Studio Tour Showcases Local Artists

Participants in the recent Art Studio Tour in Pine enjoy a chance to sit and chat with local artists.

Photo by Michele Nelson. |

Participants in the recent Art Studio Tour in Pine enjoy a chance to sit and chat with local artists.


A deeper and richer understanding of a piece of art blooms when the admirer meets the artist — and better yet — sees where they work.

This past weekend, Rim Country locals and out-of-town visitors had the unique chance to see artists’ work in their studios during the Payson Art League’s annual ’Neath the Rim Open Studio Tour.

Up in Pine, Lynn and Mark Gardner and their neighbor, Mary Lavan, opened their home studios to visitors.

Both home studios sit behind the That Brewery restaurant, on the west side of Pine.

The Gardners converted their garden shed into a studio. “I always say Mark is influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, where I am more organic,” said Lynn.

She showed off the silver smithing, torch-fired glass, enamels, ceramics and glass jewelry, with functional pottery and whimsical clocks stylishly placed in and about the couple’s backyard garden.

Their studio is called Lonesome Dove because Lynn used to own doves. When one died, she said the other cooed sadly for its mate.

“I just thought the name was appropriate,” she said.

The empty cage sat next to the deck off the back of the house.

Visitors to their house sat in amongst the garden paths in comfortable groupings of chairs and tables surrounded by flowering shrubs and artfully draped bushes. Many who visited were old friends and neighbors.

“Come back soon!” said Lynn as her neighbor walked home after purchasing a necklace. Anyone interested in the Gardners’ work can find it on

Inside the garden shed studio, a magnifying glass sat over a piece of wood punctuated with little dots.

“People wonder how this got so many holes in it. It’s because we punch holes in the silver jewelry,” she laughed. She said she has branched out to incorporate ceramics and paper paintings.

She hopes to give a class in the art of ripping pictures and words from magazines to glue onto a canvas and then fill in the gaps with a painting. She has also taken classes from her neighbor and ceramics artist, Lavan.

“I feel my ceramics pieces have a hobbit-ish feel,” she said.

Lavan’s art is more precise.

Her garage studio is down the street and around a few corners from the Gardners’.

Inside, she has two kilns set up to bake her bowls, mugs, plates, vases and creamer and sugar containers.

“I moved to Pine to start my second career as an artist,” she said.

Lavan spent years in the Valley working in the tech world. When she moved to the Rim Country, she had no idea what medium she wished to work in. In a twist of fate, her next-door neighbor had a kiln and made pottery. Lavan would simply walk out her front door to learn the art of pottery.

Now she sells her work over

“Some of my work has seen places in the world I have never seen,” she said.

She uses glazes that often leave streaks of other colors. She mostly sticks to forest colors — green and brown — but has recently discovered black clay from Georgia.

“I love how it looks,” she said.

Lavan often fires her pieces up to four times to get the effect she desires. In the last firing, she will fuse a stencil depicting finely etched ponderosa pines, or birds, flowers or repeating patterns she found on old textiles to create delicate designs.

She also has whimsical pieces such as door hangers that fold over to hold tiny, dried flowers. Or a set of mushroom caps tied onto a string with jeweled beads between strung up on a piece of dried wood.

The Pine art group includes well-known artist Pat Sessions, who captures real life images on photos and then paints them. She invited artist Larry Trotter to show his landscape and wildlife paintings on the deck of her home during the studio tour.

New to the Pine art scene, Henry Salas was born on the Pacific island of Guam.

He retired to Pine after a distinguished career designing sales and leasing offices. What is unique about Salas is that he is disabled and works from his wheelchair.

His art uses exotic woods, copper, brass, metal, Plexiglas, glass, barnacles, stones, and paint to create abstract sculptural pieces. He also dabbles in paintings and drawings.

His wife, Marilyn, greeted visitors to her husband’s garage studio in the hilly-forested area of the Portals with little cinnamon buns and cream cheese brownies.

She showed off a burled chunk of eucalyptus tree that Henry shaped into a three dimensional triangle, lacquered and set on a rotating pedestal.

Henry’s pieces look almost Dr. Suessian, artistically depicting a daisy garden or barnacles on a piece of driftwood surrounded by polished black river stones.

For more information on Henry’s work, please email

The studio tour also offers visitors the chance to try out some of the local eateries and shops.

Visitors filled the Pine Deli, That Brewery, the Sidewinder Saloon, Randall House, HB’s Place, Early Bird Café and the Pine Barbeque restaurant. For picnic items, the Ponderosa Market has everything needed.

Moose Mountain and Pine Country Antiques stores had shoppers going in and out of the doors.

Others wandered up and down the main drag to visit the honey stand, ice cream shop and thrift store.


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