Creativity In Rim Country

Artists share creative spaces in studio tour

 Bower does patina paintings, using chemicals to create dramatic images on copper sheeting.


Bower does patina paintings, using chemicals to create dramatic images on copper sheeting.


Is it the walls and accessories that make one space more creative than another or is it the people who use the space? The opportunity to answer that question will be presented this weekend as some of the Rim Country’s most creative people open their spaces to the public in the 2010 ’Neath the Rim Studio Tour.

The self-guided tour, Friday, May 7 through Sunday, May 9, features 21 Rim Country artists at 19 studios in Payson, Pine and Christopher Creek.

Sponsored by the Payson Art League, the annual ’Neath the Rim Studio Tour is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Brochures, including a map of the studios, can be obtained at the individual art studios, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, at the corner of Highway 87 and West Main Street, and the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road. The brochure was also included in the Tuesday edition of the Roundup.

The juried fine art and fine craft show includes artists offering a variety of mediums. Touring the studios, guests will see works of oil, acrylic, fiber art, bronze sculpture, batik, handcrafted jewelry, weavings, stained glass and mixed media.

Guests can also participate in a benefit raffle of 21 art pieces, with the drawing Sunday, May 9. Proceeds will help the Payson Art League purchase art supplies for Payson Head Start, Julia Randall Elementary, Frontier Elementary, Payson Community Christian School, The Shelby School in Tonto Village, the Wolf Impressions enrichment program at Frontier Elementary, Payson Center for Success, Payson Community Kids, Tonto Basin School and Whispering Hope Ranch.

The tour’s artists represent varied art careers and backgrounds. All find inspiration in the Rim Country’s quiet mountain environment.

Look for the green directional signs to the studios to help navigate the map. For more information, contact event co-coordinator Sally Myers at (928) 472-8651.

Jon Gunzel and April Bower are two of the 21 artists participating in the tour.


Jon Gunzel/Arizona Photo Solutions photo

When Jon Gunzel opens his Sawmill Crossing studio for the ’Neath the Rim Studio Tour this weekend, visitors will get a chance to meet his whole family, wife Trina, son Wyatt and daughter Abbie.

Jon Gunzel

Gunzel and his family are the PAL’s newest members — the first meeting he attended was Tuesday, April 20.

The photographer will open his studio, Arizona Photo Solutions for the tour, showing some of the best photo equipment available.

The studio tour is not the first time he has had his work judged though — he has participated in the Northern Gila County Fair and contests when he was training in Chicago. His work earned him the title of School Photographer of the Year from the commercial lab where his school printed.

“That was out of about 400 other school photographers using that lab,” he said.

While he considers himself an artist, he didn’t know about the PAL studio tour until he read the invitation to participate.

“I did some research and saw it was a great community of artists to be involved in,” Gunzel said.

The tour is a chance to let the public see his artwork, portraiture and landscapes. All of the landscapes will be for sale and can be customized for buyers. The Gunzels use “X-Mount” products, which are of museum, 100-year archival quality. There will also be a

special line of Rim Country gifts and collectibles available. Additionally, Gunzel plans to present a few live demonstrations of his photography.

Gunzel said his is a family business, with his wife Trina and there two children, Wyatt and Abbie, always on hand. So, when he decided to become a member of the PAL, it was with a family membership.

They all went to that April 20 meeting and even Wyatt, 5, showed his drawings in the Show and Share session of the night and was a big hit, Gunzel said.

Gunzel showed and shared his landscape photo of the Grand Canyon.

“I had a great response to it,” he said.

Gunzel has been in the Payson area for several years, both he and his wife attended Payson High School. He opened the studio, at 201 W. Main St., Suite B, in June 2009, before that, he worked out of his home. The studio’s regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and Saturdays by appointment.

“Since we opened here, our business has gone through the roof,” he said.

“We have chosen to make Payson our home and bring national quality work to the area.”

April Bower

Bower is a relatively new member of PAL as well. She joined the group a couple of years ago. Her first PAL show was the big fall show and sale in 2009, ArtoberFest, and this is the first time she has taken part in the studio tour.

“I really wanted to get the tour up in Pine,” she said.

She will share her Pine studio with Minette Richardson of Payson and Kerry Thompson of Mesa during the tour.

Other Pine artists opening their studios for the tour are Lynn Gardner, Evelyn Christian and Pat Sessions.

Bower has always been an artist. The Arizona native earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Arizona State University and worked in design and manufacture of fine jewelry for retail for 18 years. She also has taught art in the adult education setting.

She moved to the Rim Country 10 years ago and has been affiliated with the Down the Street Art Gallery, 703 W. Main St., since it opened.

Bower’s most frequent medium is jewelry, using copper, sterling silver, gemstones and more.


Teresa McQuerrey/Roundup

April Bower will open her Pine studio during the annual Payson Art League ’Neath the Rim Studio Tour today, Saturday and Sunday. Bower works in jewelry and also does patina paintings.

“With the popularity of copper in home décor and fashion, coupled with the soaring cost of precious metals, the public was ready for jewelry out of copper, and it has been very popular,” Bower said.

“This is not your ‘summer camp project’ jewelry,” she said.

Bower uses the same techniques and design aesthetics as in her fine jewelry — only using the copper as a texture and color and adding pearls, unusual precious and semi-precious cabochons or the occasional black diamond. Mokume Gane (a wood grain patterned metal made of silver and copper) and 22k bi-metal also find their way into the designs, she said.

Her original designs are hand fabricated of sterling silver, copper and gold, bi-metals and Mokume and features metal with textures, but incorporates gemstones, diamonds and semi-precious, pearls and cabochons.

Bower specializes in earrings, cuff bracelets, bracelet watches, and pendants. She said it is extremely wearable jewelry, with contemporary styling.


April Bower photo

April Bower signature pendants.

She is experienced working with gold and faceted stones, but 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, on others,” said Bower.

She and her husband also have created art fountains dominated by copper; however, with the downturn in the housing industry, they phased out that work. But in the process of creating the fountains, Bower found another outlet for her creativity — patina paintings.

She describes patina painting as painting with reactive chemicals on copper sheet.

“Wonderful freeform and expressive panels are created. Arranging these in multiples adds yet another dimension,” she said.

This combination was developed after observing the many variations in color of the “green” patina used on her copper fountain leaves. Also having experimented with “boxes” and “crinkled rice paper” with watercolor painting, the two seemed not so dissimilar. As a result, patina painting on copper was born.


Teresa McQuerrey/Roundup

April Bower will share both her jewelry work and her patina paintings with guests at her studio during the 2010 ’Neath the Rim Open Studio Tour.

Patina is an oxidation that forms on metal (like rust) due to exposure to the elements and time, she explained. Different colors are due to exposure to particular chemicals. The images are created on copper by attempting to control these chemicals and oxides. Styles range from freeform and fold form, to abstract landscapes, she said.

The work comes in varying sizes, from 8-inch-by-8-inch squares to 38-inch-by-50-inch panels. The prices range from $50 to $1,000.

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 copper painting hat.”

Other artists

The other artists who will share their work and space during the tour are: John Finkey, Georgianne Smolenski, Delores Hartless, Ken Shepherd, Robert Temple, C.M. Okerwall, Jay Kemp, Sarah McAnerny and Forest Wellington.

Also on the tour are Ruth Overton, Donn Morris, Solveig Myers, Jan Ransom, Marilyn Salomon, Brenda Baker, Glenda Roark, Don Harmon, Jim Strong and Jim Bayles.

Visit the art league’s Web site,, for more details.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.