Photo by Lisa Dayley Smith
Shady Lady owner Ron Lewis used his love of art to create these Christmas decorations/ornaments out of clay called Sculpey. He says he never knows what he’ll create when he starts but says that each item has its own personality. The Sculpey art is available at his store.
By LISA DAYLEY SMITH
For the Journal
POCATELLO – Only the nose knows.
That’s how Shady Lady shop owner and longtime artist Ron Lewis describes how he creates Christmas decorations and ornaments from a clay called Sculpey.
“The nose indicates where it’s going to go. I never know if it’s going to be a man, woman, child or fun character. That’s what’s fun about it,” he said.
Lewis and his wife, Debbie, showcased their shop during the recent First Friday Art Walk Old Town Pocatello. Located at 655 N. Arthur, the crowds streamed through the store that in itself is a piece of art all thanks to the couple’s skillful decorating.
Each of Lewis’ Sculpey decorations has its own personality with its own story to tell. One is of a youngster pulling on Santa’s beard while another sings. One of the ornaments resembles a Santa of yore.
“There’s a story behind each one. I made a traditional old world Santa (that looks like) a priest at a certain time,” he said.
Rather than relying on paint, Lewis instead uses colored Sculpey clay.
“I actually blend colors with the clay. There’s red Sculpey for lips and eye shadow made of blue Sculpey,” he said.
Originally, Lewis made the Sculpey ornaments for friends and family as gifts but thought they’d go over well at the store and they did.
Always interested in art, Lewis grew up in Pocatello graduating from Highland High School in 1968. While there, he played football while also taking art classes. Yes, it is possible to be athletic and arty. Yet, Lewis often found himself the only football player in those classes. He was often hesitant to admit to his interest in art while at practice after school.
“I didn’t want to show it too much when I was playing football,” he said.
The only time football players ever took an art class was in hopes of getting an easy ‘A,’ Lewis said.
“It’s not easy unless you have a knack for it,” he said.
Following high school, Lewis attended Idaho State University (ISU) where he also played football later graduating with a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree. Yet, it wasn’t until Davis attended a Seattle art school that he honed his craft thanks to illustrator Dick Brown.
“I learned right there the basics. He (Brown) always felt like he should have gone to New York. He instilled that in all of his students,” Lewis said.
According to Brown, New York is the place to be for artists looking to make money, and Lewis headed there following art school graduation. The city immersed him in opportunities to combine his interests in both sport and art. There Lewis routinely painted portraits of famed athletes who signed the sketches. From there officials produced copies later sold to fans.
One of Lewis’ more recent paintings is that of 26 famous Jewish baseball players.
“We had all these guys to sign this thing. We included (Jewish) celebrities Larry King, Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner who are a few baseball enthusiasts,” he said.
Currently, Davis is contracted to paint a scene from the famed 1966 fight between boxer Mohammed Ali and Canadian boxer George Chuvalo.
“I remember the fight. I was a big fight fan when I was a kid,” Lewis said.
Lewis had the chance to meet Ali and says he’s is nothing like his 1960s-1970s persona.
“He’s a real nice kind of a guy. He’s a very giving guy,” Lewis said.
Lewis spent nearly two decades in New York painting before returning to Pocatello. About 15 years ago he and Debbie opened the Shady Lady store. There the couple sells everything from home decor to gift items. Inviting and welcoming, a visitor notes that the facility is more a piece of art than a business.
Lewis chuckles and emphasized that “it’s not a museum; it’s a retail store.” Yet, albeit a retail store originally a home built during the early or mid-20th century and retaining much of that charm.
As for his Sculpey creations, Lewis says it takes about four hours to create the items. He says it really enhances the store during the holidays.
“I had this in hand to decorate with and said ‘let’s just incorporate it,’” he recalled.
For more information Lewis’ Sculpey Christmas decorations and the store call 232-1005.