Open studios event offers chance to see artists in action
By Lou Fancher
Visual artists, regardless of their chosen medium, practice the art of submission, rendering control to light, shadow, temperature, vision and even the materials they choose. To counter the demons of creative expression, they turn to technique and often, to community.
Process and the people who practice art in the Delta will be on full display Nov. 14-15 at Contra Costa Open Studios' free, annual event. Several locations including home studios and shared work or gallery spaces will provide up-close access to 18 artists and their work.
Paintings, pottery, sculpture, jewelry, cards, textiles and more will be on display. Most locations offer food and beverages, but the main attraction for visitors is the opportunity to watch the artists demonstrate their craft or learn the stories behind the works and their creators.
Questions and curiosity, the artists say, are highly encouraged bring-alongs.
Participating artists and Brentwood residents Rosalinda Grejsen and Mary Lamb are co-founders, along with Sherry Cummings and Sandra Berkson, of the 97-member Art Guild of the Delta. Grejsen works primarily in clay and ceramics, making kiln-fired functional pottery and recently, hand-built figurative pieces.
Lamb's clay sculptures include pottery, faux rock totems and bird chalets. Together with four other artists, their work will be on display at Rosalinda Grejsen Ceramic Studio.
"The drought has caused my garden to suffer," Lamb says. Searching for a substitute for thirsty plants, she developed surprisingly light, fired-together mini rock towers, sometimes topped with birds and similar life forms. "Many of our East County neighbors want an opportunity to meet the maker and shop locally. It gives me an opportunity to meet with my friends and customers in a very relaxed atmosphere."
This summer, a customer who purchased one of Lamb's rock towers at an outdoor fair refused a shopping bag, preferring instead to "hug their rocks home."
Lamb enjoys the tactility of clay and felt a kinship in the sensory pleasure she shared with the customer. "What more could I ask for?" she says.
Watercolorist Sue Clanton, of Discovery Bay, has participated in open studios for more than 20 years. She says the best part is meeting people interested in art.
"I feel everyone should paint. It makes you see the world differently."
Painting has increased her awareness of beauty and its details.
Her medium's challenges lie in planning: the white paper must remain virgin for highlights as she paints an image from light to dark. Her favorite subjects come from traveling to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, China, Tibet, Burma, and locations in the United States. Clanton will tell travel tales and demo her technique.
Oakley's Nancy Roberts will be in the Delta Gallery, where a solo show features her acrylic paintings and pastel drawings. In addition to demonstrating her technique, she will have acrylic supplies for people interested in trying their hand at painting.
"For me," Roberts says, "the most valuable part of the experience is meeting so many new people, reconnecting with old friends and sharing the joy of art in a friendly, welcoming space.
"I especially love it when my young students get to see my art, react to it and ask questions. We inspire each other."
Roberts says the Delta Gallery will also have on sale art and gift items including jewelry, note cards and prints created by more than 30 local artists.
Approximately 200 visitors attend the two-day open studios.