Pikes Peak Studio Tour:
Necker left-brained and proud of it

       Say the word “artist,” and the image that comes to mind might be someone with a paint brush.

With some of her art items on the shelf behind her, Gail Necker shows her form in using a power drill to sand the inside of a gourd.
Westside Pioneer photo

       But a 3/8-inch variable-speed drill? That's just one of several hefty tools Gail Necker employs en route to transforming garden gourds into art objects in her Westside studio.
       They have to be cleaned, cut, drilled, sanded (with a grit ball extension on the drill), and then painted inside and out, in addition to fine touches that can include coiling, stitching or weaving fiber, fabric, waxed linen and/or other materials to/on them in various forms. Grouting is involved to stiffen baskets for the kachinas she makes. For her jewelry, she uses a propane torch and “a bunch of hammers” to work copper into the shapes and colors she wants.
       “Most of what I do is pretty physical,” she said. The former college biology major, scuba shop owner and computer technology employee even likes to call herself “left brained” rather than the stereotypically creative “right brained” artist. For instance, despite years of taking classes and studying a range of art techniques, you'll never find Necker with a paint brush and a pallette. “I do all kinds of things with art, but I can't draw,” she laughed.
       Offering her works in gourds, jewelry, kachinas, masks and scarves, the Chicago transplant's Coyote Willow studio at 1224 W. Pikes Peak Ave. is one of four on the Westside as part of the eighth annual Pikes Peak Studio Tour Saturday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The free event, which allows the public to visit artists in their homes or studios, offers a total of 20 artists in 15 sites citywide. According to a press release, they will be “exhibiting a variety of media, including oil and watercolor paintings, drawings, prints, jewelry, metal sculpture, ceramics, clay sculpture, weaving, glass, mixed media and photography.”
       The tour's other three Westside homes/studios are those of pottery-fiber collaborators Marc Jenesel and Karen Pierce (Willow Bend Studios), 514 N. 17th St.; painter Kay Jeansonne, 1521 W. Bijou St.; and painter/clay artist Deb Komitor, 741 Panorama Drive.
       About 15 years ago, Necker probably wouldn't have predicted her present situation. Living in Chicago, she was working two jobs (the scuba shop and a computer business) and helping raise her two children (through a 1986 divorce settlement).
       Finally getting out of the scuba business in the mid-'90s, she found time for a class in basket-making and liked it. This led to involvement in basket guilds, other classes and experimentation with different art techniques, although she continued working in the computer world until being laid off in 2001.
       In 2002, Necker moved to the Pikes Peak region in tandem with her son and daughter-in-law. Three years after that, she found her West Pikes Peak Avenue home, with a garage in back that she was able to adapt into a studio. It was then that she made the plunge to being a full-time artist. “I found I loved making things,” she said. “I enjoy the process of creating, of letting it evolve and seeing where it takes you.”
       The gourds are her specialty. She even started growing them in her backyard three years ago. Visitors on the Studio Tour will see some hanging from her plum tree, each housed in a panty hose, in an effort to dry them sufficiently to be used for one of her art pieces.
       Also for tour visitors, Necker plans to set out a display, showing the stages of development and some of the tools she uses in creating her gourd art.

Westside Pioneer article