A Bowl of Beauty
Mike Flanigan of Foscoe drives around looking for trees. Not just any tree will do. He prefers a nut or fruit tree, and the more deformed they are, the better they are to him. And they have to be dead, fallen on the ground. Flanigan is a wood-turner whose goal is to give these trees a new life. His artistic bowls are at Alta Vista Gallery in Valle Crucis – just in time to be unique Christmas gifts.
“When I’m driving around and see a tree down, I get excited if it’s a wood that I can put on my lathe and turn,” says Flanigan. “Once, my wife, Lisa, went up to a homeowner’s door and asked if we could have their fallen tree,” he laughs. “Now that a lot of people know that I need to find local woods, people will call me when they have a tree down that might be of use to me for wood-turning.”
Flanigan is proud of the fact that his hand-turned bowls are from trees of the High Country.
“We have such a large variety of trees here, so I have a lot of great woods to work with,” said Flanigan. “I’ve always been into woods, even as a young person, so that’s why I went into home-building.”
His business, Cornerstone Construction, has been building fine homes for decades, but Flanigan’s heart has been craving taking his artistic skills to another level.
“Mike’s hand-turned bowls are really artful,” said Alta Vista Gallery owner, Maria Santomasso-Hyde. “Each bowl has a story to tell, about the tree and the life it had before Mike found it. He takes it on a sort of spiritual journey -- giving a fallen, diseased tree a new life -- as a thing of beauty that will last forever.”
“When I cut into a piece of wood, I never know what I will find,” said Flanigan. “Until you cut into it, you don’t know how beautiful and strong it can be. If the tree had flaws or disease, that often makes the most beautiful bowls that are highly sought-after. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to give new life to these trees.”
Flanigan’s bowls at Alta Vista Gallery are priced for gift-giving, ranging from $39 to $195. He also has hand-turned bottle-stoppers for $25. Other unique, handmade gifts at Alta Vista include:
Mangum Pottery, handmade jewelry from $18, fused-glass photo frames by Megg Isaac, prints from $10, paintings from $85, kaleidoscopes, art tiles, stained glass, and art by Will Moses, heir to Grandma Moses, who has a new print, “Christmas Eve Service,” which is $128. The gallery also sells Moses’ Christmas cards and art-books, such as “T’was the Night Before Christmas” and “Silent Night.”
Alta Vista Gallery, which features over 100 artists, in oils, watercolors, and prints, is located in a National Register of Historic Properties farmhouse at 2839 Broadstone Road, Valle Crucis -- between Mast Farm Inn and Mast Store Annex. View some of the art and a map/directions at http://www. altavistagallery.com, or call (828) 963-5247.