Rim Country A Magnet For Artists

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The Rim Country is a magnet for many, all with a vast array of reasons for wanting to make this place their home. So, it is no surprise it has drawn an untold number of artists into its embrace of scrub oak, ponderosa pines, free flowing creeks, deep mysterious canyons and seemingly unending vistas.

More than 20 of those artists, members of the Payson Art League, will invite residents and visitors into their studios during the annual ’Neath the Rim Open Studio Tour May 4, 5 and 6.

Jan Ransom, a longtime member of PAL, is organizing the 2012 event.

Over the next several weeks, The Rim Review will introduce readers to the artists participating in the event.

This edition has profiles on Sue Jones, Mary Lavan, Georgianne Smolenski, Jim Strong and Forrest Wellington.

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More than 30 years ago Sue Jones was introduced to china painting and found her niche. Her work can be seen locally at Granny’s Attic Antiques and at her home studio in Payson.

Sue Jones

Born with a brush in her hand, Sue Jones began drawing and painting at an early age, mostly in oils.

More than 30 years ago she was introduced to china painting and found her niche. She loves it because many pieces are functional as well as decorative.

Although drawn to a Victorian style, her subject matter is endless. She has taught classes and seminars many years, and matched more than 200 shades for antique lamps.

Sue’s work has been shipped throughout the world and can be seen locally at Granny’s Attic Antiques and at her home studio in Payson.

Publications that have featured her work include International Porcelain Art Teachers, Inc. and The China Decorator magazines.

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Mary “Mare” Lavan’s functional stoneware pottery is rooted in nature with a modern flair.

Mary Lavan

Mary “Mare” Lavan is a studio potter living and creating in the mountain hamlet of Pine, Ariz.

Her functional stoneware pottery is rooted in nature with a modern flair.

With a wide-ranging style, Mare often incorporates natural elements in her hand-thrown pieces.

Integrating computer-altered images in her signature work she bridges her high-tech background with her art.

Mare also has an extensive collection of antique textile blocks that she often uses to add texture to her pieces.

Mare’s work will be available during the Payson Art League ’Neath the Rim Open Studio Tour.  Just Mare Pottery can also be found online at JustMare.Etsy.com and in galleries.

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Georgianne Smolenski’s fantastic creations of weavings can be seen at the Payson Art League studio tour on May 4, 5, 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Georgianne Smolenski

What do dog hair, llama, soy and bamboo have in common? They are all woven into fabric ... nothing ordinary in the tool kit for hand woven wearable art expert Georgianne Smolenski.

Bamboo is an extremely fast growing and renewable resource and provides plenty of food for the Panda, wherever he might be living, either in China or surprisingly, Bisbee, Ariz., where bamboo grows prolifically.

Hemp is legal! Yes, it is — as far as manufacturing yarn.

Weaving has come full circle — from the earliest woven baskets to clothing made of “cloth” woven from whatever grows in a field or along a creek.

Everyone wants to “go green” and weavers like Georgianne have been doing it forever.

Georgianne’s fantastic creations of weavings can be seen at the Payson Art League studio tour on May 4, 5, 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Watch for the upcoming details and tour guide.

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Jim Strong’s talent and interest in his subjects show through in his oil paintings of ranchers, Western scenery, Native Americans and European street scenes.

Jim Strong

Jim Strong was raised in Grand Junction, Colo. Ever since he was a young boy, Jim has had a love of art, Native American Indians and the West.

His talent and interest in his subjects show through in his oil paintings of ranchers, Western scenery, Native Americans and European street scenes.

Jim graduated from the prestigious Art Center School in Los Angeles, Calif. in 1961, with a Bachelor’s of Professional Arts degree in illustration.

After graduation, Jim worked for North American Aviation — Autonetics in Placentia, Calif. as an illustrator.

After moving to Arizona, he worked for Brush & Color in Paradise Valley doing architectural renderings for Ramada Inns.

He also created illustrations for Motorola, AiResearch, Sperry, Cudahy, Arizona Tourism, Spreckles Sugar and Courtesy Chevrolet.

In early 1967, Jim worked as head instructor for the Scottsdale School of Art. After realizing that he enjoyed teaching, he founded the Jim Strong Art School, where he taught oil painting to hundreds of students for 33 years in Scottsdale.

In 1999, Jim retired and sold the school. Now that Jim is retired he has more time to create his own Western oil paintings.

Jim is currently working for the Gila Community College in Payson as a part-time faculty member teaching oil painting.

A member of the Payson Art League, he displays his work at the studio tour in May and the fall show in November.

His work can currently be viewed at his studio and home on Gibson Ranch, Payson, Ariz. and online at Western Artist Jim Strong at www.youtube.com/ user/PaysonArtLeague or at www.wdranch-az.com.

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Forrest Wellington incorporates a sense of humor along with keen observational skills and experience gained from more than 40 years as a veterinarian.

Forrest Wellington

Forrest Wellington is a gifted wood sculptor and has won many awards and competitions over the years for his wood sculptures.

In recent years he has branched out into painting in oils and acrylics as well as working in pastels.

He incorporates a sense of humor along with keen observational skills and experience gained from more than 40 years as a veterinarian.

He likes to make his works “tell a story.”

Many of his themes have a Western motif, while others are of a universal nature and appeal.

He is an active member of the Payson Art League.

Forrest and his intriguing work can be seen at the Payson Art League ’Neath the Rim Studio Tour May 4, 5 and 6.

To learn more about the tour, contact Jan Ransom at (928) 468-8593.

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