Three years in the making, artists 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 alike. “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.
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 states. In addition to paper sculpture, the exhibition also features several impressive large format charcoal pieces. She adds, “I am a visualartist 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 wa ter’sflow and how it affected the landscape inspired a whole new creative perspective.”
From his home in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, 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, PA. Living near the Allegheny River 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 6th Avenue and Market Street in downtown Warren, PA. Exhibition hours, after the opening, are Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 6, and Sundays from 12 to 4. Admission is always free. More information on this and upcoming exhibitions can be found at craryartgallery.com .
Crary Art Gallery was established in 1977 as a nonprofit art museum by painter Genevieve Walker Crary  in memory of her husband, the industrialist, philanthropist, and accomplished photographer Clare Crary . Today, the Crary Art Gallery is dedicated to enriching the region’s cultural offerings through noteworthy temporary exhibitions, and the display of historical works. https://www.craryartgallery.org