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Collages, found object art and 'Grasshopper Days'

Lo Smucker, retired high school guidance counselor, is — a free spirit, a lover of rust and a gifted artist. Like many in her generation, — schooling didn't allow much room to fly. A classical trained pianist, — she struggles to break free and learn jazz, but when it comes to the visual — arts, Smucker soars.

A life-long artist, Smucker currently enjoys transforming — found objects into something whimsical or with a message, the latter rarely — planned with a couple exceptions being her collage, "Peace," created with — rosary beads and other found objects, and "Blue Rebel," a collage of fish, — with the blue one swimming in the opposite directions (the fish also appears — to be the only one wearing red lipstick).

"It's amazing how many materials are available when one — starts noticing — Bicycle parts are fun — The railroad track offers all — kinds of treasures," says Smucker, her enthusiasm bubbling. "Weathered — fencing offers a nostalgic background. Friends give me old jewelry and — watches to cut up. At present, I'm collecting smashed beer bottle caps — - some have beautiful rust (she loves rust for its browns and oranges — and blacks) and imperfect shapes. Who knows? They may turn into the eyes — of a future metal sculpture."

The rusted exhausted pipe she dragged home from a hike — became the tail on her "Foxy Feline" metal sculpture, a whimsical cat — standing about four feet high, winking with long eyelashes. One of two — pieces in Jega Gallery's juried 2003 show "Women with Attitude and Men — Who Love Women with Attitude," "Foxy Feline" is one of the few pieces — with which she won't part. Some are sold and many more donated to charities — for selling or given to friends.

Rusted metal wall hangings and sculptures grace the tan — and black furnished Zen-like living room on Tolman Creek Road while brightly — colored collages and a whimsical border cut with her electric saw from — scrap wood brighten the white space of the hall. The old adage about creative — types being messy doesn't apply in this feng shui home.

"A Grasshopper Day," a collage in the hall, was created — with all sorts of objects found in a free sections of a thrift store: — old wooden bingo pieces, jacks she spray painted, computer keys, wooden — letters.

But where are the grasshoppers?

"A grasshopper day is a day when you go from one thing — to another - a happy, hopping around," she explains with a youthful smile, — and one gets the feeling she knows these days well.

Smucker's workroom is spring time: light, airy and smattered — with pastels. An old white flour sack from her father's barn is the canvass — for one wall hanging, the stains transformed with paint and the flowers — cut from an old tablecloth. Another wall hanging features embroidery stitched — by her mother-in-law on pieces of shirts worn by the Smuckers' two boys — when they were little, as well as pieces taken from an old Amish quilt.

"I would die if I had to quilt - all those tiny little — stitches. I hate restriction," she said.

An Eastery collage over her computer was created from — greeting cards. She laments the dying tradition of mailing cards, but — just for a moment before moving on. The rustic frames were salvaged from — an old fence. Two abstracts were created from the scrap wood, lightly — brushed with watercolors.

"I just have so much fun!" Smucker concludes. "Since each — piece is unique to the material found, it never becomes boring. The fun — in doing this is only matched by the affirmation of others. Sometime I — would love to have a show here, hoping that others would see ideas that — would get them into the act of recycling."