Artisan Spotlight: Kara Schlabaugh

Kara Schlabaugh has creativity running through her veins. There was not a moment when she wasn’t surrounded by art growing up. Her dad is the owner of Schlabaugh & Sons. You may recognize these gorgeous artisan clocks (they can be found in our gallery alongside Kara’s work!) It’s only natural that Kara found her own path in the art world:

I traveled to art shows and galleries across the country which influenced me a lot as well as being in the wood shop with my dad. I always loved creating and working in different mediums. I studied graphic design in college but it wasn’t until I studied in Florence, Italy that I started painting and making fine art.”

Kara draws her inspiration from everyday objects. Her handmade wooden objects are brought to life with original Lino-cut patterns. She thanks her experience in graphic design to add simple and elegant patterns and colors to everyday objects.

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Kara was approached by Annie Temple, one of the Founding Mothers, to showcase her work in the gallery. Her love of Des Moines and immediate connection to the space of the gallery pushed her to add her talent to the lineup of artisans.

Kara is quite the humble person and knows the challenges of trying to make it in the art world:

I started establishing myself by participating as an emerging artist for two years at the Des Moines Arts Festival. It was intimidating being in a show next to all those successful artist but once I saw my work resonate with people and had customers come back the second year to buy more I knew I was doing something right.”

Kara has one piece of advice for aspiring artists: be open to change and new ideas. She is still taking this to heart as every day when she steps into her studio, she reminds herself to try new things and experiment.

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Meet the Founding Mothers of Artisan Gallery 218

The story of Artisan Gallery 218 is rooted in the story of the Founding Mothers. An audacious group of four women met serendipitously when each had dreams of creating a co-op art gallery and enriching the art scene of the Des Moines area. Through mutual friends, Craigslist run-ins and artisan connections, they all came together to bring their dreams to conception.

Who are the Founding Mothers? Let’s meet this group of women who are as unique as they are talented.

Victoria L. Herring is a lawyer by day and a photographer, well, by day and by night. She describes her art as contemplative and is drawn to doorways, arches and corridors. She has traveled the world photographing every nook and cranny literally.

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Her vision for the art gallery is to raise the level of appreciation for art and give everyone a taste of artistic diversity:

“I would like to see us be able to present a number of disciplines of art so that people can get a varied sense of what is available that is artistic. Art is a very personal thing. A person has to want to live with something. If they don’t like it, they shouldn’t buy it. “

Anne M. Temple comes from a family of artists and she continued the legacy by going to the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. Her caring manner leaves everyone with a warm sense of belonging after just a short encounter with her. She brings the same manner of care to furniture and other home goods by “repurposing things in an artful manner.”

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Anne hopes the gallery emits a welcoming, homey feeling to patrons who walk through the door. The gorgeous wood floors and original brick walls certainly emote this sentiment.

Even more important to Anne is the bond she has found with the other three Founding Mothers:

“We all have completely different personalities. Victoria and Louise, even though they are artistic people, they are the go-getters. Mary and I are the creatives. We complete each other.”

Ever since Louise Mcilhon can remember, she loved rocks. She started going to the Tucson Gem Show, the largest gem show in the world, and began making jewelry to afford her habit! For nearly 11 years she has used jewelry making to relax and rejuvenate while working as an IT Executive and to find peace in her hectic life.   Her jewelry is one-of-a-kind using natural stones, pearls, and coral in her traditional line, and incorporates vintage artifacts (rosary beads, broken vintage jewelry, and religious medals)  in her vintage line.

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Louise has a studio any artisan would be jealous of.  Large strands are hung up on the walls so she has a panoramic view of her available materials. She is inspired by the colors of the stones and the hues found in nature. When she starts a piece of jewelry, she cannot fathom how it will finish:

“I’ll grab a strand here and think ‘Oh that’s really pretty,’ and then grab another strand there. I never know what I’m going to make until it’s done. I don’t have a design. It just happens. It’s a process.  Most often, it will be vastly different from what I originally think it will look like.”

Mary Kline-Misol is a force of energy and passion and brings breath-taking paintings to the multi-faceted gallery.  Her Alice Cycle, focusing on the writing of Lewis Carroll began as her Master’s thesis nearly 20 years ago. It has hailed many accolades through the years. The remaining pieces have been brought out of storage and will be the first series of many she will display.

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Mary sees her painting as a spiritual quest. After her husband passed away, she began to take walks in the woods to calm and soothe her soul. The patterns, smells and colors of nature inspired her Turf series and pays homage to her recent journey.

Mary will be teaching a children’s art class during the first months of 2016. Her art techniques go beyond Elmer’s glue and paper plates. She strives to teach the younger generation the beauty and technique of drawing and painting.

Each of us brings a unique skill and personality to Artisan Gallery 218. Our individual stories are now intertwined to create a beautiful bond and gallery. Our hope is to spread the joy and creativity we have found through each other to fellow artisans and patrons of the gallery.