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Containers of Our Culture 2014
Baskets & Gourds:
ARTS VISALIA Visual Art
Baskets & Gourds: Containers of Our Culture 2014
A reoccurring discussion among artists revolves around the relevance of histori-
cal, traditional art forms in our twenty-first century digital culture. Why would
one choose to make things by hand, using old ways and natural materials, when
one could use modern technology to create that thing more quickly and for
less cost? This discussion arises anew with each new generation, with each new
technological development. Old methods seem outdated and irrelevant while
new tools and technologies are the wave of the future.
Often, it seems, artists become the few among us who continue to practice us-
ing old ways of making things. Today, museums are repositories for all manner
of aesthetically compelling objects, whether functional or non-functional, purely
decorative or intellectually-based expression. While new art forms seem to arise
with each generation and we renew again the debate as to what constitutes a
work of art, we, too, continue to feel a pull toward the handcrafted object. We
still seek to fill the spaces in which we live with beauty.
In the latest exhibition at Arts Visalia, we approach this subject once again as
we present a fascinating display of artworks created by artists whose primary
practice revolves around the making of containers, bowls, baskets and other
vessels, from natural fibers and gourds. Not only are these traditional art forms,
they are, in fact, ancient practices utilized by cultures throughout human history.
Yet today artists continue to find inspiration in these old methods and in doing so,
remind us all of our own history and why we treasure each and every connection
we have to our memory of old ways, knowledge and culture .
For the third time in five years, Arts Visalia is proud to partner with the local Tu-
lare-Sequoia Gourd Patch in presenting Baskets and Gourds: Containers of Our
Culture 2014, an exhibition of gourd art and basket-weaving. The exhibition
serves as an extension of a weekend of workshops and presentations to be held
here in Visalia over the last weekend of April as gourd art and basket artists from
throughout California and, in fact, throughout the United States, will be descend-
ing upon Visalia in order to study the techniques of these contemporary masters
of gourd art and basketry.
Remarkable craftsmanship is one hallmark of the works in the exhibition, while
reverence to these traditional art forms is another defining characteristic present
in the works. Yet, while the artists clearly demonstrate a passion for the ancient
traditions represented by the methods they employ, it is clear that these artists
continue to adapt new materials and contemporary aesthetic concerns to their
As the title of the conference and the exhibition may suggest, the artworks on
display are rooted in baskets and gourds, utilitarian objects plain and simple.
Traditionally speaking, such objects may well have been ornamented and pat-
terned for decorative purposes, but the objects were made for functional pur-
poses, to contain, to store things. Today’s artists have expanded the scope of
their work by making non-functional, purely sculptural works as well as by em-
ploying new, modern materials into their working process.
In addition to local artists and conference organizers Toni Best, Sam McKinney
and Linda Victory, artists with work in the exhibition come from throughout Cali-
fornia addition to others from Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, New York,
Nevada and Washington. The list of artists includes some of the most widely
recognized practitioners of these traditional art forms in the country and we are
excited to share their work with the community.
by Kevin Bowman
TABLE OF CONTENTS
4 Introduction by Kevin Bowman
13 The Exhibition
Baskets and Gourds – Containers of our Culture was born in 1997 when gourders
and weavers in the central valley saw a need for a local conference. Carol
Rookstool, who was then President of the California Gourd Society, thought that
the name was appropriate since both baskets and gourds have been utilized as
containers of every culture.
The first two conferences were organized by Toni Best and held at College of the
Sequoias with teachers from around the state in 1997 and 1998. The COS Art Gal-
lery hosted a show featuring the pieces participants had created.
In 2010, the conference was revived by Toni and a group of six people who were
interested in making this conference a success. New sites were explored and the
Elks Lodge was chosen for its terrific space – both indoors and outside. Teachers
came from all over the country. Ginger Summit, a noted gourd artist and author,
and Sue Coleman, a Washoe Native American and renown basket maker, were
chosen as Keynote Speakers. With support from the California Gourd Society,
Handweavers of the Valley, and an Art Grant from the city of Visalia, the new
improved conference opened on a Friday night with a reception at Arts Visalia
for a show of teachers’ works. Classes were held on Saturday and Sunday, while
vendors were on the lawn in front of the Elks Lodge. A Teachers’ Market Place,
Silent Auction, and dinner with the Keynote Speakers all made for a memorable
In 2012, Don Weeke, a gifted gourd artist and teacher, was the Keynote Speaker
at the Saturday night dinner. Teachers came from Washington, Iowa, Arizona,
Georgia, and California. Participants from several states were able to take part
in the variety of unique classes on Saturday and Sunday. The three day event
again started with the reception at Arts Visalia.
In 2014, with a committee of ten members, the conference is trying to expand its
horizons. This year, ten scholarships are being given to deserving local students.
Flo Hoppe, well-known basket maker and author of several books, will be Satur-
day night’s Keynote Speaker at dinner. Lunches and dinner will be catered by
Sierra Subs and Salads, of Three Rivers. The opening of the show at Arts Visalia on
First Friday (April 4) and a second reception to open the conference (April 25)
give local residents as well as conference participants the opportunity to see the
unique creations of the teachers.
Thanks to Arts Visalia and the Visalia Arts Consortium for supporting this wonderful
Lanny Bergner is a national/ international mixed-media sculptor and installation artist known
for his work as a fiber and sculptural basketry artist. The ethereal quality of Bergner’s work is
in contrast to the mundane materials he uses to construct them. They are created using
industrially woven bronze, brass, aluminum and stainless steel mesh, silicone, wire and glass
frit. Using only a linesman pliers and cutting shear, he employs inventive yet simple joining
techniques to transform mesh into semi-transparent chambers, vessels and angular
constructions that play with light and overlapping patterns. The forms are made without the
use of an armature and their structural integrity is determined by the method of construction.
In his most recent works he employs pyrography techniques to burn patterning/drawings into
stainless steel mesh.
Bergner’s works reference vessel forms, architecture, plant biology, microorganisms,
cosmology, undersea forms and the human body. They engage the viewer with glimpses
into a world where nature and industry coalesce and they celebrate the mystery and
wonder of it all.
Born in Anacortes, Washington, in 1952, he received his BFA in sculpture from the University
of Washington in 1981 and his MFA in sculpture from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in
1983. His work is in numerous museum collections including the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle;
Museum of Art and Design, New York; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachesetts and The
Central Museum of Textile, Łódź, Poland.
In 1995 he won the Betty Bowen Memorial Award, administered by the Seattle Art Museum.
In 2005 he won a Gold Prize at the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Cheongju,
Korea and was invited to create an installation “Between Earth and Sky” at the 2007
Cheongju International Craft Biennale. In 2010 he was one of five American artists who
exhibited in the prestigious 13th International Triennial of Tapestry in Łódź, Poland. His work
was recently included in the book “Fiber Art Today,” a survey of contemporary international
fiber artists, published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. Bergner maintains a studio near Anacortes,
Toni Best has been creating baskets for over 50 years. Starting with reed, she
now specializes in pine needle coiling, and coiling on gourds, while showing
the influence of Native American styles and her own imagination. Presently, she
exhibits at shows around the state, and teaches classes at her studio. Recently
branching out and exploring greater use of color and design, Toni expanded
from more conservative art, to one illustrating greater freedom. She is a mem-
ber of Handweavers of the Valley, Misti Washington Gourd and Basket Guild,
Bay Area Basket Makers, and the california Gourd Society. Her work is featured
on her website: www.tonibest.com
Kristy Dial was born and raised in Tucson, AZ and majored in art at the University of Arizona.
She moved to San Diego, CA and worked in the printing industry for twenty years. Kristy and
her husband retired in Minden, Nevada in the summer of 2012. They love the people, fly
fishing, hiking and the beauty of the area.
Kristy fell in love with gourds almost 20 years ago because of the artistic opportunities; she
saw the gourd as a gift from nature and a wonderfully unique canvas for the artist. Kristy and
her family have explored countless rock art sites, attended Pow Wows and visited Pueblos of
the Southwest in order to enhance her art. Kristy strives to honor the gourd and to celebrate
the Native American culture in each piece. “I draw inspiration from the art of the Native
Americans. My work has evolved over the years to incorporate several techniques.
In addition to introducing torching as a technique used on gourds, I am also excited about
integrating embossed copper and patinas into my work.”
In addition to doing art shows, Kristy also teaches several different gourd classes in California,
Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, and Texas. “Teaching others how to create using gourds as
their “canvas” is very rewarding to me. Most classes that I teach provide the basic
knowledge to inspire my students to pursue their own vision and my students love going
home with a finished piece that they created”. Kristy’s gourds have won several awards and
can be found in galleries in Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
Janet K. Bonnell has been creating coiled art since 2002. Having tried a small project she
decided that this would be her niche. With the lack of any sort of professional classes or
training in her area her education consisted of the purchase of one reference book and self
teaching. Her pieces are created from southern longleaf pine needles, sweetgrass, sedge,
rush and horsehair. All core materials with the exception of the horsehair are handpicked by
herself and her husband, Pat. Everything used in the creation of an art piece is handcrafted.
Bonnell has been affiliated with the Sault Area Arts Council located in Sault Ste Marie,
Michigan since 2004. She has participated in the Sault Area Fine Arts Festival and has been
awarded “Best in Craft” in the years 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2012. The “Aarre Lahiti Design
Award” in 2009, and “Best in Show” in 2013. She has also received the “Best in Craft” award
at the Cheboygan Fine Arts Fair in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and second place in the Fine Arts
Category at Art on the Rocks in Marquette, Michigan, her work has been exhibited at the
Tawas Bay Fine Arts Show, where she received second place in the Fiber Category in 2006.
Bonnell belongs to the National Basketry Organization, the Hand Weavers guild of America,
Artistic Weavers and Fiber Artists of Sun city Arizona, the Wild West Basket Guild of Sedona
Arizona, and the Mountain Weavers and Spinners of Prescott Arizona. Her work is represent-
ed by Ward & Eis Gallery in Petoskey Michigan, Alberta House Gallery in Sault Ste Marie,
Michigan, Three Pines Sudio in Cross Village Michigan, Studio 41 in Copper Harbor, Michigan,
the Les Cheneaux Historical Museum Gift Shop in Cedarville, Michigan, and the Kachina
House Gallery in Sedona, Arizona.
Janet K. Bonnell
Sault Ste Marie, Michigan
Audrey Fontaine has been a multi-media artist since she was eight years old,
and in 1983 received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Studio Art with a Ceramic
Specialization from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT. In
1989 she was awarded a two-year Fellowship from Penland School of Crafts in
Penland, North Carolina. That opportunity allowed her to study under dozens of
internationally renowned instructors.
She has experimented with about 25 different craft media including gourds, clay,
jewelry and metalworking, wood, fiber, leather, polymer, precious metal clay,
mixed-media sculpture and driftwood art. Natural elements and found objects
often make their way into her work, which tends to be earthy by design. Each
piece is one of a kind, and the creativity flows through her hands from a deeper
source. Detailed patterns adorn her vessels, whereas her abstract non-functional
forms allow the viewer to develop their own interpretation. She has received mul-
tiple awards, been represented by galleries nationwide for over 30 years, and
has taught a variety of crafts to both adults and children. She relocated from
Connecticut to the Monterey, California area in 2003, and is finding much cre-
ative inspiration there.
Vickie has been teaching pine needle coiling for 9 years from her home class-
room, with gourd patches around the country, senior centers, welburns gourd
festival, and wuertz gourd festival. Vickie also teachers at gourdstock and is one
of the volunteer organizers of this gourd festival. Vickie likes to incoporate natu-
ral materials into her gourd baskets. She is a memeber of the San Diego county
Gourd Patch and the Misti Washington Gourd & Basket Guild. She is a CGS mem-
ber and an AGS cerified judge.
I combine the art of basketry with the beauty of what can be created from the
vegetation in San Diego County. I found my “Art” in the fall of 1976 in Misti Wash-
ington’s natural basketry class. We learned different techniques using different
materials. I learned the techniques of basket weavers from Appalachia to the
Southwest. Starting in 1981, I had the opportunity to enter some of my baskets
in basket shows across the country .Many of them got in and some of them won
awards and prizes.
In the summer of 1983, I took a Tohono O’odham Basket class with Frances Man-
uel, a well known Native American, at Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts. We
learned how to make traditional yucca and bear grass baskets, while sitting un-
der giant pine trees. When I returned home, I transferred all the techniques I had
learned to my pine needle and raffia baskets. I now combine the techniques I
learned in the late Misti Washington’s and the late Frances Manuel’s classes.
In addition to making baskets, I enjoy teaching this art to others. I’ve taught class-
es across the country from San Diego to Vermont As I have learned to look at
trees and plants with different eyes, I hope to share this wonder with my students.
Marilyn’s first love is basketry, and basketry related jewelry. Since 1979, she has
taught for guilds, conferences, conventions and craft schools around the coun-
try and has written numerous articles and been featured in many publications.
She lives and works in Seattle, Washington. Her most recent work is focused on
working with wire in new and unique ways.
Cass has been weaving Bark Baskets since 1981 and teaching since 1985. The
unique aspect of Cass’ basketry is that she gathers and prepares all of the
materials she weaves and teaches with. Formerly form the state of Michigan.
Her materials are Birch Bark, Eastern White Cedar, Basswood, Elm, and numer-
ous pine barks. Her gratification is creating legacies to these trees by using the
bark which would have been discarded when the trees were harvested for their
Cass co-Authored the book “Natural Baskets” in 1992. She has been published
in the Crafts Report and Fiberarts Magazines. Her work is features in “Baskets
Now, 2002” and “500 Baskets”, 2066. In 2005 she was chosen for a solo exhibit
at the Borston Arts & Crafts Society, where some of her work went on to Switzer-
land. Just recently, she was published in “Plaited Basketry in Birch Bark” released
in 2009 and in 2012, she was featured in “New & Different Materials for Weaving
& Coiling”. Her work has been represented by the Gingrass Gallery at the SOFA
Show in chicago, and 3 of her baskets are in the permanent collection at the
Michigan State University Museum.
After 30 years of teaching bark basketry, Cass has turned to fine woven jewelry.
All those weaving skills are now being created in silver and copper. She cuts all
her own rings for her chainmail jewelry, which is Silver Filled wire making it more
affordable and more tarnish resistant. Her work can be seen at the
Aurum Gallery in Jerome, AZ and the Art on the Town Gallery in Pentwater, MI.
Nadine Spier is an award-winning fiber artist and instructor. Her elaborately
woven vessels and sculptures are displayed internationally in solo, invitational
and juried shows. Using nature as inspiration, Nadine lovingly transforms fallen
plant materials into beautiful and unique shapes. She considers basketweav-
ing to be an important environmental art that nourishes the spirit and provides
an intimate connection with nature. Nadine is committed to preserving this
endangered art form and breaking new ground in contemporary basketry. She
has an impressive record of exhibitions, commissions, and awards including the
Handweavers’ Guild of America Award of Excellence, many First Places, Best
of Show and Juror’s Choice. She lectures and teaches basketry throughout
the U.S. and Canada. Her work has been published in over 20 periodicals and
books. In 2002 Nadine was featured on the Discovery Channel. Nadine has
also produced 3 basketry instructional DVD’s.
Linda has been creating art on gourds since 2002. She has had one of her
gourds featured on the cover of the “American Gourd Magazine” and one
published in “Art Doll Quarterly”. Linda sells her work at local shows and events.
Originally from Bakersfield, Linda has resided in Visalia since 1985. She enjoys
family, friends, pets and home life.
Jill Walker has been teaching gourd art for more than fifteen years in her watsonville
studio and at various gourd festivals in California and other western States. She is in
interested in basketry as well and continues to enjoy experimenting and learned new
techinques. In her gourd work she combines carving, weaving, pyography, metal
work and many other techniques. Her work is included in Making Gourd Dolls and
Spirit Figures and Gourds and Fibers by Summit and Wideness.
Don has been making baskets and gourds for the past 30 years. His work included
in the books: Completely Book of Gourd Craft, 500 Baskets, Making Gourd Dolls
and Spirit Figures, and Gourd Pyography.
Judy Zugish began experimenting with cultivating fibers 33 years ago. As her notable
fiber-arts garden grew, so, too, did her basketmaking, teaching and studio work
develop maturity. Judy’s delight in the irregular kindles the creative in her students,
and together they find hidden gardens of expression.
Recent basketry studies (2011-2013) in Ireland, Denmark, and Germany have
recharged her artistic battery so all cells are firing madly. The book 500 Baskets
includes one of her sculptured willow bark pieces, and her gardens are featured in
Landscaping with Herbs.
Jennifer Wool has had a love for creating three-dimensional artwork for thirty years.
She started working in clay, and then moved to making baskets and gourds. Jennifer
has taught basket and gourd workshops in her home studio, community adult and
elementary schools, and Misti Washington Gourd and Basket Guild conference. One
of her works was included in the newly published gourd weaving book, Gourds and
Fiber, by Ginger Summit and Jim Widess.
Mt. Hamilton, CA
“The purpose of Arts Visalia is to develop, foster, and promote the arts as central to the quality of life in Visalia.”
Arts Visalia was founded in 1994 as the vision of group of artists and art lovers dedicated to
creating a permanent exhibition space for the visual arts in Visalia. Following recognition as
a 501(c)(3)non-profit organization, the original Board of Directors began a capital campaign
through which the organization was able to purchase the historic Golden Creamery building
that is now our home. The vision became a reality when our doors officially opened in
Today, Arts Visalia has established itself as one of the premiere visual arts venue in the region.
Our diverse exhibition schedule features the work of regional, national and internationally
recognized artists, with an emphasis on supporting local talent. Our goal is to provide
opportunities for artists at many different levels of experience to show and sell their work.
Our adult and children’s educational activities grow year after year. Through a year round
calendar of events, community members of all ages come together through Arts Visalia to
express their creativity and be inspired by that of others.
Copyright 2014 by Arts Visalia.
Exhibition Coordinator: Kevin Bowman
Administrative Assistant: Lorene Mendoza
Catalog Design: Lauren Stanger
Proofreading: Marn Reich
Exhibition Design: Kevin Bowman
Published By: Arts Visalia Visual Art Center
214 East Oak Avenue, Visalia, California, 93291
This exhibition has been produced with the support of a grant from
the City of Visalia’s Community Arts Grant program.
Additional support for the exhibition was provided by the generous support of
the following business partners: