Article from the Arts Line July 2020 Newsletter

by Penny West, Publicist

Instead of canvas, they paint on gourds, those hard-shell, funny-shaped things that are dried and hollow. And since gourds come from the garden, the groups of artists who meet together are called “patches.” These are the Amador Gourd Artists, very active and extremely talented. With gourds, they carve, burn, sand, stain, paint, embellish with beads and more. Designs are made to fit each gourd’s unique shape and size, and can become sculptures, vases, bowls, masks, ornaments, birdhouses, dolls, you name it. How fun is that!

Amador Gourd Artists, a non-profit organization, was founded more than 20 years ago by the late Carol Cherry, who was the patch leader until Aaron Bullock took over around 2012. Current patch leader is Carla O’Dell assisted by Toni Linde, and Treasurer and Membership chair is Carole Meltzer. The patch currently has about 35 members of many ages, who include retired teachers, firefighters, police, business people and others. When they joined, their art backgrounds ranged from zero to advanced. But they claim many Best of Show awards at major festivals and have been featured artists in fine galleries. The California Gourd Society is its parent organization, and Amador members are also all members of the American Gourd Society. Of note, local patch member Robert Swendsen was American Gourd Society Artist of the year in 2016.

During non-pandemic times the patch would meet on second Thursdays at the Ag Center in Jackson. But currently the patch is not meeting. Some members are getting together a few at a time, social spacing and doing small projects. They would like to share some gourd art technology on their facebook page “to help keep the flame smoldering during this down time,” to quote Aaron Bullock. Normally, they’re involved in community education, promoting gourd art, and holding membership competitions. For the fourth year, they have contributed funds to the youth scholarship programs run by Amador County Arts Council and the Amador County Artists Association.

Aaron says, “I feel we need to be the future through experimenting and taking our art to constant new levels, looking for and taking the challenge of the phenomenal growth of our art.” The Amador Gourd Artists has had to cancel their popular annual Gourd Festival but they hope to hold it again Labor Day Weekend in 2021 at the Amador Flower Farm.

Dues are $12 a year. Contact Carole Meltzer at (209)743-9258.

Penny West with her family! Penny practices The Arts in everything she does!