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.

Reward: What Does It Mean To Me?

I think accomplishments reward me.

2015 ride home126Frankly there is no reward great enough to recompense a person for the amount of effort they put into a project.  For example, why blog? Is it because someone rewards you? Of course not. Most of us blog to communicate with the world, to share what’s happening that’s important to us. My last blog told the story of  Bob’s old barn, I fell in love with it just in time – it’s coming down. It was rewarding to take pictures and tell the story.

2015 Hengst Barn106I took the picture below of this same path Saturday on my way home from Visalia. It has changed. History is all about change. Today it looks like this.

2015 ride home128This crane cleared out olive trees, and the barn will come down soon to make way for a new field of fruit trees.

Today I met with a friend, Laile Di Silvestro, today who is helping me heal a sick and injured website for San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies. My reward for the three and a half hours that we labored is a website that works a little better, a closer relationship with a talented and generous person, and –  totally unrelated, but I’m counting it as a reward – beautiful weather giving me scenery to photograph.

2015 ride home110Seriously, you’d think it was mid-summer in Montana to look at that sky. It’s a bit chilly, but not enough to deter anyone. We’ve all been praying for rain. That would be a reward.

2015 ride home105A few of these clouds rewarded us with a light drizzle, but not much rain. Most of our water comes from wells pumped from underground aquifers or nearby irrigations ditches.

 

2015 ride home104These pumps may not look beautiful, but water is a huge reward.

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And we are rewarded by food, not only for us but for the cows that provide one of my favorite foods – cheese. Tulare County is one of the largest dairy producing counties in the world. We probably have more cows here than we have people. Most of them live near Visalia and Hanford in large dairies of up to 5,000 cows. Talk about a lot of work. If you don’t like cheese, it might not seem like such a great reward, but I love it.

2015 ride home119This is the dairy I used to pass everyday on my way to and from work.

2015 ride home117Those cows probably aren’t praying for rain, but I’m guessing that the people who live in this house on that dairy farm are.  I hope they get their reward. 🙂

 

For more entries about rewards click here.

 

 

WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue

Talkative Marsha struggling with dialogue?  In this case what I think the creator of this challenge wanted us to catch is a bit of fashion designing with our pictures rather than strict dialogue – odd things that sort of go together because of color or texture similarities or differences.  They just work.  I like fashion and decorating, so I wanted to pursue that angle.

First, I started with dialogue in a more literal sense.  Puppy Girl dialogued very clearly with Vince.  He worked on the computer, when clearly he could have chosen to pet her tummy.  So she grabs his hand and pulls.

PG and Pie

It’s endearing, but altogether annoying to him when he has an offer to submit.  Generally she wins.

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Next I considered animals dialoguing with each other, and establishing their pecking order.  The queen here stands alone not deigning to even look at her lowly subject.  No worries, the subject, like the jester, simply enjoys the ride, laughs at the queen behind her back, and moves on, untroubled by the queen’s weighty problems.

Mike and statue

When I took this next picture, I looked at the sculpture, then Mike walked up.  Back and forth I looked at one then the other until dizziness made me shout, “Stop Mike!  Is that statue YOU?  Let me photograph the two of you together.”   Mike obliged.   I think it was the cheeks that spoke, but maybe it was the mustache. What do you think?

Then I thought about art work I had seen in which many pictures placed together made a collage that spoke as one picture.  When I see them, I think, that would be easy.  How can you call that art?  But since I can’t draw very well, my pictures kept their mouths closed, uncommunicatively.  Then I remembered the grapes leaves I photographed last fall.  As I moused through them, they started speaking.  All at the same time, “Pick me, pick me. I want to go in the picture.” So I created a collage.

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Then another.

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Finally I remembered the Woodlake Botanical Gardens.  I missed the show this year, but last year I happened to walk around Bravo Lake on the day that all the roses decided to bloom their brightest blooms.  One of them said, “I am the beautiful one, take my picture.”  So I did.  Another  group of roses playing and giggling together attracted me.  The last rose said nothing.  She turned her face to the sun and spoke to God asking nothing more than to be a blessing to others. I thought she was the prettiest of all.

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If you enjoyed these take a gander at how other bloggers interpreted the challenge of dialogue.wordpress-20141

Weekly Photo Challenge: ZigZag

California mountain road contain numerous “hogbacks” as my friend, Darlene, calls the switchbacks on the way to Sequoia National Park. It turns out that those same kinds of roads exist on the Coastal Redwood Highway as well.  This park called Mystery Trees was about where our truck’s worn out transmission tired of lugging our new trailer. oregon trip 201320130915_0021138We rented a car and enjoyed the “break.”  Not only did the roads and the paths twist and turn, so did the trees, providing beauty and shade. oregon trip 201320130914_1105230R When we did get going again, the fog wanted us to slow down more than the zigzags. SFW Wildflower class20130420_93R These zigzags are closer to home – to anyone’s home.  I never tire of the zigzag shapes of tree branches.  These trees are in an educational property called Circle J Ranch owned by Tulare County Office of Education where I worked.  It is close to a tiny town called Springville, east of Porterville, CA.

1969 floodR

I apologize for the quality of this picture.  I heard that someone zig zagged on their responsibilities to posterity, and put the archives in the trash instead of the scanning machine, so this is the best picture I have.  In this newspaper picture it was the Kaweah (Kuh wee’ uh) River that zagged.

The headwaters for the Kaweah River begin their zig zag course out of the Great Western Divide where mountain summits rise to over 12, 000 feet.   The North Fork, which is just east of us begins at 9,000 feet.  If the river could go down the mountain in a straight line, the Kaweah River would drop in excess of 2 vertical miles in a distance of 30 linear miles.  The Kaweah River loses the same altitude as the Colorado River, but is 97% shorter.  It is the steepest river in the United States. Even with a dam to control flooding, in 1969 the water zig zagged its own way into the Woodlake Valley.  (Tilchen, Mark.  Floods of the Kaweah)

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To see more entries for this Zig Zag challenge, click the icon above.  🙂

Sunday Post: Nature

Is nature natural or just outside?  Are objects of nature found inside a building still considered nature?  Jake always makes me think!

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The nature we have here in the California Central Valley is anything but natural in most places.

TC Winter covered peach tree r

The 600-mile long California Central Valley has been plowed and remodeled to grow every crop imaginable.

SFW TC Spring 2013078rOne of many valley crops, peach trees, deposed native oaks found in the Kaweah River Delta over one hundred fifty years ago.  For more agricultural facts click here.

TC Winter oak tree r

Between the Kaweah River Delta and Sierra Nevada mountains, alfalfa replaced nature’s native grasses.

alfalfa field r

Cows in the foothills still eat grass until it dries, but the variety differs from what grew here in the 1850s when Thomas Henry Davis brought some of the first cows from Mexico to Antelope Valley, near current-day Woodlake, CA.

SFW TC Spring cows 4

Evergreen orange trees first populated the Woodlake area in 1878, watered in part by the Watchumna Ditch, built in 1872.  Canals and ditches still carry life-giving water to arid fields.

Friant Kern Canal r

Last year the trees received enough water to stay healthy. This year farmers uprooted thousands of dead orange trees.

oranges Apr2013r

Since this area thrives because of irrigation, when water reserves and underground water tables drop, farmers rely on water transported from Northern California.  The Kaweah River constrained by the Terminus Dam receded this year to expose a bridge built in 1938, foundations of homes, and wells.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake049r

Man-made changes have obviously mixed with nature to create California’s Central Valley “nature.”  President Obama arrives tomorrow in Fresno to assess the drought’s damage to the Central Valley’s agricultural nature.

For more facts about Tulare County click here.

For more interpretations on Nature, click here.

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