Welcome Back Mike Lind!

VIVA Gallery’s monthly First Thursday artist reception will be held on March 2 and the gallery will be welcoming back artist and farmer Mike Lind. He is equally gifted in both fields of endeavor, and his exhibited works beautifully combine both interests.

In this series, Mike was inspired by the old adage you are what you eat,or as he twists it what you eat is what you are.He has always been interested in the relationship between fruits and vegetables and the human body, and not just from a health standpoint. He also sees the similarities in formhow blood vessels look like the veins of a leaf, or how a head of cauliflower resembles the brain. Nature mimics itself in many different forms, and Mikes works remind us that we are all made of the same basic stuff.The works are done with Derwent “Inktense” watercolor pencils on watercolor board.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Mike attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting in 2000. After graduating, Mike traveled around Europe and found himself working on an organic vegetable farm in the mountains of southern Spain. It was there that he discovered his passion for growing vegetables, sparking a 14-year farm journey from Wales to Costa Rica to Washington State and an eventual return to Wisconsin. Mike now co-owns Driftless Organics, a 50-acre vegetable farm near Soldiers Grove, and raises grass-fed cattle on his own farm where he lives with his wife Dani.

Mikes intricate watercolor drawings, along with the diverse works of VIVA’s 18 member artists, will be featured at VIVA’s First Thursday reception on March 2 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm and will be on display throughout the month. The gallery is located at 217 South Main Street in Viroqua. For more information about this and future First Thursday events, contact the gallery at 608-637-6918 or info@vivagallery.net.

Be-Jeweled in February

A VIVA “Valentine’s Day” First Thursday
After a wonderful Holiday Artisan Market (and the artist members thank all of you who shopped artfully and locally), VIVA Gallery is getting set to mark another special day that falls in February. And since Valentine’s Day is often celebrated with rings and bracelets and necklaces, the gallery has invited two jewelers to be featured artists. The work of Jan Mrachek, Nick Smolen and Liza Paizis can be seen at VIVA’s First Thursday opening on February 2, and throughout the month of February.

Jan Mrachek, who hails from Wabasha, Minnesota, is a self-taught artist who, after 20 years of jewelry making, now teaches the art herself. Bead weaving is the medium that Jan most enjoys. She employs a number of stitches including peyote, brick, branched fringe, square stitch, and Oglala butterfly. Some of the pieces she makes incorporate more than one of these stitches to get the desired effect. She also combines bead weaving with a variety of materials including metals, pearls, stone, fiber, shell, ceramic, and glass beads to create unique pieces of jewelry. Her inspiration comes from the world around her, especially the natural world. It also comes from the shape, color, and texture of the beads themselves.

Liza Paizis is also a self-taught artist, born and raised in South Africa and now living in Mc Gregor, Iowa. For the past 26 years, she has exhibited and sold her artwork and jewelry, traveling and living in England, Scotland, South Africa and Australia. Her love for jewelry design began when she was living in Australia, where she started her own pewter jewelry line made from her original wax carvings. Her unique and exclusive jewelry pieces are her most popular creations and feature whimsical animals, nature elements and Art Nouveau inspired motifs.

Nick Smolen will feature his Mokume work.  See photos below, unique and beautiful.

Nick Smolen

Jan Mrachek

Liza Paizis