For the love of art: Meet this creative couple

Collaboration in the world of visual arts is a rarity. But allow me to introduce you to a couple that have created a perfect blend of their skills. And their collective output is consistently provocative, aesthetically enlightening, and just downright whimsical and entertaining.

A frog for the garden. Water-based putty over wire mesh. Repurposed bolts, washers and other miscellaneous household and workshop parts.

Francine and Mike Berg hail from Northern California. After careers in the healthcare field, they are now retired and focused on their craft. Francine hails from a background in fine arts: drawing, painting, sculpting, while Mike is a self-taught craftsman, woodworker and wood turner.

“We are attracted to the abstract and funky”

Francine and Mike Berg

And, as with other artists featured in this series, they often produce specialized gifts for family and friends.

The duo work in a variety of media, including wood, clay, putty, metal and just about anything that suits their fancy, including lots of repurposed items, such as rasps, paper punches, buttons, washers and canned-goods tops. Their three-dimensional pieces brighten the home, the garden, and just about any space or place imaginable.

How it all started

Francine and Mike were visiting a gallery in Maui when they first discovered they had similar tastes.

Their first project together was landscaping the back yard of their first home, including a koi pond with a waterfall, a retaining wall, and a flagstone patio. The flourishes and aesthetic touches that they came up with on that project led to more ambitious goals.

Inspiration often strikes while at art exhibits, craft fairs or nurseries. It might follow with some research on a particular design and materials to use. Then, they decide who will do what aspects of the construction.

The holiday season may be their busiest time of year, as they plan what to make for the good girls and boys on their Santa list.

Projects this year included the “stackable cats” shown in the photo.

Stackable cats, made of pine and cherry wood.

And when they aren’t making gifts, they are conjuring new artwork for their own abode. One of my favorites is the school of fish, made of wood and repurposed scraps of metal. The air bubbles drifting in three-dimensional hardware washers strung on a wire is an especially clever touch.

School of fish, constructed from repurposed wood, hardware washers, aluminum cans.

I asked the couple how they prioritize what to work on and how they decide who does what. As you might expect by now, the decisions are made collaboratively. “We’re a good team,” they say, “We always consult with each other.” We look forward to seeing more of what this dynamic duo create!

From left to right: 1. Birdhouse made from recycled bedpost and other woods, 2. Frog made of clay, 3. Heart decoration for a fence from recycled wood, 4. Birdhouse made from repurposed wine corks and wine bottle foils.

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