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Auburn’s art offerings and memories

World-famous artist remembers unique portrait
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Art is a holiday gift that can be deeply sentimental and unique for those giving and receiving. On Friday several Auburn artists talked about some of their most memorable creations and what they are currently working on. Janet Nicholson, of Nicholson Blown Glass, said the studio is offering its Christmas ornaments again this year, and they are only available at the studio. “We do ornaments just for our holiday open studios,” Nicholson said. “That’s kind of become a tradition, people coming by for those.” Nicholson said the studio created a custom set of old-fashioned cocktail glasses this year and is currently working on a set of eight tumblers that are all different colors. Lighting accessories are also a big hit this year, Nicholson said. “There are some people that have recently come in for custom pendant lighting and chandeliers,” she said. Nicholson said a custom vase sticks out in her mind as a unique gift she created in the past. “There was a person who ordered a vase,” she said. “He had written a poem for his girlfriend and he wanted me to etch it on a vase, so I did.” Auburn painter Patty Pieropan Dong said she has created several “house portraits” in the past, including a painting of a house on Finley Street for its resident. “She gave it to her husband as a surprise Christmas gift,” Pieropan Dong said. This year Pieropan Dong said she is painting a “portrait” of a local business as a gift, but she couldn’t reveal the secret of which business it is. Just as a portrait brings out the character of a person, a “house portrait” brings out the character of a home, Pieropan Dong said. Catherine Rowe, of OZ! Gallery of Fine Jewelry, said one of her most memorable creations before coming to Auburn was a hunter’s gift to his family. “I had a gentleman bring in some elk’s teeth, and I made two bracelets for his wife and daughter,” Rowe said. Rowe said pendants marked with the fingerprints of terminally ill loved ones are a popular gift for the sentimental soul. Creating new pieces with heirlooms and large gemstones have made up a large part of her custom orders, Rowe said. Rowe said she has a favorite design style and item currently in stock. “I design in a more architectural fashion,” Rowe said. “I like pieces that are bold and big. I like to place stones in unusual places. I would say probably the most unique piece I have is a pink morganite beryl. It’s a big square-cut stone set in 18-carat white gold with three carats of diamonds.” World-renowned Auburn artist Douglas Van Howd said he normally sells small paintings for under $1,000 at Christmastime, and he may have some available this year. Van Howd also sells prints of his paintings. “It’s something people want for their offices or homes,” Van Howd said. Items like belt buckles are also normally popular gifts, Van Howd said. Van Howd said one of his most memorable commissioned paintings was a portrait of a woman’s father. The woman gave Van Howd photographs of her father, who was very bald, and he completed the portrait, Van Howd said. “She gave it to him for Christmas, and he brought it back afterward,” he said. While the man loved the painting, he wanted to see himself with hair, so Van Howd added more and more hair to the painting at the man’s request. “By the time I got through, he had this big mane of hair,” Van Howd said. “So here was this older guy with this long mane of hair.” The woman was not happy about her father’s changes, but Van Howd said he remembers that as one of his most amusing commissioned pieces. Van Howd said the art economy is definitely recovering from its previous slump. “This is a better season than last year,” he said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------- Where to find your art Nicholson Blown Glass: 5555 Bell Road, Auburn. Call (530) 823-1631 Patty Pieropan Dong: 460 Old Airport Road, Auburn. Call (530) 823-1963 OZ! Gallery of Fine Jewelry: 198 Sacramento St., Auburn. Call (530) 888-9059 Douglas Van Howd Gallery: 13333 New Airport Road, Auburn. Call (530) 887-1581