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Artist’s Studio and Gallery Tour, Leg No. 1

 Owner and gallery director Wen Saunders’ Artisans of the Southwest is our community’s most recent art business addition, having just opened in June. Artisans of the Southwest’s concept provides a special opportunity for Four Corners area and broader regional artisans to show and sell their fine artwork, art gifts, jewelry, and unique art cards in a beautifully-appointed gallery setting. Saunders brings a wealth of art and business savvy to Artisans of the Southwest, and her unique southwestern style shines in this new gallery space. To greet me are several of Artisans local artists, including Wen herself! I mingle amongst the four featured studio tour artists as they demonstrate and discuss their work processes. I’m gaining a deeper appreciation for and insight into their work. At any one time, Artisans might represent as many as 25 artists, including regional artists from the major art centers of Arizona.

“An evolution of artisans keeps the gallery aspect fresh and inspired for patrons,” states Saunders. “But my heart is to promote local (Four Corners) artisans.” I’m intrigued by Wen’s concept approach for melding her gallery with a wine tasting room. “Visitors who might not ever think of walking into an art gallery might venture into a wine tasting room- and be pleasantly surprised with fine art.” Artisans of the Southwest Art Gallery and Wine Tasting Room primarily features Colorado and New Mexico wines, which one can savor by the glass, flights or small tastings for a small fee at the Artisans daily happy hour. From Artisans, I head north across Pagosa Street for a very short jaunt up Snowball Road to Cappy White’s Old Stones Furniture Company studio.

 I know I have arrived, when I read the sign mounted on the south end of the Quonset hut, “Furniture Maker”. I’ve long dreamed of seeing White’s studio where he creates his masterpieces. Today’s my day! My anticipation builds. I step inside his studio. Yes, indeed, White is a quintessential master craftsman in wood and stone! The inside of his studio is as impressive to me as his skillfully-crafted furniture. “In a way,” Cappy muses, “my art, my furniture, is a result of everything I have seen and heard for a very long time.” Using reclaimed woods and hand-collected native sandstone prevalent in our part of Colorado, White blends his craftsmanship and art to create his unique Old Stones Furniture. Mostly self-taught, his inspiration is borrowed from the stacked sandstone cliff dwellings of the ancient Anasazi culture. Not surprising to me at all, Cappy explains how he incorporates traditional wooden joinery throughout to insure structural integrity. I admire White’s hand-rubbed finishes that enhance the natural beauty of the ancient timbers he uses. His finishes create a luscious backdrop that beautifully embraces the delicately stacked stones! While I have viewed and am in awe of Cappy’s magnificent wood and stone creations at his retail store, Handcrafted Interiors, I now really begin to appreciate the fine attention to detail he pays to each piece he creates. What a deft marriage of wood and stone into functional works of art! White’s furniture is also his self-expression, and a way for him to say, “I love, and I am loved.” Yes, we love you and your work, Cappy!

 Well, that’s my last stop for this week. Stayed tuned next week for Leg No. 2 of my virtual tour of the Pagosa Springs Arts Council’s 2009 Artists’ Studio and Gallery Tour! You’re in for another treat as I stop off in downtown Pagosa Springs at Jeff Laydon’s Pagosa Photography studio, and Madeline Lyon’s Wild Spirit Gallery, and Fine Art of the West. From there I’ll travel westbound up Piedra Road to Roush Drive in the Teyuakan subdivision, to visit Marcia and Gerry Kmack’s Cave Creek Glassworks and Woodworks studio.

 Pick up your tour brochures early this year as supplies are somewhat limited. Brochures are available through the Art & Framing Center of Pagosa; Artisans of the Southwest Art Gallery and Wine Tasting Room; Handcrafted Interiors; Lantern Dancer Gallery; Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op; Pagosa Photography; Pagosa Springs Arts Council; SHY RABBIT Contemporary Arts; and Wild Spirit Gallery. Don’t despair if you miss out on the tour brochure, exquisitely designed by Roxanne Schick of Artyrox Graphic & Web Design! The detailed tour directions and tour map can be downloaded from the Pagosa Springs Arts Council Web site at www.pagosa-arts.com/ASTour09.html, or stop by our Town Park Gallery Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m., and we’ll print you a copy.

 The tour, free to the public, is slated for Saturday, Sept. 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 13, noon to 5 p.m. Join your family and friends and enjoy this once-a-year celebration of the arts.