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Hernandez demonstrates his gourd art

Gourd artist John Hernandez will give a demonstration Thursday for the Lawton Fort Sill Art Council. 

The demonstration will begin at 7 p.m. after the council's open meeting at 6:30 p.m. at The Art Center, 1701 NW Ferris.

Hernandez will talk about the creative process, hazards with the craft, and materials used. He began working with gourds in 2002 after a friend convinced him to give it a try.

"At the time, I told her that I had been doing so many other things," Hernandez said. "I was doing jewelry making, stained glass and all of these others mediums. But she said, 'No, no, you need to try it.' So I said, 'OK.' I don't know what it was, but it was an instant connection. I was  I don't want to say 'consumed'  but I felt like I had been looking for something for so long and I had finally found what I really, really enjoyed. And I've been doing this since 2002, and I don't regret any part of it."

Gave gourds away

When he first started, he simply gave gourds away because he was making so many at once. He gave them as gifts for weddings and birthdays; then people started noticing what he was doing. So he was asked to donate his gourds to fundraisers, and then he was approached by Kris Gill to have a booth at the Arts for All Festival.

"And I told Kris, 'I don't want to turn this into something it doesn't need to be. I don't want to turn it into a job. I enjoy it,'" he said. "And she goes, 'John, you're going to do it.' And you know Kris  you don't tell Kris 'no.' So I signed up. I was there for the Arts for All Festival, had 50 pieces and sold every piece. And I thought to myself, 'This is an even better way of moving them.'"

He said by that time gourds were just being accepted as fine art, so he began entering other art shows across the country, including Texas, Florida and Arkansas, to name a few, and was being accepted. He and his wife, Patricia, attend the shows together, as she often paints most of his gourds. They participate in three to four shows a year, but always make a point to be at Lawton's Arts for All Festival and Oklahoma City's Festival of the Arts.

"I absolutely have a passion for it," he said. "When the day comes, if it ever comes that I retire, I would like to do it more as a professional artist. And rather than do three to four shows a year, maybe go out on the circuit. Maybe take off for a month and do shows."

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