Sandoval Signpost
An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Featured Artist
 

Geri Verble

Jewelry artist Geri Verble in her Placitas studio
Photo credit: Oli Robbins

c. Geri Verble

c. Geri Verble

c. Geri Verble

Spirited jewelry, by Geri Verble

Beading the spirits of history: The jewelry of Geri Verble

—Oli Robbins

For jewelry-maker Geri Verble, Placitas is proving to be an artistic Mecca. Not only did it offer her the land upon which she and her husband, Larry, built their dream home—modeled after Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West—it enlivens her and drives her to compose on a daily basis. Says Geri, “I can’t think of a better place to live. To me, it’s paradise, and I’m sure I would never be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for living here.”

Geri’s work is, in her words, “very nature-based and eclectic.” Like the structures by Wright that inspired her beloved home, her jewelry is organic and illuminates the relationship between beauty and function. It is not just aesthetic—although her pieces could be displayed as wall art in their own right—but is intended to be worn and felt, connecting the wearer to the rich history of the stones and beads.

Geri has been fortunate enough to have traveled the world, both because of Larry’s position in the Foreign Service, and her own five-year stint in the Peace Corps. And while she has grown tremendously from the worldly experiences granted to her, she maintains that Placitas holds her heart. “I’ve done all that,” says Geri, “and now all I want to do is sit and look at this mountain. It’s a wonderful place.”

Larry completed his PhD work in Los Alamos many years ago, and always wanted to return. He brought Geri along with him on several trips, but it wasn’t until 2000 that they finally made the leap and settled here. When they came upon a real estate listing for land in Placitas, they realized it was ideally suited for their home. Geri and Larry had been holding on to a 1997 issue of Life Magazine, which featured that year’s Life Dream Home, which itself was based upon Wright designs. They referred to the magazine, attained plans from Taliesin West, and began construction on their own domestic oasis. Inside the home are many Wright reproductions, from stained glass windows to sculpture to furniture.

Geri’s “past life,” as she calls it, was in theater, working as a drama instructor for 26 years at a high school in Alexandria, VA. Among her students were two actors who have now found widespread fame in television and film: Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friends Wedding, The Grey, About Schmidt, Jobs) and Diedrich Bader (The Drew Carey Show, Office Space, Ice Age). While Geri directed musicals for casts of 100s, designed sets and costumes, and managed makeup and lighting, she was touching many individuals and bringing joy to the community. But she was also developing her sense of composition—by looking at a variety of distinct things (be them individuals, costumes, or objects) and piecing them together to create something artfully unified. She didn’t know these skills would come back to her years later as a jewelry designer, but life tends to prep us for such fortuitous surprises.

After teaching, when Geri and Larry were living overseas in Germany and then Hungary, Geri worked in personnel at the embassies and consulates, hiring direct-hire Americans and Foreign Service Nationals. Her then-supervisor later landed a position as a Staffing Analyst at the Peace Corps, and when she left, she recommended Geri for her job. The Peace Corps was such a wonderful job, explains Geri, that the program installed a five-year rule, demanding that employees leave after five years, because if you didn’t have to, “you’d just stay there.” The Peace Corps not only introduced Geri to inspirational people, it exposed her to art’s many roles. She saw first-hand that art functions in realms far beyond the visual in many “non-Western” cultures. And lucky for her, she met people who are still posted all over the world, and who bring her back beads that are hard to come by outside of their home countries.

Geri’s jewelry is indelibly connected to the traditions and history that bred her materials, and the energy in each bead and charm is palpable. For example, she incorporates charms of the nomadic Tuareg people from Niger, which look like crosses and are worn to indicate from where an individual comes. She is forever indebted to the people she met while living abroad—and it is the African people, particularly, who touched her on a primal and spiritual level. She loved observing the African people who “related everything to nature and the earth,” and whose lifestyles and values are at once simple and profound. The Peace Corps was critical for Geri’s evolution as a jeweler who unites meaningful and culturally-diverse objects, but her move to Placitas was equally important. The land and the people here rouse Geri to create, and to explore techniques and subjects beyond her comfort zone. She is part of the Placitas art group “Creative Spirits of Placitas,” comprised of female artists of three different mediums who come together to discuss and support each other’s work. “It’s a way to get involved and immerse yourself in other creations,” says Geri. Geri is an active community member, who also belongs to Jardineros de Placitas, and volunteers at the elementary school to nurture the students’ awareness of and relationship to arts and crafts. Geri also donated 25 percent of her sales from the 2014 Placitas Studio Tour to the Casa Rosa Food Pantry.

Later this month, on October 26, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Geri will offer a presentation on African Trade Beads at the Placitas Library. She will be participating in the Placitas Holiday Show next month, and her booth will be inside Placitas Elementary School. Visit her website at www.tribalbear.com to learn more or set up an appointment. You can also view her pieces at Arte de Placitas and the Bright Rain Gallery in Old Town.

 
Top of Page
TOP OF PAGE

Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page  Up Front  Animal News   Around Town  Sandoval Arts   Business Classifieds  Calendar   Community Bits  Community Center  Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  Gauntlet Health  Community Links  Night Sky  My Wife and Times  Public Safety  Real  People  Stereogram  Time Off  Youth