hour. The color from the leaves transfers to the fabric. I also use embroidery, weaving, and drawing.

  1. Is there a theme to your show? If so, what is it?

This work is looking at natural systems and the role humans play in those systems. These pieces are also looking at the idea of support. In these systems, is nature supporting us or are we supporting nature? And I definitely acknowledge that we are part of nature, but I think in general, humans separate themselves from nature.

  1. What inspired your work for the show?

Moving to the valley 2 years ago has been a huge inspiration. The greater metropolitan area is just so bizarre to me in how different it is from the desert surrounding. Arizona in general amazes me. Down here there’s cactus and shrubs everywhere, but up north it’s all pine trees and snow! I love the diversity of climates and vegetation. I see something new and interesting almost everyday. I could probably live here for the rest of my life and stay consistently amazed.  

  1. What is your favorite part about making art?

That’s a tough question. I love the general process of making—using my hands to create. I just love working hard and getting dirty.

  1. Do you have a favorite piece in the show? If so, what is it?

I’m partial to my maggot embroideries. There is something so satisfying about the play between something gross and beautiful at the same time.

  1. If you had to describe your show in 5 words or less, what words would you use?

Maggots, leaves, landscape, support, systems.  

  1. What other artists (any local?) inspire you?

I find a lot of inspiration from land artists, specifically Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt. I’m also the biggest Patricia Sannit fan in the world.

  1. What do you want your viewers to know about you as an artist?

I’m awesome.

We can’t wait to see you at Practical Art on First Friday, and throughout the month of July!

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Photo Story: Studio visit with William Letterman

Here at Practical Art, we love the sensations of handmade goods– smooth glass, sanded wood, soft wool fibers, scented wax, vibrant palettes, cool metals. We know that our mom, too, greatly appreciated the encaustic wax finish of the Lara Plecas art piece she received, or the deliberate color choices of the Pat Mahoney planters, chosen just for her. With the success of our Mother’s Day selections, we figure it’s never too early to start getting ideas for Father’s Day (dads are pretty important, too!). When we visited William Letterman’s studio, we knew that his woodturned vessels were perfect. Letterman-01

Letterman began turning wood 10 years ago. He began with pens, and soon progressed to bowls and vases, and then more advanced techniques of inlays, segmented works, and burl pieces. Using a mixture of classic and self-taught techniques, Letterman’s work is flawless.

First, Letterman selects a brilliant series of colored woods to pattern his bowls and vessels. After strategically designing flat rings out of the wood, patterned with the various shades, he then makes additional rings, increasing in size. He glues those rings of wood together to create the rough shape of the desired piece. With great precision, Letterman uses a lathe to spin the wood, and turns a tool down the slope, re-shaping and thinning the walls of the vessel. Sanding and applying a finish complete the process. Letterman works hard to perfect his craft and create one of a kind pieces and custom pieces based on a buyer’s request. The result is a beautiful, natural, and functional piece of art.

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Get a head start on your Father’s Day shopping by coming to Practical Art and exploring the work of William Letterman and more than 130 other Arizona artisans. We can’t wait to see you soon!

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“The Apple & The Tree” a Family Group Show

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the apple doesn’t fall from the tree?” Well, this month Practical Art is putting this idiom to the test! How, you ask? This month’s show features a collaboration of works from a few of our favorite local artists and their children. Representing a wide variety of mediums and modalities, the work represented is thoughtful, inspiring, playful, and endearing.

We asked a few of these wonderful creatives to give us a little perspective about what it was like working with their family for this show.

Lori and Sydney (14) Fenn reflected on the similarities and differences of their artistic styles.

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“We both enjoy using color and looking at things from a different perspective. Lori’s paintings are more abstract, focusing on patterns, whereas Sydney’s photos are more nature oriented. However, we are both perfectionists when it comes to what we create.”

They each inspire the other to be more creative. As for Lori, “I’m inspired by Sydney’s humor, her timing is perfect and she has a way with turning an everyday comment into something comedic.”

Sydney is inspired by, “My mom’s creativity and ability to make a boring situation exciting…Her creativity allows all crazy ideas to become a reality and I find that very admirable.”

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Lilly (10) and Bella (9) Pearson appreciate being raised with and around art.

Lilly says that “[My parents] inspire me by raising me with art. I love art because it gives me so many ideas and I love creating things. My favorite part about making art is doodling and drawing, it helps me get ideas for my comic books.”

Bella states “They all help me by when they do their paintings it shows me some new ideas for my paintings. My favorite part about making art is that it lets me bring out my creative side. It is different working around my family but in a good way because I learn new things.”

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Their parents, Kristin and Emmett have purposely and poignantly raised their children around art. “We raise our kids around lots of art and they have been growing up around art studios, museums and galleries since they were young. We believe very much that the best way to support their artistic instincts is to give them space, time and materials to make work, and to support what they are doing. We avoid giving too much instruction or suggestions. Children have such a pure unfiltered way of approaching creativity and we just want to foster that above all else.” After seeing the great works created for this show, we couldn’t agree more!

So, how would these talented individuals describe their pieces for the show in three words or less?

Lori: colorful, complex
Sydney: perspective, perspective, perspective!
Bella: Sunny, beautiful, creative
Lilly: Crazy, fun, ridiculous

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Meet these artists, and the others represented in this month’s show this Friday, May 6, 2016 from 7:00-9:00pm. Their work will be up throughout the month of May, so that you can determine for yourself, does the apple fall far from the tree?

Reception for the artists:
First Friday May 6th, from 7-9
Exhibition:
May 1-31

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Practical Art is turning eight!

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Practical Art is turning eight!  Our little shop on Central has grown and matured in ways we never would have imagined– and it’s all a result of our hard-working staff, our imaginative and talented artists, and most importantly, you, our loyal customers. In honor of our 8th birthday, here are 8 fun facts about PA.  Did you know that…

  • Practical Art houses the work of more than 130 local artists

When Practical Art opened, we carried the functional, imaginative work of eight (fitting, right?) local artists. Over the past eight years, we have expanded our network of artists to more than 130– and we are still growing. We jury new artists into the store every month, which means you can always find something fresh and innovative on our shelves!  

  • Practical Art = Functional Art

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At Practical Art we pride ourselves in finding art in the everyday– which is why we feature work that is beautiful, and usable! The truth is, it is more fun to drink your morning cup o’ joe from a Jillian Schimmel Arizona mug, roll out your favorite pie dough with a Paul Porter rolling pin, or sign your name with a hand-turned Richard Altenhofen pen.

Practical Art also features fine art in our monthly wall shows. Have you been by to see Lara Plecas’s encaustic pieces in her show, We Shall Be Free…”?

  • Practical Art believes in the power of recycling

Here at Practical Art, if you need something boxed or bagged, we are happy to oblige– but don’t be surprised if you walk out with a child’s birthday bag, or Tiffany & Co. box. All of our packaging comes from community donations. Next time you celebrate a birthday or go on a shopping trip, don’t throw your bags and boxes away! Bring them to Practical Art  and we will put them to re-use.

  • Practical Art supports local charities

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Last year, Practical Art raised more than $10,000 in support of 12 different local non-profits around the valley– and we are on pace to do even more this year! Our monthly Charity Pie Night highlights organizations around the state that are working hard to improve our community.

Our next Charity Pie Night happens April 22nd! Come by to hear about the great work of the Phoenix Zoo, meet some adorable critters, and eat delicious pie!

  • Practical Art loves local

At Practical Art we consider ourselves experts of all things local. Our staff is proud to direct you to other local shops and eateries around the Phoenix area, including Bunky Boutique, Frances, Changing Hands Bookstore, For the People (our new neighbors!), Windsor, Short Leash Hotdogs, or Southern Rail.  As proud members of Local First Arizona, we know that supporting local shops improves the economy in Phoenix.  At the national level, local businesses reinvest, on average, 64.8% back into their local community, as compared to 33.6% from national chains. At Practical Art, we know that our numbers are even higher. When you shop at our store, more than 70% will be reinvested back into our local community.

  • Practical Art offers workshops and classes led by our awesome artists

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Practical Art conducts workshops and special events in which our customers get the chance to become the artist. Past workshops have included the opportunity to cut wine bottles with Ray Del Muro and turn them into vases, creating your own candle scent with Standard Wax, or paint pottery with Jillian Schimmel.

This month we have an Ice Dyeing workshop happening with Lara Plecas on April 30th (click here to find out more)!

Keep your eyes peeled for class schedules and workshop updates on our website and in our monthly newsletter– we have some exciting events planned for this summer!

  • We thrive on being eclectic

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We love the variety of sights, sounds, and smells that you will experience when you walk in our doors. Don’t be surprised if you are confronted by scent of creosote, care of Silver Lining Soaps, or bergamot from our Standard Wax candles.  We hope you relish in our recycled  and refurbished cases salvaged from other businesses, or the newly reinvented shelves and tables handcrafted by our artists. Enjoy the myriad of textures represented by our artists: feel the silky smooth glass constructed by Marnie Brookins, the grain of Greg Corman’s wooden vessels, or the soft cushion of Elsie Leutwyler’s nits. Experience something new with each visit, and know that each experience has been hand-crafted by local artists, just for you!

  • Conveniently shop Practical Art online

Live out of state? Moving out of town? Don’t have time to come down to the shop before your best friends wedding? No problem! You can still purchase one-of-a-kind, Practical Art pieces on our web-store. Find a great selection of your favorite artists work at www.practical-art.com. We are happy to ship (for FREE during the month of April)!

We want to send a huge THANK YOU to the local community who has continued to support our shop and the amazing artists that we represent. In honor of our wonderful customers, we’ve put together a birthday goodie bag– one that highlights the best of our shop!  Inside this ‘bag’ you will find Alex Ozer earrings, a Lisa Olson original photograph, Carolyn Camp’s Silver Lining soap, and more!

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How do you get your hands on this one-of-a-kind goodie bag!?! Purchase a raffle ticket online or come into Practical Art today and purchase a celebratory 8th birthday raffle ticket for $8.00. We will draw the winning name at the end of this month!
From the bottom of our hearts thank you for helping us build a beautiful space that supports local artists & the Phoenix community. We can’t wait to see you soon!

Lisa & the Practical Art team

Photo Story: Studio Visit with Michaela Edelhauser!

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Thinking ahead about what to get for Mother’s Day? Look no further than Michaela Edelhauser’s gorgeous, hand-woven knits. From brightly colored scarves to beautiful totes and colorful utility bags, Michaela’s designs are bright, cheerful, and pristinely crafted. They are the perfect representation of your love for mom!

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A few years ago, Michaela, after reintroducing herself to the art of crocheting and knitting, began investing in higher quality yarns and fibers. On a search for such fineries at an Alpaca Ranch in California, Michaela stumbled across a used floor loom. Purchasing said loom, she attempted to take a class in order to learn how to use it… but the class was canceled due to a lack of students. Instead, she taught herself how to weave through books, blogs, and online videos.  

The new loom changed her art– and her life!

“I taught myself to weave and I connected to it like to nothing else before. It made perfect sense to me, but at the same time, it seemed like magic.  So many times I would pull projects off the loom and wonder “how did this just happen? I did this?”  I wondered how did, what can best be described as a bunch of strings just a few days ago, turn into cloth? And it never gets old.”

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Years of perfecting her works has resulted in increased interest in textile design, and innovative fabrics. Michaela has become an expert in the art of weaving. Her work breathes new life, energy, and vibrancy to the ancient craft– and her products are a testament to her ingenuity.Michaela Edelhauser_08Visit Practical Art today to purchase your own one-of-a-kind, Michaela Edelhauser, hand woven textile (for yourself or mom)! We can’t wait to see you!

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“We can all be free…” works by Lara Plecas

 

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When you explore the works of Lara Plecas, you may find it hard to believe that she is a self-taught painter, originally trained as a dancer. However, her expressive paintings seem to evoke a rhythm, perhaps connected with this history. This month Practical Art is excited to host her latest collection in the show, We Can All Be Free…” Her work will be displayed throughout April, with an artist’s reception held First Friday, April 1, 2016, from 7:00-9:00pm.

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Plecas’s inspirational works typically explore themes of place, and she explains in her blog that, “we have a deep and personal connection with the places where we visit and live, as well as the experiences that may have endured there.” The pieces for this show expand upon this subject by exploring place and its connection to freedom. It is a series inspired by an article from Wired entitled, “The Amazing Art on These Communist-Era Houses Was a Rebellion Back Then.” It is an editorial describing an artistic movement of freedom of expression during a time of “homogeneous, community-centric thinking.” 

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We asked Plecas to give us some additional insight about this month’s extraordinary show:

Q. How would you describe the theme of this particular show?

A. This series really explores freedom and the struggles we overcome to find peace of mind.

Q. If you had to describe your show in 5 words or less, what words would you use?

A. Minimal,  bauhaus, geometric, color, folkart

Q. What processes/materials did you use to create the pieces?

A. In all of the work in my show I used oil paint and encaustic medium to create the imagery. It was the first time however that I used powdered pigment when mixing my colors, it has so much more depth to the color.

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Q. Do you have a favorite piece in the show? If so, what is it?

A. Yes, the tree piece is my favorite piece in this series. It symbolizes the displacement of my family when they left their homeland Lithuania during WWII.  They were displaced for five years until they immigrated to the U.S.

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   “Displaced/Relocation”, encaustic on panel

Q. What other artists (any local?) inspire you?

A. Agnes Martin, Bridget Riley, Betsy Eby

Q. What is your favorite part about making art?

A. I really enjoy the process of painting and watching my ideas evolve in the studio. It is a meditation, and it involves clearing your mind in order to let the flow happen.

To find out more about this historically inspired show, visit with Plecas at Practical Art, April 1, 2016, from 7:00-9:00pm. We can’t wait to see you there!

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