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Let’s Cook: Zippy Zippers

A prettier way to recycle zippers would be difficult to find upon seeing the beautiful zipper mosaics created by visual artist, Karen Davidson, of Minot. She has transformed zippers from tan coveralls, sky blue nursing uniforms, and coral summer shorts into canyon walls and more on a bowl. A closer look reveals that she also included yellow zippers and green. The pattern is evocative; you can almost feel the warmth of the rocks and that lie beneath clear blue sky and the shade of green teasing that trees do exist in dry canyons.

The above description came to mind upon seeing Karen’s attractive invitation for her current gallery show that features her amazing zipper mosaics. To say that they are deeply dramatic and an inspiring experience is simply an understatement. Karen is a life-long artist with an infectious sense of fun and creativity. She is a designer that places less in the trash and more on a canvas. What a brilliant idea!

Karen was blessed to have parents that were artists. Her mother constantly enjoyed art and shared this experience with her children. She had the talent to make beautiful things out many items that would have been normally tossed. She worked in a variety of mediums including oil painting and charcoal. Her father found favor in wood carving; to this day, Karen treasures his first endeavor which was a miniature horse.

While attending school in Mandan, Karen had art instruction from first grade through eighth. Her eyes light up as she speaks about Charles Grantier, and how he taught the principles of drawing, perspective, shading and so much more. Between these valuable experiences, Karen more than caught a drift of art, she was swirling in it daily. It was perhaps this early introduction that lead her to study art at Minot State University.

Her Finnish grandmother, who was fondly referred to as Mummu, introduced Karen to the textile arts such as crocheting, knitting, and even tatting. It is easy to see how this very early foundation for using what you had to create art has taken Karen far from the mundane crowd.

Karen’s husband, Conrad, has an appreciation for her talents and assists her. He is beyond qualified to help her in art and certainly to “stage a show.” In the current show, there are amoebas! Once Karen has drawn them on basswood, Conrad does the cutting. Visitors to the show will be enlightened with a complete family including 13 baby amoebas.

Karen’s introduction to zipper art came from Myrtle Anderson, who made heart shaped pins from zippers. She gifted Karen a pair of heart shaped earrings, and this inspired her to start gathering zippers from thrift stores. Her first project was a bowl, then a lamp, many hearts and even a pig just to name a few. Each piece has been incorporated with a zipper pull and some have more than one–after all she is an artist!

Karen’s zipper mannequin is a work in progress and represent causes in our world. There is a pink, black, rainbow heart and smiley faces all created from zippers. Truly a representation of binding closer together, soul to soul. She expresses that sometime she would like to do a table and chairs–the twinkle in her eye tells that she has even more plans. When asked about a favorite past project, she talks about doing a pair of platform shoes and even the ties had plenty of zip!

Her favorite artist is Jackson Pollock and his abstract expressionist movement has enthused her. His technique for pouring and dripping paint onto a horizontal surface, enabling him to view has canvases from all angles. The first time Karen took an airplane ride and looked down she then realized that this perspective that she saw was in alignment with designs that she had been creating long before this. Many of her designs, especially the larger pieces, reflect this angle.

For a number of years, Karen owned and operated a daycare which was called “Famous Little Artist’s Daycare.” Each day children were introduced to an art lesson and project. Do you see the pattern here? Karen had daily art lessons and she was now giving others that same opportunity. She has done zipper art with her daughters, Aili and Kendra; however, her favorite studio pals are her grandchildren Crosby, Evie, and Bram.

I would encourage you to experience the gloriously smooth flow of zippers and vibrant colors in Karen’s latest gallery show which is currently being held at Artspace Gallery in downtown Minot until October 30. As luck would have it she saved out this “Salad Bowl with Spoon” design that is pictured here.

In visiting with Karen about a zippy recipe, she mentioned that she is a fan of cauliflower. So here is an easy, zippy recipe for cauliflower that will allow you plenty of time for doing the creative arts and viewing the creative arts.

Cauliflower Saute’

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil

4 cups cauliflower chopped slightly thin

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1 tablespoon instant dry onions

1 tablespoon chicken seasoned stock base

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in large heavy fry pan. Add cauliflower, celery and dry onion. Combine chicken stock with wine, garlic, Beau Monde Seasoning and blend well. Pour over vegetables. Cook quickly over high heat, turning constantly with wide spatula as not to break up cauliflower. Cook until vegetables are barely tender and still crisp, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve at once. This makes 6 servings.

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