December 11, 2013
Photo of Tom Pakele and Suzen Garson

PBS ‘Craft in America’ Features Couple with FRCC Connection

The popular Public Broadcasting System series “Craft in America” will have a Colorado and Front Range Community College connection in December.

Ceramicists Susan Garson and Tom Pakele will be featured on the “Holiday” episode of the Peabody Award-winning series. For Colorado viewers, the show is scheduled at 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, on Rocky Mountain PBS. For viewers elsewhere, consult your local listings.

Ceramic menorahs

Wife and husband, Susan and Tom, who has taught ceramics at Front Range for eight years, collaborate on making ceramic menorahs. Menorahs are nine-branched candelabra used on Hanukkah, which this year started at sunset American Thanksgiving. Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday – the Festival of Lights – that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians.

“I started making Hanukkah menorahs, and it was like –Wow! I love this,” Susan says in the segment about them.

Tom says he and Susan have made menorahs for years. They have sold them through the Freehand Gallery in West Los Angeles. It’s a gallery that has exhibited and sold Tom’s works since his college days. Carol Sauvion is the gallery owner. She’s also the executive director of Craft In America Inc. and producer of the television series.

Their Judaic art also has been sold in gift shops, temples, and other galleries.

Collaborative effort

Last year at this time, Susan and Tom were videoed in their Garson and Pakele Studio in El Dorado Springs south of Boulder. It’s a team effort. “We’ve collaborated for years,” Tom says. Tom would cast pieces of clay. Susan would do the sculpting and the painting.

Their collaboration also shows in their participation in a show that just closed at Freehand called Life Partners. “These artists,” The American Craft Council website declared, “are entwined as collaborators, companions and accomplices, driven to create a life of art and partnership. These couples use materials such as clay, fiber, metal and mixed-media. They may collaborate on a single work or work in diverse media, but all are driven to hammer out a well-woven balance between color and design, form and function.”

Hawaiian themes

Tom’s work explores Hawaiian themes. He grew up on the big island. His grandfather was Hawaiian. His father is half-Hawaiian. “I like to explore the imagery as inspiration in my work,” he says. Tiki, turtles, and other sea life are used. Indeed, at least one of the menorahs at the Freehand Gallery is Hawaiian-inspired.

About the author:

John Feeley is director of public relations at Front Range Community College. He’s a somewhat-frequent bicycle commuter, a certified soccer referee, and a newspaper editor whose subscription ran out.

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