custom reclaimed wood furniture


Currently showing at birdloft art spot

Kate Blairstone and Tony Stinson

Please stop by. Their work is amazing. Pricing and availability at art spot and by email,

birdloft art spot is located at 2915 South 12th Street Tacoma Wash 98405. If you are traveling some distance (more than on foot) please email to ensure someone will be there to let you in

KATE BLAIRSTONE --- I believe in pattern and color. Not because decoration is beautiful (it is), not because pattern and color are back in fashion (in human history, they never left), but because they have such an ability to create specificity in our memory. To live amongst pattern and color is to remember. To create images based on the world around us is as old as people; it connects us to the places we live and the environments that sustain us. Botanical patterns throughout our history are symbols for the places those plants grow; color a symbol of light, and therefore season.

It would be a shame to dismiss pattern and color as merely decorative, and with it the mostly unnamed women who traditionally did this work. It is an act of resistance to embrace color and pattern, to build a visual life around it, to research it and know where it comes from, who made it and why.

My work is often an exploration of ingredients: the plants that make up a garden, the season in which they fruit and bloom, the part of the world they come from, and the people and culture that live among them. I am influenced by printmaking, textiles, horticulture, cooking, gardening and photography: simplifying objects into flat planes of color to imply quality of light and memory.

TONY STINSON'S INSIDE ART --- When you arrive at Tony Stinson’s Conway compound - off Interstate 5 on the way to tulip country - there’s a sense of overwhelming energy and production. It is hard to imagine that the person at work among the stacks of materials ever sleeps. Surrounded by agricultural fields, a country western bar and an antique shop, he builds wild, intricate works from the vestigal remains of human enterprise. He is a confounder and an entertainer, an absurdist, humorist and at the same time incredibly earnest, seeking one more chance at enlightenment through a dumptruck load of bottle caps. It is out there! He just has to conjure it somehow.

To be clear, Tony runs a salvage operation, cOnway Salvage Arts. As he only partly jokes, he invites junk to come to him. It is the raw material of his art. Boatloads of it. Which he sifts through, diverts from the landfill, finds buyers for, etc. I am amazed at his restraint, how little of the salvage makes it into his art. Because in the yard around his old house, the scale of art is heroic, massive. Some of it could loosely be said to be Outsider art, a field he studies, is well-read in. He also uses the term un-art. He exists in his own creative space, with barely a schedule, no website, just making, working, being. But he is also part bower bird. He sees his work and his place as an elaborate nest, as an invitation to company, to coffee, to conversation, with perfect strangers.

So, if you are lucky enough to be invited inside, as many of us shutterbugs and daytrippers are, you tiptoe into a bright, unexpectedly quiet, orderly house. Unless a train is going by, and the house shakes slightly, in synch with the earth-twitching machine. It is beautiful. A fire might be going. Coffee on. There will for sure be stories. Something he is working on currently. Something he is reading and excited about, or hunting after, dreaming about. You are out in the country. Conway, as Tony says, is “on the way” to somewhere else. So it is an unexpected visit to a cozy, unexpected place, a bonus stop on a Sunday adventure, something wild and unknown, immediate, but delicate and remote, and you don’t want to ruin the magic, whatever it might be.

His art is deft, subtle. Much of it is assemblages from found objects. Clever works that, to put it simply - Don’t try this at home. Or do try. But most likely frustration will be the result. He just has a light, exact touch, an ability to compose things and transform them into something new. Sometimes, too, he is patient. He has unresolved, partly finished works that are beautiful in their own right, waiting for another return.

For this show, there are several couples, or sculptural pairs, a theme that makes sense for an artist who is part bower bird. Mostly they are the type of couples where you might say opposites attract. Or that - it is in our differences that we are most alike. Come find something that you can’t be without. Tony, like us, like anyone with a winnowing vocation, doesn’t get out of Tulip Country much. And his work is here, in Tacoma!