Snapshots from the Tucson 2004 Gem and Mineral Show
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A Rose and a Doodleysquat

While browsing the artist's galleries at the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show just off the lobby of the InnSuites Hotel I discovered this stunning alabaster rose, carved by Susan Zalkind. This carving was life size, I estimated the the overall height to be just shy of two feet. After studying this sculpture for a while I have concluded that alabaster is perfectly matched as a sculptural material for rendering roses. Real roses glow and so did this alabaster rose.

Susan Zalkind personally mines her chosen medium from rare gem quality alabasters found in Southwest United States deposits. An ongoing artistic goal of Susan's has been to create a number of alabaster roses in unbroken succession. Because of the time and concentration required to bring shape to the complexity of a rose, Susan has created only 18 roses during 28 years of her work with alabaster, number 18 being the one shown at Tucson 2004. This rose wanted $50,000 to go home to your sweetheart.

This Sacred Datura was another masterfully executed alabaster sculpture by Susan Zalkind which was also displayed at artist's galleries at the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show at the InnSuites Hotel. This piece spans about two feet across. I frequently encounter Sacred Datura while hiking, as it is a fairly common plant below about 6000 feet all over the Southwest. It is a member of the the Nightshade family. Sacred Datura bloom at night starting early evening and typically closing around noon the following day. They are pollinated by nocturnal sphinx or hawk moths. The name Datura is from the Hindu "Dhatura" (dhat = the eternal essence of God).

I thought alabaster was also very well matched to the subject in this datura piece, which is as finely executed as the rose. Susan related that each finished blossom in this piece weighed about a pound, each one having been reduced from alabaster blocks that started out with a weight in the neighborhood of 45 pounds each. The green material used to carve the rose and datura foilage is an alabaster as well, and Susan related that Utah material was the rarest of the alabasters used in her work. The datura was commanding $75,000.

Susan Zalkind is pictured above left with her rose number 18. When I inquired regarding her other roses and if there was a gallery where they might be seen, Susan related that all but this most recent rose have been sold. Susan's husband Paul Hawkins is also a sculptor who also works primarily with alabaster. When I asked Susan if her husband also had an active part in the creation of her rose and datura sculptures she responded that they were all her work with the exception of Paul's contribution of 21 agate anthers which he carved for the datura's flowers.

Most of the work displayed at the Show by Carved American Alabaster was Paul's work. Shown above right is a display of hand shaped and carved alabaster vessels and bowls and several boxes by Paul. I thought the vessels and bowls were particularly eye catching, as the white alabaster glowed with captured light.

The alabaster vessel shown in hand above right wanted $250 to go home. The large bowl shown above right was striking. It is about 22 inches in diameter and started out as an approximately 500 pound alabaster nodule. There is an organic element to the shape and overall impression presented by Paul's alabaster vessels.

Pictured above left is another table displaying a number of Paul's pieces. Most of these are containers and boxes of various sorts. The alabaster piece shown in the closer views above right and at left was ornamented with some amethyst roses. It was about 14 inches overall. Susan related that this one involved a difficult and risky cut to initially separate and define the top and bottom portions of the container. This piece wanted $3500.

Shown above left and right and below is another of Paul's unique pieces. This one seemed to be attracting quite a bit of attention. This trilobite "house" was also a container, consisting of four boxes stacked one upon the other. It stood about 15 inches high. This one wanted $2200.

When I asked Susan if she had a favorite among Paul's pieces on display she pointed out the one depicted above left and right, which he just recently completed. This piece is another box, made from petrified wood and alabaster and lined with fragrant juniper wood from the high desert. It wanted $750.

Shown here is Doodleysquat #3, "Irreverance", which was sculpted from white and orange alabasters and inlaid with chrysoprase. It incorporates high desert juniper as the legs and tail. This one is about 55 inches high and wants $12,500. I'm afraid "Irreverance" is a little too far out there on the cutting edge to appeal to my own admittedly traditional and relatively conservative artistic sensitivities, but of course I had to share it with you nonetheless... You can check out more Doodleysquats at Susan and Paul's web site.

Susan Zalkind and her husband Paul Hawkins are involved in an interesting art for the people type educational program, A.C.E., which is an acronym for Alabaster Carving Experience. More information regarding the A.C.E. program and Susan Zalkind and her husband Paul Hawkins and a gallery of their sculptures is presented online at their web site

Carved American Alabaster, Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show at the InnSuites Hotel Artists Galleries - WWW: Email: PO Box 531, Camp Verde, Arizona 86322 - Phone: 928.567.2281

More art rocks were shown in the courtyard at the InnSuites Hotel near the lobby entrance. The two pieces shown above are the work of Sid McKeown, a Canadian scuptor. Depicted above left is a sculpted rhodonite/rhodochrosite from Evelyn Creek, Yukon, Canada. It is about 36 inches high. The shape of this one reminded me of a lightning bolt. It wanted $4500. Depicted above right is a sculpted pyrrhotite with calcite and chalcopyrite from the Ketza River Mine, Yukon, Canada. It is about 30 inches high and displayed no price tag.

Sidrock, Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show at the InnSuites Hotel Courtyard - Email: 13 Denver Road, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada Y1A 5S8 - Phone/Fax: 867.668.6639

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