The Rim Country abounds with hidden treasures, just waiting to be discovered. Among those hidden treasures are the artists who make their home here, inspired by the endless natural beauty of the area.
This weekend, 29 of those artists will be sharing their treasures with guests when the Payson Art League invites the public to its annual ’Neath the Rim studio tours being held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, May 13 through Sunday, May 15. The event is being held at 18 individual studios throughout the towns of Payson and Pine.
The juried fine art and fine craft show will feature a variety of mediums. Senses will be delighted with oil, acrylic, fiber art, bronze sculpture, hand-crafted jewelry, weavings, decorative gourds, ceramic, photography, fused glass, watercolors and mixed media works. When visiting the individual studios, guests will see unique studio settings, the artists’ work and most artists will be demonstrating.
There are seven new participants in the annual event this year: Joan Borkovec, Jen Cushman, Miles Andre Gaehler, Lynn and Mark Gardner, Bob Gleason and Diane Roeder. Borkovec works with gourds, Ming trees and jewelry. Cushman works in mixed media, jewelry, collage and assemblages. Gaehler does clay sculptures and murals. The Gardners work with fused glass, ceramics, jewelry, stained glass and painting. Gleason does rattan basket weaving. Roeder works in acrylic and mixed media.
Gaehler has worked in the Rim Country for several years, first doing seasonal window painting and murals and started doing his clay masks and wind chimes about five years ago, as well as an occasional free-hand sculpted water fountain.
“My masks have a lot of tribal — especially African — influence and imagination,” he said. There is also some Eskimo influence in some of them, especially those featuring an abundance of feathers.
Visitors to the Artists of the Rim Gallery on Historic Main Street in Payson during April saw some of Gaehler’s work as he, along with his ceramics instructor from Gila Community College, David Sanchez, were the featured artists for the month.
Gaehler’s masks are decorative pieces, generally ranging from 12 to 18 inches in length, but he is also working on some larger pieces, a lion head and a replica of the King Tut death mask that will be around 25 inches in length.
Gaehler says he was initially self-taught, but is now learning some new techniques through the ceramics program offered by Sanchez at GCC.
His wind chimes are also ceramic and feature Native American-influenced designs. They are anchored by both ceramic and driftwood pieces, with the driftwood coming from the Flowing Springs area.
He was thinking about a special hands-on treat for the studio tour: let guests to his studio on West Main select pieces of his ceramics and design their own wind chimes.
His masks sell for $85 to $150, while the finished wind chimes are $20 to $25.
Gaehler still does murals and commissioned work through his Have Brush Will Travel work. He is also giving some thought to participating in the upcoming Farmers Markets at Sawmill Crossing and other local events.
To learn more about his work and scheduled appearances, call him at (928) 474-9539.
“I’d really like to thank my teacher, David Sanchez and Gila Community College. It is great that we have a school here with really great teachers,” Gaehler said.
Brochures, which include a map of the studios and a listing of the artists participating in the ’Neath the Rim Studio Tour can be obtained at the individual art studios; the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce at the corner of Highway 87 (the Beeline) and West Main Street; Artists of the Rim Gallery, 408 W. Main St.t; Down The Street Gallery, 403 W. Main St.; and the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road.
A benefit raffle of 29 art pieces takes place Sunday, May 15. The proceeds of the raffle go to purchasing art supplies for the following: Payson Head Start, Julia Randall Elementary, Frontier Elementary, Payson Community Christian School, The Shelby School in Tonto Village, Wolf Impressions enrichment program at Frontier Elementary, Payson Center for Success, Payson Community Kids, Tonto Basin School and Whispering Hope Ranch.
Visitors may follow the green signs from studio to studio. For more information, contact event coordinator Sally Myers at (928) 472-8651 or visit the PAL Web site: http://www.paysonartleague.org.