New Main Street Gallery Brings 21 Local Artists To One Location

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There are pockets of oft overlooked gold in the Rim Country -- they are local artisans who sculpt in stone, cast feathers of bronze, create objects d'art with clay, fuse glass into colors to dazzle the eye or take an ordinary gourd and give it spirit.

They are master jewelry designers and artists who create manzanita trees from silk.

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Robert Barela is among 21 artists shaping Main Street's future.

They are artists whose brush strokes might capture a horse looking over the fence rail or an emotionally moving non-representational piece of two-dimensional painting.

It is difficult to go to the supermarket, a fund-raiser or sit in church without shaking the hand of a local artist.

"It was surprising to me that many artists did not know what other artists did," Robert Barela said.

Barela is a stone sculptor and one of the 21 artists who have formed a co-op and created Artists of the Rim.

"It has been so enlightening to visit with my fellow artists," Barela said.

Artists of the Rim is located on Main Street, Payson's latest attraction.

"It was a lot of work to get the gallery up and running, but look what we've got," Barela said. "I feel we will help put Main Street on the map."

It took, not the expected two, but three people to staff the gallery over rodeo weekend and 25 percent of the visitors were from out of town according to Glenda Roark, the force behind the co-op.

"It's amazing to get 21 people to see one vision," ceramic artist Carolee Jackson said.

This month will give the artists time to fine tune the workings of their enterprise in preparation for their grand opening Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16 and 17.

Roark envisions monthly art receptions.

That it only took three months of planning to line up the artists then another three-and-a-half weeks to remodel the storefront at 408 W. Main, pleases co-op members.

Now, Barela, a retired carpenter and one of the many artists who had a hand in the remodel before the gallery opened, can get back to stone carving.

He uses picture rock (a stone colored in degrees from tan to burgundy), sierra stone (composed of sandstone, limestone and iron oxide) that when baked turns the deep red of the mountains in Sedona and flagstone to make his carved table tops, standing two-dimensional art and smaller wall hangings.

Horses seem to run with the wind in their manes from the center, not of the table top, but of the whorls in the stone itself.

Barela's medium of choice is grainy-like wood.

"A lot of (my art) is about taking advantage of nature's shapes and highlighting them," he said.

He never knows what a piece is going to be until it is cut.

The wave and curve of the grain might suggest the perfect spot for an eagle to emerge and be painted or a pueblo to rise toward the sun.

Until moving to Star Valley 11 years ago, Barela could only work with scrap pieces of stone.

Now a man in Thatcher, with a saw six feet in diameter, cuts the stones that Barela will shape and sculpt with dremel tools, chisels and a sand blaster.

Artists of the Rim is the first gallery in which Barela has had his art displayed.

There is an advantage in the gallery for everyone -- the co-op is a chance to have his tables on display all day long, a chance to network with other artists and a draw for the town and its visitors.

Artists of the Rim:

Jim Garrity

Jack Greenshield

Sally Myers

Peggy Gould

Dixie Guldner

Conrad Chapek

Alan and Carol Snyder

Carolee Jackson

Nofi Barek

Dolores Hartless

Ruth Overton

Don Morris

Dick and Marilyn Wolfe

Sandy and Dick Crane

Robert and Glenda Roark

Brenda Baker

Robert Barela

Artists of the Rim gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, and Wednesday through Saturday. It is also open from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m Sunday.

Photo gallery

View a photo gallery of the works available at the Artists of the Rim gallery.

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