Mimbres artist and gallery owner Shirley Mize's passion
is stained glass.
by Peggy Platonos
Stained glass is, quite simply, Shirley Mize's passion. For nearly a quarter of a century, she has been piecing together fragments of glass to form beautiful, often intricate, designs. Many of the designs feature soft or vibrant colors that glow with life when displayed with light behind them. Other designs are created with sections of clear glass, usually beveled to catch the light in unexpected ways. Always, the individual pieces of glass are held together by a graceful web of delicate-looking but very strong strands of metallic solder.
"It sounds silly, but my attraction to stained glass dates back to a movie called Pollyanna that I saw when I was quite young," says Mize, this issue's cover artist. "At one point in it, Pollyanna hangs prisms in a window to catch the sunlight and reflect rainbows on the walls to cheer a sick old lady up. Ever since I saw that in the movie, I've been fascinated by light coming through glass — the colors it makes and the designs on the wall. That's why nearly every piece I make includes bevels, because they refract the light like a prism would."
Working with stained glass is time-consuming and labor-intensive, and it demands a great deal of patience. But Mize loves it.
She has set up her work area in the corner of a spacious, glass-enclosed building that houses the family's indoor pool. Here — with the light, airy feel of the space perfectly matching the qualities inherent in the stained glass itself — she creates her designs on paper and then, step by step, converts the designs into a finished piece of stained glass.
From work table to the cozy art gallery she has created on the family property in the upper Mimbres Valley is, literally, a matter of steps — and that was one of the main incentives in creating the gallery, she says.
"Having a gallery of my own where local artists could show their work is a dream I had for a long time. Those of us who love both our artwork and country living are faced with the problem of hauling our work quite a distance to market it. And personally, I never went to a show without breaking something along the way."
Her dream came true last fall when she retired from her job as director of the Cardio-Pulmonary and Neuro-Diagnostic Department at Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City and opened the doors of her own gallery. Getting her artwork to the market is no longer necessary, thus eliminating the problem of breakage. The market comes to her.
She calls the gallery The Cottage — Stained Glass & More, and it's located off Hwy. 35 less than a mile north of Camp Thunderbird.
The gallery itself is as bright and cheery as Mize's work space. She and her husband, Marty, designed and — with the help of sons Dave and Bill — constructed the building specifically for use as a gallery. She has set interesting pieces of antique furniture here and there, all available for purchase and all combining to create an indefinable air of refinement that provides a perfect setting for the high quality art exhibited and sold at the gallery.
In addition to Mize's own stained glass work, her gallery offers oil paintings and prints by Narrie Toole, the metal work and antler art of Jimmy Head, the pottery and jewelry of Judy Menefee, the gemstone jewelry of Dr. Karen Blissard, the turquoise jewelry of Kathy Field, stained glass crosses by Wilma Young, and Mimbreño-style pots made from gourds by Andy Anderson. Mize has also recently added the jewelry of Lynn Smith to the gallery's inventory, along with Ruth Camp's hand-painted walking sticks made from sturdy yucca stalks.
The Cottage — Stained Glass & More is open Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., or by special appointment. Adding to the atmosphere of gentility in the gallery is the availability of refreshments in the form of gourmet coffee, hot tea and different home-made goodies every week — goodies that may include, at any given time, one or more of the following: double fudge brownies, coconut cream pie, various fruit pies and even angel food cake with strawberries.
For more information about the gallery, call Shirley Mize at (575) 536-3234, or check out her listing on the Artisans of the Mimbres website at mimbresartists.com
Mimbres writer Peggy Platonos reviews Shevek & Co. restaurant in this month's Red or Green? section.