The next art display at Olio restaurant and gallery in Mancos will be a series of tapestries woven from wood.
The gallery will hold an artist reception on Saturday for Cortez craftsman Kyle Bauman. His wooden garden panels, made from materials found throughout the Southwest, will be on display through Dec. 2. Bauman gathers most of his materials from willow, tamarisk and cottonwood trees near the San Juan River and uses them to create intricate wooden tapestries.
Originally from California, Bauman worked for several years as a picture framer in Durango, which is where he started to hone his woodworking skills. About 20 years ago, he said, he started “messing around” with more artistic wooden designs. When he moved to Bluff, Utah, in 1994, he started developing the technique he now calls “willow weaving.”
“It started out as just a way to make a nice, inexpensive fence at my place,” he said. “And it’s just kind of evolved over 20-some years into what I do now.”
Nowadays, most of his work is designed for fashion more than function. He no longer builds fences, although he does make furniture using a similar weaving style. Instead, he makes garden panels, which can be hung inside or outside a home. He was inspired by the style of weaving he saw in Navajo rugs, he said, so his panels often feature the kind of geometric designs found in those works. He uses a square metal grid to give shape to each piece, and weaves willow branches through it to create a pattern. He often uses striking objects, like a copper bowl or a river stone, as a centerpiece. All the colors and textures in his pieces are natural, Bauman said. He doesn’t usually use dyes or artificial treatments.
Bauman has shown his work at a few galleries in the Southwest before, though never at Olio. He also teaches willow weaving workshops at Mancos School of the Arts and other places around the region. His next workshop will be at the Bluff Arts Festival on Oct. 21.
Bauman said he does willow weaving for fun, not to make a living.
“This is my creative outlet,” he said. “When somebody buys a piece of my work, I just love the idea that they’re going to be hanging it in their house and enjoying it.”
Out of the dozens of pieces on display at Olio, Bauman said he particularly likes one large panel that incorporates Anasazi-style tiles, made by a friend of his, into a mandala pattern. But he said he can’t pick a favorite, because he loves all of his work.
Olio displays work by a different artist every two months, with exhibitions chosen by Rena Wilson.
Bauman’s reception will last from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday. It is free and open to the public.