Spirit of the Desert Gourd Patch was created 12 years ago when several creative, outgoing people got together. Artists of all types enjoy working together to learn each other’s skills, as well to be surrounded by inspiration. That was the start of Spirit of Desert gourd patch.
In about 2003 Sally Kiste was visiting family in Sacramento, CA and saw her first gourd growing in a small field. She was smitten and arranged for the farmer to harvest it, dry it and send it to her. Months later it arrived and Sally showed it to some artist friends who gathered to paint together weekly. Well, like a moth to the flame, the circle grew of people who did or wanted to work with gourds.
By 2004 Sally was organizing the group and by 2005 was advertising for new members through a set of beginning classes she would teach. All classes were at Sally’s house and it was a great overview to gourd art. Many converts from other art forms could see that gourds are really nature’s canvas. And with the variety of forms they are suitable to drawing, painting, dying, wood burning, carving, cutting, weaving, beading – any technique beside firing can be done on gourds.
Spirit of the Desert Gourd Patch became official when it participated in the first finished sales booths of the Wuertz Gourd Festival in Casa Grande in February of 2005. Many artists went together and purchased a booth and displayed their work under the Spirit of the Desert banner. They were a hit and sold most of what they brought.
In 2006 the group easily qualified to join the Arizona Gourd Society. Membership exceeded 25; we were organized and self-sufficient. Our association with this state society and with the American Gourd Society has given our artists wonderful access and legitimacy.
By 2007 the group had grown too large to meet at Sally’s house anymore. Meetings were moved to the Oakwood Arts and Crafts Room, where they remained for many years. Also, Sally’s classes were replaced with workgroups supported by the patch members. A mentorship program continues today that was very important to Sally.
Today our patch has 50 members. We are one of the largest patches in the state. Our patch has a reputation for helpfulness and mentorship that comes from its beginnings. Under Sally’s giving and creative mentorship, we’ve grown into a group of cooperative, compassionate members. Sally said she’s most proud of that – that we all have something to learn and teach each other and we always listen.
Our meetings will resume in October. Check out all our news, as well as great member art, at spiritdesertgourds.com.