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Women of the Ojai Valley - 2016 7
“Someone will bring me a stone that's meaningful to them from their grandmother's diamond ring, and we'll take it apart and make something new for them, and it's a whole new piece of work that they can enjoy for- ever and leave to their daughter,” she said.
Katz shared many women become emotional when they encounter their ring for the first time. She and Stan have even attended weddings in which the rings exchanged are of her making.
“I can just see this thing continuing on in their realm, in their family, and here we are, instrumental in having made it possible,” she reflected.
Katz, of course, crafted her own wedding ring, a large silver piece that holds the diamond from her engagement ring. They were married in 1968 when she was 19.
And what is it that is so special about these handmade crafts, these human arts?
“In a way it's got to do with just getting back to grassroots, and back to the way things used to be. You wanted something, you made it,” she said. A hand-crafted piece can, “make you hyperventilate because it's so wonderful and different from anything that's mass-produced.”
As a longtime Ojai resident and business owner, Katz certainly has her opinions. One thing she takes issue with is the lack of community use of the space behind the Arcade.
“We all wanted it to be a very vital space, with outdoor dining and music and possibly a flower vendor, just things that would attract local people to their downtown. And basically nothing has been done. Noth- ing. I think our merchant group is the only group that I know of that uses that space,” she said.
Katz is committed to bringing locals to the Arcade.
“We want local people to come down here and use it as some source of entertainment, and meet their merchants and know that they can shop in town, instead of this preconceived idea that everything is too expen- sive and it's only for the tourists. It's just not true. We have tremendous support from the local community here,” she said.
The Human Arts Gallery is certainly evidence of a passionate life's work. It's a space imbued with art and energy, right in the center of town.
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