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Art & Life with Joanie Wolter

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joanie Wolter.

Joanie, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Growing up, I had no idea I would ever become an artist. I was raised in Southern California, did well in school, went off to college, and always new I’d become a teacher. That’s what I was born to be and I taught in the public-school system for 37 years. I started off teaching elementary, 4 through 6. I then went back to school, earned a credential in Math, and taught middle school math until moving to a different district where I ran their Independent Studies Program for students who were unable to attend school due to behavior issues, babies, social problems, etc. The last few years of my career were spent teaching Algebra at a Continuation High School. I loved working with the rascals and it was a good match. As a middle aged, post-menopausal woman, I was a bit of a rascal myself!!! During these years, I did lots of crafty things…some sewing, tole painting and mosaics.

Upon retiring, my husband and I move to Sedona, Arizona for the beautiful red rock views and hiking. I also discovered the Sedona Arts Center where I began taking classes and trying my hand at art. Most of the mediums I tried were a little too slow for me until I discovered ceramics. It was there I found a home away from home. Under the influence of Dennis Ott, my instructor, I learned about clay. I was lousy at the wheel, so he finally told me to “go hand-build” and it was there that I found my niche!!! I also took a class from a ceramic’s artist, Firuse Scalcup, who taught me to work with paper clay. The rest is history! I started to create ceramics pieces that were embellished with paper clay flowers. They were eye-catching and popular. In time, they became my bread and butter!

The next turn I took was also at the Sedona Arts Center where I learned to sculpt with Fiber Clay from artist, Lorri Acott. Lorri’s pieces are etherial, gorgeous creations and in my effort to emulate her work, I ended up with a sculpture that looked exactly like me! An older woman with droopy bosoms and plump thighs. As time went on, however, my figurative pieces became thinner which gave me much hope for myself. In time I created whimsical roadrunners and raven, and these birds are what I’m most known for.

It was after making many creations that I decided to combine my two passions, sculpting with fiber clay and teaching. And now for the last several years I have been sharing my knowledge and love for sculpting with others. I teach at my studio in N. Scottsdale regularly as well as other venues around the southwest. (For more info on classes, please look at www.cuveeart.com.) Being able to combine teaching and sculpting is a blessing for me! How lucky to have two passions, and then to be able to combine them, well…life is good!!!

As an artist, I am always trying to come up with new ideas to stretch my limits and expand my horizons. I’ve started working with alternative armatures to create large outdoor pieces, as well as uniquely shaped critters. Because the clay is so easy to work with and doesn’t need firing, it offers a lot of opportunities regular clay doesn’t.

The name of my business is Cuvee Art. Cuvee is a wine term meaning blend, and my work is a blend of humor, imagination, and creativity! In my years of sculpting and teaching, I’ve found that the secret to success starts with giving something a try. When I teach a class, all my students are successful as soon as they walk in the door. Their willingness to try is step one! It’s my job to teach them the rest, and I challenge any person who says they aren’t creative to take a class and see what they can do. Life is full of surprises!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
All my sculptures are created with Fiber Clay, which is a regular clay body with nylon fibers added so that the clay has a lot of strength and body, is easy to work with and doesn’t have to fired. My pieces are all whimsical and often a spoof on life. They are meant to make people smile and that’s exactly what they do! The world is so troubled these days, so to be able to have someone look at a piece my art, smile or laugh, and think about something positive for a while is my goal. Even my new pieces using gourds, plastic bottles, rebar, pool noodles, packing bubbles and whatever else has a great shape are whimsical and fun! Who can’t smile at a chubby elephant or fat cat in a tutu!!! My collectors tell me that every time they walk past their sculpture, they smile. That’s when I know I’ve done my job!!!!

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
I feel the biggest challenge we face these days is the fact that there are so many of us who, after retiring, have learned we have a talent and want to share our art with the world. Added to that fact is that some people have a hard time justifying the cost of original art, so they aren’t interested. Fortunately, there are many who appreciate the work and are happy to support those who put their expertise, blood, sweat and tears, into their pieces. Those collectors are treasured!!!

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I show my work at Wild Holly Gallery in Carefree, AZ, and at home my studio in No. Scottsdale, AZ. I have an online presence, www.cuveeart.com, that shows a range of work as well. In Sedona, AZ., I show a couple pieces at the Sedona Art Center and at Javelina Leap Winery in Page Springs, AZ.

Folks can contact me through my website or my email, joanie.wolter@gmail.com. My studio is open for visitors by appointment only, but I love having folks come take a peek!

My class schedule is listed online. Out of town classes are added throughout the year, but all those at my “Home” are listed at www.cuvereart.com.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 31550 N. 70th St.
    Scottsdale, AZ 85266
  • Website: www.cuveeart.com
  • Email: joanie.wolter@gmail.com

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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