Three Artists, Three Visions Of Rim Country

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Dick and Sandi Crane, along with oil painter Sally Meyers, are the focus of November's "Artists of the Month" at the new co-op gallery "Artists of the Rim" at 408 W. Main St. in Payson.

There will be a reception for the three at the gallery from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10.

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Detail of "The Bear," painting by Sandi Crane.

Dick and Sandi are relative newcomers to the Rim Country. They relocated to Gisela in the fall of 2005.

After many visits to Payson, they made the decision to exchange the long winters of Montana for the much shorter winters of Gisela, a decision they have not regretted.

The Cranes live in Gisela's Tonto Creek Shores.

The small community offers us inspiration as artists, with outdoor beauty and a long season of good weather to get out and paint and sculpt, said Sandi Crane.

Becoming established artists in Arizona has included becoming members of the new gallery on Main Street.

Dick has been a prolific sculptor for more than 40 years.

"For 35 years, I did one-of-a-kind metal sculptures with a welding torch," Dick Crane said.

He produced thousands of hand-welded metal sculptures that reflected his love of people, historical subjects and animals.

Collectors came from all over the world.

When he and Sandi moved to southwest Montana in 1993, Dick was also able to enjoy a longtime favorite hobby -- fly fishing.

When the owner of a fly fishing lodge needed a guide, Dick told him, "I've never done that, but I'd like to try." So, he discovered he was not only an artist, but a fly fishing guide.

As a result of this new "career," he started making limited edition bronze sculptures of fly fishermen in "Clay and wax are much easier mediums to work in and when you have carpal tunnel syndrome, they are a lot friendlier and a lot more lifelike," he said.

Dick has expanded his subjects to include Native Americans, birds, and gold mining scenes.

A gifted carpenter, Dick has included his art in designing unusual end tables and other furniture made from myrtle wood.

"I'm a recycler," he said. "I hate seeing things with potential go to waste."

Many of Dick's tables incorporate ornamental scrollwork from antique stoves and other treasures that he has found in abandoned gold mining towns in the mountains of Montana.

Sandi has been painting since she could hold a brush.

Growing up in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, she became interested in art at a young age.

Her grandmother encouraged Sandi to pick up the palette.

"She raised me and saw that I had an interest. Remember, this was back in the 1940s in rural Arkansas where people would not normally encourage art, but she did," Sandi said. "Grandmother did it because she loved me a lot. She was a farmer's wife with dreams of her own that kind of got lost on the wayside raising kids."

After moving to California in the early ‘60s, Sandi enrolled in Shasta College, majoring in art. She has also taken many artists' workshops from such artists as Tom Hill, Tony Couch and Ron Ranson.

Her medium is mostly watercolor, but she occasionally still paints in the new Max2 Oils that can be cleaned up with water. Last year, she made her own attempt at sculpture with her first limited edition bronze of Sacajawea.

These bronzes were used as models for the monumental sculpture that she and Dick created for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebration in Montana.

The sculpture can be viewed in the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Twin Bridges, Montana, a ranching community with a population of about 500 people.

In 2002, residents decided they wanted to have a statue created in honor the Lewis and Clark bicentennial.

"The community raised the money out of the generosity of their hearts," Sandi said. "We donated quite a bit of our time."

"Sacajawea" was unveiled in June 2004.

"We are so proud to have it there," Sandi said.

It is the first time the couple collaborated on a bronze.

Right now, they are collaborating on their Gisela home and studio.

"Right now, I paint on the patio," Sandi said.

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