Kindred crafts

Molly Gardner, Linda McKee-Douchane and Cherlyn Bennett prove to be kindred spirits in art as well as in life

“The Tune of My Soul” by Cheryln Bennett.

“The Tune of My Soul” by Cheryln Bennett.

Molly Gardner, Linda McKee-Douchane and Cherlyn Bennett are close friends and prolific craftswomen. Gardner and McKee-Douchane even collaborate on projects, making hybrid vessels, with stone bottoms made by McKee-Douchane and “basket” tops woven by Gardner. The two have been showing their work together for several years. This year, they wanted Bennett in the show as well.The exhibit, Three Kindred Spirits, on display now at Silver State Gallery, is mostly a show of craft—McKee-Douchane’s pots, Gardner’s flawlessly woven baskets and Cherlyn Bennett’s gourds—but Bennett also showcases her talent for making unique paining/collage works featuring Kokopelli figures. Most of the figures are painted onto foam core board and pasted onto a background of handmade rice paper. Some of the foam core boards are covered with textured paper and made to look like stone. The Kokopelli figures painted onto the paper look like petroglyphs.

The most dynamic of these works is “The Tune of My Soul.” It features a landscape made from paper and twigs; textured paper is shaped into a hillside and tiny brown “trees” made from twigs dot the hills. Ridged cardboard serves as a fence. A huge pale yellow sun dominates the horizon as Kokopelli figures, their bodies dark and shadowed against the sun, march up and down the hills, ecstatically playing their flutes. The player in front has reached the top of a hill and leans back in triumph, aiming his flute toward the giant sun.

The craft items aren’t quite as eye-catching, but McKee-Douchane’s pots, Gardner’s baskets and Bennett’s gourds are all beautifully and intricately made. McKee-Douchane, for instance, makes “meditation prayer bowls” with leather-and-bead trim and Gardner and McKee-Douchane’s joint basket-pot efforts are called “prayer vessels.” The vessels come with small scrolls inside “to write down prayers and special wishes,” the instructions say.

These works of art and craft blend seamlessly with Silver State’s rosy, inviting décor. It’s the sort of show where craft lovers can wander, run their fingers over the rough pottery or the brightly painted gourds, and take in works by the gallery’s tenured artists, from Ray Valdez’ Native American art to owner Gene Speck’s luminescent Nevada landscapes.