Glenn Calascibetta – Wood in the Wind

Glenn Calascibetta in his booth at the Lithia Artisans Market.

 

Glenn Calascibetta has been a member of the Lithia Artisans Market for five years now. Glenn is retired but by no means on vacation. He is a very involved Grandfather, a local artisan, a member of the board of directors of the Lithia Artisans Market, and a devoted father and husband. A nature lover to the core, he blends his connection to the natural world with his creativity to form one of a kind mobiles and sun-catchers. You can find him most Saturdays along Ashland Creek at the artisans market if he isn’t up on the Umpqua River combing the rivers edge for treasures.

How long have you been creating your art form?

I first became interested in Kinetic Art in the early 70’s while I was attending college in Northern California. The small town of Ferndale had a large art community, which sponsored the annual Kinetic Art Sculpture Race, and there were a couple of artists there that really impressed me.

For many years I made mobiles for special occasions for friends and family. I got a lot of positive feedback and occasionally someone would say, “you should sell them”.  When I retired my family encouraged me to go for it and so here I am.  After 5 years I’m still at it.

Mobile featuring locally collected agates and driftwood.

What would you say is your main inspiration when you make your craft?

I’m in awe of all the natural beauty that surrounds us.  I love being outdoors whether it’s in my garden or in the mountains.  My goal as an artist is to combine the individual pieces of wood and stone that I find appealing and create a piece of art that makes a connection with the natural world and hopefully brings that connection to the observer.

Tell us a little about your career life before becoming a street artisan.

I feel very fortunate to have had a career in forestry working with the Bureau of Land Management’s Medford District.  I worked as a forestry technician in the Tree Improvement Program which had the goal of finding Sugar Pines that had natural resistance to White Pine Blister Rust, and create an orchard that would provide enough resistant seed for all the District’s reforestation needs.  For 28 years I got to climb trees and explore all of southern Oregon’s back country. Working in the woods allowed me to connect with nature on a daily basis, and working 150 feet in the top of a swaying pine tree allowed me a very unique view of the world that I will always remember and treasure.

What do you most enjoy or appreciate about selling at the Lithia Artisans Market?

I would have to say the friendships I’ve made with my fellow artisans.  The members of the market are a special group of folks that are just like family.  The setting of the market, next to the creek and across from Lithia Park, is very special in many ways.

You are a Reiki master. How did that come about, and how does that affect your relationship to your craft and the earth?

Reiki is a Japanese word for “universal energy” and the practice of Reiki is basically channeling that energy to help clear energy blockages, allowing the body to heal naturally.  Several years ago a member of my family was having some health issues and I wanted to be able to do more in helping with pain issues. Reiki has had a profound influence on my life, opening me to a whole new way of experiencing life.

Most of the stones that I use in my mobiles are of a crystalline nature, which have the ability to hold and transfer energy.  I use Reiki to “clear & charge” the stones I use so that they will bring a positive flow of energy into the room where they hang.

Asian inspired backyard of Glenn Calascibetta.

Tell us a little about you the gardener.

I got my green thumb from my mother who at 87 still gardens.  Gardening is another art-form that allows me to channel my creativity.  I have 3 separate “gardens” in my small suburban home.  The front yard is a natural “woodland” landscape with large trees that I planted 34 years ago, with an under story of shrubs, ferns, and flowers.  I’ve tried to incorporate as much of the indigenous flora in my landscaping as I can and am constantly looking for additions.  My back yard is a Japanese style garden with a Koi pond and several small waterfalls, and is used to display my favorite bonsai trees, potted ferns, and hanging flower baskets.  The third garden is a cut flower garden, which contains a small green house, an arbor for the rest of my bonsai, and a constantly changing variety of perennial flowers that I use for flower arranging (Ikebana) inside our home.

 

Glenn with his grandaughter at the market. Big hearted grandpa.

How has being a Grandfather affected your worldview?

Being a Grandfather has been so rewarding.  I have been the primary childcare person for my granddaughter, Edynn, since she was 3 months old; she is now 3 years old and the relationship I have with her is very special. Being close to a grandchild has definitely changed the way I look at the world, primarily by changing my focus to what is really important in life. She brings me great joy.

Who or what do you consider influential in making you the artisan you are today?

I have had the utmost respect for my brother’s artistic abilities since we were very young.  His ability to draw and paint has always amazed me.  For the longest time I thought that was “true art” and the things I did were more in the nature of crafting.  However, I now see that there are unlimited forms of art and that everyone has creative abilities that are displayed in many different forms.

Alexander Calder is one of the original creators of kinetic art and anyone who makes mobiles has to show him respect for making this an accepted art form.  My family has been super supportive.  Without their encouragement I never would have taken the steps to become an artisan.

 

Another of the many talents of Glenn Calascibetta… Bonzai.

What do you like to do when you are not creating or selling your art?

In the summer I love to go camping, mostly on the North Umpqua River.  “Creek Walking” is my favorite pastime in the warm summers, exploring creek banks for “treasures” of wood and stone, observing wildlife, swimming in beautiful water, and just connecting with the natural world.

Why should people buy your art, and why is it important to buy local?

I believe there are many of us who are so busy with our lives that we don’t get to make the important connection to the “real world” that is necessary to be a balanced individual.  I feel that my mobiles bring some of that into the home, allowing the observer to stop and “smell the roses” if you will. Touching, and looking at the amazing creations of nature allows one’s self to feel and understand that we are a part of all that is.

Because I have gotten close to so many talented people these past few years, I truly appreciate and support local artisans.  I believe these people and their work have so much to offer us in a personal way in a world that has become so impersonal.  Having purchased an item from the person who made it and knowing that the purchase helps them continue doing what they do is very satisfying.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a very special community.  The inspiration I get from my fellow artisans has allowed me to expand my creative abilities into new areas making my mobiles an ever-changing work in progress.