Thursday, July 27, 2006

Shahna Lax

Runes of Restoration, by Shahna Lax

Engraved copper transoms and ceramic tiles by Shahna Lax are on view for one more weekend at Milagros Coffeehouse in downtown Alamosa.

This is the second show at Milagros for artist Shahna Lax, and her work has evolved from small, etched metal pieces to larger, contemplative works. Lax blends Hebrew and Arabic calligraphies with Moorish motifs such as floral arabesques, fish, trees, birds and geometric ornamentation to create sculptural artworks with a strong sense of intercultural spirit. Lax sees her work as an endeavor to make tangible “the mystery and beauty of sacred texts and symbols.”

Most pieces are built to hang above a doorway, and there are also mirrors and tiles for other walls, as well. To learn more, call Katherine Benke, 719-588-9044, or go to

Monday, July 17, 2006

Article for American Society of Interior Designers

Kathy Park spotted the marble for this sculpture at the bottom of a quarry in northern Greece on her honeymoon. She and her partner lugged it all the way to the top, then carried it on an airplane back to the US. Her second degree black belt in aikido influences the perfect curvature of the back, allowing the figure to rock and spin smoothly on its base. Park’s story is intriguing because the details of her life are so vibrant and surprising. She is an artist from southern Colorado whose work is held in private and public collections from California to North Carolina, and she’s just now finishing an undergraduate degree she started almost 40 years ago. Most people find her story inspiring and memorable – hearing about it is a small but extraordinary event.
Little stories like this are a great way to enrich relationships with clients. They soften the science of design and bring a spark of unique personality. Storytelling is an excellent skill for designers to cultivate, and it’s easy to get started.
One of the most obvious ways to incorporate stories into your daily routine is to learn about the artwork you’ve chosen for a project. Art is about communication – in excellent pieces, ideas and emotions cascade over each other to become more than the sum of the parts. You don’t need to become an art historian to apply art and storytelling to your business. Just find a knowledgeable dealer and seize on a few details that you find interesting. Even one small piece of original fine art, combined with one good story, adds significant depth to any project.
To start weaving the power of storytelling into your work, remember these three points: 1. Good stories are easy to remember. They follow a clear path, and they present cues along the way to keep the teller on track. 2. Good stories are interesting. They resonate with a diverse group of people, and they have strong details and rich words that stimulate the senses and the imagination. 3. Good stories build bridges. As people hear them, they make connections with their own lives. Consciously or not, the audience grows and learns about themselves as they hear the story. Whenever they remember the story, they remember the one who told it as well.
Remembering the important details in a story doesn’t have to be difficult. Visual cues offer an excellent way to remember what comes next. Artwork by Shahna Lax presents a rich ground for conversation: with family roots in the Middle East, she brings together Arabic and Hebrew traditions to create new forms of peace and beauty. “Blessing Hands Transom” contains blessings written in both Hebrew and Arabic.
Artwork offers plenty of interesting talking points. From an artist’s technique to their eccentric character, from the lyrical tension of Lax’s work to the bold, abstracted colors in Coni Grant’s work, the story you tell has the potential to widen someone’s horizon. That’s added value to your work!
Artwork connects people. Whether you’re talking about the content of a landscape, or the feelings and design elements of an abstract work, find points where your interests might intersect with those of the client’s. A story shared is like a seed planted – it lives and grows long after the initial energy has been invested. Make the effort to add art and storytelling to your business habits, and start writing happy endings to every project!

Katherine Benke acquires fine art for homes, offices, and public spaces.