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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Pepin County Fresh Art Tour June 1-3

PEPIN - BNOX Jewelry Studio in Pepin is Site number 9 on this spring’s Fresh Art Tour, a self-guided tour to thirteen studios and galleries of Lake Pepin and the Chippewa River Valley of Western Wisconsin.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, June 1,2,3,

For many who make Lake Pepin a summer destination, the little art gallery on the waterfront had always been a fixture.  The comfortable space known as BNOX Gold & Iron welcomed visitors for over 22 years.

Part of the appeal of BNOX Gold & Iron was the personal nature of a small gallery in an intimate setting.  Nearly as soon as it opened in 1993 representing 12 artists, patrons learned not to be surprised when a stray kitten strolled through the open front door, or when an employee found it necessary to bring a struggling baby lamb to work with her.  That human touch combined with a beautifully curated space let people know that they had indeed found a special place to experience captivating art and to meet a new friend.  

 “Designing and collaborating with other artists was a great deal of fun”, said jewelry designer and gallery owner, Rebecca Paquette.  “It was a joy and an inspiration to have that amazing variety of artworks pass through my hands at the gallery, but the best part was getting to know the artists and clients personally.”

With a knowing smile she continued, “I originally had my workbench in the front of that store,” only to realize that the complicated work stages of jewelry design called for a more isolated workspace.  I eventually had to move my workbench to the back.”  Her busy studio was growing.  At one point in the store’s history, Rebecca’s gallery represented nearly 150 artists.

That need for a quiet workspace became a recurring theme for Paquette, but it came as a surprise to many of its patrons, when in 2015, BNOX Gold & Iron closed its doors and seemingly vanished.
Actually, BNOX never left Pepin. Rebecca had a vision, and made plans to transition to a home studio and showroom.  Construction took two years, and produced small mountains of old foundation stone that Rebecca tirelessly turned into beautiful terraced gardens.  The new space blends perfectly into its surroundings and appears as though it has always been a part of the 19th century home that Rebecca shares with her family.    

“This home studio has been a gift for my family and for me.  I do miss my customers, but I find myself feeling quite sure that my hands were made to create.  The lapsing hours of inventing, and processing concepts from beginning to end with the final product in hand is satisfying. Proudly showing that same piece to a visitor gives me a feeling of true gratification.  There is nothing else I am more certain of.”

An intense appreciation of place has inspired Paquette’s most recent jewelry designs.  From strolls through her gardens and down the village streets of Pepin, Rebecca has gathered spring’s tiny delicate branch tips and autumn’s textured seed pods, and has cast them into sterling silver. Her hope is that you will notice their intricate textures in her work and understand the significance of changing seasons and new beginnings. 

BNOX Jewelry Studio, a private studio featuring the work of Rebecca Paquette and other designers, is open by appointment, with occasional open house hours announced via Facebook.  Describing her first open house in the fall of 2017 and surprise visits by loyal customers, Rebecca said, “I met their children in the shop, and now I am meeting their grandchildren!  It feels so good to be a part of those family traditions.”  Ah, there it is again, that human touch.  Welcome back, BNOX!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Rebecca offered this little teaser about the name of her business:  “BNOX was a term of endearment that my husband’s grandparents, Burton and Erma (Newcomb) Smith, used to sign off with in love letters to each other.  They even painted it on their canoe when they eloped in Menomonie and paddled down the Red Cedar River.  The meaning behind the term, however, remains a mystery to this day.”

BNOX is open 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily.  You can find more artist information and an interactive map at freshart.org.

Hunters advised to exercise caution near location of St. Croix County bear incident

NEW RICHMOND - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating a close encounter with two bears on the Betterly Waterfowl Production Area, three miles east of New Richmond.

On May 13, a turkey hunter on Betterly WPA was approached by a yearling black bear and an adult sow. The yearling bear arrived first, coming within 10 feet of the hunter. After yelling at the bear to scare it, the hunter noticed the adult nearby; the yearling bear began to follow the hunter as he was walking away, prompting him to fire a warning shot into the air, which chased the bear off. When the hunter was leaving the area, the yearling bear appeared a second time. The hunter shot into the air again, but the bear did not move off. As the hunter continued to retreat from the area, the yearling and sow trailed him until he reached an open field and was able to run back to his vehicle.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, this type of conflict is unusual and a bear is likely to run away in similar situations.

"In this case, these bears were behaving aggressively by continuing to follow the hunter even after several attempts to scare them away," said wildlife damage specialist Brad Koele. "Due to the safety risk these particular animals impose, they will be trapped and removed from the area."

Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Services received a report of a yearling bear in the vicinity exhibiting little fear of humans when visiting a bird feeder. The homeowner was advised to remove the bird feeders to prevent further conflicts.

Staff from DNR and USFWS are working to post signs at the entrance of Betterly WPA to alert users to the incident and precautions to take around bears.

"When hunting or hiking in areas where bears are present, make noise so the bears know you are there," Koele recommends. "If a bear gets too close, yell and wave your arms to scare the bear off while backing away from the area. If possible, seek shelter in a vehicle or building and wait for the bear to leave. Never approach a bear."

Shooting a bear outside of the bear hunting season is illegal unless the bear poses a direct threat to human safety. The local warden should be notified as soon as possible if a bear is shot in self-defense.

The department partners with U.S. Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Services to respond to approximately 800 bear-related complaints reported in Wisconsin each year. Homeowners who are unable to resolve a conflict with a bear should contact the USDA Wildlife Services toll-free line at 1-800-433-0663 for properties in southern Wisconsin, and 1-800-228-1368 for properties in northern Wisconsin.

For more information regarding bears and safety, visit dnr.wi.gov<http://dnr.wi.gov/> and search keywords "bear<http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/bear.html>."

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