Monday, June 11, 2012

Renaissance Woman: Kelley Naylor Wise

Kelley Naylor Wise

     Kelley Naylor Wise of Little Rock is a renaissance woman.  She excels in a number of fields and her fervid enthusiasm for life and learning knows few bounds.

     She creates jewelry and stained glass, has supported herself by her carpentry skills, is certified to teach metal clay classes, has worked in film and advertising, serves as contract jeweler and business manager for Hillcrest Designer Jewelry, and is an accomplished painter.  Mrs. Wise is also color design director for Shoppe Talk.  Yes, we are extolling one of our own, and for good reason.

     Kelley had been showing her jewelry and stained glass work at The Hidden Gallery in Perryville when she and artist Reylene Finkbeiner began talking about painting on canvas.

     "I said that I'd never tried it, but I admired it.  Reylene got this kind of motherly look, handed me five canvases and buckets of paint, and said, "Go home and paint - right now."

      She did.  "At the time, I had been hanging out with Stephano and (his wife) Ashley at Stephano's Gallery.  I took him some of the work.  I said, "I respect you ... and want to know what you think."  He said out of the gate, "Can I show them?"  I became one of his artists.  With his support and Reylene's support, I was painting.

      "I love painting.  People should love what they do."

       Kelley started out making art when she was a child.

      "I've been an artist all my life.  I was just born making stuff.  Everything I've done since I was a child has taught me about color and expression and flow.

    "There's something that moves our soul, and there's no reason why we shouldn't be abundant."

     When Kelley was growing up, her best friend, her father, the late Dr. Larry Naylor, had a hobby creating jewelry. And he taught her to create pieces too.  Her dad would do it for gifts for friends and tailor his creations to the personality of folks he wanted to  please with his designs.

      "The most beautiful thing about my father, he didn't make it for money. I said, 'Why don't you sell this?' He said, "As soon as I do it for money, I'm afraid I won't love it anymore."

      Kelley's having none of that; artists get to be paid for their work.  But most of her painting the past two years has been commission work, so she is creating for individuals just as her father did with his jewelry. 

     "It is for someone specifically, so it is more of a joy, more of a blessing."

      She has sold commission pieces in a number of places including Arkansas, Texas, Ohio, New York, Washington, Memphis  and Japan.

     Kelley learned carpentry as a child too.  Her grandfather and his grandfather on her mother's side were master carpenters.

      "I was just taught how to build stuff."  She does residential remodels here in Little Rock, and, earlier, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf, she moved to  New Orleans to help rebuild there.

       She began working in stained glass in 1994.  "I just got hooked.  Stained glass helped me to define simple lines, to express what I wanted to at the core of it in basic forms.  It really helped me get clear on my intentions during my creative process."

      Then she began working in metal clay. "In about 1997, there was this new art form out of Japan - metal clay. It was non-toxic and had a great potential for jewelry design.  It requires no soldering.  It is clay that fires in a kiln and produces pure gold and silver solid forms.  I was really excited about combining sculpture and metalsmithing! The possibilities of this art form are just limitless."

      She studied to gain an international certificate to become a master instructor in the art of metal clay jewelry making.  She taught a class in metal clay at Gallery 360 in Little Rock in May and will teach another class there June 30.

       "This is an art form you can immediately finish.  It is immediate gratification. Anything you can conceive, you can make in metal clay"

        Kelley shows her work at Eric Coleman's  Hillcrest Designer Jewelry and is the featured artist at Rings & Things in Hot Springs.

        She also shows at Plenty Mystic Emporium in Hot Springs where she will have a show June 15, "Fine Art.  Living Art.  Moving Art."  It will feature her work, along with art by Maxwell Blade.

       It's no surprise that Kelley was interested in art from an early age.  She was an only child to two parents who were both artistic.  Her mom, Sharon, was in theater and was also a professor of English.  And her dad, a respected anthropologist, had authored seven books in his field. 

       "I was raised with the entire planet in my home.  I was taught to see myself as a global citizen and to look beyond cultural barriers.

       "Every language was spoken in my home.  The foreign students my mother taught were from everywhere,  I was raised knowing there were no communication barriers. Language was not a barrier, culture was not a barrier. I just accepted everyone and learned respect very early."

       Do you believe this had any bearing on your becoming a Buddhist?  "Absolutely yes.  Buddhism makes no judgement. Buddhism makes no judgement of right and wrong.  This is very true for me."

       Three years before Kelley's birth, her parents had been living with an extremely primitive tribe, the Dani, in Baliem Valley in New Guinea. 

        "My mom found out she was pregnant, and the medicine woman said, 'It will be a girl,' and they gave me a naming ceremony.  They named me 'Bahlim-Na-Ka,' which is 'girl of the valley.'

         "When people would ask my dad about what was the coolest artifact he brought back, my dad would always say, 'My daughter.'"