Bay Area Basket Makers
Opening reception: Saturday, May 7, 5 pm
Exhibit remains through June 5th

On our daily walks we pass by pine needles, sea grasses, and even kelp without a second glance. Yet, these are the same fibers used for centuries to produce a wide variety of not only useful, but also truly artistic items. The Bay Area Basket Makers (BABM) exhibit, opening with an artist reception on May 7, provides an opportunity to intimately examine the art of basket making.

This show, in the Burnett Gallery through June 5, is a tour de force for fiber art enthusiasts, basket collectors, and anyone who appreciates the time-honored, labor-intensive craft of basketry. BABM, an award-winning group with 80-plus members, consists of artists who have mastered the art of twining, plaiting, knotted and knotless netting, coiling, and weaving, to create unique artistic expressions.

The materials used - reeds, rattans, raffias, various tree barks and needles, grasses, kelp, and fruiting date palm stalks - are everyday items from nature that add a natural richness to the baskets. Recognizing these materials in a new context provides a pleasant surprise. The artists, some of whom are local, also utilize gourds, handmade papers, metals, beads, waxed linens, and even fused glass to enhance their work.

The basket style ranges from the most traditional, precisely coiled pieces to freeform fantasies, miniatures, wall pieces, and intricately decorated gourds. This annual exhibit brings out some of BABM's most talented artists and has proven to be popular for both artists and visitors.

Those inspired to learn more about basketry will find that BABM is just one chapter of a national organization. An annual membership fee of $16 provides information on exhibits, workshops, and conferences for both beginners and experts. It is affiliated with the Conference of Northern California Handweavers, which includes not only basket makers, but also weavers, dyers, and spinners.

Gualala Arts Center is located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, and is open from 9 am to 4 pm weekdays, and weekends from noon to 4 p.m. Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information.