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Gallery 'N' Gifts featuring 'Artists Unleashed'


Mesa Arch

Robert Hardy

First Friday at Gallery 'N' Gifts this Dec. 1 will feature all new work in a showcase of TVAA "Artists Unleashed". Stop by from 5-8 p.m. for complimentary refreshments, closing bids on our silent auction and a unique opportunity to take home brand new artwork from over a dozen artists based right here in our own community.

Michelle Miller started painting about 17 years ago gifting her work to family and friends. Retirement and a move to Tehachapi in 2012 gave a new importance to her work. Beginning as mainly a landscape painter, exposure to the abundant wildlife in the Tehachapi area lured her into expanding her painting style to include many animals of all kinds. Michelle commented, "I so enjoy the painting process, always having several paintings in process. Our wonderful Gallery 'N' Gifts has helped me become a better painter and given me a venue to show my work."

Robert Hardy worked for forty years as a professional photographer with most of his work devoted to advertising photography. He went into fine art landscape photography a few years ago upon his retirement. Robert finds both professions to be equally challenging and rewarding experiences. He remarked, "Advertising placed time constraints and special requirements to fulfill the assignments, while fine art landscapes required nature's cooperation and traveling long distances to remote locations. When nature does not cooperate, I must go back again and again to achieve the desired results, which is to stimulate the visual senses of my viewers. Both occupations require great discipline and dedication. Without having those qualities, I would have never been successful in accomplishing my goals."Kris Gruben is a Bear Valley Springs resident and a mixed media artist working in the ancient wax technique of encaustic. Encaustic dates back to the Greeks. The word encaustic means, "to heat or burn in". Heat is used throughout the process, from melting the natural beeswax and dammar resin, to fusing the layers of wax together. Colored pigments may be added and applied with a brush or any tool to create the image. Each layer is then reheated to fuse it to the previous layer.

Kris moved to Bear Valley Springs with her husband in 2014 and lives there with two dogs, three acres of land, and two of their sixteen grandchildren close by. Kris has been surrounded by art her entire life. Her mother was a professional oil and watercolor artist in the San Diego area for many years. Over the years Kris has explored many different artistic mediums to feed her creative soul. After taking several encaustic workshops in Bakersfield, she found her passion. She enjoys experimenting and playing with the wax.

Jenny Zur will be showing relief prints, and commented that they are an affordable way to collect and enjoy original art. She said, "They are earthy, warm, and go with everything. They are a lot of fun to make, too. This print I am sharing in the show is a celebration of love, portrayed by one of my favorite subjects, birds. Any season is the season for love. Be merry!"

In the spirit of Christmas, Tina Dille will be showing two original artworks. One is a mixed media titled "The Divine" that she would only describe as being quite different from her animal portraits. The other artwork is an animal portrait she describes as, "A green pig. This piece was inspired by a friend's dog-like pig named 'Charlie'. Charming Charlie allowed me to photograph him and enjoy his gregarious nature. In the finished work a serious pig emerged something that contrasted my impression of Charlie. I always appreciate these little surprises which is why Green Charlie is titled: "Give Back – Take Less – Waste Not!"

Marti Howell has lived in the Tehachapi area since 2002. She was an educator in the public schools (Bay Area) for 31 years as a teacher, counselor, and administrator. Part of her teaching experience was in art. She has a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and is a licensed MFT, but she is not practicing at this time. She is spending her time on art, gardening, riding her horse, and helping her husband take care of almost 6 acres of property. Involved with art since childhood, she painted with watercolor for many years, but now her focus is on oils and pastels along with hand-formed ceramics. Much of her artwork reflects her interest in western themes, horses, and the outdoors.

As far back as Suzanna Young can remember she began drawing as a little girl from her mother's magazines, like National Geographic and McCall's, facinated especially with the people in them. At age 10 she received her first set of oil paints for her birthday, painting Emmet Kelly, her favorite clown. Following her love of drawing and painting she utilized pencil, pen and ink, pastels, oils and on to acrylic. Competing in county and state competitions throughout her school years, Suzanna won many First Place awards and an overall Best of Show and Sweepstakes Award. Upon high school graduation, Suzanna received an offer to go directly to Hallmark in St. Louis as an artist. She chose to go on to college instead. Years past and she didn't seem to have much time to follow her passion working full time and raising three children, but, as she puts it, "Life seems to go full circle and, if you're lucky enough, you end up being who you were meant to be all along."

Stephen Lee is a local photographer living in Tehachapi for more than 25 years. His photography includes a wide range of subjects, but his primary passion is landscape and nature. Stephen looks to capture the natural beauty of God's creation for everyone to enjoy. The Eastern Sierras have long been a focus for his photography. Many trips to the Alabama Hills and mountains around Bishop have resulted in some of his most prized works. California wild flowers are also frequent subjects. He captured one of his favorite images in a field near South Street in Old Town. His wife Debbie named this image "Tehacha-poppy." Since "fine art" quality finished prints are very important and landscapes display better with large prints, he acquired a large format printer. Stephen currently prints and mounts his photographs using archive quality ink and media. Some work is printed on canvas and mounted in gallery wrap format. Stephen's photography has been displayed at the local bakery gift shop, as well as the Crossroads and Back Street galleries. Stephen joined Tehachapi Valley Arts Association and became a member of Gallery and Gifts in February 2014 where he enjoys the cooperative family atmosphere of the local art community. He has a website under construction where a sample of his work is displayed at

Anna Dohnke is a home-schooling mom of one and a military spouse. She and her family moved to Tehachapi in 2013 for an assignment at Edwards AFB. She works primarily in acrylics, using a combination of pouring, brush work, and collage. Anna also hand dyes silk, does mandala work, writes, and is currently exploring the process of polymer clay. She loves whimsy, mythology and fables, and looks at how that may be suggested in her work.

Dennis Cowden is a skilled photographer of scenic landscapes of the Southern Sierras, Mojave Desert and, of course, the Tehachapi Mountains, as well as the great number of critters that live in these areas. He is always on the lookout for that perfect cloud, the most gnarly tree, any animal or moving waters. He loves to try his prints on various mediums – from standard photo papers, to printing directly on glass, on canvas, on metal, and on wood. His camera allows him to share his vision.

Chris Paschke is originally from Chicago, Ill., her family relocated to northern California where Chris remained throughout her formative years attending both San Jose State University and Humboldt State University receiving a BFA Creative Arts and Design, Magna Cum Laude. Chris Paschke is an internationally accomplished artist and calligrapher who is published and licensed by Studio EL, Grand Image, and Wild Apple Graphics. Her fascination with both Eastern and Western letterforms has been a lifelong study and encouraged her to use the written word as subject matter. First intrigued by traditional western lettering, historical alphabets, and illuminated manuscripts, her work was ultimately set free by studying with contemporary European master calligraphers in Belgium, Germany, Austria, Russia, and then she visited China for the first time, resulting in a strong Asian influence throughout her body of work. The past forty years she has been strongly influenced by traditional Chinese masters and Japanese Sumi-e painting, crossed with the edgy abstract expressionism of Kline, Pollock, Rothko, Gottlieb, Motherwell and Jasper Johns-thus redefining both mediums into her own contemporary style. Her art is abstractly interpretive as she uses gesso, resist, watercolor, gouache, text, encaustic, collaged paper and accents of gold leaf to achieve her images. Chris shared, "I was taught both in my first calligraphy class and in Sumi-e that after the initial concept sketches, an artist should work directly on their final substrate planning for a masterpiece, as you can never replicate the freshness, freedom and spontaneity that occurs in that first attempt. Regardless of the medium I continue to work from my inner soul, beginning from the enso-the nothing--and allowing the art to direct me where it needs to go. She added, "Having lived all over the country, moving every time a house needed painting, Tehachapi has been my home now since 2002 and this is where I truly belong."

Anita Jesse first became enamored of photography because it acted as a buffer and allowed her to look at horses without crying. After an accident left her crippled up and knowing that she would never be able to ride again or be safe even handling a horse, the tears flowed every time she saw a horse. She shared, "The sight of horses reminded me that while that childhood fantasy had come to life in the form of my dream horse (a beautiful gray Arab gelding), it was now destined forever to be no more than a memory. I couldn't imagine never again having horses in my life. And then one day, I found that putting the camera between me and the animal created a new connection that bound me to horses and my old dreams in a brand new way that mostly filled the hole in my heart. Gradually, I fell in love with a new-to-me means of expression."

Anita Jesse


All Anita's images are informed, naturally, by her own memories and dreams. But, more importantly, she seeks to evoke the memories and spark the dreams of others who love horses. She continued, "My imagery works best when you see in a piece that horse that you loved as a child, or a horse that you recently lost, or, perhaps, the horse that you have always dreamed of having. Maybe you even see, in the image, aspects of yourself that you value, aspire to, or struggle with-grace, power, freedom, speed, beauty, impetuousness, impatience." You will see story fragments in each of her pieces and her mission is to encourage viewers to insert their own dreams and memories into what they see. Once the work is released to the public, she feels her stories are of little relevance. She remarked, "Yes, my stories served as the catalyst that birthed the final image, but no work of art is fully realized until a viewer sees his own story in the work and wants to live with that creation and continue a relationship with his or her story. Art is about connection."​​​​​​​​

Save the date and stop by Gallery 'N' Gifts on Dec. 1 from 5-8 p.m. to enjoy refreshments with us, join the fun with our silent auction to raise funds for scholarships, and see about making your own connection with art. For more information call (661) 822-6062 or visit Gallery 'N' Gifts at 100 W. Tehachapi Blvd., Tehachapi.


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