Arts & Culture Blog
Backtracking to the Monterey County Artists Studio Tour
September 28, 2011
The Monterey County Artists Studio Tour revealed the behind-the-scenes phases of the art process and the work environments of artists, in settings that ranged from the idyllic to the secluded, sunny to the messy. Here's a sampling of the fascination that awaited art treasure hunters.
Leela Marcum joined four other artists—Cheryl Kampe, Terri Hill, W.M Vinci and Maria Poroy—at the Pacific Grove home of Vinci in the largest single cluster of artists at one location. (Pacific Grove and Carmel dominated in representation of participating artists.) Marcum finds the subjects of her acrylic and watercolor flower paintings, she said, in front yards, landscapes and gardens of Pacific Grove. The guest book included people from as far away as Pasadena, Sacramento and Los Gatos. Artist Poroy told one woman, regarding painting, "You never get bored because there's so much to see."
W.M. Vinci said that for the types of paintings shown here, he pours acrylic onto a board, keeping it wet while he tilts and spins the board (using gravity to move the paint), that while it's "cooking," he blends other colors in, and uses his fingers, palette knives and cloth to manipulate the paint. No brushes. The "edge of control," he called it. His iPod was responsible for infusing the atmosphere with the strains of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto.
Artists Sandra Rae Lake, in the pink top, and Stefanna Murphy-Robins, in the gray vest, hosted art strollers in Lake's off-Lighthouse backyard with "Besame Mucho" wafting in the air. One person who strolled in and chatted for a spell was long-time Pacific Grove Art Center matron and artist Connie Pearlstein, in the lilac coat. Pearlstein said the throw pillow she had with her (not pictured) was stitched by her, based on a design by the amazingly gifted PGAC resident artist Marilee Childs, who has a show at Unitarian Church Oct. 12-Nov. 20. Regarding her colorful mosaics—pieces of patterned china inlaid into terra cotta pots—Murphy-Robins said: "It came to me to break things and reassemble them." Maybe not ironically, it was while she was recuperating from breaking both her ankles in 2001 that she decided to do her art.
Mark Farina invited folks into his Pacific Grove Art Center studio while he was in various stages of making several paintings, from pasting up the photograph from which he paints his landscapes and seascapes and drawing perspective lines on the photograph and corresponding canvas, to showing samples of finished paintings (one pair was of the same landscape scene: one done in the studio from a photo, the other on location plein aire style). He said he probably has 100 paintings stashed behind the artists table in the cluttered space and that when he needs more space, he will destroy what he considers weaker paintings.
The Monterey County Artists Studio Tour exhibit at the Pacific Grove Art Center, showing one work from each of the 62 participating artists, will be up through Oct. 20.
These notes are from Frank Sunseri, who has studio at PGAC but was not part of the studios tour. He paints sensual nude women against a pitch black backdrop. He achieves the deep blackness and lustrous sheen by painting layers upon layers on top of each other, based on Renaissance chiaroscurro (light and dark) style he studied during visits to Florence and Venice. He keeps track of each layer in these notes, including the date it was applied and the mix of paint. "So many painters are pre-occupied with the joy of expression," he said. "[In the] Renaissance, it was more academic."
Frank Sunseri with one of the paintings that result from his intensive process.
Walking down Forest Avenue, on the hunt for the studio of Barry Marshall, I asked a passing pedestrian if he knew of the man. "Yes," he said. "I know him. I'm Barry Marshall." He brought me to his studio/gallery where his shorescapes lined the high walls, his easel and paints a centerpiece in the middle of the floor. In this photo he demonstrates the alla prima style of oil painting, "building [the paint] up" in layers before it dries. "You just keep playing with it until you're happy," he said. He was also happy to report that about 100 people had visited his space just the first day. Though many of the artists on the tour put up uniform posters pointing the way to their studios, Marshall placed a bigger sandwich board sign with a sample of his painting on the corner of Forest and Lighthouse. The sign and his choice location, he reasoned, accounted for the good amount of traffic.
On the second day of the studios tour, Sunday, it was Carmel's turn. Pictured above is the garage studio of Charles Pifer; he still parks his car in it. His geometric and patterned paintings were compelling and absorbing, one done in an Alexander Calder mobile style. As an aside (but definitely within the tour's mission of getting visitors to interact with artists), Pifer told stories of his Army service in Korea after the war, when he was the chief of a mobile medical facility that also treated Korean civilians, at one time suppressing a growing cholera outbreak.
Artist Noe Javier Hinojosa (left, on bongos), who also is the bartender at La Playa Hotel, let his oil and acrylic nature paintings and portraits of Frida Kahlo speak for themselves while he whipped up sophisticated and swinging jazz music with keyboardist Steve Uccello and bassist Dan Kai. His art occupied the front yard of the home of artist Kathy Sharpe.
Kathy Sharpe in the sunlit (when there is sun—this particular day was grayish) work space inside her home, which she and her husband said they purchased specifically for the flood of light it allows in through windows and skylights. People who came to visit on the tour have asked her if she has dripped paint on the nice carpet below her work table. She has, she admits, and shows me a paint stain hidden under the wicker basket.
Like Frank Sunseri, artist Scott Jacobs (right) was also not officially on the studio tour, though his studio loft space, which he shares with artists Dan Herron and DEO, was open and he was very amenable to having visitors (left). The stairs up to the space are squished between two buildings and are practically invisible, but the interior is a fun maze of art gear and beat up furniture. Herron also claims that Salvadore Dali rented the space from 1941-1947.