Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Two Free Spirits

“Two Free Spirits” featuring the work of Wanda Wood and Wayne St. John.
Opens October 2nd, and runs through December 2nd at the Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery.

"I don't know what I would do if I couldn't paint," says artist Wanda Wood. "For me, it's as necessary as breathing.” A member of Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery since 1999, Wood will share a featured artist show, “Two Free Spirits” with fellow co-op artist, Wayne St. John. While both artists work in different media, they share a similarly impressionistic quality, well perceiving and capturing the emotion of a scene, and the many varying degrees sunlight, shadow and color.

Both artists, Cottonwood residents, also share a remarkable assortment of natural talents crossing over into several arenas. Wood primarily works in pastel, and oil paints, but she is also a gifted weaver of artisan baskets. Mr. St. John is primarily a potter, but also paints in watercolor and oils. He joined the Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery shortly after its inception in 1996.

“I took my first pottery class 35 years ago, but had to wait until retiring from the United States Air Force before really getting involved in the arts. I’ve been interested in the arts all my life, painting and trying to mimic the masters without any instructor.” After retiring, he began taking college art classes and workshops, “I took a pottery class, and throwing [pottery] came easy to me, so that was the direction I took. My pottery forms are simple, yet functional and my glazes often reflect the colors of the Jerome/ Sedona area. I like to let the glaze decorate my pieces. Runs and drips are there on purpose. Each piece is handmade or thrown on the wheel. No two pieces are alike. After a piece is made and air dried it is fired at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit to drive off the water and to harden the clay for handling, then decorated with glaze and fired a second time to 2400 degrees Fahrenheit. The last firing turns the clay to stone, hence the name stoneware. There are over 20 steps in the process from mud to the finished pot!”

Originally juried into the gallery for his popular and functional stoneware, St. John later added paintings to his repertoire. His paintings are lyrical and figurative, and capture the essence of a figure model, and the structures of natural elements. He has been an officer in both the El Valle Artists Association, as well as in the Northern Arizona Water Color Society, and has participated in many workshops with both organizations.

Wanda Wood began painting with oils 40 years ago. For the past two decades she has specialized in painting pastels on sanded paper. “The ‘tooth’ of the paper allows the artist to build layers of color with a blending capability other papers can't match,” she explains. Combined with Wood's deft touch and eye for realism, her work pulls viewers in, welcomes and warms them. “We all have special places that we hoard in our hearts and visit over and over again. A memorable landscape from childhood or a magical vacation, or maybe it's somewhere we've never been at all, yet dream about."

Ms. Wood’s landscapes reflect her passion for travel, and include scenes from Tuscany, Umbria and Scotland alongside those from Sedona, Monument Valley and Shiprock, New Mexico. Yet no matter how exotic and far-flung the locale, Wood's paintings exude a soothing familiarity, as if they could be located just around the next bend in the road.

"I don't know why I choose to paint a particular place," says Wood. "Something just calls to me. But when I'm finished I recognize that this is simply someplace I want to be.”
Ms. Woods is also a member of the Sedona Art Center, and her artwork hangs in homes all across the world, including China, England and Canada. She has been commissioned by national restaurant chains and has exhibited in shows across the United States. Her work is also on display at the Arizona Supreme Court in Phoenix.

“Two Free Spirits” opens Saturday, October 2nd, 5:00m-8:00pm coinciding with Jerome’s very popular 1st Saturday “ARTwalk”. Opening night will feature refreshments, and a chance to meet and speak with the artists. The show runs through December 2nd
The Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery is located in the old Hotel Jerome, at 502 Main.
Open daily from 10am-6pm, the gallery is managed and operated by nearly 40 local artists. For more information, visit or call 928-639-4276