Back to School…. wait! what?! already?!

Back to school?!!?  Are you kidding me?! Summer JUST started. (Right?)

Well, at least the ringing of the school bell signals one thing: Fall can’t be too far around the corner. And, if you need another perk of impending academia to lift your spirits, how’s this: BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING! Art is our favorite palliative, so whether you’re sending your kiddos off to the big yellow bus, or yourself making the commute into campus– we have some little treats to make the transition out of summer a little more tolerable.

First, a creative home for that annual “First Day of School” snapshot.

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Maybe pick up a writing utensil so nice, you’ll be just looking for an excuse to use it– EVEN if that excuse is homework?  (And what better spot to your store school pens than a wise ol’ owl pencil cup?)






And when all the hard work is done and the teacher’s marked your paper with a giant “A+”, you’ll need some funky magnets to pin it up to the fridge. (These make great teacher gifts, too!)







And, if it’s been a particularly rough day?







We feel you.

“Education, n.: that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” – Ambrose Bierce


PHOTO ESSAY: A studio visit with Practical Art artisan Michelle Spanyard of Tucson, AZ


The very last sentence in Practical Art artisan Michelle Spanyard’s standard bio is about how one of her jewelry pieces was worn into space by Captain Mark Kelly as he commanded the last mission of the space shuttle Endeavor.

Did you get that?   HER. JEWELRY. WENT. INTO. SPACE. 

People, I can’t tell you enough, lead with those items of note! I knew one of my current friends for nigh on six months before I’d found out he’d been a guest on The Jerry Springer Show. What?! Those things get inserted into your first handshake, guys! And, certainly, the cosmos is eons cooler than a rough-n-tumble farce of a talk show.

And why shouldn’t they be in space? Her works are stellar! (Couldn’t help it.) From her Tucson studio, Spanyard does everything from etching to enameling, precision hand-saw techniques to setting stones. Her sense of color, design, and quality craft are evident in each piece. Just take a look for yourself.

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Photo Essay: A Studio Visit with Practical Art artisan Jeanne Fellow of Tucson, AZ


Humans are attracted to color. The freshest fruits are brightly toned, the loveliest flowers are vibrant red and pink and purple and orange, and so unsurprisingly, much of our art is about our intense psychological connection to the hues of our environment. Abstract watercolor artists like Jeanne Fellow seek to create eye-catching works that sing with a chorale of spectral light, that pluck at our subconscious response mechanisms.  She works intuitively, employing a variety of techniques– dripping, salting, staining, spraying– guided by her own responses to the work as it lives and moves before her, building up one layer at a time.

fellow7C44A3805fellow5 fellow1fellow2fellow4fellow fellow3fellow-lamp1-02Catch that twist ending? For years, Jeanne’s work was created with Italian cold-press watercolor papers, metallic acrylic inks, and was matted and framed for display; while she still uses these high-quality archival materials, Jeanne’s jumped off the wall into sculptural forms that she then lights from within to create stunning, luminescent, room-making lamps– LumenArt. They look completely different during night and day, so they’re almost like two art pieces in one– and both equally brilliant.



Photo Essay: A Studio Visit with Practical Art artisan Greg Corman of Tucson, AZ

Sorry, bees, this one’s for us.


Tucson artist and landscape designer Greg Corman has gained quite a bit of popularity here in Phoenix as the architect of supremely artful ‘bee habitats‘– but never fear, he’s also interested  in helping out with the artfulness of our human homes. The new work installed at Practical Art for our December exhibition “Artifact” is a solo show of Corman’s work, and year round, we display a collection of his functional pieces: benches, key hooks, bee habitats (of course), centerpiece vessels, and items like this elegant and handsome jewelry holder made of Desert Ironwood.

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His passion is creating sculpture, outdoor furniture, and other objects from salvaged wood and steel and found objects, which often means that his raw materials need a little (read: a lot) of help becoming the beautiful components he knows they can be. His pieces highlight the natural textures and patinas of the materials he uses, and he’s invited us all into his studio for a glimpse at the process.


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Greg’s experience includes thirty years of horticultural and design work, mostly in desert areas of Australia, the Middle East, and the Southwestern US. Greg is recognized as a regional expert on native plants and teaches docents, master gardeners, and the public on many horticultural and design topics. He has BS and MS degrees in Agriculture from the University of Arizona and the University of Maryland, respectively.

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If you want to see examples of the breadth and depth of his work, tonight’s “Share of the Pie: Charity Pie Night” is a nice opportunity to swing by the shop, see and feel the work in person, and, well, eat pie! We’ll be swingin’ from 7-9pm for Pie Night, and the “Artifact” exhibition will be up for the remainder of December.