FARMINGTON — Sixteen booths displaying different types of artwork filled a large room in the Henderson Fine Arts Center at San Juan College.

Artists gathered at the Henderson Fine Arts Center for the sixth annual High Deserts Fine Arts Festival. The festival started on Friday with a reception and ran through Sunday.

This year's festival was dedicated to Connie Gotsch, a local artist and author who died of cancer in July 2012.

Tim Gordon, an acrylic painter and one of the show's coordinators, said Gotsch really loved photography and writing. She worked with film, but wanted to switch to digital. Gordon said shortly before she died he gave her a digital camera so she could experiment and learn how to take digital pictures. However, Gordon said she never got much of a chance to use it.

"I didn't know how sick she was," Gordon said.

Before her death, Gotsch frequented the High Deserts Fine Arts Festival and often displayed her photos. She was also known for books she wrote. Her final books were a children's story about dogs called "Belle's Challenge" and a mystery about an art theft entitled "Art Effects."

Gordon's acrylic works were displayed. He said he used to do oil paintings but he switched to acrylic because he likes to work fast and acrylic dries faster than oil.

The festival also featured young artists with Blended Zine, a teen art magazine. Norma Chacon is the editor for Blended Zine.


She said the magazine receives submissions which they place in a powerpoint and rate on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. The best images are then chosen to be in the magazine.

Jackson Doom, 15, had his zombie artwork displayed with Blended Zine.

"I just like to sketch around. What comes to mind is what I do," he said.

Lou Mancel, a metal artist, brought her artwork to the festival for the third year. A series of metal crosses hung behind her. She said she likes to work with crosses because they provide a nice frame for Celtic-style patterns. She said she looks at the cross like each branch represents one of the seasons.

"People can interpret them any way they want," Mancel said.

Another artist who was returning for his third year at the festival was Shirlen Heath. Heath makes wooden bowls with turquoise inlays. He said he crushes up turquoise to put in the cracks and crevices as he makes the bowls. In addition to turquoise, Heath also uses copper and gold.

Peter Kewitt had his gourds displayed. He said the gourds aren't actually painted. He uses something called gilders paste, which he says is like shoe polish. The paste gives vibrant colors to the gourds. Kewitt said the gilders paste enables the gourds maintain the look for fifty years.

One of the popular unique pieces at the festival was designed by Karen Ellsbury, an abstract painter. This piece featured a tee-shirt fitting frame painted bright pink and stuck on a canvas so that it protruded. She said she plans to create a series of at least a dozen similar pieces that will show the various facets of women.

Ellsbury said eventually she would like to move to using 3D models of real women rather than a tee-shirt fitting frame. She said she doesn't want to propagate the idea that women have to be thin like the fitting frame in order to be beautiful.

Sue Johnson and Betty Reed shared a booth to display their fiber art, jewelry and some of Johnson's ceramics.

The ceramics in Johnson's display looked like tiny houses. She said she uses raku glaze to color them because raku glaze doesn't require high firing temperatures.

Johnson said she creates the designs on the miniature houses by using carved wooden tjaps. She said tjaps are used in India and Africa to stamp batik designs onto fabrics.

Reed had small fabric bowls she'd made displayed next to the miniature houses. She said the fabric itself is an art. When she goes to fabric stores, Reed said the fabrics seem to call to her.

In addition to showing off their work, the festival provided artists the opportunity to interact with each other. Johnson and Mancel met up and traded pieces of art. Johnson received a couple of bracelets and a ring in exchange for one of her fiber art wall hangings. Mancel said one of the reasons she attended the festival was that the artists are good, friendly people.

Hannah Grover may be reached at; 564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover