Do You Hate Graffiti? Take Another Look

#SOVAST 3

 

South Valley Artists' Tour
Erik Gonzalez and I in front of one of his works in progress

On Sunday afternoon, the third day of the South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour, we headed to THE big town in Tulare County, Visalia, CA.  Visalia is the first town established in Tulare County in 1852. One of the “studios” we visited exhibited in the location of Fort Visalia, forgotten except for a plaque to remind us that it existed. Ft. Visalia, built in 1860, protected the townspeople from raids from the Yokuts Indians whose land they occupied. It also made a statement in favor of California’s position supporting the Union in a town settled mostly by Confederate sympathizers.  In more recent years Copeland Lumber Yard owned that prime property, but on this day artist Eric Gonzalez used it to display many works of spray artists from all over the state.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Since I don’t know the real title, I’ll call her Jungle Princess.

Erik has done a lot of work in Woodlake with the students, and we published an article about him for the “What’s Happening in the Foothills” magazine a couple of years ago, so it was great to meet him in person. Erik has a passion for youth. Here is a bit about him.

As a professional graffiti artist, Erik has been successful in utilizing his work for alternative marketing that appeal to young generations. In addition to recreational painting, Erik is also passionate about delivering positive and meaningful messages to young people through his work such as, education, youth empowerment, risk behavior prevention, awareness, and more.

In recent years Erik has been working in partnership with groups such as Faces of Prevention www.facesofprevention.org and Youth Centers of America www.youthcentersofamerica.org, implementing vandalism prevention programs.  He recruits students taking interest in contemporary media with an objective to identify graffiti/urban art as a contemporary art form and to expose his participants to the urban art career opportunities that exist in current advertising and design markets.”

Most of these paintings were done by other artists who work with him around the state.  I think he and his students and colleagues are doing a great work changing the look of graffiti art.

South Valley Artists' Tour
More Jungle Princesses. They abound in the Wilds of India

My husband gravitated towards one of his son’s paintings, and thought I should write a children’s book about monster kids and use him as the artist. I told him monster kids are more up his alley. I would rather write about a Jungle Princess. 🙂

What do you think about the new look of graffiti? Do you prefer the monster kids who can’t control their urges to cause mischief or a jungle princess who charms snakes, gossips with the birds and rides a tiger?

 

 

Where Imagination Happens – Glimpses of Artists’ Studios

Would you expect an artist’s studio to be spotless on a visitation tour? Please don’t! Would you expect their display areas to look like an art museum? Read on to find out for yourselves.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Foothill near Rick Badgley’s studio in Three Rivers new St. Anthony’s Retreat

The day was magic, perfect temperature, warm sunshine bathing the mountains highlighting the California poppies, a few wispy clouds against the clear blue sky. A drive to Three Rivers, CA at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains never disappoints, but some days thrill more than others. This was one of those days.

Outside the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers
Across the highway from  the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers

We visited five artist’s studios, signed up for art classes, made design notes, and met some incredibly talented individuals. This studio sits atop a mountain overlooking the Kaweah River as it flows from the mountains on one side, and Highway 198, which is pictured above.

Art students pounded and molded clay projects this studio, even on tour day. One student had to thin her brick when she found out that thick pieces explode when put in the kiln.

Art Tour - Clay studio
Budding artists work with clay.

We met two of the three artists, Christine Sell-Porter and Bill “Hopper” Sullivan. To take us on the tour, Christine stopped working on her orchid pot that has holes throughout to let the orchid roots breathe.

South Valley Artist's Tour
Clay orchid pot before firing

My husband chatted with Hopper, and signed up to take a class.  Christine displayed her paintings and her new experiments with clay, including the ones that did not work. You can get an idea of the beauty of the spring wildflowers from her paintings. She points out another pot she made with the orchid starting to grow.

South Valley Artists Tour
Christine Sell-Porter’s paintings and clay pot

We also visited a popular painter and photographer across the highway named Nadi Spencer. You can tell artsy people by the fact that the junk in their front yards looks impressive and not like the country dump. My eyes went immediately to the bike, but my husband, who is artsier than I am, noticed the paint cans with matching flowers, and the chairs with matching sweaters draped across the back. You can see the aqua one in this picture after you quit focusing on the bike.

South Valley Artists Tour
Outside Nadi Spencer’s studio in Three Rivers

Nadi sells most of her paintings on Facebook by joining groups that love the kinds of things she paints. She paints a lot of dog portraits. Her realistic paintings look like photographs for a high-quality restaurant or brochures with just enough artistic touches to make them fun.  She sold both cards and paintings at the show.  You can see her self-portrait on the top right.

South Valley Artist's Tour
Inside Spencer’s gallery

People came and went the entire time we visited her gallery. One woman came in to pick up some 40 year-old teddy bears she had advertised online. Only a half-door and a huge dog separated her studio from the gallery.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Spencer’s color packed studio

It was getting near closing time for the artists so we headed back home to Elderwood to visit our two neighbors. Not that the Sundstroms and I are unfriendly, but I have walked by this studio several hundred times in the last 15 years, walked with John Sundstrom’s wife, and never met John nor seen the inside of his work area.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Artist John Sundstrom’s studio driveway

John may well have been the most prolific and diverse of any of the artists we visited. He taught for 25 years or so at the Creative Center in Visalia for disabled adults. He said that having the same students for years pushed him to explore many artistic mediums.

South Valley Artist's tour
First impressions at John Sundstrom’s two-story solar-powered studio

The front and center of the studio featured his sculptures out of stone.  He showed us the hand chisels and files he used to carve. Being a former dental assistant, I had visualized a power tool like a dentist’s drill that he might have used on these hard rock. He told us that only the company that sold the stones used a power tool to cut the rocks into flat-bottomed chunks. My favorite sculpture glowed from the inside out when illuminated.

South Valley Artists' Tour
The glowing stone

Reluctantly we headed upstairs away from the sculptures, but the diversity of his fabulous drawings and paintings quickly captured our interest. He accented this Japanese kimono with gold leaf.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Japanese Kimono by John Sundstrom

After visiting until after closing time, we left for home, saving the tour of our friend, Linda Hengst’s studio for the next day, and our Visalia artists for Sunday.

South Valley Artists’ Studio Tour

#SOVAST 1

Have you ever wanted to see where an artist does all their work?  Vince and I had the privilege of doing just that this weekend. I want to thank my friend Connie Smith for the tickets she sent my husband and me to attend this three-day event. Kudos to her daughter, Carolyn, for organizing it.

T
The Secret Garden by Toni Best

We looked forward to it from the time we received the passport map, name tags and book featuring the forty artists on tour about two weeks before the event.  I particularly looked forward to the artist of the work featured above, Toni Best because I had known her as a teacher. We did not get to her studio until the last day, so you will see more her work later.

The county-wide event lasted three days.  Since the county is the size of Connecticut, Carolyn and her committee subdivided it into three regions for easier trip planning. We live in Region Three, so we started there. There are two artists within walking distance of our house, but we decided to end there, and drove up to Three Rivers first. The sunny day made the wild poppies and lavender as well as our moods on the way up to the foothill town sparkle.

SOVAST2

We only made one wrong turn, but quickly turned around and followed the well-marked signs to a husband and wife team. This was the wife’s charming studio. I do not remember if her husband built the building or just the cabinetry inside, but it appealed to me right from the start and she was a delightful as her cheerful studio and clever art work.  I loved the idea of drawers in the stairs even though I do not know how practical it would be to bend down to the floor when you needed a paint brush.

SOVAST5

The stairway leading between the two studies added to the picturesque view.

Although Martha had some realistic work, her surreal style reminded me of Rene Magritte, one of my favorite artists.

A museum contacted me on October 5, 2017, to add this information. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium is currently exhibiting Magritte, Broodthaers & Contemporary Art, which features or showcases René Magritte.

Our René Magritte page provides visitors with Magritte’s bio, over 170 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Magritte exhibition listings.

A little white horse cuddled on a little girl’s shoulder, a chair walking a tightrope were two of the many examples she displayed. Martha Widmann and I chatted like old friends. I would snag her in an instant to illustrate a children’s book for me.

SOVAST4

She had copies of some of her art clothespinned to the wall of the building outside as well as larger prints of them inside. Her husband’s chair obviously inspired her.

One of her husband's chairs.
One of her husband’s chairs.

This is one of her more realistic pieces.

SOVAST13

My husband was more taken with her husband’s work, Stickley furniture.

SOVAST16

Rick Badgley buried his unique woodworking shop under about 18 inches of soil which kept it cool in the hot summers, and grew wild grass on the roof. We have had a lot of rain this year so the grass was seasonably green. My husband and I both envied his craftsman garage doors.

We could barely pull ourselves away from this beautiful setting and interesting conversations, but we had five or six more places we wanted to see.  I’ll give you one more glimpse of this one, and tell you about the others in another post.

SOVAST14

My Plate Is Full: My Heart Sings

My friend Linda and her daughter
My friend, Kiwanis President,  Linda LaFleur and her daughter enjoy the new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum

Two things I enjoy more than anything in the world, maybe three. Being with old friends and/or making new friends, and learning new skills. These past few weeks have been full of both. It started with opening our new museum in Woodlake and having two grand openings that drew hundreds of people together to have fun and celebrate Woodlake’s history. Even the opening days where only two or three at a time came to the museum, there’s something exciting about a new project that gets me going, and keeps me busy and excited.

Spirit of Woodlake Award Winner, Tony Casares and Miss Woodlake, Sonni Hacobian.
Spirit of Woodlake Award Winner, Tony Casares and Miss Woodlake, Sonni Hacobian.

A week ago Friday night we had a big celebration of award giving in Woodlake, and as a Chamber Secretary, I got to be part of that program, and meet tons of new people. The next morning I drove with a new friend to Costa Mesa to speak at the California Council for the Social Studies Awards Ceremony. I’ve worked the last six years or so with that organization, and it was good to see so many friends.

National History Day, Tulare County took place on Tuesday, and again I saw many old friends, including my former boss, Superintendent Jim Vidak, and the newest history consultant who took my place, and met some very talented students from our county.

Dr. Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education
Dr. Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education

Friday I drove to Fresno to attend a Civic Education Conference for pre-teachers at Fresno State to hear my friend Michelle Herczog, the keynote speaker. After the opening address, she helped facilitate a breakout session, and many people I have known well throughout the region attended.

Three generations of History Consultants for Tulare County Office of Education
Three generations of History Consultants for Tulare County Office of Education

Three of us, all who have been history consultants for Tulare County attended and had our picture taken together.  Joy Soares has been a dear friend for nearly 15 years, when she started coaching History Day, and I began working as the County Coordinator. Then she moved into my position. Now my new friend Gay Atmajian holds down the fort.

Jim Lloyd had many good words to say about Marvin, and some barbs about taking over a very packed office after Marvin retired.
Jim Lloyd had many good words to say about Marvin, and some barbs about taking over a very packed office after Marvin retired.

Today was a gathering of a different kind. I helped a friend who organized a celebration for our friend Marvin Awbrey who passed away February 2. He would have loved it, and I actually did love meeting so many of his friends old and new and hearing wonderful stories about Marvin.

In the process of taking part in all these celebrations, I’ve had a part to play and learned some new skills. Today I learned how to turn a Powerpoint presentation into a movie – which isn’t difficult unless you have added music, which I did. Even then it is not difficult, but I had to head to Google to see what steps I left out because I the first time I tried it there wasn’t any music. I finally figured it out this afternoon, and posted it on YouTube.

Just as I finished  publishing the video, in walks Taliah, my almost nine year old neighbor. She watched my video, then together we and made a quick video out of some pictures I had taken of her about five years ago. She chose the pictures and the captions, and I negotiated the software. Her mother loved it even though I covered up some of the captions on the first attempt. This is my second attempt.

I know most of this might not be exciting to everyone, but I feel so blessed that I’m about to explode. Between enjoying the excitement of all these events, emailing and chatting with special friends online whom I love to bits and pieces, creating flyers, postcards, presentations and movies to use for these events, I feel so fortunate. My plate is full.

Special homemade treat at the Grand Opening.
Special homemade treat at the Grand Opening.

How has your life been recently?

So You’re Starting a Blog, What Comes Next, the Post or the Page?

I’m writing a book about blogging, so this is the start of Chapter 10. The idea behind it is that you, the reader, have a blog account, and you’re in the dashboard for the first time – NOW WHAT?

Clothes in HI002

I activated my WordPress blog account, and stared at my a dashboard, which takes me where no one but WordPress genies are allowed to go. The blog itself is a blank page except for the name I gave it and a couple of tabs, About Me and Home. Home is there the posts go. It changes every time you post something new. Pages are different. You write them just like you do a post, but they stay put.

First, I played around with themes and colors, trying to figure out what fit me best. I changed tons of time, and I’m still not sure I have the right theme, but at this point it is what it is. I clicked on all the links on the sidebar of my dashboard and filled in the blanks as best I could, including creating a gravitar profile. Making all those little decisions made me think and further define myself and my goal for blogging.

2015 BV March149
The sky’s the limit.

Since I started a random blog, and experiment, I started out journaling what I was doing when I did something I thought was fun or interesting, and posted my way into the blogging world before I did anything else. Of course, no one was listening and watching, so it didn’t matter what I did first, second or in whatever order I wanted to do it.

I waited until I got the hang of posting for a while before I started in on my About Me Page. For one thing, I had to decide who I wanted to be to the rest of the world. I think I rewrote my about page three or four times, but again, no one was really looking, so it didn’t matter. If you are famous, you will not be doing this yourself, so you do not need this advice. If you are like me, it’s amazing how much thinking it takes to decide what to and what not to say about yourself.

A lot of people like lists, random, usually. I like lists, but I can’t think of enough cute and interesting random facts about myself. I struggle with my about page. Over the years it’s accumulated nearly 100 likes. That works out to about 25 likes a year.

Here are links to just a few of the well liked About pages belonging to people who I like.

http://leannecolephotography.com/about/

http://tricksterchase.com/about-2/

http://ceenphotography.com/about-2/

https://anotherday2paradise.wordpress.com/about/

https://elainemcnulty.wordpress.com/about/

http://wheresmybackpack.com/about/

http://kurtbrindley.com/about-2/

https://bopaula.wordpress.com/about/

Sally Pace BD941
Sorry for the nudity, but you can’t get too much newer than a baby doll! 🙂

After reading a post I read on Twitter about the necessity of having another page called “New Here.” Here is the post I wrote when I created that page. I have about 11 likes on that page – definitely not worth the time and thought that went into it, if you measure success by the number of people who interact with your page. There are other reasons to develop pages, though. One of which is to keep track of things for yourself, like, did I read that book, or not?

And the chapter continues with one of my blog posts, Good Morning World about a page you’ve probably never seen called New Here. This is not an advertisement for the best page you’ve ever read, for sure, but you might be curious to know what an unpopular page looks like. 🙂

Be part of my new book about blogging, and leave me some responses, please. What pages do you have on your blog, and how are they doing? Why do you have them? Are they worth the time? And finally, can I quote you on that?