Welcome to Seven Roads Gallery Inc.

This is a companion blog to sevenroadsgallery.com , an online gallery of fine art, folk art and more. Here you'll find detailed information about the provenance, creation and/or description of artwork found at our gallery. Seven Roads Gallery Inc. was founded in 1988, incorporated in 1992 and is celebrating it's 22nd year in the retail business of art, crafts, rawhide drums, folk art, Native American Art, furniture, glass beads-from unique to bizarre and ALWAYS with a sense of humor. A quick link to the web page of Seven Roads Gallery appears at the bottom of this blog. You can always get more detailed information in the contact us tab of the web site. Thanks for your interest.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

San Francisco Xavier

A version of the Virgin Mary

In Hispanic Catholic tradition a bulto is a carved statue of a saint as opposed to an image of a saint or santo painted on a flat board (retablo).  The bulto shown above is carved in cottonwood root and sealed with a coating Plaster of Paris with a final coat of latex paint.  Traditionally, in creating a santo, gypsum was mixed with hand made rabbit hide glue and brushed over cottonwood to fill in imperfections in the wood.  After several coats and a vigorus sanding with a coarse material, usually a rock, the santo was painted with hand made pigments of natural materials.

San Francisco Xavier
Saint Francis Xavier was a student at the University of Paris and  "one of the first companions" 1  of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the founding of the Jesuits.This bulto is carved of cottonwood root from the Verde River in Arizona and sealed with plaster such as the Virgin Mary above.  The final coat is latex paint. It is a faithful reproduction of a similar bulto by the artist's teacher, Howard Shupe, whose restrained comment on the  copy was "you did good."   

St, Francis Xavier by Howard Shupe
The St.Francis Xavier reproduction will be offered for sale on the Seven Roads Gallery Website under the category folk art.

1.Santos and Saints by Thomas J. Steele S.J.   Ancient City Press, 1994

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Counting Crows

The final image of the most recent Linda L. Miller Crow Retablo as it appears on her website http;www.lindamillerart.com.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Folk Art Crow

The primary difference between this Folk Art Crow retablo and the previous post is the frame color. The photograph is basic quality. Pressed for time, the shot is a quick one. The flash causes problems I expect and prefer to avoid. Upon further examination, I found the flash brings out the rustic texture of the wood. It reminds me of traveling I-17 in Arizona on trips up the mountains to Flagstaff. Often, I'd see a distant curtain of rain. Rainbows are a real treat. At sunset the razor thin line of orange at the horizon is indescribable.

The crow above the retablo is the first in a series I crafted. What started out as a symbolic tribute to my late adopted Menominee Indian mother turned into a fetish. First came the Uncommon Crow, followed by Crow Magnum, Bite Size Crows, Albino Crow and an assortment of other geeky birds such as the Green Bay Quacker and Old Coot.

The retablo will be offered for sale at the annual Amish quilt auction and sale to benefit the local Amish school near Readstown, WI. If you'd like more info about the auction, e-mail me via contact us at the website. There's a variety of interesting items up for sale on the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend .

Most of the crows listed on the website have been put to work on fence posts or in the garden. A few Uncommon Crows and Bite Size Crows are stored away. Unfortunately, all the Crow Magnums were washed away in a June flood in 2008. Some diligent work by a neighbor retrieved all the escaped crows, however, they are too rustic for sale.

After a discussion with the artist, she promises to complete several more simple retablos with the farm animal focus. Individual portraits of chickens, pigs and more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Folk Art Crows

For the most part, this is the finished product begun several weeks ago. A bit of work on the letters and finding the right color for the frame are the final steps. Artist Linda Miller worked some clever details into this depiction of a classic children's rhyme.

The two crows in the foreground might lead one to think they foretell mirth, however, in reality there are three additional crows off in the distance. If you believe, as we do, that the first glance of crows in the morning portends the course of your day, then five crows tell of riches or wealth. The Chinese believe a merchant's first customer is an indicator of the course of business for that day. For example, a happy customer who makes a large purchase will give the merchant faith that the remainder of the day will be a fruitful one.

Often, when traveling gravel back roads across ridgetops on my way to purchase organic eggs or raw milk from one of the many Amish farmers in the area, I'll slow my car to count crows in a corn field.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Folk Art Retablo

We're excited about a new piece, because it includes old materials with modern techniques to create an antique look and feeling painting. Retablo is a Hispanic word which simply translates to flat board.

Approximately ten years ago, we operated a trading post in Flagstaff, AZ called Wolf and Swan Company. It was the same company as Seven Roads Gallery but under Arizona laws of incorporation we were required to register as a foreign corporation with offices in Wisconsin. We gave it a name different from the parent corporation. In Arizona there are many Hispanic and Native American influences. We developed a close association with a well known Santero (man who depicts santos or saint) and an interest in Hispanic Catholic art forms. .

The two most popular forms Hispanic Catholic art depicting saints are bultos and retablos. The former are carved images in cottonwood root or similar material. The latter are painted images on boards.

The process of creating a retablo in the traditional method is time consuming. Our santero used a combination of old fashioned and modern methods and materials. He'd start with a pine log and create a number of pine shakes with a froe. Curious about his accuracy, I measured rough pine slabs he created and gifted me. They were all within an eighth of an inch from a standard 3/4ths inch thick board. The rough pine board was sanded until only minor surface imperfections remained. Then, he'd fill in the imperfections with a mixture of water soluble glue and Plaster of Paris. A santero in earlier times mined his own gypsum and mixed it with homemade rabbit hide glue. Sanding before sandpaper meant sandstone or a similar rough stone. After the basics, a santero working in the late 1800's would mix natural pigments from a variety of local sources. Our santero used small jars of acrylic water soluble paint.

From experience, artist Linda Miller has perfected techniques in painting images on wood. Her latest will be a series of folk art animals in retablo format. She also uses modern materials and time tested techniques to create her folk art. The next few articles will document the process. The picture shows the beginning of a painting on board retablo. Three weathered pine boards from a fence at least a half century old are attached to a wood backing. The boards have a wealth of character from years of outside wear in all seasons of Wisconsin weather. A simple frame surrounds the retablo and a thin coat of gesso is applied over the weathered boards. Then a thin coat of amber shellac is applied to bring out the rustic nature of the wood.

Check with us soon to follow the progress of these retablos.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Antique Cupboard

To paraphrase the forward of a favorite book, "This cupboard took two years. It's not like I wasn't trying." The above picture is the inspiration for the cupboard below.
Truly an antique, the lumber for the shelves came from an old pine fence, the doors even older. Cut from the door of the girls bathroom of a one room Wisconsin schoolhouse, the cabinet/cupboard doors are completed with white porcelain knobs.

This piece is currently in a private collection and will not be duplicated, if the four color finish could ever be matched. For more furniture examples please go to www.sevenroadsgallery.com

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hopi Kachinas

(click on image for a larger view)
Hopi Kachinas by Gene Dalas ca. 20000

In the time we operated a trading post in old town Flagstaff, we had wonderful opportunities to look at and purchase handmade Hopi cottonwood root kachinas. A friendship with one carver who lived near Tuba City, AZ gave us access to a wide variety of his work. His 11 letter Hopi last name was shortened to Dalas in our meetings and conversations, however, he always signed each art work with his full name, Gene Dalasvuyouma

In the above shot, one can see the sacred clown kachina off to the left in the background. The clown smiles broadly raising both arms appearing to display the "peace" symbol with it's fingers. In the immediate foreground, Kyash (parrot) stands to the left of Tocha (hummingbird) and Tsil (chili) kachinas. Nine, eight and eight inches high respectively, each kachina is a combination of traditional colors and natural wood. Both Kyash and Tocha hold a rattle in the left hand. Tsil holds carved chili peppers in both hands.

In the late afternoon sun on a bookshelf in my office, the carvings bring me pleasant memories. My home at the time was in Sedona. Between home and Tuba City was a considerable distance. I'd get a phone call from Gene asking if I was interested in a new work. We'd agree to meet halfway at the lookout pull-off at the top of the switchback of Oak Creek Canyon. One such meeting took place after dark. I wait in the parking area for his car to pull up. When he finally arrived, we greet each other in eerie pitch black darkness. Gene comments about the nature of our meeting suggesting a better time and place. Until he mentioned it, it never occurred to me that to an onlooker, two men standing in the dark in the tall Ponderosa pines looking into the open trunk of a car suggested something other than a purchase of a hand carved Hopi kachina.