Get ready for my first couple interview! Deborah Wright and Deane Arnold‘s artistic endeavors run the gamut from soap making to fine arts and pumpkin carving (not your average get out the carving kit kinda carving, believe me!) I hope this is not the last couple I will feature but I’m glad they’ve agreed to be my first.
I love artisan soaps and have bought from many soap artists over the years so was pleased to have met Deborah Wright of Genoa last year. Initially, I found out about Genoa through attending some local shows and then approached Debby about vending at Falling for Local when I saw that she sold her goods at Celebrate Local. Luckily for me and the folks attending the event in October, she was available and participated in the show. At that time, she had a deliciously scented pumpkin soap that I purchased for a friend’s birthday (BTW she LOVED it!) She also had a pumpkin sculpted by her husband, Deane, on display at her booth that was absolutely amazing. She and I talked off and on during the weekend and, near the end of the event, I approached Debby about being featured. She was eager to participate but sorta fell off my radar what with the holidays and a trip to Florida. Fortunately, Debby kept in touch for a couple of months and jogged my memory about the request when I returned from down South. She and her talented husband agreed to be the guinea pigs for my first ‘couples’ feature!She has been creating and selling her soaps, fizzies and more at www.genoasoap.com through her online shop and craft shows for about 5 years. She began making soap when she received a kit from the Crafter’s Book Club back in the early 2000s (one of those mail clubs that sends you a catalog every three weeks or so). At some point, they started to offer kits, and soapmaking was one of them and from thenon she was hooked!In the beginning, her soaps were made just for family and friends but it became so popular that she started buying books, learning new recipes, experimenting with colors and scents, and using different molds. Now she makes 24 varieties of high quality vegetable oil soaps. Recently, she has added soaks, fizzies and massage oil to her repertoire. Fourteen years ago she decided to make this into a profitable business but as a self-confessed slow starter she didn’t get her website up or a craft show schedule going until about 4 years ago.As she puts it: “I never saw a need to reinvent the wheel by creating a soap recipe from scratch. Many of the recipes I‘ve started out with have evolved to become mine through changes I’ve made over the years. You never know what you will get with the swirls until you cut the soap loaf 36-48 hours after the pour.”
For years it was detailed and realistic, partly influenced by Hudson River School painters, partly by the graphic aspects of comic book art. Now it’s more haphazard, heavily texturized, and embraces accidents and chaos. But it’s always been eclectic, and depends on what has my attention at the moment. I’ve tried plenty of things, just because I saw someone else’s work that I especially liked, and wanted to see “if I could.” As a result, I’ve done some good work in wood carving, music video and animation, clay, even scrimshaw. In the last couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with pumpkin sculpting.
He got involved in carving because he always liked jack o’lanterns and Halloween, but had always been more or less a purist until last year when he saw extreme pumpkins on the internet, and decided to give them a try. In his words, the first few attempts were pretty rugged looking. However, he honed his skills and has created some of the most incredible pumpkin carvings I have ever seen!!!
Deane tends to get excited about anything he does, explaining it in what he calls “boring, agonizing detail”. He is a constant learner and loves trying new techniques and exploring a variety of art forms. This is evident in the diversity of his art. He creates graphics for album covers and T-shirts, paints in abstract, impressionistic and surrealistic forms and carves the most incredible pumpkins I have ever seen. This autumn he plans on being as busy as possible with Halloween and pumpkin carving events- that’s how much he loves this aspect of his art!
And, as if that’s not enough, he is also a musician playing guitar and bass, arranging music, and programming synthesizers. Plus he sings. Not being a big fan of smoky clubs, he gave up performing in the mid-eighties, in favor of studio recording, concentrating on audio production since then. But in the last couple of years, he’s sort of hesitantly returned to the stage. One album that he worked on for a friend turned out quite well, and he decided to perform a CD release show, which Deane thought was a lot of fun. He remained friends with the drummer from that project and they’ve been working on a few musical projects, with his friend keeping at him to perform again so you just may see Deane back on stage before long
Because he approaches music pretty much the same way he approaches visual art. Being a natural skeptic, he pretty much approaches everything with an attitude of curiosity and “oh yeah? let’s see what happens.”
And what’s happened recently is a ‘Best in Show’ for his painting shown at High Road Gallery’s recent exhibit. Then starting this weekend in Clintonville the local art galleries and businesses located on Indianola Avenue, south of the Studio 35, will host their 12th “Art Crawl” on Friday May 9, 2014 from 5-8 p.m. The “Art Crawl” will feature street artists, sidewalk sales from neighboring businesses along with the Art Gallery Show openings. AND Deane’s art will be on exhibit at Pennington Custom Art Services…woot!
“Oh yeah? Let’s see what happens”….for Debby and Deane in 2014!
Deane’s art is available at: