Gardener cultivates shapely gourds, turns them into works of art

Photos by BEVERLY CORBELL/The Daily Sentinel
MICHELE GAD CHECKS on gourds she grows at her home near Olathe. Each will eventually become a work of art.

Where does art come from? The heart, the mind, the soul? Experience, education, training?

Art can be a combination of all these, but above all, art is an expression of the human experience.

For Michelle Gad, expert beader, gourd designer, artist, engineer and finance officer who designed and built her own house, the answer is simple: Art is a path.

It’s hard to categorize Gad’s art because she works in many mediums, and each of her gourd creations, her latest passion, is unique.

She has been widely copied.

“It is the highest form of flattery,” she said with a wry smile.

Gad grew up in Wisconsin, and her parents were the first to influence her art.

“When I was a small child, my dad bought me a small beadwork kit,” she said. “I even took it to college.”

It’s a love of creating that drives Gad. She and her work will be at the Coffee Trader at 845 E. Main St. in Montrose from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 1 in a “Meet the Artist” event.

Gad’s artistic path is evident when she talks about the pieces throughout her adobe home south of Olathe.

She and her significant other, tile contractor David Reed, live on the 40-acre ranch where Gad rides and trains horses and raises cats, chickens, hay and a wide variety of vegetables.

Her home is filled with the evolution of her art, from intricate beaded barrettes to the gourds she grows herself and transforms into artwork.

The direction of her artistic life parallels her own, from when she learned American Indian beading in college from a master to her love of design influenced by her engineering.

Art comes from all directions for Gad, and the detail on one of her gourds looks like stained glass.

Another gourd is reminiscent of tooled leather, and some have inlays of turquoise and silver, even porcupine quills.

Basket weaving is another art form Gad has mastered, and she said she always has been inspired by Colorado and the Southwest.

“I’m a cowgirl and mountain girl at heart,” she said. “As a child, I was always in pigtails and moccasins.”

But with all her outside influences, the source of Gad’s artistic vision also comes from within, she said.

“Sometimes inspiration comes not from looking at things but from being quiet inside.”


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