Cheers to the Season of Art

Writer Sue Kern-Fleischer

Photography Courtesy of Jane Boggs

The four seasons of Arizona sometimes blend together, but there is a fifth season that starts right around now: art season. 

For the past 26 years, the award-winning Thunderbird Artists has been kicking off the arts season with its Fall Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival, a juried show featuring diverse fine art, wine tastings, microbrews, delicious food and live music. 

This year, 165 renowned artists will showcase and sell their original work from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Nov. 1–3 along Ho Hum and Easy Streets in downtown Carefree. 

A popular event for locals and tourists alike, Thunderbird Artists’ fall Carefree show was recently ranked as the No. 2 arts festival in the country, behind La Quinta Arts Festival in California. The prestigious industry accolade was included in Greg Lawler’s Art Fair SourceBook (AFSB) 2019 “Premier 100” Fine Art Events. Thunderbird Artists’ Carefree January and March shows also ranked well.

Featured Artist Uses Gourds as Her Canvas

This is the first year that Cave Creek mixed media artist Jane Boggs will exhibit her work with Thunderbird Artists. As the featured artist for the Fall Carefree Festival of Fine Art, she will exhibit a variety of gourd masks, sculptural figures and whimsical pieces.

“Jane’s bold, colorful gourd sculptures have evolved to include elaborate and stunning pieces that are mesmerizing,” said Thunderbird Artists President Denise Colter. “Although much of her work has been done in a Southwestern style, patrons to our November show will see her new, organic, multi-cultural pieces, which are magnificent!”

While always creative, Boggs didn’t pursue art as a career until later in her life.

A former United States Tennis Association (USTA) employee, she worked in Colorado for 10 years as director of the Intermountain Region Junior Competitive Division, managing six states before retiring in Newport Beach in 1993. Three years later, she and her husband, John, moved to Cave Creek where she began taking painting lessons. 

Gourd art was not in her plans until she and a friend visited a gourd farm.

“I was so enthralled with the variety of gourds, that I bought 100 with no idea of what to do with them,” Boggs said. “A visit to the gourd farm is a special type of shopping trip. There are 13 varieties of gourds, and by now, I have a good sense as to which ones will make good vessels, masks or sculptural pieces.”  

Challenging her creativity, she taught herself how to create art pieces using high-powered carvers and pyro-engravers. Over the years, she began to experiment with various embellishments, including stains, watercolors, acrylics and metallic inks. She also uses organic materials, including feathers, woven fabric, palm fronds, handmade paper and other decorative items.

“The gourds are my canvas,” she said. “I’ve learned so much in 20 years that I now teach classes.”

Her stunning gourd masks are her specialty. “Most of my masks have thousands of feathers. It’s a very labor-intensive job. Each feather has to be selected, trimmed, shaped and glued—even the tiny ones,” she said.

Her largest mask, Avatar, was inspired by James Cameron’s award-winning science fiction film. The five-foot by five-foot piece sold for $10,000. Another breathtaking piece, Mardi Gras, features thousands of ostrich and peacock feathers. Her gourd sculptures range in size and price, with some smaller pieces priced at under $100.

Recently, she began experimenting with more mixed media elements, adding natural reeds, seeds, pods, shells and fossils.

“I’m having a lot of fun with my new series of multi-cultural figurative sculptures,” Boggs said. “I start off with an open mind and never know what to expect. In fact, this is the first time I wanted to keep these sculptures in our home rather than in my studio—that’s how attached to them I have been.”

Throughout the three-day festival, patrons can take in live music and enjoy wine tastings, microbrews and a variety of festival food. The festival’s featured performer, AfterGlow, will perform contemporary jazz and funk tunes all three days in the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. Other participating musicians include Vibhas Kendzia, a master of the Indian flute.

thunderbirdartists.com

Thunderbird Artists Fall Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival 

November 1–3 | 10 a.m.–5 p.m. | Easy and Ho Hum Streets, Carefree | Admission: $3 for adults; free for children 17 and under; $10 wine tasting 

thunderbirdartists.com

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