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A bond of silver and gold

Local metal artists Joe and Linda Apodaca combine marriage, art and business
by: Vern Uyetake, Joe and Linda Apodaca, in their home studio in Lake Oswego, have made a life creating metal artwork for 40 years.

'You have to have a certain personality to be an artist,' says Joe Apodaca. 'You have to really love it.'

He and his wife Linda truly qualify on that score. Love is the main ingredient in the Lake Oswego metal artists' remarkable 40-year career working together, shaping gold and silver into beautiful and treasured objects.

Just to list a few highlights, there are several items by Joe on display at the Smithsonian Institute, altar pieces for churches (ecclesiastical hollowware is one of the Apodacas' specialties), the crown for the Queen of the Rose Festival and their biggest project of all, the ceremonial mace for Marylhurst University.

'We work in the same manner that Paul Revere did,' Joe said. 'It's all handwork, not machines.'

If you think that sounds like a lot of work, you're right. A tour of the Apodacas' workshop in their home shows the awesome amount of equipment necessary to make fine jewelry and objects of art, some of them quite tiny.

'We're always burning or stabbing ourselves,' Linda admits.

But it all goes for a good cause: a legacy of beauty.

The Apodacas' work will be on display at the 19th annual Jewelry and Metal Arts Show and Sale Friday through Sunday at the Oregon Convention Center.

'I started the first show,' Linda said. 'I found a place for it in Portland, and that was a huge obstacle.'

This year's show will be the biggest ever, with 60 metal and jewelry artists set to display their work. Enhancing their show even more will be exhibits in the same vicinity by other craftsmen and artists - woodworkers, potters, handweavers, glass artists, and metal sculptors.

'There are lots of people who are going to be visiting, and they're going to happen upon us,' Linda said. 'They're going to find out all the diversity of art there is in Oregon.'

The Apodacas' artistic careers began in high school metal shop classes ('Sadly, you don't see those any more.'), Joe in Arizona and Linda in California. They met each other at the School for American Craftsmanship in Rochester, N.Y.

'We knew each other for many years and we were dating,' Joe said. 'We thought 'Why not spend the rest of our lives together?''

Sometimes the simplest conclusions work out the best, and Joe and Linda went on to a happy marriage and very productive careers as artists. Never once did they have to work outside their home.

'We were always here for our two children,' Linda said. 'They loved it. They told us if we ever had a business outside our home they would divorce us. But maybe they changed their minds in high school.'

Increasing the stability factor is the fact they have lived in their Lake Oswego home for more than 30 years. That's an awful lot of togetherness, but it has worked out for the Apodacas.

'We never give advice uninvited,' Joe said. 'That seems to have worked out well over the years.'

Togetherness really paid off for the Apodacas when they teamed up to produce the mace for Marylhurst University, a monumental and unique project that required 350 hours of work in 2006, which they finished in time for graduation ceremonies.

'I liked the challenge,' Joe said. 'Being able to use all 40 years of our experience was nice.'

'I suspect not a lot of people could do that,' Linda said.

Not unless they had special training in hollowware and the special equipment to produce teapots, chalices and candelabras.

Yet even more than love and art is required to sustain a career as long as the Apodacas have enjoyed.

'You have to know how to do everything to be successful,' Joe said. 'You have to know computers, photography, how to manage money. You are the creator, designer and marketer.'

The Apodacas are at an excellent point in their careers. In fact, Linda says, 'We can ratchet down a little bit and do other things. Joe loves to hunt rocks.'

With their reputations well established, their clientele comes to them, and they supply items for four galleries, which in itself is quite a big job.

'We aren't looking for more outlets or more shows,' Linda said. 'It's a great situation to be in.'

The Apodacas' work will again be on exhibit at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts at the end of June.

The Jewelry and Metal Arts Show and Sale is sponsored by the Creative Metal Arts Guild. The Oregon Convention Center is located at 777 N.E. MLK Jr. Blvd. in Portland. The show is open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Other Lake Oswego artists will also be exhibiting their work.