Art Connection –– Summer 2022

This edition of Art Connection features tips for collecting art, inside the artist's studio with Leah Rei, design and art-selection tips from architect/interior designer Craig Wickersham, and an interview with Ray Tigerman.

Art connection By the Celebration of Fine Art

Vol. 1 Issue 1 Summer 2022


A peek inside artist Ray Tigerman's studio.

WELCOME TO ART CONNECTION! Art has a way of soothing the soul, igniting the spirit, and connecting people in a most powerful way. It can be a record of memories or evoke the imagination of what could be. Each work of art has a story to tell. The connection between the art, the artist and the viewer make each story unique. In a time where we can be driven to distraction and disconnect, art has a way of grounding and centering us, offering a joyful place and experience. In this first issue of the Art Connection, we shine the spotlight on artist Ray Tigerman and give you a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes in an in-studio conversation with artist Leah Rei. You will also find some of our best tips for building your own collection to celebrate. We introduce you to one of our favorite architect/designers, Craig Wickersham, who shares his thoughtful approach to design through his gift of listening and watching his clients. While we enjoy this summer season, we are well on the way to planning our 2023 Celebration of Fine Art. You can mark your calendar for January 14 through March 26, 2023. We will be in our same location at Hayden Rd. and the Loop 101 in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ. During our “off-season” we do our best to get out and enjoy our beautiful country and visit artists, art shows and exhibits whenever we can. One of our favorite events happens in September each year in Cody, WY. You can read a bit about that in our “Artful Events We Love” section. We hope you enjoy the stories, tips and insights shared in this issue. As we work on putting together an exciting and inviting experience for you in 2023, we invite you to stay connected with us through our social media platforms and our dynamic website where you will find videos of each of our Art Discovery Talks, inspirational and insightful videos and intriguing blogs. You can shop right now for your favorite artists or medium at year round. We look forward to welcoming you back in person in 2023. Until then, keep celebrating art!

~Susan and Jake Potje




Where Ray finds his inspiration and how he spends his time in the off season.


7 TIPS FOR BUILDING A COLLECTION TO CELEBRATE Learn how to curate a collection you'll love.


DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: CRAIG WICKERSHRAM Expert tips for adding artwork to your home.


FROM THE ARTIST STUDIO A conversation with artist Leah Rei


ARTFUL EVENTS WE LOVE See what's coming up and how to get involved.


CONTACT US Celebration Of Fine Art 7900 E. Greenway Rd, Suite 101 Scottsdale, AZ 85260



artist spotlight: ray tigerman

Artwork: Warhorse By Ray Tigerman.

From Nevada to Nashville, artist Ray Tigerman has collected stories along his journey that have influenced his texturally rich and vibrant works that depict indigenous Southwestern people and wildlife. And while he purposely omits fine detail to allow the viewer to form their own story, the use of color and texture creates an immediate connection and somewhat immersive experience. Ray’s work has evolved over the years––and continues to––but his current style, which he uses a palette knife to create, he’s been perfecting over the past 15 years. Most of Ray's work is shaped by the stories of his childhood. He grew up near the Paiute Indian reservation and some of his fondest memories include hearing stories recounted by one of the tribe elders, which are valued in the community as teachers, keepers of knowledge, and transmitters of cultural knowledge. Those stories stuck with him and now are transmitted through his own form of storytelling. "A lot of my childhood friends were Native American and I got a really good indoctrination into their culture," Ray said. "It really resonated with me––the way they lived and their synergy with the Earth.

They had a culture that really was interested in preserving the elements that allowed them to survive––it is a really symbiotic relationship. As I got older, it never really left me." Though his childhood memories shape his work, Ray wants his subjects to tell their own story and not necessarily one he is telling. "I want the viewer to get lost in it and come up with their own connection to it," he said. "Sometimes if you're very literal with your subjects, you’re kind of forcing your audience to feel what you feel. There's nothing wrong with that, but I like that idea of mystery and a little nostalgia. A lot of my pieces have a journey-esque feel to them." Though it may not have fine detail, there is a lot to explore and discover in Ray's work. Using a palette knife enables him to create rich textures and sculptural elements in his paintings. "I'd always used a palette knife as more of an accent," he said. "But, when I fully switched over, I never looked back. It allows me to do a lot of different things that are visually interesting like carving in creating different techniques."

"Being a professional artist means something different to every artist. For me, I get to create things out of my head and then I get to share them with other individuals who get to live with them. "

Watch Ray's interview here.

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When it comes to collecting art, options abound. There are choices in medium, style, size, art form (wearable art, sculpture, wall art, etc.), and the list goes on. With all to consider, how do you begin to build a timeless collection to celebrate for many years to come? Here are our top tips for curating a collection that brings you joy and celebrates your uniqueness.

Buy original art (if possible) & keep documentation

enjoy it! If you are drawn to something, trust it. Remember, collecting art doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Art is fun, and buying it should be too.

Buying original art ensures you are getting a one-of-a-kind piece, even if that means you have to select a smaller piece initially. For all original art, be sure to keep records of your invoice and any information on the artists. If you are buying from the artist directly, take a photo with them and the piece. We often limit our art collections to wall art initially, but 3D art can be a great addition to a collection or as a stand- alone piece indoors or outdoors. And don’t forget, there’s also wearable art! Always a great way to make a statement. Think beyond the wall Don’t be afraid to mix styles. Variety makes a collection interesting. Who says you can’t pair Western with abstract or realism with mixed media? And, don't don’t hesitate to rearrange your artwork from time to time for a fresh look at your collection. Don’t limit yourself to a singular style

7 Tips: Quick Guide

Buy what you like

If you don’t know where to start galleries, art shows and museums can help hone your style. You never know what might speak to you or what you might realize you absolutely dislike. Experience galleries, art shows & museums to get inspiration Often this can endear you to a piece or deepen your appreciation for it. By learning the artist's story, process, or perhaps what inspired a piece, you may gain a deeper connection to a piece –– and have a great story to tell at dinner parties. Get to know the artist Only buy what you absolutely love. Don’t worry about the investment potential. Select and buy pieces that speak to you and make you feel great. Maybe it evokes a special memory, takes you away to a special place, reminds you of someone special, or it may simply light you up. Whatever the reason, it spoke to you in some way. Take note of that.

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Buy what you like Experience galleries, art shows and museums to get inspiration Get to know the artist Buy original art and keep documentation Think beyond the wall Don't limit yourself to a singular style Trust your instinct

3. 4.

5. 6.


"Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness." ~ Anni Albers

Trust your instinct

No matter what else influences your buying decision, the most important consideration is that you, the collector,

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designer spotlight: craig Wickersham

You may have seen him strolling through the aisles of the Celebration of Fine Art, usually with a couple of people in tow. He’s not there just to take in all of the art, he’s guiding, listening, watching––looking for what makes his clients light up. It’s part of his process and it’s in part what has made him such a successful designer and architect. Indeed, Craig Wickersham has earned his stripes as an architect. He studied at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin (interviewed and accepted by Mrs. Wright) and has been practicing the craft nationally and internationally for more than 40 years. But, perhaps more importantly, he’s mastered the art of connection and storytelling, portrayed through his designs, each of which are unique and personal to the individual he’s working with. “Working with people and listening to their desires and this passion that comes out…it’s very fulfilling,” Craig said. “Throughout the process, people are sharing and I ask questions to find out what’s really important. We get into it very deep. And that part of the process is very fulfilling because you’re able to reach in and listen in a way that most people don’t really do with them.” Understanding their desires and their passions is the first step in creating the “story” of their home––and it’s also how

Image courtesy Craig Wickersham.

he helps them select the perfect artwork. But there are a few other steps Craig suggests for finding the right piece for the right space. Look at all varieties and styles “One thing I like about the Celebration is they have a broad range of excellent artists,” Craig said. “We see everything from high-end contemporary to high- end Western, and sculpture. When we walk our clients through there for the first time, we’re trying to read what they attract to.” Like Craig does with his clients, get exposed to a wide variety of art and go in without preconceived notions. Simply be attuned to what sparks your desires or tugs at your heartstrings. You might be surprised by what you connect with––and usually it’s instantaneous. “When they connect with it, it’s very powerful,” he said. “And the artists feel it. It’s really a fulfilling process. It’s joyful.” Think holistically “I was trained to design in a holistic way,” Craig said. “We don’t look at the building as an entity in and of itself. I design the landscape, furniture and the art. I work with artists and we build a lot of the components of the building that may be fabricated pieces. A fireplace

isn’t just a place that has fire in it. Oftentimes, I’m doing the art that’s inside the fireplace––fabricated out of steel and other materials––and that is echoed throughout the house. It’s a holistic process in which we consider fabrics, materials, artwork and lighting. And that goes inside and out.” Beyond artwork on the walls, artwork can be integrated into the fixtures, furnishings and landscaping of a home. It can take the shape of a sculpture garden at the entrance of your home, or vases placed in bookcases. Craig has even had custom mirror enclosures created for vanities. And most artists are eager to help you create your vision. (continued) “When they connect with it, it’s very powerful. And the artists feel it. It’s really a fulfilling process. It’s joyful.”

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Incorporate the art of storytelling “There’s a large element of magic in this. We’re designing a space oftentimes based on a description from a person, but we’ll begin to build a basic story,” Craig said. “As it grows and gets more defined, we’ll get to a place where I know art will make them happy in this place and I’ve designed a space exactly for a piece. Then we will find the piece or have an artist commissioned to make it. The magic is when you get the right piece of artwork in the right space with the right color. We’re always looking for that –– color, texture, geometry.” Consider color and theme Even if you’re going with a desert theme, as an example, the art doesn’t necessarily have to depict a desert scene. If the colors are spot on, it can bring a space together. “It may not representatively be desert scenes, for example,” Craig said. “One of the artists we bought does a lot of barns and farm scenes, but his color palette is desert color. And it really hits. And that matches our theme and it reinforces how the client feels about their home.” Think about scale If a piece isn’t the right scale, for instance, if it’s too small for a space, Craig suggests reframing it to get to the right scale. There’s a lot that can be done with matting and frames. Otherwise, artists will generally be receptive to recreating a piece to the scale you need.

Don’t be afraid to mix styles Often you’ll be drawn to pieces that may not necessarily match your home’s theme or the other artwork in your home. When that’s the case, there are other ways to tie it in. “Take the architecture, the colors, the materials––something as simple as the wood on the floor, and a fabric in the sofa or a color in an accent––and making those tie in,” Craig suggested. “The painting’s context can be completely irrelevant, but if the colors all work, it relates and it reinforces the value of that artist’s contribution.” Not everything is going to work, he cautioned. Some pieces will be more challenging to work into the room. In that case, Craig recommends giving the piece more space to “breathe” through the use of mattes and the frames to center the art and identify it as a separate component. Finally, consider the lighting. Often Craig will bring in a lighting consultant when a gallery style is desired, but he also suggests asking the artist. They often know what light works best with their pieces.

“Part of the selection process is finding the client’s heartstring and then if the artist can pay attention to that, then anything is possible,” he said. Put your plan on paper Sometimes creating a visual map and having a birds-eye view of your artwork can help you plan where to place your art, especially as you build your collection. It’s part of the process of filling in all of the empty spaces in just the right way that they all balance together,” Craig said. “We put together an art wall plan with the wall sizes so I know where it’s going to fit and what the scale will be. And if it’s not a single piece, it can be four or three smaller pieces placed together. You can fill in spaces with a lot of variety of geometry or sculpture.”

Be patient “My goal, and it’s the same with

furniture, where some of the pieces I’m designing and we’re having made, but some of the pieces are found,” Craig said. “And you don’t always find it in your first month of search. I always share with the client that it’s not as important that we have the whole house done as it is that it’s done right.” Sometimes that takes a little more time. Remember, you’re building your story and a space that’s unique to you. It takes time to find the perfect piece.

To reach Craig, visit

Watch Craig's interview here.

"Most homes provide opportunities to explore our desires for all of the arts. it's the person living there who really matters when it comes to art selection."

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from the artist studio: A CONVERSATION WITH LEAH REI

From the street view of this iconic mid- century modern Ralph Haver home in midtown Phoenix, you’d have no idea that just beyond the driveway sits a capacious art studio that’s responsible for works that don the walls of collectors around the world. Just like the art that originates here, the space is peaceful, bright and airy, and it’s become a place of respite for the artist who works here. Incidentally, it’s also where a budding two-year-old artist is beginning to explore her creative side. This is the home and art studio of Leah Rei, a mixed media artist whose work expresses nature and all of its subtle, yet powerful intangible moments. The fact that her art studio mirrors the zen-like experience her art creates is no happy accident––she intentionally designed the space to be energizing and joyful. Testing in the "off-season" During the “off-season” when she’s not at the Celebration of Fine Art, this is where Leah spends most of her days––

up. You’ve got to stretch your muscles and try new things. Often you'll learn something new in that piece that doesn't fit, but you can bring it back to your zone––it’s kind of like your vocabulary grows.” A couple of new concepts Leah’s experimenting with this year include three-dimensional sculpture and a collaboration with fellow Celebration of Fine Art artist, Matt Sievers. "I'm going to create kind of an ethereal, airy, organic background and Matt is going to paint some majestic mountains on top," she said. "We're going to have this really big juxtaposition of his boldness and my quietness. So it should make for some really cool pieces." Last year, Leah also began working with metal and this year she has challenged herself to make the leap from two-dimensional to 3D. “It's already in the works, but not revealed yet,” she said. “I'm working on a free-standing sculpture out of the metal. As a 2D artist, I am going to start working in 3D, which is scary and so exciting.”

working on commissions, many of which came from the show, or on collaborative pieces for local hospitals. “Until October, I'm just doing custom commissions,” Leah said. “I know exactly what I'm painting for the next six months, which is calming for my mind. But it also kind of builds the anticipation of, “the faster I get these done, the faster I get to do new stuff.” And Leah is continually testing new concepts to stretch her artistic muscles, though she admits, it can be scary. “Often new ideas are most vulnerable,” she said. “It’s something I might have been thinking about for a while and wanting to share it is that whole next step. So I start small and then work my way

"It's not lost on me How fortunate I am––lucky, I guess––to do this. that I get to do this for my job. that's not a small thing."

Watch Leah's interview here.

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"The celebration feeds a part of me that the studio doesn't. I get really excited about going and seeing everybody and talking to everybody "

Balancing math and art Though sculpture is new for Leah, she's getting to tap into a side of her that's equally as present as her artistic talent: engineering and mathematics. But even with her paintings, she finds her analytical, engineering brain is regularly being tested. “I really like when two plus two equals four––so there’s this very analytical side of me,” she said. “I paint these effervescent, flowy, uncontrolled, organic pieces, but really I just want straight lines. I think you'd be surprised at how connected math and art are. It is analytical, and technical and challenging. And yes, it's pleasing to have two plus two equal four, but I have to make two plus two equal four with water and paint that I can't entirely control. So it's trying to accept my limitations, but also conquer a medium that shouldn't be conquered.” Perhaps that’s what drew Leah to the challenge of 3D metal art––many aspects of it do have to be controlled and

precise. That’s her challenge now––thinking through how to make it structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing from all angles. Looking on the horizon In the meantime, Leah is busy being a mom to her two-year-old daughter, and fulfilling commissions and

creating pieces that she hopes create a peaceful pause for people. “I really want to create joyful places, respites, and safe places for people to travel to and escape to and to find some reason to have joy in their life,” she said. She also has her sites set on the next Celebration of Fine Art. “The Celebration feeds a part of me that the studio doesn't,” Leah said. “I need this alone and creative time, but if there's nowhere to show it off, then what's the point? So, I get really excited about going and seeing and talking to everybody.”

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BUFFALO BILL ART SHOW & SALE Cody, WY Sept. 19-24, 2022

One of our favorite events of the year! Influenced by the location and history of Cody, Wyoming, the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale is a nationally renowned art show and sale offering a broad range of stylistic interpretations of the American West. Organized by the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale strives to support established and emerging Western artists, engage patrons of the arts, and enliven the Cody community with events that provide education and entertainment, all of which benefit the prestigious Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody Country Chamber of Commerce and local art organizations.

Each year, the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale hosts several events leading up to and during the annual Rendezvous Royale week. The main events include the Friday night Live Auction and dinner located at the Party Tent adjacent to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Saturday Quick Draw & Brunch where patrons can observe BBAS Artists create works of art live while enjoying a champagne brunch.

CALL FOR ART DONATIONS Support the Phoenix Boys Choir

For more information, visit

The Phoenix Boys Choir ( has a rich history of educating boys in the art of singing and performing the finest music in the boy choir tradition, develops character, discipline, leadership, global awareness, and a strong commitment to excellence. This year, the nonprofit is celebrating its 75th Anniversary and to commemorate the milestone, they are organizing a special fundraiser. One of our long time patrons and collectors, Dave Ryder, who is also a Phoenix Boys Choir alum (1972- 1977) is helping the effort. He and Don Hansen are seeking art donations to be auctioned off either online or in person at the 75th Anniversary Gala Dinner in February 2023. If you can help out, please contact Dave Ryder at or 602-568-6277.

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https://celebrateart.c om/marketplace/

https://celebrat tplace/ https://celebrat tplace/

https://celebrat tplace/

Save the Date! The Celebration of Fine Art returns January 14 - March 26, 2023 Same location! (The Loop 101 & Hayden Rd. in Scottsdale, AZ)

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