Monday, February 28, 2011

Coos Bay to Lincoln City, Oregon


Kerry (L) & Sandy Bonney (R) discussing
fish rubbings at the Signatures Gallery

"Albert Handell" pastel by
Sandy Bonney
In addition to the scenic drive along Oregon's coastline,  A. Paul & I have visited several art venues.  Crossing over from California, the first town along Oregon's coast  is Brookings-Harbor. It is in Brookings that we met artist & gallery co-owner Sandy Bonney at the Signatures Gallery. The gallery features a number of artists, some with well recognized and or acclaimed names in pastel work and production work.  Sandy's own  pastel work, "Albert Handell", a tribute to the acclaimed pastel master, was recently featured in the Artist Magazine , earned recognition in the Pastel Journal Magazine's juried competition, and will be featured in its April 2011 issue. Alongside Sandy's work, there were a number of limited prints of  Drew Struzan's personal work.  Struzan is most known for his poster creations of Indiana Jones & Star Wars  but his private work is a distinct genre of great appeal.  

The town of Brookings also offers an artwalk every Saturday and has an active art center, the Manley Art Center & Gallery, which offers accredited workshops in various mediums. 

Along the way to Coos Bay, we noticed several local artist studios and galleries that were closed at this time of the year. Most of the venues appeared to represent ceramics and wood scultpures interspersed with glass studios.


Before leaving Coos Bay this morning, we attempted to visit the Coos Art Museum, Oregon's third oldest museum,  but found it closed so we continued our journey along the scenic coastline, taking in the subdued views of the rainy day.  On this portion of the coastline, there were numerous expansion bridges crossing over pastel hued landscapes.  Around each bend were clusters of rain drenched birch, cypress, and pines that gave way to crashing waves over rock formations. In short, the drive was stunning and awe inspiring.
As we approached Gardiner, Oregon, we were enticed by the bronze sculptures outside the Tsunami Gallery.  We simply could not resist stopping to find out about the work and name.   Gallery owner and bronze sculptor Mack Holman stated that the name Tsunami Gallery was derived not by a castastrophic natural event (last one hitting that area was in the 1700s) but rather by the process of which he acquired and restored a 100 year old crumbling building. 

bronze by Mack Hokman
The exhibit space of the gallery was filled with mostly local artwork along with Mack's bronze works.  Interestingly, Mack confirmed a story that was also related to us by Sandy Bonney in Brookings about the showing of figurative works.  Both artists/gallery owners stated that figurative works have only recently begun to be accepted for public viewings.  That the showing of figure work, in the past,  would often be accompanied by protestors.  Over time, however,there has been greater public acceptance of the showing figurative work. 

Though there was not a website for the Tsunami Gallery, one can reach Mack at for information about his bronzework and foundry.

Kerry (L) with Ken Hartwell (R)
President of the Yaquina Art Association
A. Paul (L) with Solveig Leslie (R)
at Yaquina Art Center
The afternoon was coming to a close but we made one more stop before buckling down in Lincoln City.  In the historic downtown section of Nye Beach at Newport, A. Paul & I discovered a little treasure trove of artists and their works at the Yaquina Art Center & Gallery.  We were fortunate to meet up with Ken Tarwell, President of the Yaquina Art Association, who provided us the background of the Association and introduced us to several of the artists who were working  upstairs.  The Association is a non for profit organization who through fundraising events, such as the sale of artworks by its member artists, offer classes and workshops to the community.  Ken is very active in teaching children the arts through various mediums in addition to creating his own watercolor artwork.   Upstairs, artists were actively busy creating textile works and several were working with a process loosely based on encaustic principles whereby the artist uses crayons on special paper placed on a warming table.  One of the artists, Lila Passarelli, introduced the techinique at the Association and Ken has incorporated its use in his work with kids attending the association workshops.  With little encouragement, A. Paul sat with artist Solveig Leslie and created a small painting which he left to her. 

A. Paul with Solveig Leslie
The energy of the group was so positive that we simply could not leave without first taking an image of the entire group of artists. Lto R:  front row  Charter member Jeannie Cloe, Charlotte Carter, Elinor de Sosa, Lila Passarelle, Solveig Leslie, and Alma Leon.  Back row R-L: Jill Keck, President Ken Hartwell, Mary Young, Shirley Steinhauer, & Ann Nicholson.  Thanks everyone for your hospitalility and great energy. Keep on being creative.  

We popped in to to see the Association's gallery neighboring the art center before heading off to Lincoln City, our final destination of the day.  Tomorrow, we continue our drive along the coast diverting to Portland for a day or two then back out to the coast.  I leave you with images of the soft hues of this beautiful gray rainy day.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Arcata, CA to Coos Bay, OR


Arcata Fire Arts Center
A. Paul & I arrived safely to Coos Bay, Oregon, without encountering any weather related difficulties.  The drive from Arcata to Coos Bay  definitely tops our list of one of the most scenic drives we have driven thus far.  The sun filtered through the redwood groves  and cast glorious light across the ocean scenes that seemed to appear around each bend of the road.  Along the way, we took opportunities to stretch our legs and necks to see the great expanses of sand, rock formations, and wildlife.  It was all so breathtakingly beautiful.

We did have the opportunity to stop in a few of the local art venues along the way but I will write about our discoveries in tomorrow evening's blog. For tonight, I leave you with a very scenic journey that ends with a beautiful sunset over west Coos Bay.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

TWO DAYS: Napa to Mendocino to Arcata


Downtown Napa
A. Paul & I finally encountered our first cell-less, wireless stay in Mendocino, so tonight's blog will catch up on our art tour over the past two days.

We landed in Napa Valley on Wednesday night and awoke to an overcast day as we set out to explore the wine country.  Our first excursion was to the old historic town of Napa founded in 1847. Prior to the business of the vineyards, Napa's economy, much like the economy of other small towns of Northern California, was tied to cattle, timber and mining-both gold and silver.  The shifts in the economy brought new migrants to the area and, among those, creative individuals who attempted  to capture the landscape and activities of the valley which continues in the contemporary artwork of today.    

Not unlike our previous finds in other communities, there were many storefronts lining the downtown that sat empty. Some of these, galleries that were not able to weather the economic woes felt by so many across the nation.  A. Paul & I headed north to see how other communities in the wine country were faring. 

L-R: Thomas, Kerry, & Chistopher
standing in front of Jeremy Mann artwork
 Our next stop was in St. Helena where we met up with gallery owner Christopher Hill and his associate Thomas Paul Smith at the Christopher Hill Gallery.   Within minutes, A. Paul & I felt at home in this gallery.  Both Christopher & Thomas gave us a warm welcome, answering our many questions about the gallery, its artists, and the area.  We were fortunate to see several of Jeremy Mann's works currently on display along with some exceptional, evocative pieces by international artists, who make up the bulk of the gallery artists.   The goal of much of the nontraditional work at the gallery, according to Christopher Hill, is to "engage the viewer and entice him or her to look beyond the norm of what is comfortable."   To this end, Hill has carefully selected represented work that reflects less of the environmental landscape of the wine country and more urban, abstract, and expressionist pieces.  The Christopher Hill Gallery has been successfully in business about 10 years with a stable of approximately 20 represented artists   Thank you Christopher and Thomas for taking the time to speak with us and for the wonderful gift as we departed.  We hope to see you in Provincetown to return the hospitality.

As we walked the rest of St. Helena's small but quaint downtown, A. Paul & I noticed that the town seemed to be surviving the national economic crisis more favorably than its neighboring communities. The shops lining the streets were open for business with few to none vacant buildings. 

Following a quick lunch and stop in Calistoga ,where we visited a couple additional galleries including the Lee Youngman galleries , we began our trek westward across the rolling mountains that separate the wine country and the seaside town of Mendocino.  The rain did catch up with us throughout the day but it made for a reflective drive through the hills as seen in the images.  We landed just in time to settle in at the historic 19th c. Mendocino Hotel situated across from the Pacific Ocean.  Unfortunately, the dark of the evening settled in quickly so we had to wait until daylight to take in the breathtaking views Mendocino has to offer, which completely offset the inconvenience of not having cell or wireless access.

Slideshow:  Napa to Mendocino   (Day Two follows the slideshow)

Main Street Mendocino
When morning came, the sky had cleared and the seaside village of Mendocino could not have been more picturesque. Its location along the Pacific Ocean and proximity to San Francisco, has made Mendocino a haven for vacationers and artists alike. Though the off season year round population is less than 1000 residents, the town's stores and galleries were open for our visit.  Of the handful of shops that line the one-sided Main St, (the other side a scenic lookout over the ocean) the majority of shops are art related.  Even the watertower houses an artist.  Pastel artist Suzi Long rented the watertower for a short term rental years ago and never left.  Today, Long operates a gallery on the lower level, resides on the second level and has her studio on the third level, where she also teaches workshops.

 At the Highlight Gallery, A. Paul & I were captivated by the exquisite wood furniture and raku ceramics.  We were also impressed with the creative glasswork seen throughout town. We ended our early afternoon excursion at the Mendocino Art Center which consists of three gallery spaces, workshops, an iron forge, a bronze casting foundry and a Performing Arts Theater.   The MAC offers artist in residency programs as well as a number of choice art workshops and is open year round.   

Reluctant to leave this little hamlet along the ocean, A. Paul & I knew there were still unexplored scenic views to discover en route to Arcata, CA.  What we discovered was far more beautiful than words can convey.  Each turn of the road offered one incredible view of the Pacific after another.  The ocean gave way to wooded canopies dappled with light only to give way to ocean again.  It was not until we passed Fort Bragg and entered into the forest pass that we hit the expected snowstorm.  The ess curves of the road were harrowingly beautiful with the snowlaced trees.  The sun broke through just as we entered the flat lands along the ocean again outside Eureka, only to drop hail, blowing snow,rain and back to clear skies with incredible cumulus clouds.  Words are simply not sufficient to express the absolute beauty we encountered in the pictures nature painted for us today,  so I hope the images will convey the journey more fully. Tomorrow, we travel to the Redwood Forest and onto Crescent City along the border of California and Oregon.  

Until tomorrow, we hope you enjoy the today's travel.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

San Francisco and drive to Napa


Historic Ferry Building
View of the Bay  Bridge
Given this was our last day in San Francisco, A. Paul and I set out to explore as many faces of San Francisco as possible before departing to Napa.  We set out eastward towards the 105 year old historic Ferry terminal which currently operates as a culturally diverse marketplace.  As we approached the terminal, the spire of the building appeared surreal as viewed between the tall skyscrapers on Market Street.  Inside, the aromas of organic goods mingled with the culinary delights of some of the greater chefs in the city.  In the back of the terminal, ferries motored into the bay as cars traveled across the span of the Bay Bridge, connecting  San Francisco to its surrounding neighbors.

Mural along Balmy Alley

Next, we traveled along the oldest street in San Francisco, Mission Street,   that originally connected the Bay to the Spanish Mission Dolores.  Within the few blocks of what is known as the Mission District, over 600 artistic murals cover the walls of the district's buildings.  Two of the more recognized mural projects can be found along the Balmy Alley, developed in the 1970s as an expression of the current social/politcal climate of its residents, and later along the Clarion corridor.  A recent find seven years ago uncovered a 200+year old hidden mural in the Mission Dolores initiating a new project to seek funding to recreate the mural along Bartlett Street in the Mission District.  

Not far from the Mission District is the historic section of town known as the Castro District, once known as Eureka Valley and part of a large ranch owned by a Mexican land Baron, Jose de Jesus Noe.  By the 1880s, German, Irish and Scandinavian immigrants settled in the Valley, building Victorian houses which are still existent in the area. In 1920s the Valley was renamed the Castro District with its own landmark Castro theater.

With the addition of cable cars to the area, the Castro grew into a vibrant working class neighborhood until WWII when much of the population moved to the suburbs.  By the 1970s-80s,  the gay population increased in the district strengthed by its resident shop owner, Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in San Francisco who was assassinated in 1978.  Today, the streets are lined with symbolic rainbow flags and the intersection of  Market, Castro, and 17th street has been renamed Harvey Milk Plaza.

We followed our route southwest on Market and past the highest point in San Francisco, the Twin Peaks, towards the Sunset district, home to the surfers and Pacific Ocean beaches.  The gently rolling waves offered a break from the beat of the city and concrete & glass highrises.

de Young Museum
The long stretch of Pacific Ocean and dunes were a great backdrop to the entrance into Golden Gate Park, one of San Francisco's largest green spaces.  The GG Park encompasses over 1000 acres of woods, ponds, and wildlife and is home to the Academy of Sciences, Conservatory of Flowers, the De Young Museum of Art, Japanese Tea Garden, Strawberry Hill,  Arboretum,  Buffalo Paddock and more.  In addition to these venues, the park setting offers exensive trails for running, walking, or hiking for visitors and local residents alike.

Just outside of the park is the infamous Haight-Ashbury district.  A walk down Haight Street conveys that the population of the street still enjoys a  "Summer of Love" existence.  Home to names such as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Jefferson Airplane, the Haight evokes and retains its own sense of identity in San Fransciso.

Along Haight Street
After a cup of java in a bohemian style cafe, we headed north towards the Marina district and onto Fort Mason to visit the SFMOMA Artists Alley.  Fort Mason has has been a part of San Francisco since 1776 when it served as a fortified Spanish  military base.  Since then, its history has had ties to the Civil War, 1906 earthquake, military embarkation from 1909-1962, Panama Canal, and WWII.  By 1960, the port was decommissioned for military use but opened as a  non for profit center in the 1970s to serve its community.   Several buildings at Fort Mason serve as workspace for SFMOMA artists with an exhibit space where visitors may view works. The current show during our visit represented the works of three female artists-Mirang Wonne, Jean Shifflet, and Kathyrn St Clair. 

SFMOMA Artists Gallery
Though we were enjoying our self guided tour of the city, we knew that we still had a drive ahead of us to Napa.  We headed back towards the Marina and took a few photographic opportunities of the Golden Gate Bridge from the northwest corner of Chrissy Field before passing over the suspension bridge.  For those interested, the name Golden Gate denotes not its color but it symbolism, derived from the Greek term Chrysopylae, meaning Golden Gate, and christened by Captain John Fremont upon entering the strait.  The bridge was completed and open to pedestrians in 1937 after a lengthy proposition and battle to build the bridge. 

The drive over the bridge was picturesque as we took in the last sights of the marble city skyline across the bay.  The drive into the wine countryside guided us through gently rolling hills of vineyards and rural landscapes.  We settled for the night in Napa. Tomorrow, we will explore the historic downtown of Napa, St. Helena and travel on to Mendocino, keeping our fingers crossed to skirt the oncoming late winter storm.  We leave you with our final images of our day in San Francisco and drive to Napa.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

San Francisco


San Francisco sunrise
It was a beautiful day in San Francisco.  A. Paul & I ventured out  mid morning taking in the sights of cable cars and hilly streets on our way to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ((SFMOMA).

SFMOMA was established in 1935  and is the West Coast's first museum dedicated to contemporary and modern art.  The museum represents a diverse group of master artists, such as Brancusi and Jasper Johns, but also has a strong commitment to lesser known contemporary artists.  In addition to its main museum, SFMOMA retains a strong relationship to Bay area artists in its non for profit  gallery, the Artists Gallery, at the Fort Mason Center.

"The Structure of Light"
Alyson Shotz
Unfortunately, the SFMOMA was in the middle of changing two levels of art exhibits so our visit was limited to the tops two levels of the museum. The two levels housed four exhibits, "The More Things Change" which incorporates works of the past 10 years; "Bill Fontana: Sonic Shadows", a kinetic sound installation; "How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now" and a thought provoking photographic exhibit of works exploring the human element of war, tragedy, and human malevolence.

A.Paul (L) & Jeremy Mann (R)

Untitled study by Jeremy Mann
We pondered our visual encounters at the SFMOMA as we walked to the SOMA district to meet up with artist Jeremy Mann at his studio.  Originally from Ohio, Jeremy Mann has called San Francisco home since earning his MFA from the Academy of Art University in 2008. Mann has participated in numerous group and solo shows in San Francisco, Texas, Ohio, and Virginia.

"Composition 75" Jeremy Mann

Perhaps what is most captivating about this young artist's work is his ability to breathe dynamic life to traditional subject matter, using oil paint, rollers, and brayers. Mann's works are frequently seen in the Art Collector magazine and have long been admired by A. Paul & I.  Fortunate for Jeremy, less fortunate for the timing of our visit, we were not able to see any completed works at Mann's studio, as the bulk of his work was shipped out for a show. We were, however, able to see some of his work later in the day at the John Pence Gallery, his representing gallery in San Francisco.  You can see more of this creative artist's works at his website 
Carl Dobsky with his students at the
Safehouse Atelier school.

While visiting his studio, Jeremy introduced us to other artists within the warehouse space.  On the second level, artist Carl Dobsky was fully engaged with a group of students attending his atelier school, Safehouse Atelier, where intense study of traditional figure work coupled with graphic application are taught in transom in an effort to bridge the gap between graphic and fine arts   Dobsky, an accomplished artist in his own rite, also shows at the John Pence Gallery.  You can see both Mann and Dobsky's works at  

Trevor Bayne
Following our studio visit, A. Paul & I decided to take advantage of the good weather and play a bit of tourists giving our minds time to absorb our interaction with Jeremy.  We hopped a cab to Fisherman's Wharf and strolled to Ghiradelli where we stumbled upon an entourage of people waiting for race driver Trevor Bayne, who at the age of 20, is the youngest Daytona 500 winner.  
After a pleasing ice cream stop, we visited two more galleries while in the area.  At the Franklin Bowles Gallery, we met up with Sam McClellan who took time to introduce A. Paul & I to a new exhibit scheduled for an opening this Saturday, February 26th.  The husband and wife team, Lazar & Lazar, reside in Paris, both creating works in distinctly different subject matter.  Margot Lazar's floral masterpieces create a tranquil backdrop to her husband Claude Lazar's edgy urban architectural landscapes.

As the sun began to disappear, the cool of the evening set in but we were thrilled that we had the sun for this day of exploration in San Francisco.  Tomorrow, we hope to squeeze in a couple more venues before heading out to Napa Valley for one day, then continue on our trek up the West Coast beginning with Mendocino.  As we part this evening , we leave you with the sights & sounds of San Francisco.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cambria to San Francisco

Michael Flohr Artwork
Artifacts Fine Art Gallery

A. Paul & I had a nice respite and visit with my family in Cambria, while still finding time to scout out artwork once the rain passed.  If you are not familiar with Cambria it is a small seaside village situated along the central coast of California between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given its close proximity to the two major cities, Cambria has long been a hotspot for LA actors and artists, escaping the city tempo.  Cambria's laid back approach to pretty much everything and everyone, along with its picturesque setting, creates the perfect backdrop to creative individuality, which to date continues to lure artists to its shores.

In a recent conversation with Lynn Rathbun, Gallery Director/Artist at Cambria's Allied Arts Association, Lynn stated that even though there was a marked downturn in the gallery business, artists continue to move to Cambria. Many artists, however, are seeking more non traditional means of representation and venues for selling, such as the internet.  Still, the existing galleries in Cambria are surviving, stressing that setting the price point at affordable ranges are essential for an artist in the current economic climate.

After our discussion with Lynn, A. Paul & I viewed the works along the hallways at the Arts Association, noticing the strong presence of watercolors.  Lynn confirmed that it is one of the more prevalent medias of artwork in Cambria.   Similar to our findings in other locales we have visited, much of the artwork is based upon the landscape surrounding the Central Coast.
Lynn Rathburn (L) & Kerry (R)
at Allied Arts Guild

Alongside works by its members, the Allied Arts Assoc (AAA) hosts and features the works of one member each month. At the time of our visit, the  AAA was featuring the mixed media works of J'net Wolff, who has been creating her artwork for over 40 years.  In Addition to the exhibit area, the AAA also operates art workshops, lectures, demonstrations, open studios, and performing arts.

A short walk down the west side of town one will find several galleries.  One gallery, Artifacts, represents a wide range of prints & giclees in addition to their large scale colored bronze pieces.    One artist's work that caught A. Paul's eye was the work of Michael Flohr, shown at the top of the blog.

In the Melanee Sylvester Gallery, A. Paul & I met up with Lowell Sylvester who operates the gallery  representing his wife, Melanee, and daughter Tracey's, artwork.  Both artists have a unique style, Melanee's being more impressionistic and Tracey's more graphic. Melanee's sense of light is exceptional, capturing the essence and mood of the west coast landscape while her daughter Tracey's works have a strong Hopperesque quality.

"Day's End at BayBack" Melanee Sylvester
Lowell Sylvester & Kerry at
Melanee Sylvester Gallery
On the eastside of Cambria, Vault Gallery owner Laylon has been representing a diverse and talented group of artists for over 30 years. Many of the works depict strong influences of Calder, Klee, and Hopper yet with distinguishable nuances of the artists interpretations.  Several of Laylon's artists are well established, notable artists particularly her plein air artists John Cosby and Elizabeth Tolley. 

"Uptown" John Cosby

Though the village is small, Cambria has a lot to offer its visitors, art collectors, and artists.  There are several art workshops conducted in town as well as a plein air painting group which meets every Wednesday at various locations in town.  With over 200 resident artists, Cambria is  definitely worth visiting if you are in the area. 

If you need a visual break from artwork, you can always drive over to Moonstone Beach and walk the nature path that rambles along the beachfront or take in the views from any one of its many park benches that dot the coastal walkway.  

Following our brief stay in Cambria, it was time to pack up and get back on the road.  This morning we headed off to San Francisco, driving along the coastal route Highway 1.  It was a gorgeous day, which we were thankful for as we weaved around distractingly beautiful panoramic views along the cliffs of the west coast.  There was evidence that several areas of the road had washed away in all the recent winter rains and were under construction.  We finally landed in San Francisco just as the sun was setting but the sky was a bit too cloudy for a great sunset.  Instead, the lights of the city sprung to life greeting us with a different light show.

 Tomorrow, we head to the Museum of Modern Art as well as meet up with a couple of local artists.  I leave you with the extraordinaryimages of our 4 hour drive along Highway 1.