The opening reception for Erika Wolfe and Connie Stephens will be Saturday, Aug. 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. and coincides with Hannibal’s Second Saturday Gallery Night.

Erika Wolfe

When we think “art,” we usually consider location: where will I hang it; what table will I place it on—the exception being handcrafted jewelry. We wear what we love. It goes with us, with great joy and pleasure. 

The 2nd Saturday Alliance Art Gallery’s guest artist, Erika Wolfe is bringing what she calls her “Bucket List and Signature Pieces,” along with a selection of earrings, for this extremely special exhibit at the Gallery, with an August 12th opening reception.

“I draw everything from scratch.  The pieces I am exhibiting come from my bucket list—stones I’ve had for a long time or ones requiring a fairly complicated design. I am 81. I have been doing this for a long time. Some pieces are very exacting and time consuming.

The bucket list stones she talks about range from topaz to a rare silver-and-quartz gem she has owned for over 25 years. Erika Wolfe explains, “These pieces express my personal reflection well. They go to my principals. I stress the geometric because I believe it to be a visual force that is easily understood—a kind of universal law that expresses an absolute dimension.” She adds, “My pieces set up a field of tension in which various forces play and interact.”

With a masters degree in silversmithing from California State University, she

taught high school students until early retirement in 1996. Leaving California for Keokuk brought her closer to her growing family, and gave her the opportunity to begin delving into her “mind sketches”—envisioned works melding stone into silver settings. She does no lost wax casting, preferring to fabricate her pieces exclusively from silver sheet and wire stock. For her, the emphasis is on texture and geometry, using roller printing, fusing, and other techniques.

She achieves an incredible balance between stone and setting, neither one dominating, each perfectly balanced against the other. The resulting beauty becomes art one can wear, with sheer delight.

And her plans for the future?

“This exhibit may be my one last big hurrah! But I’ll keep on working.

“It is God’s gift.”

Connie Stephens

Like many photographer, Alliance’s featured member artist Connie snapped pictures of family and vacation, using simple point-and-shoot cameras. Then came the grandchildren and she wanted perfect unique photographic remembrances of them. That, for her, opened the door into the world of photography and after that a camera rarely left her hand.

“My husband and I loved to travel all the time: Niagara Falls, Bar Harbor, Glacier National Park, and of course, many trips to Branson.”

Today she uses the sophisticated DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that shoots both a “live” and “digital” image. This can open a pandora’s box of fun for the photographer. “I can take a picture, for example, of a buffalo that is almost entirely black, and pull something spectacular from it.”

Just back from a road trip to the Southwest, she admits that New Mexico, for her, is a “land of enchantment,” filled with “so much color—sunsets, red rocks, blue skies, all the shades of green.”  On this trip, she particularly noticed the abundance of paintings on the sides of buildings, viaducts, columns, even barrier poles in Santa Fe.

Using several software products, she works with each recorded image to express her remembered feeling of the scene. Often it is even more vibrant, more alive, than the photo could capture that day. For her, photography connects us in an almost spiritual way to nature. It allows us to experience gratitude for the abundance, the beauty, the wonder of our world.

The opening reception for Wolfe and Stephens will be Saturday, Aug. 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. and coincides with Hannibal’s Second Saturday Gallery Night.