Page 19 - the Noise October 2017
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During the Flagstaff October ArtWalk, blacksmith Sarah Harms will be working her craft outside of Fire on the Mountain Studio next to George Averbeck at his annual Pumpkin Blow!
Primarily a jewelry artist, Ms. Harms hammers out unique earrings, necklaces, and brace- lets from steel. Her style is fun and playful, with swirling and round shapes creating the framework for most of her pieces. “Many of my designs incorporate ancient symbolism including goddesses, spirals, suns, and moons. I believe that symbols can be inspiring and empowering for people, whatever the meaning is for them,” says Ms. Harms. Her love of the outdoors and the Southwest is evident in her work as well; from abstract mountain scenes to a jewelry line based on cairns, the little stacks of rocks which point hikers in the right direction on back country trails.
Her primary medium is steel, but she fearlessly combines it with all sorts of other met- als and materials. Some of her most iconic pieces are bracelets and necklaces with hearts or spirals forged from re-purposed rebar on a cord and accented by recycled glass beads. Other pieces combine steel with sterling silver and copper to create high-contrast designs, and many of her statement pieces frame miniature photos printed on aluminum or smooth stonesfromherownpersonalrockhunting. Inarecentlineof“walljewelry,”Ms.Harmshas been experimenting with sculptural steel pieces encircling colorful felted wool.
Ms. Harms creates her art at a studio in Camp Verde, but she will be giving a live black- smithing demonstration in Flagstaff during the First Friday ArtWalk outside of Fire on the Mountain Glassblowing Studio (324 West Birch)! It will take place on Friday, October 6 from 6-9PM. In Flagstaff, her work can be seen at Arizona Handmade Gallery (13 N San Francisco St). Elsewhere in the state, check out Ms. Harms’ work at the Jerome Artists’ Co- operative Gallery or Ian Russell Gallery of Fine Art in Prescott.
As for Mr. Averbeck, a Flagstaff fixture for nearly four decades, this may not only be the last “blow show” of the season, but it may be the last one ever!
The award-winning glass artist has taken a seat on the Flagstaff Beautification and Public Art Commission, and the duties of the post have consumed him so that his one- man-comedy shows — once a highlight of every First Friday ArtWalk — have taken a back- seat, and his jokes have become stalled in last year’s contentious election: “Hey, if you can stand the Bern, I’ll blow you a Trumpkin!” “What do you call it when there’s a political rally at Lowell Observatory? A Mars-Hillary!”
Be that as it may, it’d be best to catch Mr. Averbeck at his prime on First Friday, when he’ll be demonstrating glass blowing techniques inside his heated studio, handing out fresh- blown glowing pumpkins to worthy audience members along with a warm handful of candy corn to anyone with a sweet tooth. His schedule is picking up steam this season too, as he’ll be Featured Artist at the Sedona Arts Center this November, and offering Holiday Ornament classes to aficionados who reserve in advance.
“It really is a wonderful holiday tradition, folks from all walks of life come to make their own glass ornaments,” says Holly Gramm, wife and partner to Mr. Averbeck. “Each one is so colorful and original!”
For more information, visit or call 928/779-3790.
— Stephanie Stinski
Celebrated and prolific artist, Sky Black, recently completed a new mural on Birch Av- enue in Flagstaff. In discussing this most recent work, Mr. Black brought up the idea of the tens of thousands of hours that it takes for an individual to master a chosen pursuit. Mal- colm Gladwell brought this idea to the mainstream in his book Outliers, when he termed the “10,000-hour rule,” referring to the idea that most people can become a master by dedi- cating 10,000 hours of intentional practice to a given pursuit.
“There is the debate between naturally talented and talented from practice,” says Mr. Black. “The ultimate conclusion is that talent, skill, and expertise at something comes from a large list of factors both relevant to nature and nurture. It’s not a black and white debate. One of the most belittling compliments I receive is when someone says, ‘Oh you’re just so naturally talented, I can’t even draw a stick figure!’
“Creativity is problem-solving,” he continues, “And that takes a lot of time to learn how to solve your own creative problems no matter if you’re a mother of 5 or a sculptor. Lebron James could have all the talent in the world, but without his fierce commitment to practice, he’d never be the greatest current NBA player. By the time Mozart was six years old, he had as much practice and training as the average 21-year-old composer. If you compare early Mozart to another composer with as much practice, Mozart was no stand out, other than his age. He had a father mentor and was completely dedicated to music from a very early age.
“Any person who doesn’t think they can draw a stick figure, I ask them if they think they could learn how to poach an egg? Being an artist isn’t about inheriting super artistic ge- netic creative problem-solving traits, it’s about commitment, practice, and a good mentor or two. For example, when it comes to mixing colors to paint shadows and light, these are 100% learned skills.”
Not every painter chooses to tackle the medium of outdoor murals. Some might claim that paint is paint is paint, but museums and galleries control both the lighting and the sur- roundings in a way outdoor art cannot guarantee.
“The main inspiration for me with painting murals is to add to the gallery of public art in the world. I’m committed to bringing gallery quality artwork to public spaces, as was the goal with this newest mural.”
Learning to Fly revels in the artist’s fascination with flight, as a woman floats in the ether right to left, she is accompanied by a flock of birds whose bodies are layered windows and patterns; then diagonal color shifts illuminate the monsoon brewing in the background, and the elements of movement, balance, shape, contrast and repetition all give form in Mr. Black’s signature style.
“The more elements of design that can be allowed to work together in a piece, the stron- ger it will be,” he says. Learning to Fly is indeed a masterpiece that showcases both the talent and skill Mr. Black has worked so hard to hone. Looking at the floating and flying figures, the word effortless comes to mind. Yet the amount of planning, time and labor that goes into a work of this scale must be anything but effortless.
For more about the artist and the mural, visit .
— Jen Turrell | the NOISE arts & news | OCTOBER 2017 • 19

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