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JULY - 2019

Wenzel and Leasure featured at Backstreet Gallery 


            As summer warms up, so do the arts. Celebrating John Leasure, oil painter, and Kathleen Wenzel, beaded jewelry artist, a reception will be held at Backstreet Gallery, 1421 Bay Street, on Second Saturday Gallery Tour, 3-5 p.m., July 13.The versatile keyboard artist and vocalist, Jeff Lovejoy, will entertain.

            Self-taught painter and teacher John Leasure became a leading artist here in Florence, since his first showings at a local restaurant years ago. 

            His oils include stunning florals and an occasional animal, though his ocean scenes elicit, “WOW!” from viewers. As an observer of beautiful coastlines, he skillfully expresses color and the light bathing the seashore in a dramatic way—all from memory.

            Besides being a Backstreet member, Leasure is an art community leader. He’s a board member of Florence Regional Arts Alliance where he teaches classes. Not only the teacher of the “Wallflower and Wine” class at the Florence Events Center, he’s on the gallery committee. His teaching technique offers a simple approach, enabling students to create polished paintings.

            Owning a cabinet-making business with his brother for 32 years honed his artistic talents, as he transitioned into a full-time painter. As a long-time Florence resident and 27-year artist and teacher, the community appreciates his leadership and to see the stunning beauty of the area through his eyes.

            Kathleen Wenzel, beaded jeweler extraordinaire, takes simple tiny seed beads and weaves them into elegant intricate pieces––true works of art.  Her jewelry includes stunning necklaces, bracelets, pins and amulet bags entwined in beaded chains. New shapes emerge from stars, feathers or other geometric designs. Her recent work incorporates enamel and leather work in unique jewelry. Metals, crystals or other one-of-a-kind beads make her work distinctive.

            Simple to elegant, Wenzel’s jewelry takes an outfit from ordinary to stylish.

            When there is a theatrical performance by CROW, (Children’s Repertoire of Oregon Workshop) Wenzel is there. Whether helping to make it a success or to promote the event, Wenzel lends her expertise. There she’s a photographer and a sound tech. As an active member, she is also the sound tech for the Florence United Methodist Church. 

            Kathleen is on the board of LRP (Last Resort Players) and works on sound and backstage.

            Wenzel is instrumental in aiding those less fortunate than herself, through an organization called First Step. “Helping people transition from homeless to living and working is an important part of helping our community grow and flourish,” says Wenzel.

            See their outstanding work spotlighted for the month of July at Backstreet Gallery, open daily 10-5 p.m.


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