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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 46, Page One of One

The Andrews Art Museum of North Carolina

"Twentieth Century Pyrographers"

June through August 2011

Coming Soon, "Twentieth Century Pyrographers" at the Andrews Art Museum in Andrews, North Carolina is the first known group exhibit ostensibly for contemporary pyrography as a juried event to be offered by a museum in the United States.

The grand opening is set for June 4th, 2011, with a reception from 5:00–7:00 P.M. in The Valleytown Cultural Arts Building, which houses the Andrews Art Museum on its mezzanine level. Live musical entertainment is planned for that event and the two subsequent events planned there for this same show on each of the first Saturdays of both July and August, as well.

Andrews Art Museum
Corner of 3rd and Chestnut Streets
Andrews, North Carolina

Image courtesy of the The Valleytown Cultural Arts and Historical Society

A Special Exhibit Is Sparked

Last October, Andrews Art Museum's Director Annette Rawlings was approached with a proposal. Fortunately, she is herself a multi-talented and prolific artist with a fascinating résumé (linked here to her name) of multicultural experience and international events to her credit.

That most unusual proposal—for a rare exhibit of pyrography—came from IAPA member Tom Vogler, who is not only an avid pyro artist but also the assistant director at the Andrews Art Museum.

Because of the remote location of the Andrews Art Museum and the exotic nature of the technique, it was no doubt daunting to contemplate such an undertaking; however, for anyone who has talked to Tom Vogler about pyrography, it is hard to imagine feeling more defenseless before such a juggernaut of exuberance.

Tom and Teresa Vogler
The artist and his wife posing at an exhibition of his pyrographic works

Tom Vogler: From the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina

In November of 2008, Tom Vogler introduced himself on the group message board of the International Association of Pyrographic Artists (IAPA) with these startling words:
"I've been doing artwork since 1999 following a traumatic automobile accident. I just recently discovered pyrography. Since August of this year, I have probably burned about 80 pieces. Anyone else feel this same burning desire? I dream in sepia tones, light and shadow."
The indications were there that Tom was not only prolific (80 pieces in about three months!) but deeply committed. He was already exhibiting his work, which at that time largely consisted of his interpretations of early photographs by Edward S. Curtis. Although he has branched out in many directions since then, like the approach to his "One Love" panel below, where he merged various images, he recently interpreted still another Curtis photograph from 1903, his Old Indian Warrior.

A recent telephone interview only served to confirm his earlier words and conjure up the words from a scene in The Sound of Music where Maria tells the von Trapp children: "When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window."

Back in 1999, Tom Vogler was living in Ohio. He held a Master's degree in psychology and was working in mental health counseling, while simultaneously working on a doctorate. One day his car was rear-ended by a huge truck and he was lucky to survive. He had to relearn talking and walking both. After a lot of therapy and family support, he came out on the other side of that to then discover his passion for art, and his life has taken him in a whole new direction.

During our conversation, he directed me to a video slideshow of a selection of his works set to music. He was telling me about one of them and how it reflected the words of the song it was set to, and then explained that each of the subsequent pieces in the slideshow was designed to go with specific remaining lyrics of that song, respectively. Then I really began to understand just how creative and prolific this artist was. Further research, which led to some murals Tom worked on in the town of Andrews, demonstrates the dimension of his enthusiasm as well as his art.

One Love
by Tom Vogler

Pyrography on Basswood panel
composed of a merged collage of images
surrounding the subject Bob Marley
and the inscription, in Amharic (an Ethiopian language),
signifying One Love: Bob Marley's mantra
and the title of this panel.

Danette Smith

Collaborating from Ohio Is Danette Smith

Assisting the Museum Director Annette Rawlings and Tom Vogler in organizing this event is Danette "Dannie" Smith already well known for all of her efforts in assisting Cheryl Dow with the 2007 Wood burning Celebration at the Sawmill Center in Cook County, Pennsylvania, and then organizing another Wood burning Celebration there the following year.

Although she has been an artist since her childhood in Buffalo, New York, Danette Smith has been avidly working to develop her pyrography since 2003. She has also been teaching pyrography and states, "it is a never-ending learning experience." Her motto is: "Keep Burning and Learning." She has exhibited her work in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Canada. In Ohio, Danette builds, with assistance from her husband George, special table-top easels that allow users to readily rotate the panel while working. Visit her website at www.dangeespyrography.com

For the event at Andrews, Dannie is assisting Tom by making announcements on the forums, keeping everyone up to date, and contacting artists both nationally and from various parts of the world. Artworks are expected from some faraway places like China, Australia, Greece, Macedonia, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Ghost Riders
by Danette Smith

Pyrography on Oak plywood panel

The Ghost Riders signify the Old West and how Cowboys are a dying breed.
A wood rope inlay was put inside the frame to depict a western theme
and to correlate with the cowboy roping scene.

Carlos Castellanos
The artist on board ship on a vacation in Seattle

Collaborating from Minnesota Is Carlos Castellanos

Carlos Castellanos, who lives in a town with the name of White Bear Lake (could it be that they have signs that say "polar bear crossing" the way other places have "deer crossing" signs?), was another internet friend, along with Dannie Smith, whom Tom called on from the outset to plan this event.

Carlos, who works in pyrography on wood, paper, and leather, says he "fell in love" with the technique of pyrography more than 30 years ago. Looking back over those years, Carlos says:
"The pressures of raising a family kept me from giving this noble art the time it deserves, so for a while, it was only a hobby, but now, this is what I do full time."
It is coincidental that his pyrography on paper (below) is coming to light here right after there was a sighting of a "super moon" very recently. Here is what Carlos says about his work that preceded that celestial event:
"Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior, near Duluth, Minnesota, is a place where I go every year; it's very relaxing and helps me think, I love that place. The "gigantic" moon was my idea because I wanted to create a night setting. Because it's done on paper, it took me many hours working at a very low temperature in order to achieve the dark shades."
In recent years, Carlos has been using FaceBook to project his presence on the internet.

With the initial planning completed and preparations for the Andrews show underway, Carlos's next project is to design a catalogue of the exhibition.

Moon Over Split Rock
by Carlos Arturo Castellanos

Pyrography on paper of the Split Rock Lighthouse
on Lake Superior near Duluth, Minnesota

Image courtesy of the artist

Information and Assistance for Artists to Exhibit Pyrography at the Andrews Art Museum

Tom, who told me recently they have nearly reached capacity, had the following to say about the requirements for participation:
"The museum director, Annette Rawlings, has stated that each artist can show up to three pieces within a 60-inch-wide wall space. This obviously refers to burnings that hang on the wall. She has not specified any size criteria for sculptural burns such as gourds, walking sticks, pyro-carved pieces, etc.

In addition, we are currently seeking participating artists who would be interested in demonstrating their pyrography skills and techniques during the opening receptions. Anyone who would like to do this, please contact me at tmvogler@hotmail.com"

Contact: Annette Rawlings, Museum Director and Curator of the exhibit (786-246-7905).
Call or e-mail: Tom Vogler, Assistant Curator (828-557-0941)
E-mail: Danette Smith, Artist and Collaborator in Ohio
E-mail: Carlos Castellanos, Artist and Collaborator in Minnesota.

About Visiting the Andrews Museum

In a recent message to IAPA, Tom offered the following comments about the Andrews Museum:
"The venue is beautiful. The museum itself is located on the mezzanine level of The Valleytown Cultural Arts Building, and overlooks the stage area that is used for visual and performance arts. The building is filled with all original hardwood flooring, rich wood trimmings and a myriad of stained glass windows. Its fixtures and moldings are gilded. The lofty ceilings are made of an intricately patterned pressed tin. Built in 1923, the building is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Photos can be seen at the website, which is The Valleytown Cultural Arts and Historical Society."
Tom is pleased to announce that harpist Rahab Hackett will be playing for the June 4th opening reception of the pyrography exhibit at the Andrews Art Museum. It should be a joyous opening for a memorable event. And for those who cannot attend in person, Tom is planning to stream that opening live on the internet.

The Author

Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez learned her pyrography techniques in Guatemala from 1975–1977 under Carmela Flores. Her sister, Artist Sharon H. Garvey, later joined her there to collaborate on a pyrography project designed to promote this art form in the United States by means of a didactic book and a pyrography tool made by Navarro of Mexico.

Thanks to the internet, this is the fifteenth year since articles on pyrography for the Woodcarver Online Magazine (WOM), began in January 1997, and the fourteenth year of the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art, which opened its virtual doors January 1998. In March of that year, the International Association of Pyrographic Artists (IAPA) was formed and members began meeting on line. Linked from the E-Museum's Café Flambé, which hosts the IAPA meetings, is the Yahoo Groups uniting_pyrographers mailing list, member list, and chat forum set up for IAPA members by IAPA Cofounder Ken "Mixo" Sydenham of Ellinbank, Victoria, Australia.

2011, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.