Artists combine talents in ‘Sticks and Stones’

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but when it comes to nature inspired art, they do something else: bring two artists together. The title of a collaborative exhibit showing this month at Ptarmigan Arts, it’s also the media Homer artists Deb Lowney and Dan Fischer use independently and together to create organic sculptures that can be displayed indoors and outdoors.

Both members of the Ptarmigan Arts cooperative, Lowney, like Fischer a retired teacher, is the sticks part of the show and Fischer the stones. Lowney has become known for her carved wood sculptures, often made from driftwood or found materials. Fischer has been doing marquetry woodwork for 15 years, but more recently started working in stone. His drilled-stone lamps inspired the technique he uses in the show of stacked stone towers.

The two came together in early February at a meeting of Ptarmigan artists when an opening came up for a show in March. Fischer said he was too busy to do a show on his own, but when Lowney asked him if he wanted to collaborate, he agreed.

“The intent was to let our minds go crazy and see what we could do,” Lowney said.

Some works are independent pieces, like Fischer’s display of rock towers artfully lit to create a play of shadows. Lowney has several pieces made of pushki stalks and flowers. The collaboration comes in pieces like what they call “nestlings,” driftwood baskets made by Lowney with Fischer’s rock sculptures.

“Sticks and Stones” also is the title of their signature piece, a large basket made of alder with an assembly of stones in the middle. That work and an alder branch and stone piece are installation art put together in the gallery. Lowney and Fischer not only collaborated in installing the work, but in collecting the gray rocks with white lines for it.

Lowney said they also had another intent with the show, that visitors enjoy seeing it as much as they did putting it together.

“We want people to walk in this room and go ‘wow,'” she said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at

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