Art show may launch woodworker’s career

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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photo Elizabeth Ziemba, 83, of Vancouver studies artwork Sunday at the Battle Ground Art Alliance spring show. On the left, “All Good Things Come,” an oil painting by Conny Riley, awaits her attention. Ziemba called the event “a great show.”

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photoVisitors stroll Sunday through the Battle Ground Art Alliance Fine Arts and Crafts Show at the Battle Ground Community Center.

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The Battle Ground Art Alliance.

BATTLE GROUND -- Tom Nichols took a big step Sunday toward his goal of doing custom woodworking as a full-time job.

The Salmon Creek man took the “Best of Show” award for his “Leaves in the Wind” table at the Battle Ground Art Alliance 11th Annual Spring Show and Sale.

“I was shocked,” Nichols said. “Part of the amazement is there is so much good artwork here.”

The show offered 163 pieces including paintings, and work in wood, leather, glass, eggs, collages and quilts.

This was the first show Nichols has entered. A former cabinetmaker, he is in an eight-month program at the Northwest Woodworking Studio in Portland. For his table, he used big leaf maple and cherry.

For the five inlaid leaves, he used exotic woods including jatoba, tigerwood, bloodwood and yellowheart.

He said he and his wife, Carolyn, love to hike, and he got inspiration from red maple leaves he’s seen in Salmon Creek.

He said he was striving for “some kind of motion, like the leaves moving.”

He said the table took between 60 and 80 hours to build and said it is not for sale. If it were, he’d set the price about $900.

Asked to describe the most difficult thing about custom work, Nichols replied, “I think the greatest challenge is the design … and the inlay.”

He used carving gouges for the inlay, and the leaves are just an eighth of an inch thick.

His future?

“At the end of the (woodworking) program, I’ll be starting my own business doing custom woodworking,” Nichols said.

The annual show is the art alliance’s major fundraiser for the year.

Jane Poole, president of the alliance, said 400 people attended the free show. Artists paid $30 or more to show works. Musicians played throughout the two-day show at the Battle Ground Community Center.

“Our mission is to support artists and to

bring art to the community,” said Poole, who also paints in watercolors.

She said the show is the largest of its kind in Southwest Washington and only Southwest Washington artists are invited.

Guests expressed appreciation for the artwork.

“I thought it was a great show,” said Elizabeth Ziemba, 83, of Vancouver, who attended the show with her husband, Joseph. The couple moved to Clark County from Greenville, N.C., a year and a half ago.

“I was very impressed with the talent that I saw there,” Elizabeth said.

She and Joseph lived in the Washington, D.C., area for some 30 years, and she noted, “We have always been very interested in art galleries.”

What did she think of Nichols’ table? “That was the one that just blew my mind,” she said. “I thought that was an extraordinary piece.”

Dave Kern: dave.kern@columbian.com or 360-735-4534.