Artist Profile – Barbara Valles

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I met Barbara Valles at a dinner party – not totally unexpected to meet an artist in this county of exceptional talent.  But meeting Barbara with her husband and young daughter at the home of a friend did not prepare me for the intensity and depth of the art I was soon to experience.  Let me introduce you to Barbara as I met her.  Barbara’s parents were visiting from Spain to be near when their grandchild came into the world.  The parents rented the home where the dinner party was held and fast became friends with the homeowners.  Through that connection, my friends became friends with Barbara.   Barbara and her family are the epitome of wine country living.  The attractive wife of a successful winemaker and the mother of a delightful child, Barbara’s faint accent hints that she has a story to tell. Yes, she is an artist. Yes, she is an immigrant.  Yes, there is so much more to know about her and her art.

Barbara was born and raised in the outskirts of Madrid, Spain.  With an artist for a mother, Barbara knew early in her life that she was destined to be an artist.  Her older brother came to the United States as an exchange student and she followed in his footsteps at the age of sixteen.  She returned to Madrid but soon decided to spend her last year and a half of high school at St Joseph High School in Utah.  After graduation she embraced Europe and studied art in Italy and London for two years before enrolling at the Arizona State University, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.  With art degree in hand, she relocated to the East Bay and went into the workforce as a non-artist, video game producer. She met Greg, her husband, and they together moved to Sonoma County in February of 2010.

The art Barbara produces is big and bold from materials that are considered industrial.  While she has earlier works that are seemingly 2 dimensional, the substrate and texture are fluid in the breeze and layered in construction.  What appears to be a heavy paint or possibly cut paper attached is glue peeled from another surface and fashioned to provide movement to an otherwise stationary canvas – using techniques that she developed as a child while playing in her mother’s studio.  As an adult, she has progressed to inventing new methods that utilize the same childhood props.  Drop clothes – water resilient on the front and absorbent on the back – are saturated with glue and dried in provocative shapes, painted with pastels or shimmering gray.  She has named these Botanicals but they are like no plants I have every witnessed.  Another favorite material is Tarleton cloth, a stiff cheese cloth like fabric that is normally used to wipe etching plates of excess ink.  There is a series of hangings with “dabs” of paint that evoke leaves in the air.  Well, that is what it evokes for me.  The great thing about this art is that every observer will see what touches them personally with few preconceived ideas.  Recently she has painted bubble wrap as is shown in the picture here.  These common objects are transformed into delicate delights for the eyes.   She is experimenting with installation pieces that make the ordinary extraordinary.

It is not surprising that Barbara is influenced by the Dadaist Marcel Duchamp who challenged the thinking of art forms in the early 20th century.   Gabriel Orozco, a contemporary Mexican artist, is one of her favorites with his stark but elegant installations of abstraction.  Barbara is currently looking for a space to share her work to its best advantage.  In the meantime, you can go to her website and glimpse the beauty of her creativity.  She has shown her work at A Street Gallery in Santa Rosa.  She is looking to exhibiting at Marin Museum of Contemporary Art in Novato and other Marin venues.  Her stated goal is to make something exquisite from mundane objects.  I think she has achieved this wonderfully.

You can see Barbara’s work at www.BarbaraValles.com or email her at balles.hayes@gmail.com.

Spring is Here – Or What Season is When?

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In my new home there is a very small garden.  You have seen pictures of my past garden – a half acre of roses, rhododendrons, daffodils, euphorbia, hollyhocks – oh, the list goes on.  I do miss my garden.  I would be lying if I said that I didn’t.  But for the last 30 years I have worked at having a garden with something in bloom at all times.  In Palo Alto this was not particularly hard as the winters were so mild that the rose hedge was in bloom constantly.  Moving to Forestville I learned about winter being a tough time to have something in bloom.  (I must admit that in graduate school I gardened in Boulder, Colorado and the only winter gardening was in the basement with heat lamps!)  But then I learned about hellebores.  For those who are not totally into horticulture, the opening picture is a hellebore.   The Lenten Rose is the hellebore – the rose that blooms in the winter.

rhodieLast June I transplanted plants from my interim garden on Joy Road.  Not the best time of the year to move plants and I wasn’t sure that they would all make it.  In November I bought a few plants to fill in the bare spaces.  The months of December and January were freezing – set many records and made me wish that I had a real heater. The weather this year has been so odd that I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped into my garden Camilliaon a warm February day.  I was certain that my hydrangea was dead.  Only because I was very busy, the crispy brown, leafless plant survived my ritualistic winter clearing of the garden.   But it has leaves bursting all over.  My rhododendron is plumping up and ready to pop.  The camellia is already dropping blossoms.

I am excited to see the roses leaf out.  The pansies are nodding their smiling faces.  The clematis has little bits of green showing up along the brittle tendrils.  Coral bells are blooming.  Ornamental strawberries are in full regalia.   I don’t know by Spring or Summer what will be in the garden but I am suspecting that it will be magnificent.   Today I noticed that my rose-blossom-shaped succulent by my front door is beginning to bloom.  It is wonderful to live in this wonderful place.

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Artist Profile – Gerald Huth

ImageAnyone driving through Forestville during June or October will recognize the name Gerald Huth.  Since the onset of Art at the Source and ARTrails, Gerald has prominently proclaimed OPEN STUDIO at his Anderson Road studio and gallery.  While I had visited his gallery early in my Forestville residency, I had never met Gerald until this last week.  Tall, energetic, excited, intense, well-traveled – the adjectives keep coming as I reflect upon the man who sat across from me as we spoke of art in Sonoma County, the human condition in Cambodia and the impact of circumstance on the path one takes in life.

Gerald was born to immigrant parents in New York City.  He spoke German in the home and his parents taught the philosophy that each person was intended to make life better for others.  Gerald had the opportunity to study architecture at University of Pennsylvania.  Upon graduation, he left for Stuttgart to begin his apprenticeship in this challenging field.  But the rigors of architecture gave way to the art all around him and it was not long before he was studying art at Ecole des Beaux-Arts d’Avignon in France.  From Europe he traveled to Australia, taking every opportunity to paint and show his works.  He traveled through Asia and by the time he returned to New York, he was an artist -  no longer an architect.

Gerald understood that he wanted a career that allowed him to travel and one that gave him the freedom to express his beliefs and passion without constraint of his profession.  He delved into the New York art scene with his full effort.  He expanded his knowledge and exposure by attending Hunter College of the City of New York and The Art Student’s League of New York.  His first New York exhibits took place in 1979 and his career was launched in his hometown.

There were no plans to move to Sonoma County when Gerald and his wife visited his sister in Healdsburg in 1985.  But once being exposed to this beautiful place what artist can pass on living in Sonoma County?  Gerald’s wife led multi-language tours of National Parks so there was no impediment to relocating for her.  Soon the family settled on Anderson Road where Gerald renovated the dilapidated garage into a spacious studio.  In 1995 Gerald began a string of shows in Europe – Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France.  The ability to travel, show his art and come home to the beautiful environment of Sonoma County has fulfilled his dreams of early adulthood.

In 2003, Gerald and his wife turned their focus on Southeast Asia.  During Gerald’s early travels he visited Asia and fell in love with the culture of the area.  The couple visited Cambodia and taught art classes for children under the House of Peace program.  For the last five years, they have traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia to contribute to Anjali House.  This program takes children from the ages of 4 to 16 who would otherwise be living on the streets in this impoverished area and provides education, nourishment and health care.  About 100 children are in the program at a time.  Each January, the Huths participate in the production of a play project which is focused on a Cambodian folktale.  The children create and perform over a three week period during which they practice the English they are learning, paint sets and enrich their understanding of their heritage.  This is a successful and rewarding activity that follows the creed of improving someone’s life each day as Gerald was taught by his father.

If you have not visited Gerald’s studio, it is tucked down a country lane off of Anderson Road (just past El Molino High School).  He conducts workshops and classes in the newly insulated studio that he renovated so many years ago.  There is now another building that houses his permanent collection of work which is open during Art @ the Source and ARTrails as well as by appointment.  Gerald’s art is big, bold, colorful, 3-dimensional – words that could also describe Gerald.  His subject material varies but is centered on the human form with shades of blue, green, yellow and ecru.  After 9/11 he expressed the grief and anguish of the attacks through a series of works that merged eulogy and visual anguish.  Recently there is a noticeable influence of the Cambodian culture in his collages of Buddha, Middle Eastern scripts and original art in the eternal circle.  Evolution in life and in art go hand in hand.

You can see Gerald’s work at www.geraldhuthart.com or email him at studio@geraldhuthart.com.

Christmas Outing in Monterey

P1030854Each December my dear friend, Barbara Benda, and I have a Christmas outing.  It started with an afternoon in San Francisco visiting the large hotels and taking in the decorations.  As you know if you look back to prior Decembers of this blog, the last few years we have made a weekend of it.  The decorations have floundered over the years and we have looked to other amusements like The Lion King and some great dining experiences.  This year a friend of Barb’s suggested that we take in Christmas at the Adobes in Monterey.  So off we went to Monterey.

P1030865 Most of the Adobes were erected between 1840 and 1860 from the clay that is prevalent in so many parts of California.  This was an exciting and tumultuous time when California transitioned from Mexico ownership, to sovereignty , to a US Territory, to a State.  The walls of these structures are over two feet wide and they have stood the test of time.  Many of the buildings are now private homes and they are open to the public only at this two evening event.  P1030863The first place we visited was the Custom House where volunteers dressed in costume and danced the popular dances.  We then visited shops and homes and the first theater in California.  Sailors paid $5 to see movies in 1850!

P1030880The 1849 Constitutional Convention that formed the State of California was held at Colton Hall.  The roster of attendees is on display there as well as other artifacts from the period.   Each building had cookies and some kind of beverage.  I particularly like the horchata.  The thing that surprised me most was the wonderful musicians that entertained us as we wondered throughout the homes.  My favorite was the Jalisco harpist, William Faulkner.  But then there were the bagpiper, harpist, soprano, pianist, flutist and various guitar players.  It was, in general, a musical event as well as a feast for the eyes.

Barb,Flo&me (2)The decorations were traditional and the decor lovely.  The company was the best.  We were blessed to only experience a few raindrops as we traipsed around to the various sites.  By 9PM our feet and legs were aching and the room was calling me back.  I highly recommend that visit the Adobes at Christmas if you ever have the chance.

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Thanksgiving Includes Sock Golf

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For the last five years I have imposed upon my wonderful friends, Sally and David, and joined the festivities they host for Thanksgiving.  They have a wonderful tradition of inviting long time friends to share in a day that cannot be topped.  I am easily the 20131128_131019newest addition to this event – well maybe not, come to think of it.  It is a collection of couples and singles who had paths cross in Silicon Valley and most have some sort of technical background.  This adds to dinner conversation and actually does liven up the event as things are discussed in that scientific detail only the technical truly appreciate.   Part of the tradition is the playing of Sock Golf.  It is a great activity that gets one out and moving between lunch (yes, there is lunch!) and the Thanksgiving Feast.  This year my son-in-law donated two kegs of home brew beer – one dark lager and a pale ale – for everyone to enjoy.  I usually stick around home to avoid the lunch but this year the kegs were there and I had the spigots!  So I needed to get there for the quenching of early thirsts.  The beer was a real hit and may need a repeat someday.

Hole 1 - with socks so very close!

Hole 1 – with socks so very close!

The first reaction when I discuss the activities of the day is, “What is Sock Golf?”  I had never known the origin of the game and wondered if it was an invention of our hosts.  The premise is similar to golf – there is a Tee Box (in this case a rectangular area) where you can begin your turn, you count the number of strokes (this is tosses) that it takes to get into the hole (which is an above ground bucket).  The major difference is that instead of hitting a ball with clubs, you toss a sock that has sand tied up in the toe.  This may seem easy but it is actually quite difficult.  Definitely there is no rolling into the hole.  And then there are the penalties.  20131128_141000 (768x1024)My partner had to count a penalty toss because his sock became entangled in an olive tree and did not return to the ground.  There are tosses given if you hit the roof of the winery which happens to be in the path of hole 9.  And if you hit a grapevine there is not only a toss to count but hell to pay!

We all had great fun.  I found it much easier to carry my beer cup than the wine glasses of previous years.  It may have helped me as Roger and I won this year!  Since the score is a “best sock” scoring such as “best ball” in golf, Roger’s penalty was not a factor and he played quite well on the rest of the course.

Out on the Course

Out on the Course

Hole 5 is a Challenge with the Hole Next to the Vines

Hole 5 is a Challenge with the Hole Next to the Vines

20131128_153321After the game the crowd gathered on the terrace for refreshments and lunch leftovers while the turkey rested and the side dishes were heated.   The winners were announced and much to my surprise it was Roger and me.  I felt that David must have made an error but Roger told me to accept the bottle of Siduri Ewald Vineyard Pinot Noir graciously which I readily did.  We learned that prior to moving to Sebastopol, David and Sally were introduced to Sock Golf on the beach in 1997 while visiting other friends for Thanksgiving.  This was the 13th Annual Sock Golf Tournament at Ewald Vineyards.

The feast was amazing with each person bringing their best.  A wonderful day, topped off with a scrumptious array of desserts.  This is Thanksgiving in Sonoma County like no other.

Sally with Desserts

Sally with Desserts

Fall Is Upon Us

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P1030802This year has sailed by and I am somewhat aghast that it is November and only days until Thanksgiving.  I started the month with a party to thank all of my clients who have stuck by me through all of my travails.  It was a joy to open my new little home and share the life that I manage with friends.  The party went most of the day and at the end I was happy and very tired.

I spent a couple of days on the Central Coast this month.  It was nice to be away from my phone and not dealing with escrows and listings for two whole days.  It really seemed like a vacation.  The scenery was beautiful and the company excellent.  It was great to get away and just as terrific to come back home.

20131114_190330The weather has been very odd this year.  It is still warm during the day but very cool at night – down in the 30s.  What amazes me is all the plants that are in bloom.  I have roses in the back yard and azaleas in the front.  Last week there was a beautiful camellia blossom in front and the plant is about to burst with hundreds of bulging buds.  Usually in November I am looking to find a couple of poor examples of roses in the garden to bring a festive air to the table.  This year it has not been a problem at all.  Jan Tolmasoff of Russian River Roses fame had a rose evening in celebration of her recent published article in the American Rose, the official publication of the American Rose Society.  She discussed the pairing of roses and wine (these roses don’t look like November stragglers!) and the rose perfume and oil that she and her husband, Michael. produce.  Russian River Roses is located outside of Healdsburg and is the real thing for rosarians looking to purchase high quality bushes and visit a beautiful extensive garden.   There is a rose allee of eight 12′x12′ arches that can take my breath away.

P1030836How I know that it is about Thanksgiving is that the Joy Road Art Walk was this last weekend.  The weather was fabulous and the people came out in droves.  It was wonderful to see.  I managed to get in and out without buying anything but not because there wasn’t great things to acquire.  I am still remembering how I had too much “stuff” to fit into my new home.  That will seem even more so when I start decorating for Christmas.  I have not done more than hang the stockings for the last two years since I was off to Hawaii for Christmas – but this year I will be home and spending time with my family.

Only two more days until one of the happiest days of the year.  I have made my cranberry sauce and started buying for the Thanksgiving feast.  I plan to do my best at the yearly sock golf (yes, that has become a tradition) and not overeat.

I look back on everything I have done this month and wonder how I fit it all in.  But then I am gearing up for a busy December.

P1030837

2250 Joy Road, Occidental

front house (2)I have been remiss in getting this lovely listing on this blog.  I have no good excuse.  The listing has been promoted every other way that I know and I have let my blog lag.  2250 Joy Road is about a half mile down the road from where I lived before my move into Sebastopol.  The current owner has loved this home and spot but has come to the realization that it is time to move into town.  Does that sound familiar? through the trees (2) While I drove passed this home every day on my way to and from work, I did not know it was there.  Situated on the back half of a 1.18 acre lot, there is a cover of trees and a lovely meadow between Joy Road and the home.  Ample parking is along the driveway and a large paved turn around area at the front of the house that leads to the two car garage.

deck-denThe home has three bedrooms and two baths to the right of the entryway.  The entryway has oak flooring with inlaid detail to give a touch of style to the home.  The oak flooring extends into the hallway to the bedrooms, the kitchen and the den/office.  The living room, dining room and master bedroom open to the sunny meadow with a deck off of the master bedroom for lounging in the sun.  Off of the den is a large deck for shaded afternoon entertaining or just a nap in nature.

Living is easy in this home.  The laundry room and powder room are off of the den which Denis easily accessible from the kitchen, side deck or garage.  The den is currently used as an office but I see it as the place I would live year round with its oak floors, great lighting, slider to the deck and spot for a wood burning stove.   Of course, there is the sitting area in the kitchen with cabinetry and TV unit where I could sit right in the middle of the household activity.

This is a beautiful home on enough land to feel private but not so much that it is a large undertaking to maintain.  I can dream about living here – maybe you can, too,  If you want to see additional pictures, let me know.  Of course, I have them.

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