November ArtWalk: Featuring Phil Lear and Mick Shimonek

Head down to Old Colorado City on November 3 from 5-8 PM to watch two of our newest painters in action.  The Squash Blossom is happy to welcome local artist Phil Lear and Nebraskan Mick Shimonek.

Phil Lear’s paintings are inspired by poetry. He says, “There is poetry in everything and the painter – like the poet, or musician, or sculptor – must bring it to attention, because he sees what others oftentimes do not.” His paintings are said to have a dream-like quality as he strives to portray his insight into the world around him. The style and brushstroke harmonize with his characters.

Phil was born in Ontario, Canada and cultivated his love of art at an early age, sketching, writing, and illustrating comic books.  His family moved to the United States in 1990, where he continued to grow his craft in high school art classes.  In 1993, he enrolled in Pensacola Christian College’s Commercial Art Program.  During this time, he discovered his love for Renaissance and Late Victorian era paintings and decided to pursue a career in art himself.  After creating artwork for missionaries in Switzerland, he returned to the States.  He is a member of the Portrait Society of America and furthers his studies at the Cottonwood Artists’ School.

Mick Shimonek is known for his distinctive style of large brushstrokes that blend into landscapes. His eye for design and color mesh with his imagination and unique view of the world.  His paintings feature mountains, rivers, lakes, and other natural wonders.  Mick studied at the University of Nebraska, Colorado Institute of Art, and Rocky Mountain School of Art.

Discover Alex Sepkus

“When I design a piece of jewelry, it is as if I am writing a book.”

Featured jewelry designer Alex Sepkus draws his inspiration from unexpected places. He cited his greatest sources of inspiration not as other jewelry, but as music and great literary works. “When I design a piece of jewelry, it is as if I am writing a book,” he said in an interview,  “Each design is a chapter, not in words, but in shapes and textures.”

Alex Sepkus little windows earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.
Alex Sepkus little windows earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.

Born in Lithuania, Sepkus studied industrial design with the intention of following in his father’s footsteps as an architect.  In his spare time he would carve miniature sculptures.  Under communism, he did not have access to precious materials.  Instead, he created his pieces with engraved stones, carved ivory and enamel painting.  This was the foundation of his unique artistic style, which would develop more and more as he started to create pieces of jewelry.

Sepkus immigrated to the United States in 1988. By the early 1990’s, he had opened Alex Sepkus Jewelry Studios in Manhattan with gemologist Jeff Feero.  Together they found, and continue to find, unusual and exceptional stone specimens to accompany the intricate designs that have become the signature of Alex Sepkus Jewelry.

Alex Sepkus Boulder Opal earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.
Alex Sepkus Boulder Opal earrings, available at the Squash Blossom.

This signature, however, comes at a cost; Sepkus’s jewelry is a product of great effort.  “I have no technical secrets,” he said.  “The main trick is the very intricate manual work that goes into the process.  I can explain the process to everybody.  But at the same time, I don’t think that I have ever seen a copy of my work somewhere.  It is just so labor intensive.”

An owner of a Sepkus piece can see and feel the intense hand-crafted process by which the piece was made.  Each piece has unique magnificence that highlights creativity and ingenuity–a piece that is a product of hard work and, not to mention, is fashionable.  What’s more surprising is that his designs are not premeditated, giving them a raw edge.

Alex Sepkus diamond eternity band, available at the Squash Blossom.
Alex Sepkus diamond eternity band, available at the Squash Blossom.

“I stopped making sketches years ago,” Sepkus said.  “I imagine the piece I want to make in my head, and the hands work by themselves.  Sometimes I get surprised at what comes out.”

Interested in owning a unique piece of Alex Sepkus jewelry yourself?  Stop into the Squash Blossom in Vail or check out our website to see a diverse collection of Sepkus’s work.

Raw Beauty: Jewelry by Todd Reed

A true pioneer in the jewelry industry, Todd Reed’s collections have re-defined luxury jewelry.  A lifelong artisan, Todd first dabbled in clothing, furniture, leatherwork, sculpture, painting, and even the culinary arts. Eventually, his path fortuitously crossed with a well-known diamond collector.  When speaking with a newspaper, he said, “He completely took me under his wing.  His love for diamonds was infectious, and he showed me the artistry and miniature sculpture that appeared in the rough stones.  I was riveted and wanted to know and see more.  I realized that my aesthetic was to create jewelry that would push the boundaries of what precious pieces could be, and to merge the freedom of artistic expression with the allure of fine jewelry.”

Todd Reed specializes in the use of raw diamonds and environmentally sustainable material.  Raw diamonds are the fastest growing industry within jewelry, largely because of the work done by Todd.  As he started drawing critical acclaim, he challenged the idea of what we consider precious.  He wants each of his pieces to have character.  When talking to a newspaper in Houston, he said, “When something is so glossy and perfect it doesn’t even exist. The cracks and fissures are what gives us character.”  Like in life, the raw diamonds have character and celebrate the perceived “flaws” of diamonds in their natural state.

If you love supporting Colorado designers, Todd Reed is as local as they come.  His studio space is located in Boulder, Colorado and he went to high school in Colorado Springs.  Whether you are looking for alternative wedding bands, a perfect piece to stand out in your jewelry collection, or a head start on a holiday gift for a special someone, the Squash Blossom has the perfect Todd Reed piece for you.