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Husband and wife duo highlight Saturday Crary opening

The work of Wendy and Bill Bale will be on display at the Crary Art Gallery starting with an exhibition opening on Saturday. Here’s a sample of that work - Wendy’s Wary Wood Duck, a paper sculpture.

Three years in the making, Wendy and “Sandhill” Bill Bale from Chautauqua County, bring to the Crary Art Gallery an exhibition that is unique and inspiring–not only for art lovers, but for nature enthusiasts as well.

“Riparian Zone: Up and Down the River Bank” celebrates the habitat along the water’s edge, brought to life through her detailed paper sculpture and charcoal works, paired with his high level of artistry in furniture design.

The opening will take place on Saturday, July 10 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. in an open house format.

The artists will be available to visit with visitors and answer questions about their work, their creative process and their close connection with nature. There is a companion publication “RiparianZine” which is full of beautiful images of the works and features statements from some of the most prominent local voices in environment and outdoor matters.

A member of The Guild of American Paper Cutters, Wendy Bale’s paper sculpture technique, as well as the attention and respect for every detail in every one of the living things she portrays in her work, is flawless.

“These past few years, I have tried several different techniques for paper cutting. It’s a very old practice, and I have found many traditional and modern ways of working in this fascinating medium. I have discovered my own combinations adding charcoal elements and have developed my style through this exploration,” she said. In addition to paper sculpture, the exhibition also features several impressive large format charcoal pieces. She adds, “I am a visual artist and environmentalist. The biggest concern I am addressing with this body of work is habitat conservation. I want to foster an appreciation for the unsung heroes of this ecosystem. I celebrate the plant and animal life within the riparian zone — be it beautiful or beastly.”

“Sandhill” Bill Bale’s furniture design honors the Riparian Zone at the highest level, combining resin and stones and organic shapes to depict the feeling found in nature. This is the kind of furniture you are lured to touch and let your fingers follow the beauty of the grain it highlights.

This body of work represents the artist’s final collection as he prepares for retirement.

“I’ve made over 1,100 pieces of Arts and Crafts living room and bedroom furniture. True to the style, lines were straight and parallel, and rarely curved. This recent foray into the organic shapes of live-edge slabs was in direct response to our experience along the riverbanks. Getting to know the water’s flow and how it affected the landscape inspired a whole new creative perspective.”

From his hometown of Wisconsin, Bill Bale spent 20 years on the Midwest art fair circuit taking commissions for his award-winning Sandhill Designs furniture, before moving to the area after his wife, Wendy, accepted a corporate job in Warren.

Living near the Allegheny provided inspiration for a new approach. His first “river table” won first place at the 2017 Panama Rocks Wild America Festival.

The Crary Art Gallery is a private non-profit art museum, located on the corner of Sixth Ave. and Market Street in downtown Warren.

Exhibition hours, after the opening, are Fridays and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is always free and more information on this and upcoming exhibitions can be found at craryartgallery.com.

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