Sifting through the collections of images & paper of bell archives, I discovered this page, which deserves a moment’s consideration. It represents the quality of the ad work regularly created by the artist Deanne McKeown, who owned the shop named Isadora.

That sentence hints at so many bits of early history for GRB Bells. The image grounds my own work in yet deeper notions of history. Bells are ancient tools for spiritual work. I know my fascination with them is very recent in that history, even as I dance with design ideas which are historically eclectic. Deanne chose to display the bells in a manner which celebrates that depth… the sculpture of a horse bearing a burden bundle of painted sticks from which the bells hang honors that idea. As much ancient as contemporary. As much Oriental as Southwestern. As graceful & gesturally lively as it is sturdy & stable. Bearing a “burden” presenting the range of my work… using my calligraphy for the legend.

It is, from my point of view, a delightful piece of advertising!

Deanne’s many skills included medical illustration & designing Hallmark Cards in Kansas City before moving to Sedona, Arizona, where about the same time I moved to help begin Tavernier, a name I came up with for the jewelry & gemstone gallery I co-founded with Ron Pingenot, who I knew before leaving Denver. There is, of course, a much larger story to be told in some future post about that…

Isadora & Tavernier shared neighboring retail spaces in the remarkable re-creation of a Mexican town called Tlaquepaque. It is a unique version of architectural fantasy suggesting adobe public spaces & shops with walls constructed in a grove of trees honored by literally built around their limbs & branches near the waters of Oak Creek.

Several courtyards with arched walkways surround colorfully tiled fountains to create a romantic setting for the collection of shops & galleries. Builder Abe Miller’s vision included the notion that the artists who showed in those retail spaces would live in studios & apartments toward the rear of the “village” complex. For my first year there I occupied one of those studios… experiencing firsthand the inherent difficulties of that notion, discovering there was little creative privacy or peace while curious shoppers constantly, insistently, invaded every inch of Tlaquepaque’s fascinating structure. Eventually all those “private” spaces became retail as well. Still, I have some rich & rare memories set in this magical space.

Deanne & Byron bought the shop for hand-weavers & continued selling looms & yarns, naming it Isadora, alluding to the early 20th century dancer Isadora Duncan who died when her scarf got caught in the spokes on the wheel of an open sports car. Her story as a free spirit befits the creativity of the shop, which evolved into a lovely gallery showing more than weaving… witness her appreciation of GRB Bells!

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