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A. Lee Harris carves out her place in the community

by ROSE SHABABY
Staff Writer | May 27, 2021 1:00 AM

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Eagle Over the Canyon by Lee Harris (Photo by Rose Shababy)

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Eclipse by Lee Harris (Photo by Rose Shababy)

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Snow Sculpture from 2015 competition in Winnipeg (Photo courtesy of Lee Harris)

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Prototype sculpture for Winnipeg snow sculpture (Photo by Rose Shababy)

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Raw stone waiting to be carved into salmon in motion (Photo by Rose Shababy)

You have to drive a couple miles out of town to get to A. Lee Harris’ art gallery but it’s easy to find, her driveway marked with one of her outdoor sculptures and a simple sign that reads “art.”

When you first pull into the yard you might think you’re at a local apiary after you spy the dozen or so brood boxes off to the left, and Harris will tell you to look out for her “free range horse,” which only adds to the charm of her little farm.

Then she leads you through a doorway into her gallery, a section of converted barn, and you realize she’s the real deal. Sculptures, paintings, prints, jewelry and more adorn the walls and shelves.

When asked if she’d always been interested in art, she said “My parents recognized it when I was a child and at 11 started me with watercolor lessons … [and] when I was almost in high school [my dad] got me a dremel tool and I started working on antlers. I would sketch on them and [the dremel] would make it 3D.”

She’s always worked in multiple mediums but spent 35 years focusing on snow sculptures as part of the Bonners Ferry Snow Sculpting team, even representing the United States competitively in 2015 in Winnipeg and Manitoba. You might also recognize one of her pieces; she designed the library sculpture.

Harris is inspired by nature and wildlife and it’s easy to see it in her work, particularly her sculpture. She looks for the “movement” in the stone and admits it’s her passion.

“After 35 years of snow sculpting ... and that’s very temporary art, I decided between iron and stone,” choosing the latter, she said. Each raw piece has its own personality waiting to come out.

It’s easy to see why she made that choice when you look at her sculpture.

One of her pieces, “Thundering Hooves,” carved from carrara marble atop a granite stand, features a small herd of galloping horses. Each horse has its own mood and expression, one nipping at the hind end of another and a young colt at the heels of its mother. It’s a beautiful piece that took her eight years to finish.

Another sculpture called “Eagle Over the Canyon,” carved out of a huge chunk of Utah opaque alabaster in golds and tans, depicts a golden eagle soaring over a wide chasm.

Despite her many years of creating art, she hadn’t considered opening her own gallery until the pandemic hit last year. Like so many, she had to find a new way to display her work after a number of resources closed down.

The gallery opened last week and it’s been a rousing success so far. “From the time it opened at nine o’clock in the morning I had a steady stream here … I was surprised at what a wonderful turnout there was.” Her work sells anywhere from $5 to $12,000 and each piece is one-of-a-kind.

She also offers sculpting and/or painting lessons, $25 an hour plus the cost of materials. You can choose clay, antler or stone for the sculpting classes, and oil, acrylic or mixed medium for the painting classes.

Harris’ wanted to make sure to get a threefold message out: First, she’s open for business, second, she does commissions, and last but most important is that she’s grateful to the Bonners Ferry community and the people in it who have been extremely supportive of her in the 36 years she’s lived here.

If you would like more information or want to make an appointment to view her gallery, you can email her at a.leeharris@gmail.com. Please put “gallery appointment” in the subject line.