While strolling Main Street for Payson's third First Friday Night Art and Antiques Walk, stop by Down the Street Art Gallery to view Gail's bronze sculptures and April Bower's watercolors and metalwork.
Western artist Gail is in the process of completing "Welcome to the Filaree," a sculpture in the likeness of the late Marguerite Noble, a local author.
"It's my newest piece because it is so special to Payson, and so many people around here knew her," said Gail, who became acquainted with Noble several years ago. "She was easy to sculpt, because she has distinctive features."
The piece is named after "Filaree," Noble's most famous book. Images of filaree, a Mediterranean plant, rest aside Noble's clay feet.
"The plant is so elaborate, with all kinds of little edges over the leaves like a fern," Gail said. "Filaree is one of my favorite plants, too."
Gail said she does not usually create historic Western art.
"Most of what I do is contemporary stuff that I know," said Gail, a northern Arizona native. "Western is easy because I've lived it."
Gail said the first piece she sculpted was a female.
Featured Artists Reception and First Friday on Main Street Art and Antiques WalkArtists: April Bower and "Gail"When: 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, July 6Where: Down the Street Art Gallery, 703 W. Main St.Cost: FreeContact: (928)-468-6129Refreshments will be provided.
"I put tight clothes on her because I like anatomy," said Gail, who worked at a bronze foundry in Sedona for several years. "Western wear is always tight."
A sculpture on display at the gallery features a woman pulling off her cowboy boots.
"I won those boots in a horse race," said Gail, who participated in junior rodeos until she was 19.
As a result of a life of riding, horses are another focus of Gail's sculptures.
"I know horses better than I know people," Gail said. "We see so much variety in people that we don't realize we are so much alike."
Gail's metalwork extends to bronze and silver belt buckles of a wolf's head, which she creates in a process called lost wax casting.
Gail also designs "shadows," or steel cutouts of figures such as peacocks and roadrunners. Some remain black, while others are rusted.
"I can do someone's kids, if they have a picture that works well as a silhouette," Gail said. "I can make a life-size shadow, so they can have them playing in the yard all the time."
Texture is key
Artist April Bower stresses texture while creating jewelry, watercolor paintings and copper patinas.
Bower paints realistic watercolors on rice paper.
After making a sketch, she dampens the rice paper and then crumples it.
"When I flatten out the painting, I have ridges, or highs and lows, on which I paint," said Bower, who studied the technique at a workshop in her home town of Phoenix. "You can't get the texture any other way."
Bower wets the rice paper again before mounting it onto watercolor paper with wheat paste.
"Then I finish the details," Bower said.
Bower said the textured appearance of her paintings is similar to batik, an Indonesian art form where artists allow melted wax to penetrate cloth. Next, when paint is applied, the colors will only adhere to places where the wax did not seep, creating an uneven, 3-D design.
Bower said the subjects of her paintings arise mostly from photographs she has taken.
"When we moved from Phoenix to Pine, the snow was really fascinating," Bower said.
One watercolor shows a snowy creek near Bower's house.
"With snow, it's much easier, since all the white is blank," Bower said. "You've got to put in shadows, but most of it is white paper."
Metalwork is another specialty of Bower's, who worked for more than 18 years at a jeweler's bench. Bower, who is experienced with gold and faceted stones, said working with sterling silver and copper allows her to be more creative.
"I'll see something that inspires a design and make my own translation three or four times," Bower said. "After that, I get bored."
Bower said she uses a lot of texture in her pieces.
"I etch on some of them and use a custom design hammer," said Bower, pointing to a sterling silver bracelet with dragonfly designs. "The markings on the copper bracelets are printed with a big steel roller."
Bower said she balances her different talents by focusing on one at a time.
"I'll wear my jewelry hat for a couple of weeks and then put on my watercolor hat," Bower said. "In the meantime, my husband Stu and I are always building fountains."