“The gallery on our property in Wynndel has served us well, but we know we are missing opportunities to attract more visitors,” Kunze said on Monday as she prepared for the gallery’s opening in an annex to the grain elevator on Northwest Boulevard at Pine Street.
Getting more attention should not be a problem, if the steady stream of visitors attracted by a huge granite sculpture in front of the gallery is any indication.
Stewart Steinhauer’s massive 55,000-pound piece was unveiled on Saturday, and it is the local sculptor’s second piece at the intersection. Across the street at the corner of the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce parking lot is Spirit Bear, which was installed after the intersection was upgraded last year. (He is awaiting Town of Creston approval to move the piece kitty-corner from where it now stands, which he feels is a more suitable spot.)
“We have worked hard to create a venue for some of Creston Valley’s finest artists,” Kunze said.
With her husband, Dirk, and other family members and friends, the annex’s interior has been finished and the exterior given a facelift. She hopes, eventually, to occupy a portion of the grain elevator, as well.
Inside Kunze Gallery are Kunze’s own large-scale paintings, as well as her pottery. Other artists represented include Jeff Holmwood (blown glass), Don Weir (paintings), Howard Boyle (driftwood art sculptures), Maggie Leal-Valias (prints and “deconstructed photos” printed on aluminum), James McDowell (paintings), Bruce Patterson (ceramic sculptures and pen and ink pictures), Andrea Revoy (hand-sculpted clay and wool pieces from her mermaids and Marie Antoinette series), Ann Fetterly (hand-dyed clothing and accessories), Mario Melisse (jewelry), Heath Cara and Victoria Henriksen (ceramics), Cathy Fiedler (clay pendants), Garth Huscroft (wood sculptures), Cory Cannon (paintings) and Ric Pollock (metal work). Several of Steinhauer’s smaller sculptures are also on display.
Saturday’s unveiling of Steinhauer’s sculpture, The Hunter: Seeking Higher Consciousness, included a smudging ceremony, a First Nations cleansing ritual performed by Steinhauer and his partner. The “intimate unveiling” planned by Kunze drew dozens of passersby, curious about the sudden appearance of the large sculpture.
Steinhauer offered his artist statement about the creation:
“This 55,000-pound assembly of granites from around North and South America illustrates concepts arising from indigenous knowledge developed over millennia across a major portion of what is now called Canada. The granite carver, drawing on his own personal experiences within the indigenous knowledge paradigm, is referencing forces and effects not found in the western knowledge paradigm.
“In this sculptural assembly, we see the Hunter, an every-person, un-gendered, searching for higher consciousness, who has just stumbled upon the reflection of the full moon on still water. the Full Moon Grandmother, a spiritual being, reveals herself to the Hunter, while unseen, unknown by the Hunter, the Sweetgrass Bear and the Thunderbird Grandmother stand protectively nearby, guiding, nurturing, sustaining the Hunter.
“We are witnessing a moment in the Hunter’s life when she/he encounters new knowledge, knowledge from outside of her/his realm of animal, physical life. This encounter will be cathartic and cause a transcendence in consciousness, a permanent expansion in knowledge, though the Hunter may not know yet what to do with the new knowledge.”
Kunze Gallery is now open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday and an open house with many of the featured artists is scheduled for this Saturday.