Outdoor & SnowSports Industry Artists

People in these industries who create art – but not as a living

This is part of a series about artists within the Outdoor and SnowSports industries who create art outside of their day jobs.

A WWII-era Argus C-3 Rangefinder camera was a gift to Geoff O’Keeffe from his mother when he was a kid. “I shot rolls and rolls of very bad pictures and used my paper route money to have them developed”, he says. 

More recently, the VP of Global Sourcing for American Recreation Products uses a digital camera to create his images. “Digital has helped me settle down and look. Looking is most of it. Being able to make hundreds of images you can then delete is also great training.”
O’Keeffe’s photographs eloquently capture both East and West. Whether it’s a nature shot or a picture of a human face, one is transported to its composed essence. This melding of cultures is not a surprise since Geoff has lived in Asia and now works there for three months out of the year. His family roots are in the Rockies where he now lives. He’s a student of Zen. He speaks mandarin Chinese. When asked about his artistic process Geoff says that for him, “the best approach is none at all save for silence; empty mind, open eyes.” Zen teacher John Daido Loori’s photographs have inspired his work.
Besides being a photographer, Geoff is also an accomplished woodworker, guitar player and writer. One gets the impression while talking to him that he will never run out of ideas or things to keep him busy.
Being an outdoors person led Geoff, like so many in his footsteps, into the Outdoor Industry. “I began going to the Cascades with “Dharma Bums” in my pack in the 1960′s. I started working in the outdoor business in 1976 and have done a wide variety of things.” Last summer he wrote an essay about his love for the Outdoor Industry titled “You Are My Tribe”. As the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show approaches I feel this is an appropriate excerpt:
“We’ve been together, in some cases, for over thirty years. We grew up (and out) together, seen each other in the all too rare flashes of brilliance and during those occasional moments of notoriety. Like a tribe, we have a strong level of trust and familiarity with one another, seen each other weak and strong, wise and foolish, successful and groveling in failure.”

A WWII-era Argus C-3 Rangefinder camera was a gift to Geoff O’Keeffe from his mother when he was a kid. “I shot rolls and rolls of very bad pictures and used my paper route money to have them developed”, he says. 



More recently, the VP of Global Sourcing for American Recreation Products uses a digital camera to create his images. “Digital has helped me settle down and look. Looking is most of it. Being able to make hundreds of images you can then delete is also great training.”

O’Keeffe’s photographs eloquently capture both East and West. Whether it’s a nature shot or a picture of a human face, one feels the essence of place. This melding of cultures is integral to who Geoff is, and where his interests lie. He works in Asia for three months out of the year. His family roots are in the Rockies and stretch back for generations. He calls Colorado home. He’s a student of Zen. He’s learning to speak mandarin Chinese.

When asked about his artistic process Geoff says that for him, “the best approach is none at all save for silence; empty mind, open eyes.” Zen teacher John Daido Loori’s photographs have inspired his work.

Like so many who’ve followed  in his footsteps, being an outdoors person led Geoff into the Outdoor Industry. “I began going to the Cascades with “Dharma Bums” in my pack in the 1960′s. I started working in the outdoor business in 1976 and have done a variety of things.”

Besides being a photographer, Geoff is also an accomplished woodworker, guitar player and writer. One gets the impression while talking with him that he will never run out of ideas or things to keep him busy.

Geoff’s extended dream vacation is to drive around the west for a year in a Synchro Vanagon with guitars, camera, laptop, books, a Winchester Model 94 30-30 (I forgot to ask that that is for!) and cases of Bordeaux. He’d then move on and spend a year living between Beijing and Shanghai studying Mandarin and Chinese history and culture. He’d then spend a few months in New Orleans, and then Galway. He’d love to live in New York City for six months and would like to visit India and Nepal and Tibet soon. I can’t wait to see the slide show!

1. Lingyin Si, Hangzhou, China April 2009 for print

4th century Lingyin Si Buddhist temple in Hangzhou, China

2. Longs-Farm-Truck-Edited-Low

This photograph was taken at an iris farm in Boulder, CO.

3. Red-leaf-New-York-Low-Res

Red Leaf. Worcester, New York.

4. Chinese-soldier-Nanputuo-Si

Chinese Soldier. Hangzhou, China

5. Poppy-field-1-edited

The poppy’s were taken outside Geoff’s house in Colorado.

6. China-April-2009-082Low-Res

Woman Offering Incense – Lingyin Si Buddhist temple in Hangzhou, China

To see more artist profiles click here.

I will be blogging about more artists within the Outdoor & SnowSports industries in the upcoming weeks. The criteria is that they work within these industries, and that they don’t make art as part of their full-time job. If you are an artist or know someone who is, please drop me a line.

“Like” Poppy Gall Design facebook page to see what sorts of projects we’re working on and to become an interactive part of the studio.

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This is part of a series about artists within the Outdoor and SnowSports industries who create art outside of their day jobs.

Margaret McLennand considers herself a self-taught artist, though at Penn State she studied graphic arts and painting before settling on a major in art history.  Like so many art majors, her daily work does not involve making art, though she says that she and her family “live artistically every day.”

McLennand has a busy life between taking care of her family, her garden and her job as Assistant Product Developer at Eastern Mountain Sports in Peterborough, N.H. When she has time to paint, she says that she “mostly explores the paint.  I love to get lost in what I am doing. The hours go by without a thought.” She works in both acrylics and watercolors and keeps track of her ideas in a sketch journal.

While working on the road in the mid-90’s as a sales rep, Margaret frequented old diners and became fascinated with salt & pepper and sugar shakers and began painting and sketching them.

In 1997 Margaret and her family took their first trip to Hawaii. She fell in love with the islands and has visited many times since. Hawaiian and vintage fabric and bamboo influences are seen in her paintings.

“The history of art fascinates me as you can get ahead of new ideas by looking to the past.  Don’t wallow in the past, let it inspire and invigorate your mind,” says McLennand.

S&P

sugar

bamboo

flowers

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To see more artist profiles click here.

I will be blogging about more artists within the Outdoor & SnowSports industries in the upcoming weeks. The criteria is that they work within these industries, and that they don’t make art as part of their full-time job. If you are an artist or know someone who is, please drop me a line.

“Like” Poppy Gall Design facebook page to see what sorts of projects we’re working on and to become an interactive part of the studio.

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This is 2nd in a series about artists within the Outdoor and SnowSports industries who create art outside of their day jobs.
Leslie Howa has as much energy as a hummingbird; she never seems to sit still. She’s an experienced apparel technical designer, a dedicated Nordic skier and trail runner and an accomplished artist. According to Howa, the three disciplines are all synergistically related, “I could not design technical apparel without my knowledge and commitment to sports.” A Fine Arts degree from San Francisco University doesn’t hurt either.
Howa has dedicated twenty-five years to the Outdoor Industry. After founding and selling American Hardwear (which was re-named Mountain Hardwear) Howa continued to put her stamp on the brand with her technical designs. From there her client list has evolved to include brands such as Adidas, The North Face and Patagonia.
Finding time to be creative at work and to create art “after hours” is not a problem for Leslie. Many of her ideas come while she’s skiing or running. “The truth of breathing really hard, brings a tremendous amount of creative energy to the brain,” she says.
Recently Howa has put her sewing skills toward creating creatures rather than garments. She’s not quite sure where these little muslin beasties sprung from, but she feels there are more on the way.

This is 2nd in a series about artists within the Outdoor and SnowSports industries who create art outside of their day jobs.

Leslie Howa has as much energy as a hummingbird; she never seems to sit still. She’s an experienced apparel technical designer, a dedicated Nordic skier and trail runner and an accomplished artist. According to Howa, the three disciplines are all synergistically related, “I could not design technical apparel without my knowledge and commitment to sports.” A Fine Arts degree from San Francisco University doesn’t hurt either.

Howa has dedicated twenty-five years to the Outdoor Industry. After founding and selling American Hardwear (which was re-named Mountain Hardwear) Howa continued to put her stamp on the brand with her technical designs. From there her client list has evolved to include brands such as Adidas, The North Face and Patagonia.

Finding time to be creative at work and to create art “after hours” is not a problem for Leslie. Many of her ideas come while she’s skiing or running. “The truth of breathing really hard, brings a tremendous amount of creative energy to the brain,” she says.

Recently Howa has put her sewing skills toward creating creatures rather than garments. She’s not quite sure where these little muslin beasties sprung from, but she feels there are more on the way.

Catafly3

Catafly is a morphing caterpillar sprouting maple leaves for wings. 20”

madball2

MadBall – Howa’s “anger management mentor” 7”x7”

frogdog1

FrogDog – Half frog, half dog 12”

Roxy22

Roxie – Homage to healing from a vicious pit bull attack

When asked where the inspiration for her work comes from, Howa replied, “I always consider, and become inspired by materials. I then pursue transforming these materials outside their intended use.”

Leslie has done just that in BumBulldog, an amusing life sized sculpture she created for the Dogs of Bark City Fund Raiser benefitting Mountain Trails Foundation, Friends of Animals Rehab Ranch, and Center of Performing Arts Foundation in her hometown of Park City, Utah. BumBulldog garnered $4,500.00 for the Foundations.

debut1

BumBulldog – Mixed media stainless steel fiberglass, automotive chrome paint

Howa recently completed another piece of sculpture, BurdYurt that took 1st place at ‘For the Birds’ a juried fundraiser for Ogden Nature Center.

burdurt

BurdYurt – Recycled copper, aluminum, duct materials

New works are evolving in Howa’s studio – she’s currently working on a pierced steel weather vane and a 10’ by 30’ mixed metal ‘quilt’. And with a softer touch she’s been working on draping garments for her own personal exploration and wardrobe.

Let’s hear it for the natural dopamine provided by exercise that boosts Leslie’s creatively and inspires her to create her fanciful and eclectic art!

***

I will be blogging about more “closet” artists within the Outdoor & SnowSports industries in the upcoming weeks. I think it will be a fun way to learn about the people that we do business with. The criteria is that they work within these industries, and that they don’t make art as part of their full-time job. If you are an artist or know someone who is, please drop me a line.

“Like” Poppy Gall Design facebook page to see what sorts of projects we’re working on and to become an interactive part of the studio.

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Most people know Julie Powell as the designer who creates sumptuous sweaters from colorful yarns as Director of Design & Merchandising for Boulder-based, Icelandic Design. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that she’s fascinated by woven, knitted and embroidered textiles. From there it’s not such a leap, that in her “free” time, she designs and creates intricate and sophisticated beaded jewelry.

Threading individual glass seed beads, one at a time, onto a fine metal braided thread Julie fabricates cuffs, necklaces and bags. The surfaces and finishes of the beads, along with the myriad range of colors inspire her. “I am moved by color. It causes my heart to beat and my thoughts to race. While considering form, color is always my launching pad”, she says.

How does she manage to fit making time consuming jewelry into her busy schedule, which includes a full-time job designing between 75 and 100 sweaters a year and raising two boys with the help of her husband? “I just do. Beading is my passion.” While traveling to visit sweater factories in Asia and Europe, Julie pulls out her beads and starts working on a new piece; the discomfort of the long flight forgotten.

Of her work Julie says, “each piece is an engineering challenge and a puzzle, sparking ideas for new pieces with every stitch. I’m always thirsty to create another.” This is a good thing, as her one-of-a-kind beaded baubles are selling like mad at art and craft shows and by special order. Visit her website for a listing of galleries and shows, and to see more of her dazzling creations.

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2-Picture 7

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6-Picture 8

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I will be blogging about more “closet” artists within the Outdoor & SnowSports industries in the upcoming weeks. The criteria is that they work within these industries, and that they don’t make art as part of their full-time job. If you are an artist or have suggestions please pass them along.

“Like” my Poppy Gall Design facebook page to see what sorts of projects we’re working on and to become an interactive part of the studio. Tell your friends too! Or share this post with others by clicking the “share this post” button below.

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So much of the inspiration for my work, and art, flows from being active in the outdoors. I see amazing shapes and colors and scenery in the natural world. I problem solve and dream when I hike or ski or bike. I first think of myself as a designer (of goods, apparel, textiles), and secondly as an artist (textile, printmaking, collage etc.). The distinction being that I “design” for a living, and that I make art for my own pleasure. I never seem to have “enough” time for making art – work gets in the way – yet it is a very important aspect of who I am.

Lately I’ve been wondering how many other people in the Outdoor and SnowSports industries are part-time artists; artists who have non-art-making day jobs? Are there financial analysts or inventory controllers out there who paint? Pack designers or sales reps that are sculptors? Technical engineers who are photographers? Customer service reps who build furniture? Guides who are potters? I thought it would be interesting to search them out and see if there is a correlation between their art and the outdoors. I’m curious to see what they create after quitting time. By asking around I’ve been delighted by the responses and introductions I’ve received.

Starting today I will be profiling interesting and creative artists on a (hopefully) weekly schedule. If you are an artist within these industries, or know someone who is, please drop me a line. I think it will be a fun way to learn about the people that we do business with. How about having an art show at the next Outdoor Retailer or SnowSports trade shows to highlight these artists?

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copyrightPoppyGall2010

5″ x 6″ monoprint

To see more of my artwork click here.

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