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Harvesting Your Canvas

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Artist andbrCalifornia native Mary Beth Hogue has taken her artist’s sensibilities to abrunique and stunning level. The West Mountain resident uses dried gourds as herbrcanvas, embellishing and accentuating their natural weight and lines.

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Hogue’s pieces arebrbreathtaking in their nuanced textures and earthen colors. She uses manybrmediums to embellish the gourds, including painting, carving, and beading.

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She has beenbrfeatured in numerous magazines and newspapers, as well as a Utah County artbrbook.

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Hogue has obtainedbrspots in the coveted Spring Salon at the Springville Museum of Art and hasbrappeared in exhibits in Park City, as well as art museums in New Mexico andbrArizona. The community college in Salt Lake City purchased some of her piecesbrto display in their art hall. Hogue even has two gourds in the permanentbrcollection of the Washington D.C. Botanical Gardens.

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The self-taughtbrartist’s pieces are one of a kind.  “Ibrcarve, paint, stain, weave, and inlay the gourds,” Hogue says.

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Hogue first got thebridea to use gourds when she went to a leather store in Provo in 1998. She wasbrthere to buy leather for a mountain man camp when some raw dried gourds caughtbrher eye. She bought six of them and did her magic, embellishing them andbrturning them into pieces of art. A shop owner on Park City’s Main Street was sobrimpressed she bought all six to sell in her store.

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“I am inspired bybrnature and love taking my art pieces from seeds planted to gourd canvas,” Hoguebrsays.

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Hogue’s art is abrlong, arduous process and a study in patience. brSometimes she purchases gourds from farms, but most of these blankbrcanvases are grown by her husband, Mike. The gourds take a whole year to growbrand dry. She starts the process around Mother’s Day each year when herbrseedlings sprout. Then, around Halloween time, after the first frost, she canbrharvest the gourds.

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The Hogues losebrabout half of the gourds they grow. Utah’s climate doesn’t make it easy for herbrto produce the gourds. Heat is needed for them to cure and dry.

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This work requiresbrcare and caution. Hogue explains, “when working on gourds, there are safetybrissues from them being moldy inside sometimes. You need to wear a dust mask andbrtake precautions before cutting into them.”

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The mother of six isbrnow a grandmother and great grandmother. She has a shop and lives in WestbrMountain with her husband, where she raises dogs, cats, chickens, and minibrgoats. She is also a songwriter and guitar player.

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She believes thatbrboth art and music are good ways to keep balance and overcome depression.brCertainly, her pieces are infused with a natural spirituality that can’t bebrdescribed. Hogue believes “we are all spiritual beings on a human journey.”

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Her current passionbris working to save wild horses from being inhumanely gathered by helicopter andbrseparated from their family bands. (Goodman is a Serve Daily contributor.)

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