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Custom portraits painted by young artists

Thu, Dec 5th, 4:30-6:30pm, 2019

On Thurs, Dec 5th, 4:30-6:30pm – swing by Methow Arts at 204 North Glover Street in Twisp and get your portrait painted by a Methow Valley Kindergartner. What could be better?

It all happens during Mistletoe Madness: Your Holiday Shopping Night in Twisp!


When: Thu, Nov 5, 2019 from 4:30-6:30pm. Where: Methow Arts Alliance, 204 North Glover St, Twisp. Cost: suggested donation to benefit arts education. Contact: info@methowartsalliance.org, 509.997.4004

Mistletoe Madness

Thurs, Dec 5, 4-7pm, 2019

Brought to you by the Twisp Chamber of Commerce

Jingle all the way down to the heart of the Methow Valley for Twisp’s Annual Holiday Shopping Night! On Thursday, December 5th from 4-7pm, businesses all throughout Twisp will offer discounts, drawings, cookies, cider and plain ol’ holiday cheer. There’s no better place to find local fare, from wine to chocolates to pottery to paintings (and so much more.) You’ll find everything you need on your wishlist while listening to the cheerful sounds of merry sidewalk carolers.

From 4-5pm, follow Santa and his belly full of joy down Twisp’s main street, throughout participating businesses. At 5pm, Santa will hop on a real horse and carriage to fly down to Hank’s Harvest Foods, where the community can enjoy food and holiday photos – leaving that horse-drawn carriage all ready for you to hop on! Large candy cane poles and hotspot fire pits mark stops for the carriage, which will take you on a free and festive ride throughout downtown Twisp.

PS: Don’t forget to Fa-La-La-La-La-Low along to the TwispWorks campus at the south end of Twisp’s main street for even more music, food and holiday cheer.

We hope you’ll come Rockin’ Around our Christmas Street for some Holiday shopping on December 5th. Merry Twispmas!

To plan your next visit, or to learn more about the local goings-on this fall, contact TwispWashington@gmail.com or call Twisp’s Visitor Information Center: 509-997-2020.

California valley oak finds new home at Methow Arts

Fall 2019

by Ashley Lodato

A striking new reception desk at the Methow Arts office on Glover Street is more than just an eye-catching piece of office equipment; it’s also an artisan functional furnishing with a notable history. The live-edge oak slab comes from a California valley oak (Quercus lobata) that was damaged in a 2015 wildfire in northern California. The owners wanted “something more meaningful than firewood” to come from their beloved 300+-year-old tree and now, like the Phoenix from the ashes, the felled oak has a new incarnation at the Methow Valley’s flagship arts organization. A series of serendipitous connections brought the oak slab—and several other pieces from the same tree—to the Methow Valley, thanks to the aesthetic vision and creative collaboration of wood aficionado Jacques Peschon, woodworker Rick Swanson, and Methow Arts board president Don Ashford.

Part-time Methow Valley resident Jacques Peschon salvaged the valley oak from his family home in Middletown, a tiny town in Lake County with underpinnings in the 19th century quicksilver mining industry.  On September 12, 2015, the Valley Fire decimated half the town and 75,000 acres. Peschon’s parents’ home was one of 1300 residences lost to the fire. At the time, it was the most destructive wildfire in California history.

Peschon’s parents’ property, on which they had built a house in the 1970s, was home to the largest of the North American oaks:  the valley oak, or Quercus lobata. Three of these majestic trees, estimated to be between 300 and 400 years old, surrounded the Peschons’ home, and all were damaged in the fire.  

When Peschon went to the family home to view the damage, he looked at the charred trees and immediately thought, “Something good has to come out of these trees, something more meaningful than firewood.” He didn’t know what that would be, but he had the trees slabbed into 4” thick pieces 13-15’ long and 3-5’ wide, beginning with the two most damaged trees in 2015, followed by the third tree—which eventually would make its way to the Methow Valley— in 2017. “Twenty thousand pounds of wood,” Peschon notes, putting the scale of the destruction in perspective.

“My plan at that point was to get the wood slabbed and then figure out the next steps,” Peschon says. Peschon knew that each member of his family would appreciate having a piece of furniture made from the oak in memory of the family home, so he arranged for a woodworker to build his mother a dining table and a bench, as well as a table for his sister. Peschon and his wife, Tracey, have a coffee table. “Eventually,” says Peschon, “everyone in the family will get a piece of the tree to remember the family home.”

The remainder of the wood sat drying in the Napa Valley, awaiting its future use. And then two years ago, Peschon and Tracey were at their vacation home in the Rendezvous, when they came upon a man whose car was stuck in a snowbank. The Peschons stopped to help the man, as did Methow Valley woodworker Rick Swanson. The car could not be freed, but Swanson and the Peschons waited for the tow truck with the car’s owner.

“While we waited, we got to talking,” says Peschon. “I learned that Rick was a woodworker, and I said ‘This wood might interest you,’ and showed him my photos of the slabbed wood.”  Peschon told Swanson of his desire to create something meaningful out of the wood, perhaps to donate it to a non-profit organization to be used in a significant way.

Even on the tiny screen of a smart phone, Swanson knew a treasure when he saw one. “You need to get that up here!” Swanson said. Like Peschon, Swanson didn’t have a concrete plan for the wood, but recognized it as uniquely gorgeous. Swanson also knew well the Methow Valley’s preponderance of non-profit organizations, and figured that someone would eventually devise a use worthy of the wood. Peschon sums up the collective attitude as “Do now, think later.”

Arranging for transportation from CA to the Methow Valley was trickier than Peschon would have thought, given 21st century widespread use of trucking. “I kept hitting roadblocks with the trucking,” Peschon says, with no pun intended. “The big trucking companies I tried wouldn’t touch it. One guy referred to Middletown and Winthrop as ‘goat roads.’” Peschon finally found a trucker in Middletown who did hauling for vineyards. “It was right before the harvest,” Peschon says, “and people had time on their hands. He did the drive from Napa  and back in three days.”

Larry Walsh of Methow Valley Lumber offered the lumberyard as a staging area for the giant slabs and Roger Rowatt helped with additional milling, as well as providing advice on length of drying time. “It was more wood than we knew what to do with,” says Peschon, “but we knew we could do something good with it.” Do now, think later.

The wood eventually found its purpose through what Swanson refers to as “a confluence of magical events,” beginning with the Rendezvous snowbank encounter and furthered by a chance conversation between Swanson and Methow Arts board president Don Ashford. “I was chatting with Don one day,” says Swanson, “and he started talking about a reception desk he envisioned for the new Methow Arts office on Glover Street. He wanted something dramatic, something functional but extraordinary, unique.”

Swanson pulled out his phone and scrolled to some photos. Showing Ashford the pictures of the slabbed oak, he said “This wood might interest you.” Indeed, it did.

Of the oak slabs, Swanson says almost reverentially, “This is some of the most beautiful wood I’ve ever seen.” Swanson finds working with the oak fascinating. “I haven’t done a lot of work with recently-dried, live edge lumber,” he says. “It’s really freeing. You start hacking away and see what you uncover, start to envision what you can do with it.”

Swanson took Ashford and his son Clay to look at the slabs and cut off a 5’ length to make into the Methow Arts desk. “It took three of us to get it into the truck and then into my shop,” he says. “I started hand-planing it immediately.”

As with any reception desk in an office space, the oak piece serves a functional purpose at Methow Arts. It holds mailing list sign-ups, fliers, and promotional information. Staff and visitors use it as a writing surface; people lean against it to talk.

Jacques & Tracey Peschon

But it is also a conversation piece—an entry into a story. It gives the Peschon family satisfaction to know that at least part of their beloved wood is used and appreciated by a non-profit organization that has been serving the Methow Valley since 1987. And, either by sheer coincidence or through some divine artistic force, a piece of wood that comes from a place devastated by fire has a new home in a valley that is itself still in the process of fire recovery. As Peschon says, “That’s what we meant by meaningful.”

The public is invited to drop in to the Methow Arts office at 204 North Glover Street in Twisp between 10am-2pm on Tue-Sat to see the beautiful old valley oak slab repurposed into a reception desk.

The Merc Playhouse Presents, Rope

Fri-Sun, Nov 15-17 & Thurs-Sun 21-24, 2019

By Patrick Hamilton
Directed by Don Nelson

Fri-Sun, November 15-17 & Thurs-Sun, November 21-24
Thur-Sat @7:00pm • Sun @2:00pm
(Doors open 30 minutes before showtime)

ABOUT ROPE
For the mere sake of adventure, danger, and the “fun of the thing,” Wyndham Brandon persuades his weak-minded friend, Charles Granillo, to assist him in the murder of a fellow undergraduate, a perfectly harmless man named Ronald Raglan. Tensions rise as the newly-nerved assassins invite a few acquaintances, including the dead youth’s father, to a dinner party — with a peculiar chest and its gruesome contents serving as the supper table…


Online Adult General Admission: $18

Online Adult Reserved Seats: $20

At-The-Door Adult General Admission: $20
Youth Reserved Seats: $7
Youth General Admission: $5
Thursday, 11/21’s Performance is Admission by Donation

(Doors open 30 minutes prior to showtime.)

For more information, visit www.MercPlayhouse.org

Programming supported by the Moccasin Lake Foundation.
Additional funding by Okanogan County Lodging Tax & Tourism.

2019 Christmas Bazaar

Sat, Nov 23 & Dec 7, 9-3pm, 2019

SAT, Nov 23 & Dec 7, 9-3pm, 2019

Enjoy over 65 vendors of fine arts and crafts at this year’s annual Christmas Bazaar.

Photography, jewelry, quilts, honey, pottery, handmade vinegar, chocolates, clothing, wreaths, mittens, books, paintings are just a few of the items to be featured.

The event is free to the public. Lunch will be available from local non-profits.

INFO/CONTACT: methowcommunity.org LOCATION: Methow Valley Community Center 201 South Hwy 20, Twisp

Curating the Winthrop Gallery

Winter 2019.20

Article by Susan Donahue of Winthrop Gallery

Every six weeks, the three members of Winthrop Gallery’s curatorial team: Laura Karcher, Tamera Abaté, and Teri Pieper along with Paula Christen, who arranges the front window hang a new show and refresh the gallery. Any or all of the 23 artist members of the gallery bring their new work in on the day before the curators get to work.  On “hanging day”, the curators remove all the art from the front room of the gallery and place it on the floor in the second and third rooms to be absorbed into the rest of the gallery.  Then, they arrange the new art on the floor of the front room and make their curatorial decisions. Out of this chaos, they decide what art should be hung where.  They work as a team. 

There are only a few rules.  Teri believes that the walls should not be too full or too empty.  They aim to make the gallery cohesive throughout by distributing the various mediums in specific arrangements.  The gallery displays paintings (acrylic and oil), watercolors, mixed media, photographs, hand woven baskets, wood working (both small items and hand-made furniture), blown glass, and pottery.  The curators don’t know what will sell, so they apportion the art being shown fairly among the artist-members.  They are exacting about this and count each artist’s displayed work to even it out.  Artists, on the other hand, cannot touch their works once the curators place them in the gallery.  Artists set their own prices.  If a work sells, that artist can fill in that empty space with another of his or her art works.  There is a back stock in the back room to replace sold art.  Curators can reject art, but they rarely do.      

There are a couple of tricks.  According to Teri, they use a formula for hanging that is consistent throughout the gallery and helps achieve the cohesive look they want.  They establish an eye-level center line that is 60″ from the floor, then place a singular piece so that it straddles that line equally, or if there are two paintings, each is equally on either side of the line.  Tamera points out that they won’t hang a bird or horse heading into a corner, and they wouldn’t hang a hot pink abstract photo next to a still life tomato.  In other words, they want the pieces to complement one another.  To Laura, curating the gallery is like a puzzle.  She thinks about compatible styles, colors, textures, patterns and mediums.  They all step back and consider how the rooms “flow”.  As a viewer, is it comfortable to move your eye from one area to another and from one work to another?  

Once the front room is set, they move on to the rest of the gallery.  Almost every gallery space, almost every two-dimensional work is relocated to a new spot with new neighbors so that the whole gallery feels fresh and new.  The curators each take a wall or an alcove and then, in consultation with the other curators, select from the art that has been laid out on the floor to hang in that particular space.  They attempt to present a professional art gallery space that has professional artists displaying their art.  They prefer this model to other co-op models in which each artist has a specific amount of square feet all in one location.  To these curators, this model produces a “chopped up” feel.  The curators want a well-integrated experience for the customers where transitions from one piece of art to another are pleasing.  They believe sales are better when the customers feel like they are in a professional gallery setting.  They must be right about this because the Winthrop Gallery has been a successful co-op gallery for the last twenty years.

It isn’t an easy job.  It takes the three of them working from about 8:30 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening to do all the hanging.  They do the 3-D work after lunch.  Paula comes in at noon to curate and arrange the front window.  She wants to attract attention from the street so that someone walking by will come in out of curiosity and look further. She likes to make the front window look like a scene akin to a retail scene.  She doesn’t want to have that “stark” gallery feel.  She wants to give energy and even fun and to respond to the season.  When she comes in at noon, she can pick what she wants for the window.  She is given free rein in her choices.  The art in the window needs to tie in to the theme of that show and to alert customers that new art has arrived.  She uses props: a large canvas splattered with paint as a kind of table cloth for the window’s shelf, or milk cans, corn stalks, fall leaves, wrapped packages hanging from the ceiling or lights in the winter.  She can’t block the view of the gallery from the street, but wants to give a taste of what’s inside.  The window has to look good from the front on the street and from the back once you are in the gallery.  It takes her 3 to 4 hours to do the job, including hunting in various basements and garages and the Dollar Store for props. 

All the curators like to observe the reactions of the customers to the display. They often get positive reactions from customers with smiles and soft conversations when friends view the works together. The curators observe laughs when something amuses the viewers or gasps because someone thinks something is beautiful. Often people will ask questions about technique or process.  The gallery attracts many visitors to the Valley.  Some customers are invested in the gallery and return often to see their favorite artists’ new work.  The curators want to make the gallery look as good as they can make it look.  They want to honor every artist’s work.

Poetry Out Loud

Wed, Dec 11, 6pm, 2019

Cymone Van Marter, 2019 Regional Contestant

The eighth annual Poetry Out Loud competition for Liberty Bell High School and Independent Learning Center students will be at 6 p.m, Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp. Admission is by donation.

For the past seven years, the Methow Valley has sponsored a robust Poetry Out Loud competition through a collaboration between Methow Arts, the Public School Funding Alliance, and the Methow Valley School District.

Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national memorization and recitation contest that helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Each December, local high school students compete for slots at local, regional, and state POL competitions.

Created in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud gives students an opportunity to work with recitation coaches such as Thome George and Rod Molzahn, who help students select poems from the anthology of allowed poems, provide them with structure for memorization, and coach them on performance skills such as projection, pacing, emphasis, and movement. If funding allows, the poetry coaches continue to tutor students throughout the duration of the competitions, as long as students are advancing to the next level.

Beginning with Tom Zbyszewski in 2013, five times a Liberty Bell student has won one of two top slots at the regional competition and advanced to the state event; regional winners after Zbyszewski were Liam Daily (2014), Claire Waichler (2015), Lilly Cooley (2016), Mia Stratman (2017), and Mackenzie Woodworth (2018).

The winner of the local competition will advance to the Eastern Washington Regional Poetry Out Loud contest in Spokane, and have a chance to make it to the state championship. The Washington state champion will advance to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C.

The 2017 finalists from the classroom competitions, after the Merc recitation.


DATE: Wednesday, December 11, 2019 6pm LOCATION: The Merc Playhouse, Twisp COST: By donation CONTACT: kgrayum@methow.org

Artist mini-profile: Jennifer Molesworth

Winter 2019-2020

As a child and young adult, Jennifer Molesworth was always doodling. “I loved to draw,” she says. “I was always sketching and painting. At some point I wondered if I should major in art in college.” But Molesworth’s love of the backcountry, of the streams and rivers, of wild places and her desire to work in them—all this drove her educational path, and she ended up focusing on biology, physics, and chemistry, emerging from college as a biologist.


Drawing, however, says Molesworth, “is a huge complement to science.” Molesworth found that not only did drawing and painting offer balance in her life and academics, but they also provided complementary support between her creative brain and her scientific brain. “Art helps open all these doors,” she says, “and the creative brain feeds back into the scientific brain, while science helps with perspective.”


Born in England, Molesworth immigrated to the US with her family as a 10-year-old in 1969. She was raised in New York and New Jersey, but always knew she wanted to live in a rural place, with easy access to the mountains. She found all that—and more—in the Methow Valley, where she has lived since 1992, working as a fisheries biologist with the US Forest Service from 1992-2007, and then as a biologist doing salmon habitat restoration for the Bureau of Reclamation until her retirement in early 2019, where, among other things, she championed the popular Methow Valley Kids Free Fishing Day Block Print Art residency that integrates art and biology. Read more here.

Given that Molesworth heads to the backcountry every chance she gets—hiking, backpacking, skiing—it’s no surprise that she draws her artistic inspiration from nature. “Landscapes, wildlife, birds, the sky,” she says, “they are what motivate me to paint.” Indeed, to view a collection of Molesworth’s paintings is to catch a glimpse into the Pasayten and Sawtooth Wilderness areas, into high mountain lakes, and into the wide open spaces and alpine basins that surround the Methow Valley.

Molesworth’s preferred medium is watercolors. “They’re light and portable,” she says, referring to the ultralight watercolor set she has devised for carrying into the backcountry. “I’ve got a tiny palette with a lot of colors,” she says, “and a few nice brushes. I use a piece of a political sign with layers of watercolor paper taped to it, so I can make multiple paintings on a trip.”

Molesworth and her husband, Paul Salladay, often hike deep into the backcountry and set up camp. If the weather is good, Molesworth says, “I can produce one or two paintings a day. It’s very meditative. Paul explores while I paint. I’m surrounded by endless things to paint. Not just the big things like the mountains, but also the bugs, the fish, the frogs. I love to watch how the sky changes as the weather moves through.”

The plein air approach works well for most of Molesworth’s paintings, but with animals she needs to paint at home, using photographs she took on trips into the mountains. “I dive into my studio,” she says, “and work with my photos and my memories.”

Molesworth sees her art and the art of others who paint backcountry places as an avenue for people to experience the unique value of wild and scenic places. “The critters, the undeveloped areas—these are all things we need to appreciate and protect,” she says. “We can’t take them for granted.”

Social media, Molesworth fears, is no friend to wild places. “Instagram is killing the wilderness,” she says. “These little pockets, the best kept secrets—we all used to share our favorite trip locations with each other, and a few people would take the suggestion and hike in. But now they’re being broadcast so widely, to thousands and thousands of people. They’re coming in droves. It seems like for many people, these places are just items to check off on their bucket list. ”

Molesworth appreciates how important art is to Methow Valley residents. “We are a community where art belongs,” she says. “There have been artists working here forever; they bring so much color and vibrancy to our area. It’s starting to be possible for artists to thrive here.”

“I think we need to ensure that we continue to have creative opportunities for artists, and for kids,” Molesworth adds, referring to the drama, music, and visual arts opportunities her daughter had when she grew up in the valley.

Now that she’s retired, Molesworth says, she plans to really dedicate herself to her painting. “I’ve been trying to paint weekly,” she says, “but now I’m going to do it daily.” Molesworth also intends to begin promoting her work as an artist, updating her website, getting more public with her art, participating in gallery exhibits. Molesworth loves working with watercolors, but in this next phase of her journey as an artist she is committing herself to working with oils. “I want to paint more, learn more, create more,” she says. “It’s for my own fulfillment; I’m not going after a whole new career.”

A whole new career? Certainly not! Because there are still mountain trails to explore, powder to be skied, gardens to be planted, and grandchildren to be cherished. “We are so lucky,” says Molesworth of herself and Paul, and the life they have cultivated in the Methow Valley, “we just savor every moment.”

Learn more about Jennifer Molesworth on her Methow Arts webpage.

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