by Lillian Csernica on October 18, 2015
This weekend Santa Cruz County held its Open Studio Art tour. The city of Santa Cruz is known as a haven for artists of all kinds. What people often don’t realize is that up here in the mountains we’ve got a lot of artists as well.
John’s ceramics class had a serious project to complete. Each student had to go to at least three of the studios on the tour and do what amounted to an interview. The project worksheets included questions about what mood the artist was trying to create, comparing two different pieces by the same artist, and how the artists the student chose to visit could inspire that student’s own artwork.
John comes from a long line of artists on my mother’s side:
His great- great-grandmother ran a modeling agency back in the 1930s.
His great-grandmother wrote a society column for the newspaper, raised some amazing roses, and created artwork using textiles and ceramics and other media.
His great-grandfather was a professional photographer and filmmaker.
His grandmother sketches and paints, as well as creating multimedia artwork.
His mother (that’s me!) has worked as a professional bellydancer, and actor, and currently as a professional writer.
John is primarily a graphic artist, but he’s learning how to use computer graphics, clay, and other media.
I steered John toward three artists who live here in the San Lorenzo Valley. John and Michael have lived their whole lives in this area. It’s good for John to know he doesn’t have to go to a museum to see art. What’s more, on the tour you’re allowed to see the artists’ studios where they create the pieces on display.
First Studio: Janet Silverglate. Ms. Silverglate creates art by using found objects, many of which are what most of us would consider scrap materials or just plain junk. Her style of art is called assemblage. Each work of art is one of a kind. John and I were both drawn to a circular artwork that included pieces from several different games such as Scrabble tiles, chess pieces, old Bingo cards, and even some Pick-Up Stix. The overall look and feel put me in mind of the Kachina dolls I’ve seen in the southwest.
Second Studio: Larry and Pat Worley
Larry Worley takes basket weaving to a whole new level. My favorite piece was a woven seashell the size of a small suitcase wound around a piece of redwood driftwood. Simply stunning.
Pat Worley is a textile artist. One side of her display featured long, rectangular silk scarves dyed in rich, vibrant colors such as fuschia and aquamarine. The scarves all had leaf patterns running the length of the silk in either silver or gold. The other side of the display showcased what I thought of as small quilts because of the many pieces of fabric arranged to form patterns or scenes. The dominant color scheme was black, brown, and rust, with maple leaves as a frequent motif. Ms. Worley explained the method she used to make the fabric for these as “reverse tie-dye.” Starting with black cloth and using bleach, she would coax a variety of shades out of the material. Impressive!
Third studio: Bob Hughes. To say that Mr. Hughes makes wooden boxes is to say Monet liked to paint flowers. My favorite box was shaped like the diacritical mark called a tilde, used to denote the palatal nasal sound of the “eñe” in words such as mañana. Mr. Hughes makes more than just boxes. His vases and candle holders combine varieties of woods, or woods and metals. Mr. Hughes was kind enough to explain to John, using a guide with step by step images, how he made a particular vase. John is a visual learner, so this really helped him understand Mr. Hughes’ artistic process.
The artists were all happy to know I wanted John to get a wider understanding of how many ways people create art, and what’s inside them that wants to be expressed. Getting a good grade on the project is important, but more than that, John has so much potential just waiting to come out through his drawing skills.
Take a look at your local community arts news items. You’d be amazed what’s waiting for you in your own back yard!