Rooms With A View
Annual studio tour offers a glimpse into the inner worlds of local artists.
Thursday, September 26, 2002
Photo by Randy Tunnell.
Photo: Look Out--Pamela Takigawa''s Carmel Valley studio offers vistas into a world of objects she has created.
The meeting of two worlds takes place this weekend, as art aficionados visit the workspaces of various artists around the area.
As most artists on the tour will attest, theirs is a lonely activity. Hours on end are spent in the studio staring at works in progress or already completed; other works exist as ideas sketched in notebooks or just as ephemeral notions filling up psychic space. The artist, in such a setting, answers to only herself or himself, and to the set of impulses that form the singular activity of creativity.
The Artists Studio Tour is an opportunity for artists to welcome visitors, and an opportunity for the viewing public to enter the inner sanctum where it all takes place.
A great Web site put together by tour organizer Renee Venus Mayne features participants'' works and addresses. A random selection of these artists gives a glimpse of what to expect, for every artist has set up a unique domain--some personal, some quirky, some grand, some modest.
"The tour completes the relationship between artist and public," says painter Dick Crispo, whose cozy board-and-batten studio sits in the woods of old Carmel. "The feedback is essential, because an artist needs to hear what the viewer thinks. The studio is its own little world; this is a chance for the outside to come in."
Crispo''s new work, hanging and leaning throughout his work space, consists of paintings executed outdoors. These new works do not answer to the conventions associated with plein air painting; dappled light and nature''s fleeting face are not his currency.
"I''m trying to capture the dragon," Crispo says, as he points to a reproduction of a Chinese print showing stylized waves, currents and white water whose vortex forms the body of a fierce dragon. "It''s the energy. All times of day. This series focuses on the area of coast from Asilomar to Point Pinos. I use color, lots of pigment and a range of brushes and palette knives to get the dragon."
In painting after painting, the prolific Crispo pits crashing wave against muscular rock in familiar compositions that feature energy more than detail, colliding chords of color more than melodious light, immediacy more than tranquility.
In his intimate space, Crispo sits like a pilot in his cockpit, surrounded by the necessary tools: bins of paint tubes, jars of brushes, and inspirational quotes painted on beams and windowsills. If the artist has a solitary task, at least bon mots from Cezanne, Braque and Heidegger can keep him company.
Pamela Takigawa''s studio is perched, literally, at the end of a Carmel Valley road on the side of a steep canyon. The finches that feed at the tray of seeds out her studio window do little to obstruct the view of chaparral clinging to canyon walls, stately oaks and wispy clouds peeking over the rim way over there. Inside, Takigawa''s watercolor paintings transport the visitor into her precious world of objects.
Takigawa takes nourishment from the natural vista, but it translates as close-ups of objects from nature, isolated, observed, drawn with a delicate caress.
For Takigawa, the Tour is a chance for an artist''s world to be demystified. "People are very curious," she says. "I''ve been a part of the tour many times before and it''s always the same. People want to see where artists work and their environments. It gives them a window to a world they might think is rarefied, but we''re just people out here working."
Takigawa works in series, sequences of paintings linked by a repeating form--such as a feather--or by an idea about her relationship with nature.
"I select objects intuitively," she says. "I suppose I''m drawn to their shapes first. That leads to compositions where I vary the arrangements of a few objects I''ve gathered. They''re like souvenirs of a heightened experience of nature. When I come across a feather, I have the feeling an angel has left it for me. It changes my state of mind, and I try to capture that."
Leslie Ann Spowart moves around her studio with sprightly energy, considering the various works she might put out for her visitors. From her printmaking background come a recent series of multimedia works featuring images from her past, hand-drawn references to nature and her present world. Using overlays and the sensuous surface of beeswax, she creates a nostalgic world of allusions--personal and evocative.
"The tour is a way to create a community with artists," Spowart says looking down at the Highway 68 corridor from her studio door in Bay Ridge. "We''re isolated. People can visit us and see up close what we''re about. It''s a way to keep the Monterey Peninsula vibrant with contemporary art. The studio tour is getting better every year with the art, the inspiration, food, wine and fun. We can all communicate, get feedback and share."
The 14th Annual Artists'' Studio Tour is co-sponsored by Monterey County Artists Equity and the Monterey Museum of Art. An exhibition of participating artists'' works will open at the museum Friday, Sept 27, providing a preview before art lovers head for the hills on Saturday and Sunday.