Gourdeous Works of Art

I have long admired the work of Toni Best, a retired teacher. A couple of years ago my husband and I toured her house and studio where she does all her work. She teaches classes at home and around the country.

South Valley Artists' Studio Tour
Toni Best weaves a backdrop for one of her wood sculptures.

Active nationally Toni belongs to several national basketweaving organizations two of which include the National Basketry Organization (NBO) and the Handweavers Guild of America. She will be traveling to attend the NBO conference in July to display two pieces.

Free Form by Toni Best.

Toni Best, a Visalian, was one of the three featured gourd artists at the Exeter Art show that runs from April 14th to May 26th.

Diana Pearcy a Woodlake Artist

It’s so much fun to go to an art or an arts and crafts show and discover that people you knew in other settings are actually artists in disguise. That’s what happened this month at the Exeter Art Gallery and Museum.

gourd bowl woven with pine needles on the top.
Diana Pearcy from the Woodlake Foundation Gourd Artist next to her favorite piece.

What Do You Do with an Old Gourd?

You can poke and prod them, paint on them, oil them, coil rows of pine needles around the edges, and use your imagination to create almost anything.

Animal Totem made from gourds
Animal Totem by Diana Pearcy shows personality

Diana Pearcy grows her own gourds, her garden yielding over 3,000 gourds per season. She says they have different personalities, and we saw some of them on April 14th.

Gourd with maple leaf carved out
Maple Leaf

It’s hard to believe the same artist created these two very different pieces from gourds. This one might have been my personal favorite, although several others were close.

Female  gourd statue
Gourdeous! Spirit Shawl

Sam McKinney from Lindsay

Sam McKinney with her favorite piece
Sam McKinney with her favorite piece

Sam surprised me when we shook hands and she was not a man but a woman with amazing talent. Her time-consuming projects were vases rather than statues like Diana’s. This vase took front and center at the show. Sam’s work is almost like exotic clothing. I love the neckline and jewelry on this vase.

Free flow’s woven accessories and perfect eyelashes caught my eye.

Since I can’t even hold a pencil still for even a second, the thought of making all those little triangular marks in a perfect pattern made me swoon with envy.

This multi-sided vase is drilled and stippled, painted and carved. It would be beautiful with a digital flame inside. Sam, like Diana, also grows her own gourds.

gourd vase with beads
Cupid’s Arrow Beaded Gourd vase

At an art show at the Woodlake Airport on April 20th, my friend Jaime Beck drooled over the picture of Sam McKinney’s beadwork on this gourd. The perfect v or w pattern must have taken an enormous amount of patience to create.

When you come to the South Valley on your way to the Sequoia National Park, spend a few minutes of your weekend touring the Exeter Art Gallery and Museum. It’s open Saturday 10-4 and Sunday 12-4. They change art regularly so there is always something new to see. To enjoy more from this show check out their Facebook Group.

  • Animal Totem made from gourds
  • gourd vase with beads
  • carved gourd vase
  • gourd bowl woven with pine needles on the top.
  • Sam McKinney with her favorite piece
  • Female gourd statue
  • Gourd with maple leaf carved out

If you loved these, please press like, share the post, leave a comment or do all three. I love hearing from you. 🙂 Marsha 🙂