Artist Sees Jewelry As Sculpture



Crystal clusters that flash a rainbow spectrum of color, even in soft light, are contemporary jeweler Patricia Allebrand's favorite stone.

At least, for the moment.

The gemstone is clear quartz crystal treated with titanium.

"Do you remember the comic book of ‘Wonder Woman'?" Allebrand jokes. "She had that bracelet and it was titanium. She warded off all evil. So that's what I'm going to say, wear one and ward off all evil. Kidding. Having fun. I just love the crystals and they sell well."

She will find these crystals and amethyst clusters and more at the Tucson Gem Show later this month.

"It is a dangerous place to go if you like stones and the secret is to only take cash," she whispered.

Will she heed her own advice? Not likely.

Her inventory of stones always has room for additions and, with work exhibited in galleries across the United States, she has the "nice problem" of needing to spend more time crafting jewelry.

So she is looking forward to attending the show and choosing gemstones to bring back to her studio.

"I love my cave," she said. Ironically, her cave is filled with natural, indirect light.

She prefers to work in her haven, listening to music without human interruption.

Only the family dogs, Kipper and Jazzy, are allowed to hang out in her cave.


Will a lapis cabachon or a crystal cluster be more pleasing in this setting? The cabachon is similar to the large onyx set in sterling silver abstractly reminiscent of folded wings that Allebrand is wearing around her neck.

Allebrand credits three mentors in her career.

"My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Wolf, let my friend and I sit in the back of the room and draw instead of (doing) math because she thought we had extra talent," she said.

Her high school art teacher, Mr. Sentz, let her take adult-only art classes at the local college.

And Allebrand was encouraged by her mother to go into art, but the practical woman also advised her daughter to get a teaching certificate.

"I have taught art at every level from kindergarten to college," Allebrand said.

She painted before she realized that she was a better three-dimensional artist than two.

"Unless you are famous, you are not going to make a living as a sculptor," she said.

Nevertheless, she moved to the artsy Soho area of New York City in the 1970s. There she taught college and showed her sculpture in galleries and museums in Manhattan. For a time, she even had a gallery of her own in Long Island.

"I wanted to quit teaching and just do art, but unless you are very famous you can't make a living out of making sculpture, but I can make jewelry which is like small sculpture to wear," she said. "So that's what I started doing."

That was in the mid-1980s.

She polishes some of her own gems and pours molten silver into molds she has designed and created.

"My ideas come from nature and my head," she said as she sat comfortably on her couch with one leg tucked beneath her, her posture straight, yet relaxed.

When she shares she once enjoyed choreography and ballet dancing, it is not surprising.

Her jewelry has similar echoes of form and grace.

"I'll continue to do jewelry but I really like sculpture," she said.

An abstract sculpture she made while living in Berkeley is at home in her front yard. Several busts and torsos of women share the hearth and on the corner of a counter, an 18-inch resin model of a six-foot sculpture fills the negative space.

"I like defining empty space, because that is really something we don't pay very much attention to," she said. "And form. I am very interested in form."

The 100-year0old house that Down the Street Gallery makes its home suits Allebrand.

"The old house lends itself so well to being the perfect environment for some unusual artwork," she said. "Not many of our artists are realists or naturalists."

"I would love to see 20 more art galleries on Main Street ... and see Payson become an art destination."


Name: Patricia Allebrand

Medium: contemporary jewelry

Advice to beginning artists: Just begin. So many times people will sit down and in their heads they have to create this masterpiece. That creates too much pressure. Sit down and start having fun. You shouldn't be creating art if you don't enjoy it.

Motto: Don't be afraid to do it.

Degrees: BA in art from the University of Houston in Texas and a MA in sculpture from the University of California at Berkeley.

Why Payson? There's just enough sun, the terrain is beautiful, and there are a variety of people in the art community.

Upcoming project: non-objective or abstract sculpture in metals -- copper, bronze and silver

Hobbies: Going to the ballet, reading, walking, spending time with my husband Lew Levenson and my son Christopher Stevens.

Point of contact: Down the Street Art Gallery, 703 W. Main St., Payson (928) 468-6129.

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