Sharing A Vision

We have language for the writing process. When discussing the production of a play, for example, we say that it must go “from the page to the stage.” Art, however, has no witty turn of phrase for the development of a work, be it a painting, watercolor, fiber art or textile media.

On September 25 and 26, four artists from Fish Creek open their doors to give visitors an opportunity to view various works in progress, ask questions, and begin to more fully understand the journey that each creation makes from its birth as an idea to its place hanging on the gallery wall.

Judi Ekholm

Judi Ekholm, Wendy Carpenter, Kathy Glasnap and Gloria Hardiman share more than just their location amidst the thriving Fish Creek community. All four women run working studios – that is, they not only have finished products on their walls, but also continually showcase works in progress. In doing this, they all demonstrate a desire to reveal some of the mystery behind the touch of an artist’s hands.

For Judi Ekholm, owner of Ekholm Gallery, sharing the techniques that bring a work of art to life has become a crucial part of the way she operates her gallery, and one that fosters a sense of the artist in their own environment. Visitors gain a more informed perspective on the artwork, which adds a very personal aspect to the viewing experience.

“People find the process intriguing, and we’re rewarded by telling them about it. We should encourage people to come and see how it’s done and why it’s done,” Ekholm said.

Wendy Carpenter

Wendy Carpenter, a fiber artist and owner of Interfibers Design Gallery, agreed that when organizing this event, they all shared a desire to draw attention to the methods that take a work of art from a burst of inspiration to something that is framed and finished. By commissioning a piece of art, people can become actively involved in the process. All of these elements combine to make any piece of art that is purchased that much more meaningful.

“We’re trying to emphasize a working gallery, and how unique it is,” Carpenter said. “I also want to encourage people to be a part of the process, if they want to. We can work together to create a piece.”

The format of a working gallery fosters an open atmosphere in which people can comfortably interact with the artist and pose any questions that come to mind about the work itself, the development of the work, or the means by which the artist achieves their vision.

Kathy Glasnap

Kathy Glasnap, of Kathy Glasnap Gallery, said, “I demonstrate out in the gallery – two days a week, sometimes more. Some people are really fascinated; other people don’t even pay attention. Some are artists and are just starting out and they like to watch what combinations and what mediums we’re using.”

On a more basic level, the working gallery allows people to become familiar with the tools and techniques the artist uses, and also to better understand the price tag on the finished product.

Gloria Hardiman, owner of Maple Grove Gallery, has been designing and weaving in the county since 1973. Hardiman commented that the time that goes into each work, the money for materials, investment in labor, designing and technique all play a large role in any finished piece.

Gloria Hardiman

“It’s an orientation toward the process, and toward what occurs before the final product,” said Hardiman. “Just seeing and knowing what goes into a piece helps people to understand why they are priced the way they are and the uniqueness of the piece.”

According to Ekholm, establishing a dialogue between the artist and the patron can uncover new facets of a work of art that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. This investment in helping people decipher the enigma that often surrounds a piece of art builds a foundation for art appreciation on a much deeper, more meaningful level.

The recognition for Door County’s aesthetic beauty proves another common thread between these artists. The ability to be continually inspired by the colors and changes that each season brings, the close proximity of the water, the vegetation and plant life all play into the women’s work.

“We are surrounded by water and there’s a reflective quality, a painterly light, an inspirational light…it’s different from anywhere else,” Ekholm said.

For Carpenter, the presence of the county in her work is literal – she weaves found objects into her work from her garden and the surrounding woods: a silver dollar plant, a twig from a red dogwood tree and birch bark.

Peering out the window of her gallery, Glasnap said, “It’s beautiful everywhere – looking out in my backyard I see the woods, and the shadows – and then there’s the solitude of winter.”

Each artist shares an ongoing sense of inspiration from the natural world and a belief in the value of making themselves available to answer questions and demonstrate the production process. The gallery tours will offer the public a chance to actively engage with the artist and the artwork.

While the women’s goals for the event are the same, their work covers a range of approaches to the visual arts: watercolor, acrylic, prints and oil paintings, as well as sculptures, woven wall hangings, mixed media fiber art and clothing.

“Going from one artist to the next will give people a vision of just how different each artist is,” Hardiman said, “It shows both our uniqueness and the uniqueness in the medium we’ve chosen to work with.”

This event provides an occasion for anyone with an interest to learn something new and, in doing so, to become a part of a wonderful community of people invested in art and art education. An artist visiting the galleries might discover a new method to employ in their own work. A lover of oil paintings might find a passion for fiber art, and a new comer to the art scene has everything to gain.

Ekholm said, “This event is an opportunity to visit with us, see what we’re doing, what are plans are, where we’re going with our work and where we’ve been.”

Brittany Jordt graduated from UW Madison in May, 2009 with a BA in English and Theater. She feels excited and honored to be able to share her passion for the arts by contributing to the Peninsula Pulse. Door County is a wonderful community with a variety of art forms and very talented artists, which makes it a delightfully compelling place to live, and to write.