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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014

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Word Monuments
Jackie Gardener's hand-made paper sculptures

January 12 - April 5, 2009

Reception: Thursday, January 29, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
The Sea Ranch Lodge Front Gallery

Jackie Gardener's hand-made paper sculptures will be shown at the Sea Ranch Lodge Front Gallery through April 5. The Word Monuments exhibit has opened but you can meet the artist at the reception on Thursday, January 29 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Gualala Arts is the curator of the Front Gallery at the Lodge.

Jackie tells her own art story

Jackie Gardener's hand-made paper sculptures "When sitting at my art table, I often think of my mother and her responsibility for leading me into this artistic life. She had a rough start, having a child out of wedlock at a time when it meant being ostracized by friends and family. After marrying my dad, she worked full time as a bookkeeper all her life, and never took an art class. She would doodle and draw in quiet moments from time to time, usually a clown face or one of those childlike faces with oversized eyes. It was clear that she might have had some talent, if given the opportunities to explore and learn. But she didn't have them, so she worked to give them to me.

"In grade school, I loved the period after lunch when fine classical music would be broadcast over the loudspeaker and we were allowed to draw while listening. How I traveled through my crayons, my mind wandering and building stories as I drew and colored in the shapes. I was a neat and tidy child, always staying inside the lines. Later in school, drawing was the focus of my artistic efforts, but mine was not an exhuberant rush to explore, but rather a quiet, intense effort to copy and control. I could replicate figures and buildings, and draw from still life or photos, but the pencil as an art form didn't have hold of my soul.

In high school, I found commercial art, where I learned silkscreening and the art of making posters. I explored type and fonts and graphics and arranging space. This grabbed my full attention. It grafted my need for control with my love of color, and gave me a place to organize information and ideas.

My art teacher, Mr. Umberger, guided and urged me, demonstrating day after day with his watercolor brushes how to make straight letters with graceful curves, and layout space in a pleasing and functional way. He made letters of the alphabet sing for me. Mr. Um directed me in making posters for all the dances and social events, and big posters for football players to burst through on the field, whetting my appetite to organize space with letters, images and color.

Jackie Gardener's hand-made paper sculptures "I studied art in college and got my Bachelor's degree, but I was spoiled by Mr. Um's teaching skills and attention, and felt lost and undirected in the late '60s / early '70s art scene. I didn't want to do my own thing, but learn about all the others' things. I dabbled in oil painting, watercolors, charcoal and even experimented in throwing a good pot in ceramics. Drawing in pencil was my primary focus, but nothing truly clicked.

After graduating and working for a couple of years, I moved back to the San Francisco Bay area where I grew up, and entered school again, this time in the study of interior design. My primary teacher there, Pat Noda, was Mr. Um reincarnated, and I blossomed in the study of texture, pattern, space planning, drafting and furniture design, color and the organization of space.

That second degree, a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design, led me to a twenty year career in commerical interiors, specializing in hospitals and medical facilities. I had found a place where my desire to control space and fill it with color was coveted and needed. I was happy running my business, and left my mark in the San Joaquin Valley where I lived for many years. My primary client the last ten years was Kaiser Permanente, and I worked on hundreds of thousands of square feet of medical offices, surgery centers, emergency rooms, surgical suites, allergy clinics, pediatric units and other medical specialties.

"In the meantime, I had discovered the coastal bliss of The Sea Ranch, and wanted to move there, leaving the heat of the valley behind forever. In so doing, I closed my business and worked part time for then husband Bryan, and pursued a newer interest in handmade books. A weekend class in papermaking and bookbinding captured my interest, rekindling that old focus, and set me on a new path. Here I could revisit the world of graphic layout, and pay homage to Mr. Um on the pages of books whose paper I made, whose stories I wrote and laid out, and whose covers I painted and glued together.

Jackie Gardener's hand-made paper sculptures All the skills I learned years before now came into play in this new field of interest. A whole graphic package lay at my fingertips in books. The melding of color, image, texture and fine workmanship led me in recent years away from books to explore collage, always with a desire to create balance and order from the chaos of an untold story, the emotion of a universal truth, or the power of a personal narrative. Each book or collage, much like a medical office suite, is designed so that every aspect of it is blended together into a single coordinated experience that builds upon itself as the pages are turned and details revealed.

"Ten years of making hand made books provided me with a keen appreciation for words and text, and they have become an integral part of my work. New papers excite me and I can physically feel a rush when I begin to imagine how to use them, how I will fold them, or cut them, or what embellishments would enhance their deep texture or rich color. Unusual finds that I can tinker with and use in some unexpected way can raise my blood pressure and put me into the place I call The Zone. Time passes and I see only the project on my desk. I can't hear, and I am not easily distracted. It is relaxed but intense. This is the place I searched for when I was in school, the place Mr. Um and Pat Noda introduced me to, that eluded me during my early years. This is the place I crave, and can find when a new idea works its way from my head through my hands to the paper.

"My mother would be thrilled to see that I work at art each day, and I am sure she knows that I have found happiness through the opportunities she created for a little girl with oversized eyes."

The Sea Ranch Lodge is located at
60 Sea Walk Drive, Sea Ranch, California 95497
Please call (707) 785-2371 for more information.