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Gourds, Baskets Grace Museum Gallery

Show currently at Stevenson museum

The art gallery at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum in Stevenson is once again full of colorful and beautiful vessels made from hand decorated gourds and woven baskets.

Chris Warren and Leslee Burtt are the artists whose creativity have become very popular with museum visitors. Their 25 years of experience with natural materials is quite evident.

The two have shown in several galleries in the Western United States, participated in many art shows and have been published in the recent book, "500 Baskets," by Lark Press.

Warren began weaving in 1987 and truly enjoys this oldest art form.

"No machines have been invented to replace this process," she says. Her focus is on using materials from the Northwest, such as the root and bark of the cedar and wild cherry, kelp, driftwood and other plant materials such as day lilies and crocus.

Burtt also enjoys weaving and says she is very fortunate to be able combine art with her love of the outdoors. As with Warren, she gathers all her own materials to create stylized baskets in many forms. The main focus of her baskets is the naturally shed antlers from moose, deer, elk and caribou. The antlers and other natural material are a great combination. Both artists gather the material by permit from areas scheduled for thinning or harvesting.

The gourds give Warren and Burtt an opportunity to work together as a team and try out new ideas and materials. The gourds take a year to cure after harvesting. While drying, the gourds develop a natural mold which produces beautiful colors and textures. The inside of the gourds are scraped, and dye and paint are applied to the outside. Wood burning techniques are used before embellishing with date stems, philodendron sheaths, pine needles, raffia, stone and semi-precious beads. Although the gourds are vessels created by nature, these artists make them into containers that are works of art.

Don't miss the opportunity to view and enjoy this new exhibit. And you just might find one you can't go home without. A portion of each sale benefits the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum and its programs.

The show is open now through June 30.

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