Friday, December 24, 2010

There is a Reason... Turn, Turn, Turn


Hello All,

To every season (turn, turn,turn) there is a reason (turn, turn turn)! Or should I say, "Through every season (turn, turn, turn), they have a reason (turn, turn, turn)". The San Diego County Carvers Guild members certainly embody this sentiment season after season, and year after year. They are currently "turning" through their 13th Annual Wood Turners Show at Gallery 21 in Spanish Village Art Center located at 1770 Village Place, San Diego, California. The show runs 12/8/10 - 1/3/11. The Wood Carvers Guild members are on site from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily to greet visitors, and to demonstrate their latheing skills at entrance of the gallery.

When entering the gallery, my eye was met by an amazing array of wood vases, bowls, standing sculpture, wall pieces and hand carved toys. Every type and color of wood imaginable was on display, at least to my knowledge. I am sure the San Diego County Carvers Guild members would debate this point with me, saying that there are untold numbers and combinations of glowing and earthy woods to choose from when it comes to wood turning. In view of that logic, I probably would agree with them. Certainly, Mother Nature's bounty seems, at times, "limitless".


This group of artisans, although extremely talented, have a modesty and well grounded approach to their craft. Enthusiastically, but quietly, going about their work, they are informative and skilled at the lathe and with carving tools of the trade. At any time, one may ask them questions about the variety and properties of the various woods available for turning. Ever knowledgeable, each member that I spoke to, unhesitatingly, volunteered information and valuable instruction on the process of turning, and the many aspects of creating with wood.


The members of the San Diego County Carver's Guild, and their personal biographies can be researched on their website. Each bio is a testament to their approach to their craft, and gives much insight into each artisans creativity, as well as the background that they bring to their art.

Perhaps this is a bit biased, but, I am particularly fond of Carol Martin's lovely hand carved doors. They are intricately carved and never cease to amaze me with their refined lines and compositional design. Her choice of fine woods is, in a word, "exceptional". Nan Bushley is another of my favorites, and is the President of the guild. When I asked Nan if there was any particular information she would like me to write about the guild and the show, she modestly said, "Well, it's our annual show. We have a website". A woman of few words, and real talent.

I think that sums it up for all of the participants of the show. There is no doubt that the members of the guild boast a wide variety of talent, and enjoy an extensive interest in the many facets of wood turning and woodcarving. Whether done by lathe or carved, chipped, sanded and polished by hand, the wood pieces produced by this group are wonderful. Add to their separate talents the beauty and glow of fine and exotic woods, and you have a winning combination. "What a winning hand"! A true compliment to nature, a great accomplishment for themselves and a fantastic gift to wood lovers. There's nothing better than that..."Wood-n't you say"?


I would like to extend a special thanks to Scott van Hoften, for his assistance in producing photo images of the pieces in this year's show, and for his extra time and dedication in helping me complete this review. Muchas Gracias, Scott!

"To every season...Turn, turn, turn. There is a reason...Turn, Turn, turn".


The San Diego County Carvers Guild is housed in Spanish Village in Studio 38, and we are especially proud of that fact. The members are there 7 days a week to greet visitors to Balboa Park and Spanish Village Art Center. You can expect a magnificent array and variety of hand carved and lathe turned art pieces when you visit. The collection is quite remarkable, as is each wood carver's approach to his craft.

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Saturday, December 18, 2010

You Can Bet Your Bottom Bead!

Hello All.

Yep, you can bet your bottom bead, your top bead and everything in the middle when it comes to the Bead Society of San Diego. The members of the society displayed their diverse and eclectic style and talents during their recent show at Gallery 21, located in Spanish Village Art Center, 1770 Village Place, San Diego, California. The show ran daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from 11/24 - 12/6/10. All visitors were invited to come and "Get their Bead On"!

There are "fetishes and passions" that are inexplicable when it comes to bead collectors and bead lovers. Purely addictive scanning, combing, comparing and, ultimately, unstoppable collecting of "all things bead". Having worked for 40 years with gemstone beads, Swarovski crystal and Czech glass beads as a jewelry designer, it was not difficult to channel the "Passion" that this organization and its members infused into their work. The array of beaded art on display ranged from wearable art to free standing sculptural concepts that were intriguing to behold. If ever, you wanted to submerge yourself in beads, crystal and blown glass, this was the show and the bead society for you.

This year's show, headed by Ellen Kroll, boasted many show stoppers. Members were well rewarded for hours of dedication and diligence to their creative endeavors. While I am on the subject of dedication and diligence, let me say that I admire, but don't envy, all bead artists who have the patience and "stick-to-it-iveness" to work with thread! "Gutta Percha", girls. However do you keep from screaming when that wicked thread, with a mind all its own, ties itself in knots? I mean, it does this miraculously frustrating thing while you are still holding onto the needle; and the other end of the thread is undeniably attached to the art piece. Eeeek! (Ask any beader). They know what I mean. Thread is definitely for the patient. (That's clearly an understatement, if ever there was one). I'm a wire man, myself (22 gauge sterling),
that is.

Hold that bead threaded needle right there, folks! Don't drop it, now. You might get tied in knots! I'll be right back. Out to the breakfast nook to grab a cup of Celestial Seasonings' Red Zinger. Just for safety, I've secured my needle in a pin cushion. No knots for me!

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Friday, December 10, 2010

Through the Looking Glass at Gallery 21

Alice's Consequences" by JACK WADE, Glass Artist
Uroboros 1st Place


Hello All.

It is amazing how busy this time of year is. People find themselves racing to keep up with the everyday things, while participating in the holiday hustle and bustle. I am certainly no exception to the mad dash. My friend, Alane Gray (Lord High Mistress of Twitter and Facebook for Spanish Village's social connection), keeps asking me, "Where did you go"? My answer, "Oh, just the usual places this time of year".

But, I'll tell you, I did go to one place recently that was nowhere near "Usual"... anything but! That was my visit to Gallery 21 for the, "Through the Looking Glass" annual exhibition of the Art Glass Association of Southern California (AGASC). The association held its 29th Annual Show November 11- November 22, 2010 at Gallery 21 located at 1770 Village Place, San Diego, California. The art glass was on display daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. where visitors were invited to come and marvel at the expert craftsmanship and originality of this amazing group of artists.

When you think about glass, it is a pretty amazing thing. I mean, what is it, really? Silica? Infused with color, mixed and blended with swirling canes, dichroic flashes, dots, bumps, and globs of other fusible ingredients or matter. Or, left crystal clear and pristine to reflect or refract all the prismatic light of the spectrum. Cut, crushed, slumped, encased, molded, folded, twirled or pulled molten and glowing from the "glory hole", this is a medium that commands respect and demands attention to detail and precision. Gosh, I'm feeling a warm flush just thinking about it. Just imagine the actual "rush" that these amazing people must get while going through the process.

"Jellies" by MARCI STINTON, Glass Artist

As "Glory" as the glory hole may be, I think that this an art that I would much rather view from the spectator's seat rather than pick up the challenge. You've got to be pretty "gutsy" to stir that pot, if you ask me. But, gutsy and "glory" they are, these "masters of radiant, fiery matter pulled from an infernal vortex". Wow! Does that describe it or what? Dante's got nothing on them.

"2 Pieces of View" by VICKI LEON, Glass Artist

The masters of "fire and light", as I like to call them, are a group of artists "interested in promoting and educating the public in all areas of art glass creation and endeavor". Founded in 1981, the small group of local artists has grown into an organization of more than 125 members that pride themselves in belonging to AGASC. It is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting all the art fields from traditional stained glass to repair and refurbishing of antique stained glass pieces, glass blowing, glass fusing and lamp worked glass. The Art Glass Association of Southern California is proud to be recognized as one of the oldest active memberships in the United States.

All of the members of AGASC were invited to participate in the exhibition. The categories that they competed in read like a list of gauntlet running immense challenge to me. As mind blowing as the art glass created by the masters was, the designated categories for the awards were widely varied and extensive, which sent me scrambling for a thesaurus for clarification, not to mention pronunciation. The title categories for this year's art glass entries were as follows:

1) Uroboros Special Theme Category: for best representation of the title
2) Coatings by Sandberg, Inc. Category: for the best endeavor in dichroic glass
3) Cold: Stained Glass, Mosaic, Sandblasted or Etched
4) Kiln-formed: Fused or Cast
5) Hot: Blown or Pour Cast
6) Wearable: Anything that can be worn
7) Mixed Media: Must contain at least 51% glass and anything else
8) Masters: This category is reserved for those artists that have previously won 3 or more awards in a category or "Best of "Show".
9) People's Choice: This category is voted on by the public for their favorite piece.

To congratulate the members, ribbons were awarded in 1st, 2nd and 3rd Places.

The winners in each category were:

Hot: 1) Baby Bear Rescue by Carlson Potts, 2) Piano Sconce by John Gibbons,
3) Kaleidoscope Platter by Patricia Yockey

Cold: 1) Hexagon by John Gibbons, 2) I Love Circles! by Pam Horn,
3) Reflections of Funkytown by Gina Meyers

Masters: 1) Dreams of the Dead by Kathleen Mitchell, 2) Splash Bowl by Joel Bloomberg, 3) Too by Leslie Perlis

CBS: 1) Jellies by Marci Stinton, 2) 2 Pieces of View by Vicki Leon, 3) Swimming
with Turtles by Cathy Coverley

Mixed Media: 1) Spiritual Regeneration by Rick Knight, 2) Alice's Cubistic Bird Bath
by Patricia Yockey, 3) Green Faery Revelry by Laddan Hashemian

Wearable: 1) Surya Chakra by Vicki Leon and Mili Shah, 2) Radiant Vortex by Vicki Leon, 3) Amor/Amore Deux by Leslie Perlis

Kiln-formed: 1) String Theory by Jack Wade, 2) Why the Long Face? by Jack Wade, 3) She's Not the Right Alice by Marti Blair

Uroboros Special Category: 1) Alice's Consequence by Jack Wade, 2) Falling Daughter by Leslie Perlis, 3) Queen's Target Practice by JoAnn Pastori

People's Choice: Jellyfish Sculpture by Joel Bloomberg

"Jellyfish Sculpture" by JOEL BLOOMBERG, Glass Artist

Holy Cow, I am "plumb wore out"! This is not an art for the lax and uninspired. Is anyone feeling a bit like Alice trying to keep up with the prolific creativity of this group? Thank you all, AGASC for taking us on a whirlwind trip "Through the Looking Glass" by way of the "glory hole", torch and kiln. And as for you, Alice, "...Honey child, you and the Art Glass Association of Southern California glass masters, ROCK"!

"Falling Daughter" by LESLIE PERLIS, Glass Artist

Oh, the glory of the miracles brought forth from the Glory Hole! "It's gettin' hot in here..."

The Art Glass Association of Southern California (AGASC) is a working group of glass artists in San Diego County, founded in 1981, and can be contacted through Jon Simpson, the 2010 AGASC Show Chairperson. Additional information may be obtained on the group at or (619) 229-1243. Send e-mail correspondence to

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ding Dong, Ding Dong...Christmas Bells Are Ringing!

Good Tidings We Bring to You and Your Kin!

It's here! The "Don't Miss Event of the Year" !!! Yep, you guessed it..."December Nights" is here once again, and the members of Spanish Village Art Center have "outdone" themselves getting ready for this annual celebration.

The big event takes place from Friday, December 3 - Saturday, December 4, 2010, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. in Spanish Village Art Center, and throughout Balboa Park. It is a veritable Santa's Wonderland with a magnificent tree lighting ceremony, gift booths, live performances, caroling and as much eating as a body can stand.

We, in Spanish Village Art Center will not be outdone in the decorating and entertainment departments this year. We have created an amazing North Pole Wonderland complete with colorful Christmas trees and a maze of gift wrapped boxes hanging from the trees and along the pathways of our colorfully painted tiles.

It reminds me of that old Christmas carol, "...and, presents on the tree". Let me tell you that there isn't a tree in the Village that isn't bursting with gift boxes, lollipops and candy canes(...visions of sugarplums) ! Not to mention the beautiful decorations in every studio, all encircled in White Light! Whoa! Let me step out of the path of the Stampede (...shoppers, that is) !

As I think about it now, this year's theme is reminiscent of my decorations last year, when I placed overstuffed gift bags and gaily wrapped boxes along the path to my studio, #32, softly lit by votive candles to guide guests along their way. Maybe, this is what they mean when they say, "Art imitates Life".

So, Come One ... Come All to our Merry Santa's Wonderland in Spanish Village Art Center, located at 1770 Village Place, Balboa Park in San Diego, California. There will be lots of joy, ART, eats, entertainment and a fantastic throne where the little ones can sit on Santa's knee to make those Christmas wishes come true. Perhaps, there will even be a sprig or two of mistletoe for the adults! (I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus...) Shhh! Come browse through our 37 "magnificent" studios, mingle through the patio artists' booths and take something "unique and handmade" home to place under your tree. We invite you to make Spanish Village Art Center your "Home for the Holidays". Do make it an artful Christmas, and as we always say this time of year, "DON'T GET MALLED" !!!

"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells ... Dashing to Spanish Village Art Center" !!! Hey, "artistic license", don't you know! We'll keep a (white) light on for You!

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pastoral Journey with Katy Reeve-Weesner

"Giverny", Watercoulor by KATY REEVE-WEESNER

Hello All.

It is not often that one comes across a talent as exceptional and mesmerizing as Katy Reeve-Weesner's. Nor, is it an everyday occurrence, in the painting world, to languish in the quaint and pastoral English countryside that one sees in Katy Reeve-Weesner's lovely watercolours. That is, unless you are Katy Reeve-Weesner.

Yet, that is exactly what I felt as I stepped into Gallery 21 where her "Journeys in Watercolour" (Paintings) exhibit was running 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily. Although I knew that I was in Spanish Village Art Center located at 1770 Village Place, San Diego, California, I, nevertheless, found myself standing in the English countryside gazing at hillside villages and the black faces of fluffy sheep meandering there.

I felt transported, as if I had stepped through a time warp onto a winding country road in the Yorkshire moors, and I easily believed that I had always been there! This English born artist who now lives in San Diego, California and specializes in watercolours of English and European countrysides, had magically transported me to a land of fairy tales and "Little Bo Peep". What a lovely sorceress is Katy Reeve-Weesner...come disguised as a painter of "Journeys".

Another amazing thing about Katy is her avid dedication to sketching. It is, in her opinion, the key part, and one of the most important elements, in the creation of her paintings. Year after year, Katy fills sketchbook after sketchbook with drawings and notes from her travels. I have to admit that I was truly amazed and thrilled by the six or seven sketchbooks that were on display in a glass case during the show. Page after page of countryside scenes, Parisian cafes, people and animals beckoned the visitor through the glass. The sketches, (really, complete renderings) accompanied by flowing script, fairly tumbled from the pages and could easily stand alone as art. Katy told me that this year alone, she has already filled two sketchbooks and is working on a third! (All, by the way, filled within a three-week period). This year her sketching covers scenes in Savannah, Charleston and England. Wow! Those fingers are certainly not sitting idle. Sketching is a form of poetry all its own. And, Katy Reeve-Weesner is as poetic as they come.

"Poetry" that caught my eye at this exhibition included small miniatures where the scene flowed out of the frame of the painting and overlapped the mat board. As with "Boscastle", a 12" x 14" painting in which seagulls circle a harbor nestled in a hillside village. The gulls actually fly out of the painting onto the surrounding mat board, giving another dimension to the composition. Another piece that I admired was "Castleton", a painting depicting a lovely rural village with narrow streets and a black cat slowly traversing its course, all surrounded by rolling hills. "San Toma" gave me a glimpse of the canals of Venice where two gondolas carried passengers along the quay, and "Burnmoor Sheep" portrayed sheep in a meadow above a country village. My favorite of all in the show was, "Long Lane Sheep", (my Little Bo Peep transport) set in the Yorkshire countryside where black faced sheep mill about on a winding road, that runs through an English village reminiscent of Katy's childhood.

At the gallery, Katy explained to me that she started very young in her studies. Her great-uncle, and mentor, took her on many plein air outings with their sketchbooks well in hand. Drawing was adamant, the key to successful painting. It was everything. Later, she attended art college for five years and is a graduate of London's Central School of Art. Katy says, "it was an intense submersion", where once again drawing was adamant. Well, Katy, after meeting you and seeing your show, I'd say "mission accomplished"! As for the great-uncle ... You done him proud, Katy.

"Long Lane Sheep", Watercoulor by KATY REEVE-WEESNER

Katy Reeve-Weesner, the English-born artist, lives in San Diego, California and can be contacted through her website:

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Saturday, October 23, 2010

7 Printmakers Make Their Mark at Gallery 21

                    "Iguana/Cattleya", linoleum cut by KATHLEEN McCORD, printmaker

Hello All,

Heavens to Murgatroy, it's been way too long since I put pen to paper, or I should say fingertips to keyboard! But, I'm back...and, have I got a tale to tell! "Are you ready"? "Yes, you're ready"? Well, here it is. I mean, "HERE IT IS"!

Back at Gallery 21 for their 16th (you heard it), yes their 16th Annual Exhibition are the 7 Printmakers. How's that for true dedication to the very fine art of printmaking? The show runs from October 13 - October 25, 2010 at Gallery 21 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. Gallery 21 is located at Spanish Village Art Center, 1770 Village Place in scenic Balboa Park.

If you are an art aficionado, have a keen eye and an appreciation for the minimalistic and highly refined color schemes, intricate line work and graphic simplicity of printmaking, this exhibition is for you. Even if you don't, it is time to acquire an acumen for this ageless and beautiful art form. The 7 Printmakers can teach you a lesson or two.

As a visitor to the "7 Printmakers - 16th Annual Exhibition", I first perceived a graphically simple poster board in the marquee box just outside Gallery 21. It was pale yellow in color with starkly chiseled angular black letters. Suitably representing, I think, the most essential thing about printmaking. Simplicity of design which portrays and conveys the "most impact with minimal effort". Nothing wasted with just the right amount of elements in the composition.

Got your attention? They certainly got mine. So, who are these ageless and mystical purveyors of grease pencil, ink, stone and metal? I'll tell you.

The 7 Printmakers are Raymond Brownfield, Jacqueline Dotson, Robert Fritsch, Kathleen McCord, Julianne Ricksecker, Sfona Pelah and Angelika Villagrana.
Like magnets on opposite polar settings and vectors in the stratosphere, they seek each other out and gravitate together with a subconscious, but, singular purpose in mind. "To create, and therefore to be".

Back from my library research and intimate chats with Sfona Pelah, Angelika Villagrana and Kathleen McCord at the gallery. What an artistic "High"!

If one thinks for a minute that printmaking is a simple uncomplicated process, one is very much deluded. If one thinks that it is "beauty transformed from metal, stone, wood and linoleum", one is aptly correct. If one surmises that it is an art form that reflects a mirror image and is initiated in reverse, again, one would be "spot on". All these things became more and more apparent to me as I spoke with Angelika, Sfona and Kathy. Being a pencil artist myself, my mind ran in ever expanding dimensions just trying to keep up with the magnitude of the process as it was explained to me.

Nonetheless, I was intrigued and riveted to every word. (I think Angelika may have recruited a new printmaker, "in the making", without even trying). As she explained the process to me, vague memories of experimenting with intaglio and grease pencil in high school surfaced. Most of that memory involved feeling frustrated without really knowing what I was doing, but in the brief time I spent with Angelika and Kathy, a whole new world opened up right before my eyes!

Walking through the exhibit, I experienced a great appreciation for these artists, and their endless dedication to keeping an ancient art form alive. It was easy to sense their actual love of the medium from the refinement that is inherent in all of the work.

As a pencil artist, I was drawn to Raymond Brownfield's work which is executed using grease pencil on stone. There is something about black and white composition that I find difficult to resist. Perhaps, it is because there are only two elements in the mix, ie. "the black element of the pencil (positive space) versus the white background and negative space created by the juxtaposition of the two". At any rate, "Ray" as everyone calls him, has a refined and finite touch in applying the pencil work and shading in his lithographic printmaking. I absolutely loved his "Aphrodite" lithograph showing a female figure with her arms raised above her head, fingertips touching, as she twisted her torso to look back over her left shoulder. The unexpected presence of wishbones in the composition added just the right touch of inquisitiveness and surprise. "Likewise, Osteo", a lithograph on stone also depicting wishbones, was enchanting and mesmerizing. Many a visitor to the show was spellbound by this element in Ray's prints. The recurrent theme of "wishbones" in his compositions was amusing and captivating. Quirky, but captivating!

Sfona Pelah's pieces, all untitled, are small but mighty! Scenes and images, mostly in black and white impact the viewer's eye with their slightly tilted layout and landscapes. There is a great deal of dimension in each of her prints. One "Untitled" intaglio, in particular, appealed to me in a dizzying tilted view seen by a passerby at the top of a stairway. The scene depicts winding stairsteps descending into a village where a faraway train winds its way through a mountain passage, and passengers await it at the station. I got the feeling of looking from a "bird's eye view as I gazed at the landscape. Sfona works in a variety of forms such as intaglio, monoprint, collagraph, monotype and digital printing. An interesting aspect in many of Sfona's prints is how she creates more dimension by cutting borders into her plates which adds a wonderful element of decorative embossing along the edges.

                               "Untitled", lithograph by SFONA PELAH, printmaker
                               IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT PROTECTED

Angelika Villagrana evokes emotion and a "subliminal memory" with her strongly contrasting woodcuts, monotypes and intaglio prints. Strong, but not overly bright, color is juxtaposed against stark black or white backgrounds, and emphasized by black outlines. The undeniably "French" flavor of mummery in many of her compositions is powerful and spellbinding. One might say her approach to the subject matter is simplistic, almost spartan. But, there was nothing "spartan" about the effect that each piece had upon me. Standing in front of any of Angelika's works put me, and all viewers, right at the "heart " of the matter. The emotional portent of each piece reached right out and grabbed me, completely erasing any need to ask Angelika, "Why"? My hand kept rising, of its own volition, to touch each piece and, thereby, channel its meaning. Gosh! I wasn't impressed with Angelika at all, was I?

Kathleen McCord has a most unusual and whimsically offbeat way of combining patterns that simulate paper cuts, with graphically outlined floral and animal figures. Whew! Was that a mouthful or what? But, it takes that to accurately describe Kathleen's intricately executed and delightful linoleum cuts. My first impression of the work was, "What am I seeing"? It took a split moment (yes, moment) to take it all in and register. Once that happened, my reaction was the beginning of a smile as the corners of my mouth began to twitch. This soon turned to instant glee and laughing out loud! Anyone who would think to combine lace with the Creature from the Black Lagoon is a creative thinker to the Max! And, that's just what Kathleen is. Putting together the Creature, as well as flowers and iguanas, with her lacy linoleum cut backgrounds is an expression in "originality" that I never would have expected. I think that Kathleen has proven that originality never sleeps, at least not in a room where she creates.

I particularly liked the soft subdued hues of Robert Fritsch's prints. Soft, earthy tones mingled with a stippled shading beckoned to me and the other visitors in a quiet, but compelling way. Although Robert displayed only four pieces in the show, each was uniquely memorable in its own light (yes, I do mean light). "3 Apples", a lithograph/color trial, as Robert described it, held me spell-bound for quite a long time. Again, the black stippling in combination with the rosy color of the apples, although minimalistic, was perfectly applied to create this exquisite piece. Another such lithograph/color trial was "Point Loma". Robert not only is a master of printmaking, but, he also has an active lithograph studio located behind his home in Point Loma, where he invites other artists to come and print on Saturdays. Remarkably talented and generous in his sharing of the art, Robert Fritsch is a staple (not stipple) in the printmaking society.

Jacqueline Dotson's intaglio and collagraph prints are contrasts in black and white. Her intaglio print "Flirtatious" captured my attention easily. I am not sure if it was the boldness of the black outline or the figure itself that held me. The print of a lady wearing a hat and bedecked in ruffles, surrounded by an intricately drawn pattern in the background, was amazing. The intricacy of the line work in the background spoke volumes of Jacqueline's patience and dedication to detail. Other impressive pieces in the show were "Marquis", intaglio and "Two Clowning Clowns", collagraph/intaglio. Along with her expertise as a printmaker, Jacqueline is also a talented painter. I always knew good things come in two's!

Julianne Ricksecker is a multi-talented artist proficient in printmaking, monotype, pastel and watercolor. Many of her art pieces and prints depict landscapes and seascapes. That's a pretty "tall order" when you consider the several media that she creates them in. Julianne's works in the show included prints in monotype, color intaglio and drypoint. One of my favorites was entitled, "Foggy Day, Yosemite Valley", a color intaglio print. Quite often, Julianne works on copper and zinc metal plates, where an acid resistant coating is laid on the surface, and then uses a scraffito or scratching method to delineate her designs. Equally intriguing are her monotypes, such as "Along St. Mary River" and "Avalanche Creek". My oh my. "Who's Afraid of Julianne Ricksecker" aka tour de force?

Having known each other for sixteen years this group of dedicated printmakers have accomplished great things. The annual exhibit spearheaded by Angelika Villagrana has always been spectacular. It is an accepted fact among printmakers that they just seem to "know each other", and pole together. When I asked how "7 Printmakers" came about, Ray Brownfield, exuberantly announced that, "I kept bugging everybody and saying, we just have to do a show. We just have to do a show! I guess they got tired of my shouting, and decided to do a show just to shut me up"!

Well, Ray, I for one am so happy that you kept plugging away, because "What a show it was"!

                  "House by the Sea", woodcut by ANGELIKA VILLGRANA, printmaker

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
All images, text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"The REAL Life of Mannequins" revealed at Gallery 21

"Mannequins", digital art by JANINE FREE and GUY MAYENOBE

Hello All.

A new and innovative digital art exhibit has arrived at Gallery 21 in Spanish Village Art Center located in beautiful Balboa Park. It is dubbed "The REAL Life of Mannequins". The show is being "revealed" by Janine Free and Guy Mayenobe as "a digital art exhibit on metal and paper" from September 29 - October 11, 2010. The exhibit will be open daily from 11:00 to 4:00 p.m. at 1770 Village Place, San Diego, California 92101. Opening Reception is Friday, October 1, 2010 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. featuring music by the jazz band, "Endangered Speciez". Janine and Guy, ever the enthusiasts, are also throwing a Closing Reception on Sunday, October 10, 2010 from 11:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Of the show, Janine says, "that she and Guy have two radically different ways of unveiling mannequins". And, why not? We've all heard, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Why not then, perception? Janine Free is capturing reflections that look digitally manipulated, but are not, and Guy Mayenobe creates images that look real but are fabricated". Now, I tell you, that notion alone has "captured" my attention, not to mention the images that Janine kindly e-mailed me for the show's poster bill. Grab your "glad rags", "free your minds" and "surrey on down" to "The REAL Life of Mannequins", folks! I promise you won't be bored!

On the contrary, Janine Free and Guy Mayenobe are absolutely set on "expanding your horizons" and "blowing your minds"! And, here you thought mannequins were just inanimate plastic with no REAL life of their own. Well, trust Janine and Guy to "unveil" the (shhhh-hhh) truth about mannequins!

"Olive Oil", by french artist, GUY MAYENOBE

I'm back from the "REAL Life of Mannequins" opening reception, and what an experience! The art was fantastic, the music mellow and the banquet bountiful with an atmosphere reminiscent of "nights in Parisian parlors where art, wine and colorful conversation flowed into the wee hours of the dawn", or at least what I imagine it was like back then. Guests mingled and moved about the exhibit, some awed and silent, some verbally animated, but all wearing huge smiles and sparkling eyes. One simply couldn't help but smile and express wonder in this amazing show.

Well, it appears that the "truth about mannequins" is, perhaps, that there is no one "truth" which describes the mannequins that appear in this unique exhibition. True to Janine's description, she and Guy do have a totally different perception as they reveal their subjects and, therefore, an expression each their own.

Janine Free's mastery of her subject matter is based on reflected imagery and the play of light off of surfaces and glass. Everything that is seen in her photographs is actually in the scene she originally shoots. There are no "embellishments or digital additions" in Janine's images. Carefully and creatively manipulated, the many layers of images that one perceives in her photos have been exaggerated or diminished, moved forward or into the background to create the effect that she wants one to see. Janine takes only one photograph in her process, and then skillfully creates an image that gives the viewer the impression that she has superimposed several photos over top of each other. Oh, how "not so"! Clever girl, that Janine.

Guy Mayenobe enhances and transforms inanimate plastic or wooden mannequins into human like forms by blending eyes and lips from "real people" into the digital images. Sometimes the subjects looked like mannequins with human eyes and lips. Other times, when I thought the mannequin was a real person with implemented lips, it was just the opposite. The resulting photographs were mesmerizing and mind bending. I felt a kind of "hypnosis" when I stood looking at Guy's images, slightly disorientated and unable to pull my vision away from the eyes of the figures. I got a feeling of drifting, being "drawn in" to the photographs, and then of suddenly regaining awareness and shaking myself to return to a sense of reality. I kept expecting the mannequins to actually speak. Simply, mesmerizing, Guy!

I have always found it intriguing to listen to the conversations of visitors at any art exhibition. This exhibition was no different. At one point, as I sipped my glass of white wine, one visitor asked me if I knew which of the crowd were the artists. I answered, smilingly, and pointed out Janine and Guy as they spoke with the guests. They were both, winningly, humble and soft spoken enjoying their interaction with the visitors as much as the guests enjoyed meeting them. The guest that I was speaking with expressed, "I would have expected a much younger woman as the photographer, given the subject matter in the photographs". I quickly retorted, without hesitation, "Ahh, but, they are French you see",(including Guy in the description). "Their minds and spirits are forever young and fashionable"! The visitor smiled broadly, and said, "Oh, that's how they do it". I sighed a joi(full), "Yes"! We both smiled even wider, if that was possible, and turned to admire "Olive Oil" as she gazed back with a "revealing eye"!

Hold that thought...pose...thought! You know what I mean. Ever see a mannequin that wasn't posing? I guarantee Janine Free and Guy Mayenobe haven't. Strike a pose and "Vogue...Vogue...Vogue"!

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"There's Nothing Like a Dame, V" at Gallery 21

"Red, Orange and Yellow Peppers", by pastel artist, KAREN HOWARD

Hello All.

"Shades of "South Pacific"! The Dames are back and "In the House"!
Yep, you've got it! And, so do they, folks. They've got it right, when they say, "There's Nothing Like a Dame!" The Dames have it all "going on" in Gallery 21 at Spanish Village Art Center, located at 1770 Village Place in Balboa Park. The fifth annual show runs from September 15 - 27, 2010, and is open to the public everyday from 11:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Each year when I see the title for this show, and the exceptional group of 7 "Dames" (that's gifted Ladies to you, folks) I have to smile. It conjures up all sorts of whimsical images in one's mind, and gives me an amusing insight into the characteristic sense of humor of the group. (Gifted artists with a great sense of levity). That's a "winning hand". Even their logo, of a bandanna clad well-muscled dame, flexing her right arm while wielding a paint brush, and boasting the slogan of "Yes, We Can", testifies to this. Who needs "South Pacific"? We've got them right here in Spanish Village. I think these Dames can "bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan"! And, I haven't even gotten to their painting, photography and glass fusion skills yet!

These 7 remarkable artists are: Shandel Gamer, pastels, Karen Howard, pastels, Dana Levine, photography and pastels, Wilma J. Lopez, en caustic, Eileen Mandell, photography, Caroline Morse, oil, acrylic and photography, and Marcy Stinton, fused glass.

This year's show is a wonderful collection of 2-dimensional paintings, pastels, en caustic, infra red photography and 3-dimensional fused glass sculpture. When I visited the exhibit, Marcy Stinton cheerfully and proudly shared their story with me. It seems that these "Dames" have known each other for fifteen years or so, and all started out at the La Jolla Art Association. It is remarkable that there are artists who can boast of being a part of that well-known and esteemed organization; even more remarkable that they have been together all this time.

"Wild Antique Rose", fused art glass by MARCY STINTON

Shandel Gamer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature, SDSU, 1978 and a Master of Arts in English Literature, SDSU, 1977. Wherever does she get the time?  (I guess that's just what Dames do...make the the time!)  Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, her interest in art began in high school as a portraiture artist. Shandel, true to form, put her nose to the grindstone, and unfailingly, progressed into wildlife portraiture over the next twenty-five years. Her chosen medium, of pastels on sanded paper and board, depicts detailed subjects in the foreground, as the "focal point" of her paintings.  She, intelligently, places the images against muted and slightly "out of focus" backgrounds for a wonderfully intriguing effect. Shandel's paintings are admired and widely collected by discerning patrons in the United States and Canada.  Now, I ask you, "Is that a Dame, or what?"

Karen Howard is a member of the Pastel Society of San Diego and spent her early years on the coast of New England. Beginning her art experience with a pencil, as most artists do, she soon discovered the wonders of pastels, and as they say, "the rest is history". 30 years of history as a matter of fact. Constantly searching for innovative ideas in her creative process, Karen has discovered Le Carte Pastel Card, a sanded paper that allows multiple layering; and uses it as the surface of choice for her pastels. Among her portfolio styles are Still Life, Portraiture, Seascapes and Wildlife.  In painting, Karen hopes that the viewer will "take a step closer to examine the fine details in the shadows, reflected light and reflections".  (And, believe me, you will... because you won't believe your eyes.)  Ever so modest about her raging talent, this is one beautifully "blushing" Dame that comes to the table, "All In".  She gives "trompe l'oeil"  something to crow about!

Dana Levine, in her own words, "studied the unlikely combination of art history and chemistry in college", and holds a PhD, in Biochemistry!  After a professional career as a scientist and educator, she moved to La Jolla, California and resumed her interest in the arts.  (It gets better.)  Once there, Dana studied traditional painting and soon developed an interest in digital photography.  She now exhibits and sells both paintings and photographs.  Dana is a member of the Digital Art Guild and San Diego Watercolor Society (yin and yang?).  Believing that art and science are not really an "unlikely combination", she says that, "Both strive to see nature with a fresh eye." (Dames see things differently).  Dana's aim is to find beauty in "unexpected and unlikely places" by exploring the "inner richness of nature and the human form".  Where did this Dame come from?  The Amazon?  Or, Pluto maybe.

Wilma J. Lopez is a virago and a force to reckon with. Determined to learn and perfect the technique of en caustic wax painting, in classic style, she taught herself the art fifteen years ago. (You go, Girl... uh, Dame!) Since then, Dame Wilma has become a nationally renowned en caustic artist, and is now teaching her unique style of painting to enthusiastic beginners. She has won awards for her paintings on both coasts of the United States.  Wilma is an avid member of the Foothills Art Association and the San Diego Museum of Art Artists' Guild.  She says of herself and her interests that, "Through my en caustic paintings, I try to create unique original works which perfectly balance my knowledge of color and technique."  Job accomplished, Wilma.  Take a Bow!

Eileen Mandell began her career as a black and white photographer spending hours in the print lab working with black and white images and alternative photographic processes.  She says of her art, "Photography is always the source - the seed of my ideas."  With a background in art and her interest in the play of light and dark (as it affects color and tone), Eileen easily segued into the area of infrared.  "Infrared is one of the alternative processes that always intrigued me...And, the images~the contrast, radiating glow and altered tones, based on the heat emanating from the subjects, are both sensual and surreal."  Along with her photography, Eileen teaches Digital Art and Photography at the high school and college levels.  She admits that, "The students keep me energized, and keep me on my game."  I have seen Eileen's infrared photography, and am awed by its intensity and high emotional impact.  So, I can tell you all, "This is a Dame with Game aplenty"!  Spot on, Game.

Caroline Morse is a transplant to Southern California.  She grew up in Seattle, Washington, but mostly lived in New York, the Big Apple!  Caroline arrived in San Diego in 2000 after illustrious careers in foundation administration, agency management, social work and art therapy!  Whew!  What a Dame.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  Of her oils, acrylics and photography, she states, "My paintings are interpretative realism with an emphasis on color, space and light.  I seek to capture energy and emotion, combining substance and meaning with aesthetics."  Caroline holds membership in the La Jolla Art Association, San Diego Art Institute, Allied Artist Association of Visual Arts Group and Penwomen (and, her list of past exhibitions wraps around the Empire State Building several times).  I tell you... this "Dame" can give you a serious complex!

Marcy Stinton was born in Norwood, Massachusetts, but has lived in California for over thirty-five years.  Originally a stain glass artist, Marcy found, for her own tastes, that fused glass presented a more challenging medium.  Ever-ready for a challenge, she dove in without hesitation.  Marcy  has studied with well-known wildlife glass artist, Kathleen Sheard, but is primarily self-taught.  (That's what I call "taking the initiative".)   And, how about this?  Most recently, Marcy has begun using a sand blaster with which she creates etched or carved images in her fused glass!  (See what she means by..." Ain't Nothing Like a Dame"?)  Marcy says that, "I enjoy creating unique images in my mind, and then transforming them into glass.  The challenge to me is how to manipulate the glass, using combinations of warm and hot glass techniques in order to bring the images to flourishion."
Ain't that just like a Dame?  Better step back, Guys and Dolls.  Marcy's just getting rolling!

Hold that thought! Be right back. Just stepping out to the kitchen for a short writer's break. Hey, a "Dame's gotta have a cup of Joe" every now and then.

Okay, back to the keyboard with that steaming cup of Colombian Joe, and wrapping it up for the Dames!  These ladies will "Do you Proud" any day of the week, month or year.  But, for right now, get in to see them at this fabulous exhibition.  It makes a Girl (uh, Dame, that is) stick out her chest and say,  "Let's hear it for the Dames"!  There just ..."Ain't Nothing like a Dame"!

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kathy Ruiz, "Ewe Just Gotta Spin"!

Hello All,

Heads up to all of you Wool Lovers out there. "GOTTA SPIN, GOTTA SPIN ...GOTTAAAA SPIN! Hey, Gene Kelly hasn't got anything on me, or maybe I should say on, Kathy Ruiz! Kathy is one of the best-kept secrets in Spanish Village Art Center! Well, maybe not anymore. Not if I can help it. "Front and Center", Ms. Ruiz. You're about to be discovered!

Kathy Ruiz, of studio 19, dedicated mother, rancher (sheep, that is) and spinner par excellence! How's that for an intro, Kathy? You have earned it, my friend. Talk about, "You've come a long way, baby"! "No brag ... just facts"! Honored guests and visitors, "I beg to put before you, Kathy Ruiz". Okay, folks, all quips and quotes aside, let me astound you with the story of Kathy Ruiz and Irish Rose Yarns.

"How many skeins would a spinner spin, if a spinner did spin wool"? Who cares how many? It is the amazing process by which she creates the yarn that fascinates and confounds the imagination. Not only does Kathy spin, but she and her four children birth, raise and shear their own sheep and goats to harvest the magnificent wools that she processes, and then spins into these amazing natural and colorful hand dyed yarns.

"Live, from Spanish Village Art Center, it's Ms. Ruiz and Irish Rose Yarns"! I first met Kathy three years ago when she came to Spanish Village Art Center. Her daughter, Rose, had just juried into the Village with her painted feather art. Kathy accompanied Rose on her days at the Village, and immediately took to the atmosphere of our art center. Their enthusiasm for our organization and their pleasure at becoming a part of Spanish Village was apparent from the start. (Not long after, Kathy juried her yarns and spinning crafts into Spanish Village Art Center with strong encouragement from many of our members.) Kathy, Rose and the rest of the family soon became familiar faces as they settled into the pattern of the Spanish Village Art Center "quilt". (Oh, incidentally, Kathy is also an enthusiastic quilter).

On my jaunts about the Village, I noticed Kathy sitting outside the studio "carding" or actually hand sorting and separating wool from a small basket on her lap. Always friendly and open, Kathy looked up from her work when I paused, mesmerized by what she was doing. My curiosity was immediately piqued; I was intrigued and we began to chat. Kathy regaled me with the story of her "love affair" with wool which soon led me to the history of her home aka sheep ranch, the very unusual lifestyle that she and her family live, and to the discovery of Irish Rose Yarns.

Well, I'll tell you, it didn't take long for me to become a devoted buyer of Kathy's magnificent yarns and roving. As I said, I was immediately intrigued..."hooked" is a better way to describe it. I have been collecting her yarns ever since, and have quite an assortment in my yarn bin. I have been felting for over three years, and recognized the potential for Kathy's yarn in my work. The "naturals" are warm and earthy as well as iridescently white and silver. The "hand dyed yarns" are pastel to brilliant with a wonderful spectrum of colors to choose from. Although, I am a "full color" enthusiast, Kathy's natural yarns tug at the "nature" part of my creativity, and I continually gravitate to these yarns (the angora in particular). Oh! Shades of Arlen...and now there is Seamus, too. (Father and son - Angora style). Both goats (yes goats) are mixed with white and silver locks and are absolutely "fabulous"! So, extraordinarily soft and glowing! But, let me contain my enthusiasm for a moment and go back to the beginning: How Irish Rose Yarns came into existence.

The Irish Rose saga started quite simply and practically. Kathy and her family owned a sizable ranch with a lot of wild brush; and it soon became necessary to purchase two Shetland sheep to eat the brush, and, thereby, keep it under control. Simple, right? Maybe. After a period of time, Kathy needed to shear the sheep, and discovered she had a massive amount of wool fleece on her hands. Now, the problem was what to do with it! So, Kathy started to read about wool and spinning, which led to creating yarns, and then to learning to knit. So on, and so forth!

In her own words, Kathy, "was hooked"! She first dedicated herself to creating clothing and accessories for her family...whatever they needed to keep warm. Functionality first. But, then imagination took hold, and it wasn't long before her curiosity and love for the craft took complete control of her consciousness. One idea led to another until Kathy was soon shopping for more sheep.

The sheep community is friendly and supportive, and several ranchers were delighted to help Kathy learn about and acquire more sheep. At one of the ranches, a particularly friendly little "sheep" intrigued her each time she and the family visited. He would always stand at the gate whenever they came, and greet them enthusiastically. When Kathy inquired about him, she was told that he was actually an Angora goat. She was in love! The rest is history, as they say. Now she would add the lustrous soft fleece of the angoras to her repertoire of Shetland wools. Irish Rose Yarns was growing by "leaps and bounds! No pun intended.

By now, Kathy was well on the road to marketing her own yarns. She decided to dub her line, "Irish Rose" because her very Irish father always sang, "My Wild Irish Rose", when she was a girl. (Good thing, too). Starting with the naturals, Kathy soon delved further into coloring the fleece with natural and fiber reactive dyes. She sometimes uses grasses and other intriguing natural substances to achieve remarkable earthy colors. The spun yarns range from standard size and shape to creatively bumpy and twisted blends depending on the type of wool that is used.

This is "Fern" before she is sheared with a "little bit of fodder" to help the shearing "go down".

To me, the most remarkable thing about Kathy is how she processes the wool. It is an intensive labor of love, determination and resiliency. Taking into consideration the amount of work and strength it takes to shear the sheep, harvest the wool, clean and dry it, and then spin it into yarn, I am nothing less than amazed that someone the size of Kathy Ruiz can accomplish this. Of course she has plenty of help from Rose, her daughter, but, neither of them is Charles (or I should say, Charlene) Atlas! This amazing woman deserves an Oscar!! Kathy will just demur and modestly say, "I do it because I love it". "I just love it"!

Kathy and "Fern", during and after the shearing. Fern is a "bountiful harvest". She yields five whole pounds of fleece each time. Not Baaaa-aad!

BAAAA! BAAAAAAAAAAAA! Hold the bus! Arlen, my favorite little angora goat, is stuck in the fence again! Better go and give Kathy a hand! Stay tuned!

Okay, I'm back, and Arlen is none the worst for wear.  He is very inquisitive, though, which keeps Kathy on her feet.  You know how babies are (Don't laugh.  Arlen still thinks he's the baby!).  Can't wait to get my hands on more of his gossamer locks.

 As I was saying, Kathy's diligence is nothing short of miraculous.  She produces an amazing array of hand spun fiber, as well as some intriguing knits for the enthusiasts' delight.  You can see her yarns, hand knit caps and fingerless hand warmers several days a week.  She, Rose and Lily highlight the patio at Spanish Village Art Center, where they set up their display near Gallery 21.  Kathy's creations are earthy and spontaneous, but the intricately patterned knit work is, surprisingly, done by young Lily, whose stitches have the intricacy and perfection of a knitting machine.

Kathy and Rose are partners in Studio 19, and you can see their work daily at the studio.  Rose paints miniatures on the feathers from her exotic chickens, and recently has added oil and acrylic paintings to her repertoire.  Lily can often be seen and heard about the Village playing original and traditional compositions on her dulcimer.  They are a creative family, and add a great deal of color to Spanish Village Art Center. 

Kathy Ruiz' love for her family and her spinning is apparent.  She is completely connected to the earth through the outpouring of her craft, and dedication to this connection.  Her Irish Rose Yarns and her family are a testament to this dedication.  And, one must remember, always, that she does it simply because she, "...Loves it.  She just Loves it".

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Monday, September 6, 2010

East County Art Association "Brushes" into Gallery 21

"Dances with Eagles", original oil painting, by MIKE WATSON

Hello All.

If ever you've had a "brush" with art, or just wanted to pick up a brush and try your hand at painting, the East County Art Association is the organization for you. The association is hosting its 2nd annual show, a "Juried Member Appreciation" exhibition at Gallery 21 from September 9 - 13, 2010. The exhibit is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to all visitors to Spanish Village Art Center and Balboa Park.

This year's show was juried by Drew Bandish, a San Diego artist and educator who currently paints in watercolor and pastel. Drew earned his Bachelor of Arts in Painting and Printmaking at San Diego State University, and since 1987 has offered art classes in Adult Education and Community College continuing education programs. Of himself, Drew says," I especially enjoy the process of watercolor painting...creating exciting personal color by mingling watercolor paints on the page.

Let's see now. Who are the "artists" that make up the East County Art Association? In 1976, a small group of artists met to form an organization with goals to promote friendship and fine art appreciation in all visual media. Since then, they have become a nonprofit organization in 1986 and have grown to become one of the largest and most active visual arts organizations in the East County of San Diego.

The East County Art Association boasts over sixty plus members and meets on the second Monday of each month at Rancho San Diego Library. The public is invited to attend and consider membership. A diversified membership, the East County Art Association welcomes all media and levels of accomplishment which includes talented beginners as well as professionally accomplished artists. Claire Peck is current President of East County Art Association.

The 2nd Annual Juried Member Appreciation Show of the East County Art Association certainly has a wide variety of artists and media. Media entries range from pencil to pastel to acrylic, watercolor and oils. The age range of the members is from youth to a "whopping" 90 years old! In fact, one of the most amazing and revered artists in the group is 90 years old, Phebe Burnham! Phebe took 1st Place this year for her pastel drawing of "Assistant Band Leader", showing a young girl in her "bandleader" garb. That just goes to show that you are never too old to "strut your stuff"! Huh, Phebe? "You go, Girl"!!

As much as I was charmed by Phebe's 1st Place winner, I was, nonetheless, completely captured by her pastel of "Swan Lake - Here I Come", a captivating portrait of a precocious "pre-prima" ballerina, bedecked in lacy chiffon with a strand of pearls (obviously her mother's) pinned in a ring around her head, gazing at her image in the mirror. On her left wrist is a bracelet of pearls to match the "crown" of pearls in her hair. The image that one sees of the young girl is from behind poised in front of the mirror.

Immediately, I surmise that she is playing "dress up", and think, "Ah, how lovely".
But, it is the expression on her face in the mirror that stops me in my tracks. The precocious minx is very much aware of who she is and where she is going. (Hence, Phebe's title of Swan Lake - Here I Come). Standing behind Phebe's little swan is a doting mother (shown in reflection) who undoubtedly supports her daughter's dream. But, it is the child's own "vision" of affirmation and recognition, clearly portrayed in her expression, that enraptures. Looking at her, I have no doubt that some very fortunate ballet company will one day boast of this little swan's miraculous performance on the grand stage. Now, folks, I ask you, "How about that for "emotional evocation" in a painting by a 90 year old master"? I think Phebe is "Fierce", don't you?

Not to go unsaluted are the other Award Winners of this year's exhibition. They are 2nd Place Winner, Claire Peck for her watercolor, "Scoutin' Scouts", and 3rd Place Winner, Mike Watson for his oil painting, "Dances with Eagles".

Honorable Mention went to Pat Yeakey for, Seaworld Pals", mixed media, L.J. Crowe for "The Hunter", eggshell mixed media, Gale Vavva for, "A Way Out", mixed media and Elsimae Cleeton for "Arizona Storm", watercolor.

Although, he did not win an award this year, I was particularly taken with a work by Jorge Leon. His acrylic abstract, "De Projundis", meaning deeply profound, was a wonderful contrast to the realism of the other paintings in the show. A perfect mixture of bright colors and white space, this painting lured and held my attention for a long time. I have always found in my own painting that if I can turn the canvas in any direction, and find no "void" (space without meaning, movement or place), then the artwork is complete and successful. "De Projundis" gave me that sense of balance and completeness expertly rendered, and I would like to commend Jorge for its birth.

And, the praise would not be complete without a salute to Spanish Village's very own Dr. Jenny Ferrone, of studio 37, for her participation in this year's show. Jenny had two paintings accepted in the exhibition, "The Pond" at Lake Murray and "Sunflowers", both oils. "Way to go, Jenny"!

Congratulations to you all, and see you next year. In the meantime, "Brush On"!


The East County Art Association may be contacted at P.O. Box 148, El Cajon, California 92022. Or, look up their webpage:

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted, 2010, all rights reserved

Monday, August 23, 2010

Now Showing: Yumi's "Symphony of Light"

"Symphony of Light", by artist YUMI

Hello All,

Yumi returns to Gallery 21, in Spanish Village Art Center located in beautiful Balboa Park, for her annual exhibit. The show runs from August 18 - August 30, 2010, at 1770 Village Place and is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

Already familiar with Yumi's beautiful paintings, which consummately reflect an inner part of her being and an eternal spiritual awareness, my attention is drawn immediately by the title of her new exhibit, "Symphony of Light". Taking into account her Japanese heritage and the title of this new show, I assumed there might be some connection between Yumi's new exhibit and a recent showing of the "landscape" kimono of Itchiku Kubota (also entitled "Symphony of Light") at the Timken Gallery and San Diego Museum of Art. Clearly, one should never "assume" anything about "Yumi" for her vision is, uniquely, her own.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Yumi studied under Ukai Uchiyama, Japan's master watercolorist. While she was a student at KEIO University, Yumi illustrated children's magazines and books. After graduating with a BFA, she studied at the Academy of Arts College in San Francisco, California. Her creative and artistic credits in the U.S. span a period of years from 1985, (when she moved from Holland to San Diego, California), to 2010 and her current exhibit.

Included among these credits are a video, "The Colors of Yumi"; paintings on the cover of SEIKEI KAISHI magazine, (1994-1996); 2005, a Tokyo exhibition, "Light, Tokyo-Holland-San Diego"; awarded the Key to the city of La Mesa for her outstanding teaching contributions; 2006, wrote for ARIKA magazine in Japan; completed Public Art for the City of La Mesa and SDSU Business District; 2009, featured in "Light House magazine, Japan"; 2010, "Symphony of Light" exhibition at Gallery 21.

There, now. That is the expected, the obvious image one might have of Yumi. That is the "Yumi" on paper. What I want to share with you all is the true "essence" of Yumi. That special "something" about her. There is an integral "spiritual" quality that surrounds Yumi. One cannot be long in her presence without sensing it. Her aura exudes it, her smile confirms it and her paintings evoke it. I give to you the word that I think best describes it... "Light".

And so I come to the true nature and impetus behind Yumi's creation. Perhaps, the key to the titling of her latest exhibition is "Light"... Light, actual or subliminal. Light of day or night, light seen or imagined. Light that evokes emotion or the silence of reflection... reflection of the color spectrum or the soul. Light that nurtures and sustains. An awakening to and movement "Toward the Light". This is a recurring theme in all of Yumi's work. Her past three exhibitions have all dealt with this subject matter. "Light", "Night and Day" and "Toward the Light". All of which have brought her to the current exhibit, "Symphony of Light". Of her exhibition, Yumi says, "If you find the LIGHT from my painting to uplift your spirit, I would be happy and content".

I step into Gallery 21 and the sound of a ukulele softly strumming "Somewhere over the Rainbow", by Israel Kamakawiwo greets me. As I move among the paintings, I am made aware of the importance of light in all of Yumi's compositions. Central to the exhibit is her "Symphony of Light", a golden painting depicting a string trio of violin, cello and guitar accompanied by a pianist, and watched over by an angel of Light floating high above them all.

Moving through the exhibit, I am keenly aware of the many ways light plays a part in Yumi's vision. Light as seen in "Morning Light on the Prado", or in "Backstage 2", a lovely painting that captures an actress, beautifully coiffed with her hair piled high on her head, looking out of a window at the street scene below. Similarly intriguing is "Music Break" depicting a guitarist perched on a stool, where rays of warm golden light pour through a window, and an over sized cat lounges in the glow on a window seat. Circling back to the front of the gallery, I encounter a painting entitled, "White Swans". Looking at this mystic swirl of white and yellow light that surrounds three white swans, juxtaposed by aqua and blue-green shadows, I am captured by the movement and luminosity created by Yumi's brushstrokes and minimal use of color.

Yumi says, "The art exhibition, "Symphony of Light" is dedicated to my parents and Zazuko for their Love and Wisdom". Not a surprising sentiment coming from such a rare soul. At one point during my visit, I overheard Yumi explain to another visitor that, "My paintings are like my children...when a customer comes and asks to see my old paintings, I get very emotional". All in all, I would say a visit to "Symphony of Light" is an emotional one. It is a "tale told by a beautiful spirit, full of light and movement".

Standing in front of the painting, "Symphony of Light", one can view a quotation mounted on the wall. It goes, "Like the sound of river, Symphony fills the air with the sound of legato and staccato, blessed by the light of heaven".

I will leave you with those thoughts. (FADE TO: The dark of day as the brilliance of moonlight rises). Ask Yumi. She has a secret of Light to share with you.

"White Swans", by artist YUMI

Yumi Climenson lives in La Mesa, California and is an accomplished oil painter. She may be contacted at or through her website:

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted 2010, all rights reserved

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Travel "To the End of the Earth" with Steve Gould, photographer

"Five Penquins" by STEVE GOULD, photographer

Hello All,

Step into Gallery 21 in Spanish Village Art Center this week, and be "transported to another world". A world of "blue ice and mystically rugged frozen terrain" not seen or experienced by many. A world surrounded by magnificent snow-capped mountains, fathomless "azul" ocean depths defined by towering islands of ice and home to some of nature's most mystifying and captivating stoic creatures.

Enter the world captured by photographer, Steve Gould on his trek... "To the End of the Earth".

A sense of quiet beauty surrounds you as you step into the gallery of this fierce and frozen world. The soft melodious notes of "Pastorale" by Tingstad and Rumbel, a perfect mixture of woodwinds and guitar, mesmerize as you wander through the exhibit. There is an immediate hush that falls over spectators, interspersed by spontaneous intakes of breath, as they become engrossed in the beauty of this Antarctic landscape and its inhabitants. Hold your breath and squint your eyes, and you're almost there. Ahh, do you feel the temperature change?

As one meanders through the gallery, moving almost as in a dream, it becomes apparent that Steve Gould has done a spectacular job of transporting us to this region which includes the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and Antarctica. Temperatures in these treacherous regions range from the low 40 degrees (in the Falkland Islands) to the high 30's or just below freezing on South Georgia Island. In Antarctica temperatures can drop from freezing to 30 degrees lower in a matter of minutes, and [weather] is often characterized by high winds and fierce snow storms. Fortunately, this did not occur during the expedition.

From December 30, 2009 through January 24, 2010, Steve and his wife, Mary traveled with 94 other "adventurers" and the staff of the Cheeseman's Ecology Safaris, in order to witness and photograph the migratory breeding cycles of some of the world's most amazing and beloved wildlife. Freezing temperatures and harsh circumstances notwithstanding, the expedition visited five of the Falkland Islands for 3 days. With expectations high, the "adventurers" then cruised on to South Georgia Island, staying for 6 exhilarating days with a final (and much anticipated) destination of West Antarctica where they stayed for 7 days.

Of his show, Steve says, "In this exhibition, I share with you some of the amazing sights. I hope they convey many of the emotions I felt during these amazing 26 days".

Steve has more than accomplished what he hoped to do with this fantastic collection of photographs. On South Georgia Island, there is a magnificent array of King penguins standing and mingling with fur seals on beaches and nesting plains. Fur seals lounge, recline and nap in various positions for the spectators' delight. Comical and intriguing Adelie, Gentoo and Chinstrap penuins gather in Antarctica. Humpback whales raise their flukes to the sun in Antarctic Cierva Cove, Antarctica. The "blue icebergs" of Devil's Island hypnotize and hold viewers in thrall with their color and abstract form. The fierce and relentless terrain evokes awe and commands respect.

Of all the wondrous images in the exhibit, the ones of the King penguin are my all time favorites. Steve has more than successfully captured the true magnificence of these stoic and beautiful creatures. Among my favorites are the photographs showing King penguins standing, feeding, nesting and marching across the penguin "highways" that they travel. What is it about the majestic penguin that fascinates and so captivates our imagination and admiration?

There is a quotation on the left wall of the gallery, as you move to the upper level, that describes this fascination perfectly. The quotation goes, "All the world loves a penguin: I think it is because in many respects they are like ourselves... Had we but half their physical courage, none could stand against full of curiosity that they have no room for fear". (Quotation by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, "The Worst Journey in the World") (The Scott Expedition)

"Kings on the March" by STEVE GOULD, photographer

One can truly appreciate Steve's naturalistic approach to photographing his subjects in their environmental surroundings. There seems to be a purity to his capture of the elements and wildlife in actuality, without any projection of ego or contrivance to the image. The viewer sees King penguins, Adelies and others doing what penguins, naturally, do. The titling of his photographs also reflects this clarity as in "Five Kings" and "Kings on the March". [No artifice. Just...Penguins.]

In contrast, "Whiskers", a photograph of a fur seal, is amusing because it looks as if the seal actually knew his picture was being taken, and so posed for the photo. Is there such a thing as "seal serendipity"? Another magnificent shot, "Salisbury Plain, South Georgia Island", depicts a mind boggling 130,000 King penguins and baby chicks, interspersed with a few fur seals, stretching for miles over a panorama which ends in the snowy mountain backdrop of South Georgia Island. Can you imagine trying to find your own baby chick in that number of penguins? What natural instinct, and then some!

The contrast and juxtapositions of the wildlife to its habitat are particularly awe-inspiring in Steve's photographs. In his, "Tortured Rock", which depicts a shear massive "crag" of weatherhewn rock plummeting to a beach at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia Island, King penguins and fur seals wait, perhaps, for the weather to change. The massiveness of the cliff makes a dramatic contrast to the King penguin whose size is not meager. The impressive "Kings" are dwarfed by the wall of rock rising into the air.

Other impressive works, include "Iceberg Window" in the Devil Island, and "Devil Island Iceberg", Devil Island, Antarctica. These two lovely photographs led me to ask Steve, "Why are icebergs blue"? A trip to the exhibition is certainly worth attaining that information from Steve. (Though, he may wish I hadn't prompted you to ask.)

With so many intriguing images to view at "To the End of the Earth", you may find yourself forgetting that question and coming up with a plethora of your own. This show surely boasts "azul waters, blue icebergs and 130,000 reasons" (penguins, that is) to visit Steve Gould at Gallery 21 located in Spanish Village Art Center and beautiful Balboa Park. The show runs from August 4 - August 16, 2010, and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily.

"Devil Island Iceberg" by STEVE GOULD, photographer

Steve Gould is a diversified and accomplished photographer and may also be contacted at his website: Steve Gould Photography []. This impressive exhibition had write ups this month in the La Jolla Light, San Diego Magazine and Performances Magazine.

Thank you, Steve, for taking us "To The End of the Earth" where an astounding cycle of nature continues every year! How fortunate for us to have seen this miracle, "looking through an Iceberg Window and the eyes of Steve Gould"!

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted 2010, all rights reserved

"Painters' Perspective" - Challenge at Gallery 21


Hello All!

Long time, no write. I've had a very busy few weeks since my last blog, and what a great time to bring everyone up to date on the latest news at Gallery 21 in Spanish Village Art Center. Good news is never too late, and great art is never forgotten or passe. Which brings me to the recent exhibit of the "Painters' Perspective" in Gallery 21. This exhibition "challenge" ran from July 21, 2010 through August 2, 2010.

A select group of 50 painters who paint under the tutelage of Linda A. Doll [], aws, nws, internationally renowned painter, digital artist, instructor and juror, recently participated in an "art challenge" where 3 challenges were presented to them for creating works of art based upon the particular criteria set forth by Ms. Doll. These painting "solutions" were submitted in various media by the artists and critiqued by Ms. Doll for the exhibition. The resulting works of art were intriguing and as individual as each of the artists participating in the challenge.

Having Linda Doll as a mentor is a tremendous "boon", to say the least, as is evident in the works displayed in the exhibit. Ms. Doll's credentials read like a well tuned Stradivarius and are as follows,(quote): "A teacher of workshops and seminars throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Ireland and Bali". (!!!) (Wait, there's more.) She is a past-President and Life Member of the National Watercolor Society, a past Board Member and Juror of the American Watercolor Society, and a past Board Member of Watercolor West. (It continues...) She is a Life Honorary Member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and an elected Life Member of the San Diego Watercolor included in...Who's Who in American Art and Who's Who of American Women.(unquote) Whew!!! Challenge or Gift to the Universe? I'll let you decide! She's certainly got the "right stuff" that one needs to be a mentor. Ms. Doll, take a bow!

With all of this motivation, the artists meet at Linda's home on a monthly basis for mentoring, challenges and critiquing of their work. Ms. Doll frequently showcases her students' work in exhibitions such as the "Painters' Perspective" to show creative solutions to the challenges she gives them. These challenges are designed to get students to push the limits of their individual and separate talents, in order to create or "recreate" art that is either already in some stage of existence or waiting to be discovered and given fruition.

I was intrigued by this concept when I visited the exhibition, and was given some interesting insights to the process by which the artists worked. Martha Grimm, who is a watercolorist in the show, has been wonderfully generous with sharing information about the challenge, and caught my attention with her "solution" to one of the challenges on color usage.

As one walked through the show, each of the challenges was presented along with the artists' solutions to the assignments. Each challenge was displayed on a separate wall of the gallery with a description (of the parameters) of the assignment as set forth by Ms. Doll. The first of these (as you entered the gallery) was to Recycle an "Old Painting". Ms. Doll states, "Artists were randomly given an old painting from another artist who wasn't happy with the painting they had done and wanted to abandon it. The challenge was to create a new painting from the old one using elements of the original painting but completing it using a new creative solution. I believe many artists give up too early on a painting and need to come back to an unsuccessful painting with a fresh idea and story".

The next challenge was two-fold in as much as the artists were given the choice of "Painting in Specified Colors". There were two color choices: Pure Orange and Muted Greens. The artists were given sample photos showing these color choices utilized in interiors. They could use any combination of the colors shown in the photos to then create a painting reflecting these palettes. Pure Orange colors were to be luminous, bright, glowing and bold carefully or randomly placed with whites. However, the overall composition should maintain a balance between the alternating white areas of the painting and the use of color. Muted Greens, ofttimes considered to be "neutral" in the color spectrum, are calming and restful with a soothing effect when observed in muted form. As a painter, myself, these two challenges intrigued me the most. I chose two paintings that captured my attention [within this challenge] to share with you: Sharon Feingold's, "Muted Greens" and Martha Grim"s, "Heads or Tails", one from each of the two color challenges.

The third challenge in the exhibition was to "Paint a Still Life" from a collection of objects brought in by the artists. The objects were placed randomly on a table and the artists chose which of these objects they wanted to include in their painting composition. The artists were given no "limitations", and could paint in any style and medium that they wanted. A collection of "pig figurines" were among the intriguing items brought in for painting, as well a selection of vintage radios and a collection of fabrics. There was a delightful mixture of objects in the still life paintings created for this particular challenge. Among the pig collection, was an unforgettable red, black and white pig that surfaced in quite a few of the stilllifes, fairly dominating the scene with its undeniable presence and strong color contrasts. Who was that "masked piggy"? Hmmm. I guess "pigs may come, and pigs may go", but that little piggy will stay in every one's memory and those stilllifes forever.

Summarily, it seems that Ms. Doll and the Painter's Perspective group is a very interesting and educational concept. If I didn't have such a full schedule, I would certainly entertain the idea of joining them for those once a month critiques. Ms. Doll is an inspiring teacher, and her pupils show an aptitude for painting that is notable. I think that they have all successfully risen to the "challenge" of this exhibition, heightened their awareness, honed their skills and turned out some great artwork to boot.

Thanks and a "Great Big Shout Out" to all of you who participated in this exhibition. I, and the greater public, look forward to seeing you all again at Gallery 21.

MARTHA GRIM'S, "Heads or Tails"

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted 2010, all rights reserved
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