Artists show gourds in  a new light at annual festival

Mary and John Geary show off their gourd creations at the annual Gourd Art Festival in Yucca Valley.

YUCCA VALLEY — The 11th annual Gourd Art Festival returned to Yucca Valley this weekend at the community center and Hi-Desert Nature Museum. Artists from across the world participated in contests and displayed their artwork.

Gourd artists use the dried shells of gourd, often exotic and large species, as a canvas for paintings and sculptures.

Some artists, like Janet Riberdy-New, have been participating in the festival since it began. 

“I’ve been here every year,” said Riberdy-New. “I started doing gourd art when I moved out to the desert. I’m a bit of a naturalist and I liked discovering new ways to carve and paint the gourds.”

A few of Riberdy-New’s pieces even included lighting this year, her gourd lamp won second place in the Spirit of the West category. 

Barbara Hallman, Gourds by Barbara, was also finding new and interesting ways to show her gourd art. Hallman showed a series of gourd animals at the festival this year; she displayed a colorful collection of cats and birds. 

“All of the animals are made of gourd parts,” Hallman said. “ I use pieces to make ears, wings and whatever else I need for the piece.”

Hallman is also a returning artist to the festival. 

At the end of the weekend a dozen artists took home ribbons for their pieces, which ranged from southwest decor to light fixtures and candy dishes.

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