Nestled in the heart of Cave Creek is a unique gallery specializing in contemporary, Southwestern fine art, giclees, art furnishings, accessories, boutique items and gifts. The colorful, imaginative and welcoming gallery has work by 15 to 20 talented artists, most from Arizona. The aim of owner and entrepreneur Janet Kelly is to invite people to engage with the art, to come in and explore. She sees her role as one of helping people find what they are looking for, and if she doesn’t have it in her gallery, she will point them in the right direction.
“Everyone should have a piece of art in their home that they are proud of, something that pleases them, no matter what their budget,” Janet said. Her approach of learning what people want and finding talented artists and pieces to meet those needs seems to work. Now in its fourth year, the gallery is flourishing, with a continuous flow of new selections showcased.
To Janet, art is like a special occasion all the time, conjuring emotion in those who create it and those who enjoy it. Whether for the collector or tasteful home decor, she believes all art is relevant. Her appreciation and cultivated style inspires her to select everything that goes in the gallery with careful discrimination. The artists, the varied chosen works, and the discerning eye of her clients are foremost in creating the engaging atmosphere of Wildfire Gallery.
Customer service is paramount to Janet, who will visit a client’s home to help decide what might work or help choose the right subjects, color, dimensions, or place to hang; and she will deliver pieces, whatever the customer needs. “Nothing makes me feel better than knowing I did everything I could to make the customer happy,” she said.
She can also arrange for commission work. “If a customer sees a piece they like, but wants it done in a different size or if they have a photograph and want something created by a particular artist, I will arrange to have it done and help the customer through the process.”
Among the artists represented are many who are nationally known with a large following, those who are well-established and exploring new mediums, and up-and-coming artists whose work has garnered awards and acclaim. Mediums include oil, pastel, and acrylic paintings, photography, and art furnishings of wood, stone, copper, mixed media and glass.
Contemporary still life painter Karen Budan creates colorful, imaginative works that transform everyday objects to extraordinary ones. Her style is realistic, almost photorealistic, and many of her pieces convey a bit of tongue-in-cheek whimsy. Most of her work is pastel painting and she has received national recognition. She has begun to present her work in oils as well, and plans to develop the same level of credentials with oils on a national level as she has with pastels.
Among her recent honors and awards, Budan’s work won first place at the Arizona Pastel Artists’ Association Fall Show in October; she attained Master Circle status at the International Association of Pastel Societies in November, 2012; Pastel Society of America’s “Enduring Brilliance” Exhibition, September, 2012 - Pastels Etc. Award; and the online BoldBrush Painting Competition, Jury’s FAV 15 percent, for both June and July, 2013.
“I spend about a third of my time on compositions, selecting the objects to fit an idea, creating the set up, finding the right light,” said Budan. “I set the light from all different directions, finding the best way to show off the composition, and the best vantage point from which to paint.”
“I started out painting just for fun, but loved it so much, I devote as such time to it as I did in my previous career,” said Budan who was a school superintendent in Michigan. “I love it when people buy a painting and tell me how much they enjoy it. It makes me happy that something they enjoy is something I have fun doing.”
Handcrafted art furnishings are an extensive part of Wildfire Gallery’s collection, and Joanne and Art Hiscox of Sedona provide some of the most outstanding work. Their architectural, functional art is dramatically different and each piece is one-of-a-kind.
Some of the most intriguing are mixed media console tables, which they refer to as “falling water” tables. Their inventive process includes a preliminary design, the selection of metal for the base, and stone for the table top that could be marble, granite, quartzite or travertine. They use a variety of materials to create a river and waterfall on one to three levels, often incorporating fossils such as ammonites, citrine and amethyst crystals, fused glass and exotic stones. The tables can also be custom built.
Joanne does all the fused glass work, Art does all stone work, and they work together on the pieces that involve both. On display is a table of inlaid hand carved stones with images of quail, an example of Art’s stone work.
Joanne creates what they refer to as “wall waves” using a process she invented. Fusing glass in a kiln, she then creates the waves with metal rods and gravity. The resulting glass piece is mounted on metal and the finished work sparkles as the waved glass catches the light. “Even though the process is the same, each of these pieces is unique,” said Joanne. “Sometimes people think the waves are made using molds, but they are not; each one is done by hand.”
Venturing into a new medium which he refers to as contemporary, high-tech wall sculptures, award-winning sculptor and acclaimed “Master of the Southwest” Russell Marohnic has his newest pieces on display in the gallery. His proprietary process includes mixed media metals, mostly stainless steel and copper, to which unique, hand-crafted finishes are added. Elements are strategically layered for a three-dimensional effect, which creates fascinating shadows on the backgrounds.
Marohnic explains how he got started in this work: “I was in Denmark overlooking the North Sea and I was inspired by a sailboat as it moved through the water. The beautiful scene was magical and ignited my creative thinking. I felt compelled to interpret this fluid action, these shapes, and the idea of objects in motion, ocean and land into artwork.”
Some of his wall sculptures are pure interpretative abstracts; some are of animals such as a cougars or eagles. All are organic in feeling. Each animal figure is comprised of different metals, and the relief and interaction between the metals always show movement. Each wall sculpture has a maximum of three designs within its series, with distinct variations making each an original, thus protecting the integrity of design. Custom commissions are welcome.
Marohnic is already thinking where he will take this art form and has in mind trying to represent the dynamic motion of sports, having been a sports enthusiast all his life. This talented, inventive and creative artist continues to explore subject matter as well as the optimal qualities for their components, transforming them into a natural contemporary elegance that is dynamic, timeless and striking.
Wonderful, unique photography by Maurice Wolfe, Morrie Farbman and by Susan Quinn Byrd is available at the gallery. Each image is an expressive art piece.
In addition to significant original fine art, the gallery has a wide array of boutique items and gifts such as fine and casual jewelry, birdhouses, scarves and other wearables, folk art and a few Western-themed items. There is much to explore and enjoy with a visit.
6501 E. Cave Creek Rd., Suite 3, Cave Creek
Winter hours: Tues. - Sat. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
Sun. Noon - 4 p.m.
Mon. by appointment