Back in November 2019, when things were more normal than we appreciated at the time, George Averbeck got a special visit from Canadian filmmaker, Brandy Yanchyk. Brandy was making a travel documentary series which not only explored unique experiences across the United States, but also highlighted local crafts and artists. George welcomed Brandy into his studio to help him make one of his signature glass "moon balls" celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the Apollo moon landing - an iconic part of Flagstaff's history.
The series Seeing the USA with Brandy Yanchyk, is out now and we're happy to share her experience blowing glass with George! See how a moon ball is created and what it takes to work molten glass into a beautiful piece of art. And if you enjoy this section, check out the whole Seeing the USA series on Amazon Prime or on your local PBS station!
Arizona Handmade Gallery and Fire on the Mountain now occupy the space formerly taken by Puchteca Indian Goods for more than 40 years.
Irma David's work is on display at Arizona Handmade. David is a Hopi Pottery artist of the Parrot Clam from Polacca, Arizona, which sits atop First Mesa.
After almost two months of renovations, Holly Averbeck proudly welcomed the community into Arizona Handmade Gallery/Fire on the Mountain’s new location for a soft opening during this month’s First Friday ArtWalk on Feb. 7. Almost 600 friends, supporters and community members stopped in to celebrate the large space previously occupied by Puchteca Indian Goods for more than 40 years.
Large west-facing windows bring in an abundance of natural light that shines through glass artwork, inviting passersby to step in and see what’s being offered in the newly renovated space.
“It was a lot of do it yourself, but I believe that creating something beautiful for downtown Flagstaff is worth it,” Averbeck said. “The town is worth it, and I’m not giving up yet.”
Arizona Handmade Gallery has been a mainstay of the community along San Francisco Street for almost 30 years. When Averbeck and her husband George, a glass blower, bought the place in 2010, they kept the name and added on George’s gallery, Fire on the Mountain. The face of downtown Flagstaff has steadily been changing, though, with local shops closing their doors and skylines rising. When Puchteca owner Steve Beiser announced his retirement last year, Averbeck began considering expanding her business to take over the historic space.
“Over time, as I talked to him about who was approaching him [as buyers], which were bars and a Chinese restaurant, I began to think, that should be a gallery,” Averbeck said.
She is hoping to carry on Beiser’s legacy—one of fostering lifelong connections—by continuing to host the artists who sold their work there.
“The diversity in Flagstaff is wonderful, and it’s something to celebrate, not to close the doors against,” Averbeck said. “I have had some of his artists approach me and there are others I’m calling, so we’ll see.”
Now Hand and Fire Gallery (as Averbeck and her husband have fondly combined their two gallery names) is located on the other side of San Francisco Street facing several other women-owned businesses, and its proprietors are finding it still has some life to give.
“Every couple of years I try to go somewhere I’ve never been, just look at art in a different place, and last year I was in Peru,” Averbeck said. “I saw so much that inspired me as a gallery owner, just keeping alive an ancient tradition of fine arts and craft.”
Averbeck gets by with help from employees like Stephanie Stinski, who has been with the business for the past five years. As a writer and occasional metalworking artist, Stinski said she appreciates being able to share ideas with the artists who supply the gallery with its wide variety of wares, from jewelry and pottery to dyed silk and vibrant canvases.
“There are people who are retired and this is what they’ve wanted to do for a really long time, and then there are people who are younger and starting out, and then there are those who have made it their career,” she said. “It’s really fun to see what they bring to the table.”
Stinski also enjoys meeting travelers on their way to or from the Grand Canyon who take the time to explore what downtown has to offer. Visitors from France, China and Latvia provide her with new ways to view art, the world and its people.
“I think that an art space is just a really open and welcoming space where people from other parts of the world can feel like they can have a conversation,” Stinski said. “Holly has put so much work into this place. She really does care. She could have retired, and this is what she chose to do.”
Hello and welcome to the first newsletter of 2020 from Arizona Handmade and Fire on the Mountain Galleries! We are looking forward to using this outlet to share some of our upcoming events, developments, and new work from our artists.
The biggest news this month is…our MOVE! If you haven’t heard yet, Arizona Handmade and Fire on the Mountain Galleries will be moving across the street and up a few stores to 20 N San Francisco Street. Holly has been hard at work on renovations to the space - from putting in new flooring to updating the lighting. She has even painted a mural on the back wall! The higher ceilings and larger footprint will enable us to show more art and move forward with some exciting ideas we’ve had brewing for a while…we’ll tell you more about those in future newsletters!
Our soft opening is scheduled for February 2nd (02-02-2020)! We’ll be open in our new space from that day on and will participate in the first ArtWalk of the year on February 7th. Painter Gina Richmann will be giving live silk painting demonstrations, we’ll have live music by local singer/songwriter Gary Bowman, and some yummy treats. It will be a great time to stop in and see the new space!
In March, we’re also planning a Grand Opening Celebration, date TBA. Keep an eye out so you can put that date on your calendar – it is sure to be a fun time!
While traveling Peru last year, Holly was inspired by the continuing tradition of creating things by hand. She has written a mission statement to direct the gallery going forward, carrying the sentiment of a modest plaque she read in a Peruvian gallery window.
We like to think of this space as an art gallery with a deeper meaning. Here, we hope to ensure that the ancient tradition of creating fine art and crafts endures time. We offer our master artisans a market to share their art and crafts, and sell them in an environment that is ethical and conscious. Each piece of art was touched by the hand of the artist who created it.
We thank you for your support as we start 2020 with those words in mind. Best wishes for the new year!
Arizona Handmade and Fire on the Mountain Gallery Team
For the November ArtWalk we're featuring ceramic artist Mark Arnegard! Many Flagstaff locals know him from his mugs at Macy's, the dishware are Mamma Louisa Italian Restaurant, or his blue studio on old Rt. 66. And LOTS of people know him for his beloved mountain mugs!
Arne has been working with clay since the early 70's in northern Arizona and has used the landscape around him as an inspiration for his beautiful and functional ceramic art. As a long-time member in the Flagstaff community, his work has wound its way into many people's lives. Just this morning we had a customer in the gallery who won a handball tournament in 1989 and he still had the cup that he had won and Arne had made for the event! That's just one of the many stories we hear in the gallery about Arne pieces that are near and dear to Flagstaffians and visitors alike.
If you've never met Arne, come on down for ArtWalk on Friday, November 1st to talk with him about the style he has built over the decades. If you know him already, we hope you'll pop in to say hello, munch on a goodie, look at the art, and listen to the live music of Flagstaff Jazz duo, The Local Group. They'll be playing from 6-9pm!
And if you want to get a mountain mug for someone this holiday season...stop in soon! Every single year we sell out of ALL of Arne's mugs before Christmas and the mountain mugs are the first to go!
For the October ArtWalk we're lucky to have two featured artists - Juan Carlos Medina and Gina Richmann!
Juan Carlos Medina is a painter originally from Chihuahua, Mexico who grew up in Los Angeles and has lived in Chinle, Arizona for the last few years. The influence of his new home has crept into his work, with imagery of reservation life blending with art inspired by his Mexican heritage.
Juan Carlos paints with oils and acrylics and uses bold colors offset by deep shadows to bring his subjects to life. He surrounds his pieces with vintage frames that finish and compliment them. He will be bringing seven brand new original paintings to the gallery for the October ArtWalk and will be joining us to talk with customers about his art and life. Whether you love his art inspired by Dia de los Muertos, Frida Kahlo, daily life, or haven't seen his work at all yet, stop by and say hello!
While Juan Carlos and his new paintings will be inside, a different kind of painter will be giving live demos in front of the gallery. Gina Richmann will be painting her vibrant silk scarves and chatting with ArtWalk attendees. If you haven't had a chance to see silk-painting done in-person it is definitely worth the stop. Gina's years of experience show as she carefully places and blends colors on the flexible material and brings scenes to life in the time it takes you to stand and watch!
To round out the evening we will have live music by the Flagstaff folk duo, Mystic Harvest. They always liven up ArtWalk with energetic music full of guitar, banjo, harmonica, and beautiful vocals.
Join us for an ArtWalk full of color and fun on Friday, October 4th from 6-9pm - and don't forget to sign up to blow your own ornament with George while you're there!
It's that time of year again - BYOB!
What is BYOB? It's a chance to go into George Averbeck's glass blowing studio and blow your own ornament! In a 15 minute session participants choose their colors, and then George and Holly will help them to create a glass ball like his holiday ornaments. George is holding BYOB sessions on two weekends this year: October 12 & 13 and November 16 & 17.
How do you participate? Come to Arizona Handmade Gallery at 13 N. San Francisco St. or call the gallery at 928-779-3790. Our staff can tell you which timeslots are still available and process your payment. You must pay when you sign up. You're welcome to sign up for multiple sessions to share the experience with friends and family! The cost is $30 per session (per person) and includes the cost of the workshop and the ornament which is ready for pickup the next day.
It's easy and doesn't require any experience - just come in close-toed shoes and non-polyester clothes and enjoy blowing your own ball!
Rosa Kilgore is an embodiment of Arizona individuality, independence, and adventure - and you see it in her jewelry. Born to two Arizona artists, Rosa has creation and the southwest tangled in her blood. She has taken up metal as her chosen medium along with pearls and semi-precious stones to compliment the jewelry she hammers out of sterling silver and ancient bronze.
Her work is all about texture and form, creating technically skilled pieces that are designed with versatility and longevity in mind. She describes her materials as “traditionally feminine”; and her work is feminine, too, but with an Arizona twist that makes it perfect for the bold women who live in this place of rugged beauty. Almost all of her jewelry can dress up or down, as easily paired with jeans and boots as a dress for a night out! Inspired by the style of her mother, grandmother, aunts, and stepmother, she creates with the intention that her pieces can become part of a jewelry collection to be passed down through generations.
Rosa will be in the gallery this Friday, August 2nd from 6-9pm for the Artwalk, and we’ll have a live performance by Craig Yarborough of the Grand Canyon Guitar Society. We hope you’ll join us for a summer evening of art and music, but if you miss it you can always see Rosa’s jewelry when you stop by the gallery!
To help celebrate the continued significance of studying the moon and the anniversary of the lunar landing, we have invited our artists to share their own perception of the moon for the June ArtWalk!
We'll have lunar-focused work from many of our artists...including a new reduction woodcut that Julie Williams made this spring called "Moonrise", graphite pieces by Linda Shearer-Whiting, fused glass moon art by Judi Hartman, celestial paintings by Frederica Hall, lunar photography by Angela Yamauchi...and of course lots of George's moon balls! And during the ArtWalk The Local Group will be playing music all inspired by man's fascination with the moon and stars!
We hope you'll come join us on June 7th from 6-9pm for the celebration during ArtWalk, but if you miss it, we'll have our lunar show up during the whole month of June. Be sure to check out the NAZ Today interview with George about his limited run of moon balls, and visit the Lunar Legacy page for information about other moon landing anniversary events!
During the month of May we are featuring long-time Arizona Handmade Gallery artist, John Graber! John is well-known for his depictions of the trains that travel across the stunning southwest landscape. His fascination with trains started at a young age, as he explains in his bio:
"I first laid eyes on Flagstaff when my family drove to Northern Arizona from Santa Monica to attend Pow-Wow and the Hopi art show at MNA. Route 66 was still intact mostly through California and Arizona at that time although every year bulldozers ate more and more of it eventually creating I-40. A distinct characteristic of 66 was for much of its path it closely followed along side the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. I was ENTHRALLED. My window out the way back of the family's station wagon was the "screen" in which I viewed the railroad in all its comings and goings."
Well-versed in acrylic and pen and ink drawings, his train-themed work evokes both the long, lonely travels of the trains through the mountains, deserts, and plains as well as the energetic bustle that the trains bring to town.
Now a long-time resident of Flagstaff, John has a way of capturing the feel of this part of the world where we live. It is common for visitors to the gallery to stop by his work with a smile on their face and say, "I know exactly where that is. That piece is so Flagstaff!" Between the sentinels of railroad signs that bisect the horizon in the light of the setting sun or the silhouette of the San Francisco Peaks behind a slow-moving train, his work brings up universal memories of driving by the railroad.
Recently John has also been exploring more studies in light. His newest work is focused on the Ponderosa pines, junipers, and oaks where he lives, and how the evening and night light play through their branches and needles. The quiet serenity of these pieces reflect his love for the southwest landscape and echo the observation and color palette of his earlier work.
John will be at the gallery during the ArtWalk on May 3 from 6-9pm to talk with visitors about his art and life in Flagstaff. We'll also have live music by local singer/songwriter Gary Bowman. His music is melodic, down-to-earth, and always fun! Come by the gallery on your way through ArtWalk or stop by during May to see John's new work!
This year Arizona Handmade and Fire on the Mountain Galleries are proud to participate in the Celebration of the Night event as a NightVisions Satellite exhibit! The annual Celebration of the Night highlights the importance of the dark sky through a variety of lenses - from art to music, to science talks and interactive walks. The NightVisions show is the visual arts aspect of the event.
More than two-thirds of Americans live where they can no longer see the Milky Way galaxy because of light pollution. We have grown so isolated from night that in much of our culture it has become alien and fearful. NightVisions seeks to re-open our positive connections to the natural night and to bridge the divide separating artistic from scientific perception, promoting the idea that science and art are two intertwined aspects of human experience. - Flagstaff Arts Council
Arizona Handmade and Fire on the Mountain Galleries have invited all our artists to submit work that reflects the impact of the night on their lives and their artistic vision. It has been wonderful seeing what each artist has brought in! From jeweler Nancy Foo finding the night sky in stones, to painter Linda Shearer-Whiting evoking the comfort of looking up at the stars above her quiet neighborhood, to Angela Yamauchi's detailed photographs contrasting star-light with human-light. Those are just a few highlights; many of our artists have participated and we have all kinds of work embracing and exploring their connection to the night sky!
Our Satellite exhibit will open during the ArtWalk on April 5th, slightly in advance of the other NightVisions shows. Stop by to see a teaser of what NightVisions has to offer, listen to live music by Tim Young, and then take a few moments to enjoy the night sky after you walk downtown!
NightVisions VII, an international, juried show held at the Coconino Center for the Arts, will have an opening reception on April 12th and will be on display through June 1st. Other satellite exhibits at The Artists Gallery, West of the Moon Gallery, and Criollo Latin American Kitchen will be open at various points throughout April and May. For more information about Celebration of the Night events click here.
The starry skies over Flagstaff are often taken for granted, but it is through thoughtful planning and action that the city's light pollution is kept down. Click here to learn more about how Flagstaff became the first International Dark Sky City, and the work that the Dark Skies Coalition does to keep the Flagstaff skies dark so that we can all enjoy the beauty of the natural night.
The NightVisions Satellite exhibit at Arizona Handmade/Fire on the Mountain Galleries can be viewed from April 5th through June 1st from 10am-5pm everyday of the week.
News and Events
See what events are coming up for AZ Handmade and Fire on the Mountain Galleries, including ArtWalk features for each month and special events like Blow Your Own Ornament workshops and silk scarf painting classes!