The Transformation Of Natural Vessels

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Geri Wood Gittings is a woman enchanted with the extensive palette of techniques gourds offer.

Gourd artist Dixie Guldner credits her first career, as a concert organist, with her thirst to express her creativity in three-dimensional forms.

Gourds are an ornamental plant of the pumpkin family cultivated for thousands of years and made into utensils, storage containers and ornaments.

The women have been featured artists in their respective galleries. Gittings is a member of Down the Street and Guldner is a member of Artists of the Rim.

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Gourds have a centuries-old history as utilitarian vessels, but Dixie Guldner and Geri Wood Gittings use their diverse talents to turn the plants into extraordinary works of art. The women's work is featured artists in their respective galleries. Gittings is a member of Down the Street and Guldner is a member of Artists of the Rim.

Gittings worked for a decade as a graphic artist before she married an artist and they headed West to paint and sketch the scenery and the people, from Western movie actors to the Chief of the Crow Indian nation.

She uses watercolors, oils, acrylics temper paints, even stamper dyes on her intricately carved gourds.

Guldner had been painting gourds barely four months when one of her creations won second place in the novice division of the Arizona gourd show.

Nine years later, gourds still fascinate her.

With gourds on her workbench, the self-taught pastel landscape artist switched to striking hues of primary colors and deep earth tones as she revels in this art form.

Guldner also creates Venetian and Southwestern masks.

No two gourds grow the same size, shape or texture. Thick-skinned gourds are suitable for carving while thinner skins lend themselves to drilling holes for weaving wire or thread.

When these natural vessels exit Gittings' and Guldner's workshops as open bowls or bowls with ornate lids, the objets d'art reveal their makers unique tranformative skills.

Gittings' gourds are at Down the Street Art Gallery, 703 W. Main St. in Payson, or by contacting her at artbygeri@hotmail.com or through www.artbygeri.com.

Guldner's gourds are at Artists of the Rim Gallery at 408 W. Main St. in Payson or by contacting her at (480) 986-2836 or through www.gourdartbydixie.com.

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