Elsie Lerke has been making gourd art since 1996. As a member of the Tucumcari Arts League, she joined other organization members Wednesday for Tucumcari Historical Museum’s monthly Artist in the Annex display. (Sun Photo by Angela Peacock)
Gourds, hard shelled fruits often used for ornaments, have fascinated Elsie Lerke ever since she can remember.
Lerke once stumbled on a miniature gourd souvenir she thought she could not live without until she discovered it cost $90. That experience left Lerke determined to make gourd art her hobby.
“I have given my sons both gourds for Christmas every year that I’ve been making them. Then one year I didn’t give them a gourd and they were very upset,” Lerke said.
Lerke, a member of the Tucumcari Arts League, joined other organization members in displaying their work during the monthly Artist in the Annex activity at the Tucumcari Historical Museum, Wednesday afternoon.
“Gourds can’t be duplicated. That’s what makes them so great. They’re very stable to work with because they’re heavy and hard. Some will break but most don’t,” Lerke said. “I’ve made gourds my hobby for no other reason than I like them.”
Besides pastel and water color painting, Jessie Robinson, Fine Arts League president, creates art pieces out of old shells she gathers from her ostrich ranch. Robinson enjoys participating in the art league because she has an opportunity to share her work with other artists and also the public. She said each month art league members take turns display their work at Tucumcari Public Library, Wells Fargo Bank and the Tucumcari Post Office.
Betty Boatman started making dolls when she lived in Corpus Christi, Texas. She presented her miniature statutes of an elderly couple for Wednesday’s event. Everything from the hand-stitched outfits to the detailed wrinkles left many viewers saying, “They’re absolutely amazing.”
Various types of artwork including paintings, wood creations and even shell art had the attention of participants such as Dorothy Bell.
“I’ve lived here in Tucumcari for 50 years, and it amazes me how many truly wonderful artists we have in this town,” Bell said.