By ANN McCREARY
For Winthrop copper artist Jessica Dietz, the opportunity to create her artwork in an open studio with public visiting hours is a welcome change from the basement shop where she has been working.
Dietz is setting up her artist studio in a previously empty Glover Street house in Twisp through a program called ARTscapes, facilitated by Methow Arts Alliance.
The public is invited to an open house on July 31, from 4:30-6:30 p.m., sponsored by Methow Arts in the new studio space at 213 Glover St., next to the post office. Appetizers, wine and beer will be available.
The goal of ARTscapes is to transform empty commercial spaces and storefronts into attractive places that draw people to the area, along with potential buyers who may see new possibilities in the once-empty building, said Amanda Jackson, Methow Arts director.
The Glover Street house that will host Dietz’s art display space and workshop is the first ARTscapes project located in the Methow Valley.
The property, located between downtown businesses, the Confluence Gallery, the Methow Valley Community Center and TwispWorks, connects residents and visitors with locally made artwork and encourages them to walk around the downtown corridor, Jackson said. It offers the artist a wonderful opportunity for a solo exhibit, she added.
Dietz creates copper weathervanes that are sold throughout the country, as well as wall art and sculptures. Her fantasy-themed art is influenced by nature and mythology, and developed through more than 15 years of working with copper and studying her craft.
While living in Rhode Island in the mid 1990s, she became a paid apprentice to master weathervane maker David Ferro, developing her passion for researching, sketching and building each piece of art.
The living room of the Glover Street house will serve as a solo art gallery, displaying works that include a large phoenix glowing with 23-carat gold leaf, weathervanes and shiny copper wall pieces depicting mythological characters.
She recently studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary to learn a technique called “foldforming” to create delicate shapes like shells or leaves, which she incorporates into her work.
Working with copper “is like clay, almost,” Dietz said. “I try to work with it and the way it naturally moves.”
Dietz is setting up her workshop in a garage behind the house, where the large front door will be open so people can come watch her create her art. She said she is excited to share her work with visitors.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to work in front of people. When you are alone for so many hours, you want to have visitors,” Dietz said.
Signs at the front of the house will guide visitors back to Dietz’s workshop. She will hold demonstrations on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon. Her gallery hours will be Thursdays and Fridays from 4-6 p.m. and Saturdays from 1-3 p.m.
As part of the ARTscapes project, property owner Lawrence Hooper committed to donate the house free of charge for three to six months as an art studio/exhibit space to Methow Arts Alliance, or until the property sells, Jackson said. The house is zoned for both residential and commercial use.
Jackson said Hooper learned about the ARTscapes program from real estate agent Kathy Goldberg of Coldwell Banker, who is working with Methow Arts to connect potential commercial properties with art projects.