Economic recessions are nasty, with job losses, pay cuts and all the misery that goes with having little or no money. But cutbacks and frugal living have given some recession victims time to put their energy into creative outlets.
Gabe Embler has been living intermittently in Ketchum for 10 years doing tile work, masonry and carpentry. Experiencing much more free time this summer, he has been able to spend time creating sculptures.
"My mom brought me a piece of petrified wood and asked me to cut it, and it grew from there," he said. "I love finding stones. I am a rock hound."
Embler turned his garage into a stone-cutting and polishing workshop and created an ever-expanding rock garden. His roommate calls his rock garden "Gabehenge."
"I like to be busy and need to be doing something all the time," Embler said.
An avid reader, amateur geologist and an artist with no art school education, Embler said he has been inspired by all the art around Ketchum. He said the Fourth Street sculptures were a gigantic inspiration to him, as were all the gallery sculpture gardens.
"They inspired me to go bigger," Embler said. "I like the idea of combining three or four kinds of stones together."
Embler said he likes to keep the natural form of a stone as if it had water running over it. His all-natural polish gives a smooth finish to the stones he uses and does not add any other layer to them. All of Embler's sculptures stand on their own and are not connected with pegs, glue or any type of fastener.
"I like Michelangelo's quote, 'It's not about making a sculpture, it's about removing what shouldn't be there,'" he said. "I like simplicity and natural balance."
Embler said his friends bring rocks to him all the time. He also uses leftover stones that he finds at the Sun Valley Masonry Center in Hailey. In addition, he said he hikes with an empty backpack and sometimes comes back with 80 pounds of stones.
"This community is supportive of artists, which is good because I am not dedicated to being a starving artist in Sun Valley," Embler said. "The sculpture brightens up a dull yard, and my neighbors come by all the time to see what's new."
Embler will have four pieces on exhibition on Friday, Sept. 4, at Living Architecture during Gallery Walk from 5-8 p.m. Living Architecture is having an open house with Native Landscapes, Community Rising, IAM5B, Glow Live Food Café and Idaho's Bounty. Living Architecture is on the third floor of the Gail Severn Gallery building.
"It's a hobby," Embler said. "I am happy to turn it into a job."
Sabina Dana Plasse: firstname.lastname@example.org