Arts & Culture

Three artists, one colorful show at Fiber Studio

This month’s Final Friday at the Fiber Studio will feature three accomplished artists who work in nontraditional mediums including fiber, glass and metal.

Marilyn Grisham, the studio’s owner, creates landscapes from applique and thread. Her loft-style studio is located just off the railroad tracks on Commerce Street. The tall ceilings, bright white walls, large industrial windows and shiny gray floors make an interesting backdrop for the work she exhibits.

More than 20 pedestals will display the vases, bowls and sculptures of glassblower Scott Garrelts. The eclectic works of artist Robert J. Schmidt will hang on the walls alongside Grisham’s intricate threadworks.

Grisham opened the studio 12 years ago and is particular as to whose work she shows. After leaving El Dorado, she received her bachelor’s degree from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas, where she worked in ceramics and tapestry. But eventually Grisham switched to threadwork.

“It just developed,” Grisham said. “I use free-motion sewing with added structure and embellishment.”

Her pieces reflect nature and her surroundings – wheat fields, lakes and flowers. However, some of her works are abstract. Grisham’s studio contains hundreds of industrial-size spools of thread. Each color has a variant shade. Lilac shares the shelf with lavender, violet and periwinkle, while a hunter green spool sits beside a forest green one.

These tonal variations help to make her designs pop.

“There’re so many little things that can go astray with each piece,” Grisham said. “I spend so much time looking at it and changing it.”

The same could be true with her other exhibitors. Garrelts toils beside a 2,200-degree Fahrenheit furnace to develop his bottles and bowls. His pieces come in all colors and shapes – most of them use cane work, which creates small intricate lines. Garrelts is always pushing toward perfection and, like Grisham, continually experimenting with his color palette.

Garrelts graduated from Heights High School and then went to Wichita State University. He was trained in ceramics before he was introduced to glassblowing.

When he is forming the objects and utilizing high temperatures, he said, many emotions go through his head.

“When it is going really well, I feel happy,” Garrelts said. “I love working with glass. I love beautiful things.”

For more than six years Garrelts has blown glass at Karg Art Glass Gallery in Kechi. In addition to Wichita, his art pieces have been shown in Colorado and Oklahoma.

Schmidt, like Garrelts, was brought up in Wichita. But after graduating from Southeast High School, he headed to Kansas State University, then California and finally Texas before landing back in the Air Capital. Schmidt trained as a graphic artist; his passion was always for strong design.

By using found objects from antique marts, warehouses and manufacturing plants, Schmidt is able to create multicolored and multidimensional works.

“A lot of my stuff is real clean, real graphic, abstract,” Schmidt said. “They’re three-dimensional. Every piece is unique and totally original.”

Schmidt takes Depression glass, brass, copper and molding and creates stylish pieces.

“I’ve been a copper fiend all my life,” Schmidt said. “I intertwine all my pieces.”

Most of Schmidt’s hanging works are 8 x 10 or 10 x 12. But because of Grisham’s gentle prodding, Schmidt began to work larger and experiment even more.

“She told me to go to a larger format and be more artistic,” Schmidt said, commending Grisham for helping him to grow. “She really got me going.”

Schmidt discovered that aluminum, black glass and mirror were light enough to work within a larger piece. One of his featured works in this show is 26 x 26.

Many of Schmidt’s works hang in galleries around town.

“His pieces are well-executed,” Grisham said. “He uses very good craftsmanship in putting these pieces together – which is not easy.”

Grisham also commended Garrelts’ eye for the dramatic and said he is a talented up-and-coming artist. She said that all three artists’ works displayed in this exhibit complement each other.

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