Paper-Making Artist Lives “A Life Less Ordinary,” Runs Junction Art Connection – Press Release 8/26/2003

DATE 8/26/2003 10:04 AM

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

Paper-Making Artist Lives “A Life Less Ordinary,” Runs Junction Art Connection

Joan Gould Winderman is used to living a far-from-ordinary life.
In the late 1960s, she ran an art gallery outside of Philadelphia before working as a teacher and reading specialist. After her children were grown, she and her husband, Earle, moved to an Indian Reservation in Arizona. Six years later, they headed even further South, settling in the former silver mining town of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico, where Joan embraced the art of primitive Japanese paper making and began collecting Mexico art and crafts.
So, somehow, opening an art and crafts gallery in the tiny Utah town of Junction (population 130) when she was entering her 70s didn’t seem like an outrageous idea. Never mind that Winderman’s passion is for an art few people recognize, or that the gallery is only open six months of the year.

“I’m used to an uphill battle,” she says with a laugh. Winderman opened The Junction Art Connection, 95 N. Main, four years ago. Housed in an 1895 brick home, the gallery is open “by appointment or by chance” from May through October. “I have to leave occasionally to go to the grocery store, which is 50 miles away. Other than that, we’re open whenever I’m here.”

The art and crafts gallery is home to Winderman’s own art of collage paper and jewelry-making, and she also displays Mexico and Utah arts and crafts made by other artists, including ceramics, prints, oils, jewelry, dolls and sculptures.

“Some people who stop by look around and say “whoa, this is a labor of love,” Winderman says. “My husband has a different term: he calls it “an ego trip.”

Winderman’s love of art, particularly Mexico art and paper-making, started in the late 1960s when she ran a gallery with her sister-in-law. After a few years, it became increasingly difficult to keep it open, raise a family, and make a living. So she turned to teaching. “But I always said I would do it again some day.”

“Some day” ended up being more than three decades later. The Winderman’s stumbled across the town of Junction when they were looking to escape the hot, humid summers of Alamos. “We just headed north, looking for any place above 5,000 feet.” They went through New Mexico first, eventually making their way into Utah and finding a historic home for sale on U.S. Highway 89. “It was gorgeous, but too big for just the two of us, so I thought it would make a great gallery.”

It’s inside this magical-looking house where Winderman indulges in her paper-making art. She follows the “Japanese primitive method,” which involves pulling plants from her yard and boiling and cooking them over and over to make paper. It can take up to 30 hours.

“You never know what you are going to get. I like to take plants, cook them down, and see what color they make. You can never guess by looking at a plant what color the paper will be.” She has made paper from carrots, banana leaves, straw and holly hocks. It’s a lot like cooking stew, you have to watch it all the time. But I love the process, playing with it. It’s always exciting, beautiful and always a surprise.”

Visitors to the gallery are often puzzled by Winderman s paper creations. “They don’t usually recognize it as paper, it’s not what they are used to seeing.” She also makes cards and earrings from her paper, which, she adds, “is actually a very sturdy.”

Winderman loves to talk about paper-making with people who stop by the gallery and about the other artists whose works are displayed. “I like to share the beautiful things I see in Mexico and want people to know about the people and the tribes who made the art that they are seeing.”

Junction Art Connection
Open May through October “by appointment or by chance”
95 N. Main Street,
Junction (U.S. Highway 89)
(435) 577-2999

For more information Contact:Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502
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