Steel Art for Buckeye

The steel artwork of desert flora and fauna has been underway for 2 years. It is exciting to see thick steel turned into recognizable barrel cactus, prickly pear, saguaro and ocotillo. In a short while you will be crossing the intersection of Monroe Avenue and 4th Street in Historic Downtown Buckeye and spot the colorful cacti and animals. This project has been a collaboration of many artists like inmates at the Florence Corrections Facility who fabricated the saguaro and ocotillo sculptures, Charlene Powers Broadbent of Powers Leavitt Insurance who initially came up with the concepts and Serbin Studio Architects who designed the patterns.

Zach Shamblin welding the base of Steel Cut Barrel Cactus

Zach Shamblin welding the base of Steel Cut Barrel Cactus



The barrel cactus and prickly pear are currently being fabricated by Buckeye Union High School welding Instructor Alijandro Jimenez and welding students. Many hours have been spent cutting, knocking off excess, grinding, and making smooth.

As student Jonathan Celaya pointed out, “Many connections on the prickly pear sculpture we had to fill in the gap with all the multiple angled connections.” Once metal fill is applied, the rough connection gets smoothed out.

Smooth Connections

Smooth Connections

Jonathan Celaya taps off rough from the steel cut barrel cactus.

Gap between angled steel prickly pear pads.

Gap between angled steel prickly pear pads.

Multiple angled connections on Prickly Pear Cactus

Multiple angled connections on Prickly Pear Cactus

It takes lots of attention to detail to bring a flat sheet of steel to life. Some of the tricks are seen here in the road runner. The wings of the bird aren’t just welded directly to the bird body. To give this fast desert bird some 3 dimensional quality and shadow effect, metal spacers are used in between the wing and body. This same technique is used on the previous steel sculpture of the barrel racer. These pieces will be taken to Glendale Powder Coating next week! More to follow on this exciting project for Downtown Buckeye!

Metal spacers between Road Runner wing and body.

Metal spacers between Road Runner wing and body.

Anthony Miglio and Jonathan Celaya welding students at Buckeye Union High School

Anthony Miglio and Jonathan Celaya welding students at Buckeye Union High School

2018 Helzarockin’ Gem & Mineral Show

Lee Gonzales Buckeye Jewelry Artist

James and Lee Gonzales will be vendors at the upcoming 2018 Helzarockin’ Gem & Mineral Show October 12-14 in Historic Downtown Buckeye, Arizona.  I spoke with Lee recently to learn where her inspiration for wrapping copper and threading gemstones to make her sought after jewelry and art.

Tree of Life

Lara: Do you cut and polish stones?

Lee: My Dad who was a rock hound, taught me lapidary and silversmithing at age 10. For 5-6 years, I did do my own lapidary and silversmithing work. When I was a teenager, we had a house fire just before the big January Rock and Gem show in Phoenix.  Our house burnt to the ground on Christmas and we lost everything, including our lapidary equipment and supplies.  We never got back into lapidary because of the cost.  It’s something I would like to get back into. I just buy my cabs now.

Lara: Your father was a rock hound, tell me about him.

Lee: He was from New Jersey and moved out to Arizona in 1963. He loved the desert. He bought himself a jeep and every weekend we as a family would pick a new place and go rock hounding.

Lara: Did you always live out here in the West Valley?

Lee: I was born in New Jersey, my parents moved out here when I was 3.  We originally moved to Paradise Valley, Arizona and then my parents bought a piece of property in Rainbow Valley. I have lived in Rainbow Valley, Arizona since 1968.

Lara: Did your family ever go rock hounding with the Koning family from Morristown?

Lee: My Godfather moved out here a few years after we did, and he had bought a small claim that was part of the Vulture Mine. We would go out in the Wickenburg area all the time for rock hounding.  There used to be a rock shop in Glendale, AZ where we always went.

Lara: Did your family belong to a rock hounding club then?

Lee: Yes, but I don’t remember the name of it.   The club came out of the Glendale Rock Show. We’d get together on weekends, much like your West Valley Rock & Mineral Club.

Lara: Talk abut your Pale Tail Visions work.

Lee: I have all different types of earrings, necklaces, beaded bugs and trees of life that can set in a window, hang on a wall or your person.

Copper Wire Wrapped Stone Cab

Copper Wire Wrapped Stone Cab

Lara: What’s your biggest seller?

Lee: The beaded spiders are most popular. The trees of life come in second.  The spiders draw attention.  Customers may not always buy depending on funds or time of year, but they always stop and look.  My prices are pretty reasonable. Everybody can afford a spider whether they like them or not.

Wire and Gem Stone Spiders

Wire and Gem Stone Spiders

Lara: What started you making beaded spiders?

Lee: For the last 25 years, my husband and I make Christmas gifts for each other.  We had gone somewhere and seen these spiders displayed as Christmas ornaments.  That year we made spider Christmas ornaments. We just continued making them and they kinda morphed over time. About 4 years ago, I was making a tree of life and I was wrapping the tiny skulls in the tree branches and my husband said, “Put a skull on the spider!”, and they EXPLODED! We can’t make them fast enough.  I bet I make 500-700 handmade spiders per year. We sell in 3 retail shops. Tanga’s Natural Magick, Peoria, Arizona, Stone Goddess Designs, San Antonio, Texas, and The Jewelry Spot in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

My work is priced from $25 to $100. The sweet spot is $25  to $45.  My work should be affordable for everyone.  I make these little glass bottle charms. I fill them with rock chips. They can be worn on a necklace. I sell them for 3 dollars or two charms for 5 dollars.  The family that comes by that has two little girls that doesn’t have a lot of money, they can buy both of them a necklace.

Come to the 2018 Helzarockin’ Gem & Mineral Show to visit Lee Gonzales and lots of other talented artists!

Buckeye Oktoberfest 2018

Buckeye Oktoberfest 2018

Written by: Lara Serbin, Buckeye Main Street Coalition

Harold Lyon, Artist Contributes Bold Western Paintings

By: Lara Serbin, Buckeye Main Street Coalition

Buckeye Main Street Coalition has recently acquired enough Harold Lloyd Lyon original Western oil paintings to start an art gallery! Lyon, a Canadian artist hit his stride when he started painting rangy cowboys, vaqueros and Arizona desert landscape beginning in the 1980’s.

Naturally, Lyon would be drawn to Historic Downtown Buckeye, Arizona living in his current Goodyear residence. After meeting Lyon initially, Dorothy Lockard, a Buckeye Main Street Coalition member confided, ”He’s a believer!” Lyon’s career is full of revitalization efforts like wall murals in Chemainus Vancouver Island British Columbia.

Lyon believes “When one great artist contributes work it attracts other artists to show what they can do.”  The paintings he has generously donated to Buckeye Main Street Coalition will be displayed in Buckeye public buildings soon. He has donated boxes of oil paints, easels and copies of his self-published classic, “Creating Illusions” that will be available for purchase.