Archive for the 'Artist Profile' Category

Joe Jaqua – Artist Profile

Joe Jagua

Joe Jaqua loves to watch people and transfer their lives to canvas.   Evidence is his large collection of urban, rural and interior paintings with people as accessories to everyday scenes of modern civilization.  The backdrops span European cities, the Eastern Seaboard of our United States to the bucolic hills of Sonoma County.  These images bring back memories of past travels, evoke plans for future excursions and raise fantasies of what could have been – or maybe could be in the future.  Joe’s paintings have a universal appeal.

I wanted to know what path led to all of the places in the paintings and ended in Santa Rosa.  Surrounded by paintings of scenes from around the world and in our own backyard, the story unfolded.  Joe was raised in Southern California but realized as a teenager that San Francisco was the place to be.  He graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in English and soon came to the decision that painting was his primary driver.  His first entrée into the painting profession was art fairs in Sausalito, Mill Valley, Beverly Hills, Palm Springs and La Quinta.  He challenged himself to present differing styles and genres for the reactions – both good and bad.   During this period he developed a style that was both pleasing to buyers and himself through observing which paintings were ignored and which were studied as onlookers strolled through his booth.

Joe was fascinated by art as a young student and was first drawn to the Impressionists.  Then he moved on to the Old Masters. Next was the German Expressionists with the bold art of Kandinsky.  Following was the detailed and realistic paintings of the Pre Raphealite Brotherhood.   The influence of Matisse and Picasso developed into a style of William Wiley.  Most recently the bold lines and colors of  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the social documentary of Edgar Degas are evident as strong inspirations to Joe’s creations.  Joe traveled to New York, Rome, Paris and took in the day-to-day life, the contrasts in style and popular art trends.  Experiencing different cultures and societies translated into an ongoing evolution in his painting.  During these episodes of expressing his creativity through different styles and approaching different venues for sales, Joe recognized that his figure work depicting society and the result of inquisitive people observation is his favorite genre and, also, the most difficult to sell.  After much travels, Joe settled in Marin County for seven years and eventually moved to Santa Rosa.  Proximity to family and San Francisco led him to Sonoma County.  He now has learned the many benefits of living in an art active community.  This year he participated in Art Trails for the 8th year and looks forward to many more.

Joe draws on his academic training to substitute teach in Santa Rosa schools.  He teaches mainly English but fills in wherever he is needed.  The interaction with students keeps him on his toes and provides a wonderful conduit to the positive energy of education.  He believes that he learns much more than he teaches in these sessions.  One never knows, he may inspire another young person to open their hearts to a gift they possess.

Enjoying the Food, Wine and Company at The Wine Emporium

Art Trails is past but there are still many opportunities to meet Joe Jaqua and enjoy his art.  You can see Joe’s work at The Wine Emporium at 125 North Main Street, Sebastopol until January 1, 2011.  The Wine Emporium is open Wed – Sun from 12 until 6.  Also, check out Joe’s website at:

Warren Bellows – Artist Profile

Warren Bellows came to Sonoma County because he loves the landscape, the weather and the experience of Tuscany.  But he needs roots within the culture that he resides and he is a Northern California native.  Many of us emigrants to Sonoma County have experienced the Mediteranean environment and realized that we can live within an hour of San Francisco and bask in the beauty of nature reminescent of Northern Italy and Southern France.  We end up loving our spot on earth so much that we forget that we are close to what others consider civilization.  So a community has grown over many decades of the last century and before which is in touch with the land and the ocean and brings tremendous talent to Sonoma County.  These dreamers are farmers, laborers, artists and healers.  We revel in the warmth of companionship and grow from the simple association with inspiring neighbors. 

I only need a few minutes in Warren’s studio to relax my body and stimulate my mind.  When Warren moved to Sonoma County he had been painting for only a few years.  The teenaged Warren aspired to be an artist but as he matured and began fending for himself, he took the path of healer – first as a premed student in college and eventually as an accupucturist.  The journey from Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland to artist outside of Sebastopol is fodder for my much desired novel – not to be revealed in a column of the Gazette.  But the fact that Warren is a healer is unquestionable.  He began painting when he dreamed that he should be painting.  Being the healer and teacher for others, he needed to start nurturing himself.  Warren turned to painting as a spiritual medium for expressing his inner complexities.  He studied under the Denver artist, Quang Ho.  We are all the beneficiaries of Warren’s self healing. 

The first paintings in Sonoma County were of the ocean and the rugged shoreline of Carmet, Shell Beach and other local haunts – then surfaced the trees and the hills.  Warren’s paintings are uniquely his own but greatly influenced by his painting muses – Joseph Turner, Rembrandt, Caravaggio – and his local surrounds.  He presented his works at Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills amongst other like minded artists who draw on dramatic lighting of nature on the landscape and the human figure.    

While Warren embraces nature as the portal to the heart, his mind has taken him in another direction.   His Quantum Worlds series is a combination of traditional landscape and modern technology.  Art magazines often enlarge a small portion of a painting to demonstrate the brush stroke in detail.  Quantum Worlds takes this practice to an extreme by magnifying a couple of square centimeters into a few square feet.  The corner of a tree can transform into a landscape of science fiction with colors and shapes undetected in the original subject.  Quantum  physics is based on uncertainty and is often described as a silly scientific concept.  Warren’s Quantum Worlds convey the same attributes and simply bring a smile to my face.  

But selecting a spot and expanding that spot is mechanical and flat.   The next progression is to produce this sensation directly with paint.  Combining the abstract image with the depth of layered paint onto canvas brings together the organic aspect of painterliness and the imaginative structure of the mind. This is the challenge that is working through Warren’s brain and into his hands.  The paintings are fantastic – there is no other word to use.  Where else can you look at a painting from all four orientations and see something moving every time?  These paintings are the Parallel Worlds – another concept consistent with modern physics.  Bringing together nature, herbal essences, accupuncture and how the world works, these paintings are “visual herbal interventions” for the lucky person who can experience them. 

Warren is no longer showing in a local gallery.  If you want to take in these unusual creations, you will need to visit his studio.  Fortunately, Warren participates in Art Trails which is October 9-10 & 16-17.  If you cannot wait until October, visit

This one is better of the painting! Yes, I am considering a new camera.

Artist Profile from 2007 – Lisa Marie Thorpe

This morning I was blessed in many ways.  I stopped into Church of the Incarnation on Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa.  First I helped myself to a wonderful cup of coffee in the Parish Hall and noticed a new “gallery” display of collages.  Upon closer observation I realized that the art was produced by Lisa Marie Thorpe.  Lisa was my featured artist in April of 2007 and I love her work.  I could easily have gone off with a few pieces – but I used self control.  The second blessing was from Fr. Matt to acknowledge my taking my maiden name back as my legal name.  So do not be surprised when you start seeing Ellis instead of Shula on my communications.  It is wonderful to be in a loving community.

Here is my article from the Gazette on Lisa.  Enjoy.  Lisa’s work will be up at Church of the Incarnation for a while so stop in and take a peek.  Alas, I cannot find any pictures of her art to add here.

Lisa Marie Thorpe

With the landscape of Sonoma County in full bloom, I was overtaken by the concept of “Secret Dreams of Fruits and Vegetables” – a series of paintings with collage offered by Lisa Marie Thorpe.  Lisa describes this series:

These are playful pieces that get the intimate, inside story from the produce aisle. To create these portraits I had to gain the trust of each piece of produce that I interviewed. To begin I got them to be comfortable and trust me so they would reveal their inner most thoughts. Then I got each one to model for me in a lush and intimate environment with boudoir lighting that highlighted their best features. The result is a revelation of such personal truths that the fruits and vegetables may be embarrassed at their own candor.

Excuse my excessive use of quote (something I seldom do), but this description is so revealing of the artist that I could not pass it up.  I particularly was taken with the Sweet Red Peppers who so coyly reveals fancying themselves as “the bad boys of the garden world.”!   To think that this is only a small glimpse into the works of Lisa Marie Thorpe.

Lisa wears many hats and has as many artist styles.  In addition to being the wife of Jack Dowling and mother to an active son, Lisa teaches art at local schools and is the Resident Artist at Bishop’s Ranch on Westside Road.   Lisa is a true Northern Californian having grown up in the rural counties of Siskiyou, Calaveras and Colusa.  She attended UC Davis, the most Northern of the UC campuses and received her teaching credentials at SF State.  Lisa stayed in San Francisco for ten years before her husband joined the staff of Bishop’s Ranch.  The return to rural life has provided the opportunity to focus on family and art with the backdrop of Dry Creek Valley and the Mayacamas. 

Lisa believes in the Cheap Art Manifesto which was begun in 1984 by Bread & Puppet Theater of Vermont.  The Manifesto is aimed at making art accessible to those who do not have large disposable incomes.  Lisa lives this message by making her art accessible to all.  This is true of all of her creations but is most welcome at the Ranch where she provides a affordable series of plein aire paintings of the Ranch and its environs. 

Lisa’s art has an innocent by edgy quality that results in Day-of-the-Dead-ish vignettes of pregnancy, assemblage of shoes with their sordid lives and, of course, the dreaming fruits and vegetables.  With the patronage of a Bishop’s Ranch visitor, Lisa was afforded the dream of experiencing plein aire landscape painting in France.  Six days to experiment with technique and the meshing of meditation with art.  The direct outcome of the trip were paintings that are disbursed to friends, family and the Ranch –  the indirect outcome was an appreciation for landscape.  The quietness that surrounds the Ranch is captured in Lisa’s paintings for the benefit of those that must leave its serenity.  For a nominal outlay, a visitor can bring a tangible reminder of their retreat with them as they re-enter their greater world. 

The picture I have included of Lisa does not include her art but does include a large, gnarled acacia tree that stands outside of her studio in the basement of the chapel on Bishop’s Ranch.  I have always attempted to include a glimpse of the artist’s work in the photograph.  This did not seem consistent with Lisa.  No single piece of art seemed to speak of Lisa as a whole.  However, the beauty and uniqueness of this blessed acacia (yes, that is a whole other story) is the perfect backdrop for Lisa Marie Thorpe. 

Lisa’s most recent series is the result of gaining access to a print press.  The prints are enhanced by collage and contain elements of food, birds, sign language, et. al.  She is mounting them with an encaustic cover, an affordable alternative to framing that sets off the work with the right touch.  She has ideas as to where they may be displayed when completed but no firm plans.  When they are ready the venue will be found.  Everything in due time.  In the interim, check out Lisa’s work at

Artist Profile – Pam Selvaraj

It's Genetic

Meeting Pam Selvaraj is like stepping into a palace of vibrant color and artist composition.  Forget that I am in a tract neighborhood of Northwest Santa Rosa – I am transported to a land that is part India, part England and a great deal of enthusiastic American creativity.  Pam’s art is the essence of this fantastical paradise.

Saturated secondary colors jump out from the canvas and grab my mind.  Abstract shapes hint at biological origins.  Everything is very alive.  Pam Selvaraj is very alive – and is thankful for it each day.

Pam may have been born in Chennai, India and raised until age 13 in the United Kingdom but she is undeniably American in appearance, demeanor and attitude.  The transplant from the metroplitan Edinburgh to the rural Hillsboro, West Virginia was an adjustment but as most teenagers, she fully acclimated to her new country and environment. She was introduced to the bold and fanciful depictions of life and landscape of Vincent Van Gogh in high school and wanted to follow in his footsteps.   But when it came time to choose a course of study, she selected Biology at Marshall University near her home – relegating art to elective classes and the status of hobby.  After graduation she sought out the glamour and excitement of the big city in Miami.  For nine years Pam pursued her career as a field representative for Beckman Coulter, a medical instrument manufacturer, and lived the life of a successful young professional.  Art fell to the wayside as she married, established herself professionally and availed herself of the life that Miami offered.  She and her husband, Jeff Goodwin, relocated to Sonoma County as a career move and life was good.

Everything changed when in 1995 Pam discovered a lump and was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer.  Cancer at any age is scary and daunting.  Cancer in a thirty-something is devistating.  Rather than lament her misfortunes, Pam embraced the experience of breast cancer as enrichment to her life.  She and her husband purchased their home, got a dog and reintroduced art into her daily activity.  Pam was going to live each day to the fullest no matter how few or many those days were.  As a fifteen year survivor, Pam has lived with the uncertainty that is always present but she has used that threat to make her time more meaningful.  She does this by pursuing a deep passion – ART.

The story of Pam Selvaraj is expressed in all of her paintings.  The colors are vibrant and can be found in the sari fabrics that her mother still wears.  Intricate designs in scratch board or paints can be traced to Pam’s Eastern roots.  The abstracts have a biological nature that must reflect the technical education and professional endeavors that are a large part of Pam’s makeup.  Pam discusses the maturation process of her paintings as she coexists with them before they leave her home.  Every piece is a part of her and they, Pam and the art, need to go through a separation process of close association before finding new homes. 

During her illness, Pam began taking classes at Santa Rosa Junior College (and like most Sonoma County residents sings the praises of our gifted and giving fellow residents who teach at SRJC).  On a business trip she discovered Chaim Soutine, the little known early 20th century artist, whose saturated colors and raw strokes are strong influences in modern art.  Pam traveled to the Oakland Museum to study the art of the Bay Area Figurative Movement and the Society of Six.  She especially draws on Selden Gile.


Pam shows her art with a group of friends she met in her SRJC classes.  Their group is Intertwined Art and they can be found at  She seeks out inspiration at every opportunity through museum visits, book browsing or art related conversation.  She cannot stop producing art and developing in approaches.  In July and August, Pam’s paintings will be on display at Frame of Mind.  The show is It’s Genetic! And it is a perfect metaphor for Pam’s life and art.  The opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 10 from 4pm to 6 pm at 6671 Hwy 116 in Forestville.   If you cannot attend the opening, stop by to see the show during normal business hours.

Weekend in West Sonoma County

The summer has definitely begun.  First – and most appreciated – the weather is warm and there are no signs of rain.  Second, there are so many things going on that decisions must be made for the weekend.  Many years ago I met a young couple at the Forestville Firemen’s Pancake Breakfast.  They described to me their weekly quest for Sunday breakfast at the bargain price of $5 each. From Memorial Day to Labor Day they can find a Sunday pancake breakfast within Sonoma County.  I have since learned that there are breakfasts, lunches and events each weekend to keep any local or tourist fed and entertained.

This weekend is no different.  Tonight (Friday) began the weekend with an Art Opening at Wine Emporium on Main Street in Sebastopol.  The featured artist is Charles Beck (his Artist Profile from July 2006 follows) and events at Wine Emporium sport great food and wonderful wines.  You can see the Wine Emporium Newsletter at Emporium is just one of the many gems found in West Sonoma County.  Wine Emporium has a wide variety of local and international wines covering the whole price spectrum.  I discovered Chono Reserva Syrah from the Elqui Valley of Chile – a wonderfully drinkable and tasty wine for a mere $15.

Interior of Wine Emporium


The art was spectacular and Tara Linda, a wonderful singer and musician serenaded us throughout the evening.  I had arranged to meet a friend there who had two tickets to Resorts in Bloom for this weekend.  Resorts in Bloom is a charitable fund-raiser for West Sonoma County Heath Services, River to Coast Children’s Services and West County Community Services.  You can learn more about the event at  Tomorrow I will be off visiting the wonderful gardens of Russian River Resorts.  And, again, I will remind everyone that you still have time to visit artist studios this weekend with Art@theSource.   Summer is truly here. 

Here is the article on Charles Beck from 2006.  I cannot believe that it has been that long since we sat on his deck taking in the splendor of Joy Road. 

Salmon Creek by Charles Beck


Artist Profile – Charles Beck 

All artists are independent thinkers, of sorts.  Some are just a bit more independent in the “doing”.  Charles Beck is definitely an independent doer.  A man of few words and quiet demeanor, Charles has taken the less traveled path to pursue his interests in nature, art and life.  

Charles has good roots for independent doing.  His grandmother was a trail blazer when she purchased property for her summer home at Salmon Creek in the 1920’s.  Boulder, Colorado had a mystical draw for the California youth in the 1960’s but when it came to settling down, there was no place like home.  After attending school at University of Colorado and Sacramento Junior College, Charles finished his formal education at Sonoma State majoring in Art.  After spending summers in this pastoral environment, the selection of Sonoma County as home was natural.   No other landscape could pull him away – except for the Pacific Ocean. 

Charles recalls an art appreciation class in Sacramento as a turning point in his interests.  The proximity of The Crocker Museum and the celebration of the Bay Area Figurative movement had a profound effect on his desire to paint.  Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff and David Park were in nearby Berkeley and taking the American art world by storm.  Their strong technique and raw subject material moved many into action.  

As many artists are aware, art is not the easy way to earn a living.  When putting food on the table for his young family became a necessity, Charles put down his paint brushes and became a commercial fisherman.  Well, he put down his paintbrushes while he was a sea but savored the blocks of time that the profession gave him to paint.  It is not surprising that another favorite artist is Winslow Homer who is renowned for his depiction of fishermen and the untamed sea. 

The fishing days are now behind Charles and his inspirational activity is bicycling.  By his own admission, Charles is a “passionate bike rider.”  He rides the roads of Sonoma County and takes in the countryside – the hillsides, the vineyards, the orchards, streams, the clouds, the shoreline.  Sometimes he will snap a digital picture.  Sometimes he will go back and recreate a scene at the easel.  Most likely he will imprint a shape or a ray of sun into his memory for future use.  His desire is to draw from his collective experience and produce a work that has a reality at the core.  His current paintings fall into the category of landscape but to call them “landscapes” does not capture the essence of them.  The painting captures an experience that goes beyond the superficial subject matter. 

Charles is currently re-incorporating the figure into his work.  The emphasis on water and land has given way to still lives of apples from the orchard at his home.  The inclusion of people in his paintings brings him full circle to the movement that inspired him in his youth.  To own a Charles Beck painting, one must deal with Charles Beck.  That independent “doing” shuns all but the most special outlets.  So, yes, you can see a few small pieces at Quicksilver Mining Company in Forestville, but otherwise, you need to contact Charles.  Charles participates in the two local open studios each year, Art @ the Source in June and Art Trails in October.  Paintings are displayed across the Beck property on Joy Road.  You can contact Charles at or take a peek at his work at

Artist Profile – Carla Sarvis

This Artist Profile is from May of 2007.  Wow – time flies.  Carla is still making great art.  Visit her this coming weekend at her studio for Art @ the Source.

Display of Glasswork in 2010

When life throws a curve, change seems to come from all directions.  Carla Sarvis has taken these changes and created a new life.  What was the curve?  After eighteen years of sharing the ownership of a Victorian-era home in the Castro District of San Francisco, Carla’s co-owners decided to move to Fort Bragg.  Unable to buy them out, Carla and her husband, Alan, were faced with the task of finding a new home.  This was not an easy decision.  Carla was born and raised in North Beach.  Her mother was a dancer and Carla followed her into the performing arts and eventually into art education.  San Francisco was the world. Carla’s aunt lived in the Avenues.  The Castro was like living in another state.  Leaving San Francisco took much soul searching.  During this period their son left for college in Michigan.  Looking for a venue to escape the chaos of change, Carla found a new passion.  She “met” glass during a Sharon Arts Studio class in Golden Gate Park.   Finally, Carla and Alan decided that they too would move north.  No quite so far north as their friends since Alan needs to commute to San Francisco but to the Russian River where Carla had spent many childhood summers at Brookside Lodge on Johnson’s Beach with her mother and aunt.  The perfect house was found in Forestville.  A great location, a porch and a studio that could hold a kiln – what more could a woman ask for? 

Carla’s relationship with glass has been fast and furious.  Her first experience at the Arts Studio was with mosaic.  She focused on tiles which related to her interest in hearth and home.   She explored “fusing” and embraced it.  She used whatever equipment was available to dip into any new technique.  Recently she has begun to create a version of stained glass.  These various creations expose a unique and compelling ability to coordinate color and design.  Whether it is a tile or a bowl, these pieces are beautiful.  I am not an expert in glass art.  Actually, I am not an expert in any art.  But I know what is good, what is unusual, what is inspired. 

During the first two weekends of June, Carla is making her debut voyage in Art@theSource.  Most of the readers of this column are veteran Art@theSource prowlers.  But for those few who are not, Art@theSource is a wonderful opportunity to learn the depth of talent that resides in West County.  This event is sponsored by the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.  For thirteen years local artists have opened their studios to share with the art loving public. It began with a few artists coming together and today there are 103 who are participating. A preview exhibition of the works of this talented group will be held from an Opening Reception on May 18 until June 10 at 6780 Depot Street, Sebastopol.  Programs are available at local merchants.  If you are interested in paintings, ceramics, textiles, sculptures, woodworks, photography, jewelry or glass, you will find it at Art@theSource.  Many new artists are participating this year.

Through the Sebastopol Center for the Arts program, Carla found a mentor in Laurence, a West County glass artist.  Carla has been in West County for less than two years but has made the most of her time.  She works once a week at Pig’s Alley in Duncan Mills.  She has utilized all local resources to expand her glass skills.  One never knows the outcome when a life takes an unexpected turn.  The creative and adventurous of us make the difficult decisions and take the unanticipated route to new adventures.  Welcome, Carla and Alan, to West County and we look forward to having you a long time part of our community.

Artist Profile – Maggie Bolt

Margaret "Maggie" Bolt

Maggie's Piece at my KitchenWindow

Each morning I stand at my kitchen sink taking in the weather pattern over the garden.  Whether the day is dreary rain or sunny skies, I can move my glance to the consistency and serene beauty of a Maggie Bolt ceramic wall hanging that occupies the space between the two windows.  The impressions in the striations of beige, brown and ecru are of Chinese characters, a warrior, a parasol, a maiden and markings that evoke rays of sunshine and bursts of light.  The supporting structure is a braided cord attached to an aged chopstick.  The vision is calming, provoking, inspiring.  Was Maggie’s intent to create a focal piece for my morning sink side meditation?  I really doubt it.  But I do not doubt that her natural talents brought together the elements that resonated within her soul and she created something amazing with her full intent.

To visit Maggie’s studio is like stepping into a fairy land of beads, trinkets, swatches of paper, fabric, notecards, wall hangings and light.  She immediately apologizes for the state of disarray – she is doing inventory for the upcoming Art @ the Source.  Do I believe for one minute that this is not its normal state?  Calm art among chaotic inspiration seems to be a familiar theme for artists.  Despite Maggie’s claim that she is not a formally trained artist, she exhibits all the traits of the most educated – compultion, proliferation and individuality.

Growing up in Southern California, Maggie visited San Francisco at age 16 to attend her brother’s wedding.  She attended Pasadena Junior College after high school but could not erase the lure of Northern California and soon moved to San Francisco.  It was not long before she met Geoff Bolt.  Geoff has his own story but for this brief mention, he is a well known local wood turner and sculptor.  Each year they would venture to Kennedy Road to purchase their Christmas tree until one year they decided that this was where they wanted to live.  Moving from San Marino to San Francisco to rural Sebastopol was quite a shock.  Snakes in the garden?  Septic systems?  Life in the country had its challenges.

While Maggie had always participated in crafts – be it flower arranging in San Gabriel to art classes at Pasedena JC – moving to the country added a different dimension.   She made wreaths of grape vine cuttings before you could buy them for $1 at JoAnn’s and she drew on the inspiration of the setting.  Her son, Dennis – also a local artist – recalls his mother during his childhood as having a glue gun in one hand and a cigarette in the other.  She took a clay course at SRJC where she experienced pressing things into clay.  That lead to print making and then, of course, one must use the excess from the prints in collage and notecards.  When Dennis left for college, he challenged his mother to enter the Sonoma County Fair competition.  She was delighted when her humorous painting of a fish received a third place and she was awarded $100.  Maggie now had the taste of public appreciation and she was hooked.  The detached studio was built and a career was launched. 

An Array of Artwork Ready for Art@theSource

I asked Maggie about the deep Oriental influence in her art.  I was surprised to learn that she has never visited the Far East.  Well, physically she has never visited.  She recalls a sixth grade social studies project on China that introduced her to the style of Chinese art and culture.  With that simple introduction, a profound understanding of Chinese design was tapped.  Anyone who questions the value of elementary education enrichment programs should hear this story.  What a testament of early exposure to other cultures! 

Today you will find intricately carved pendants incorporated in the wall hangings.  Fish continue to be a recurrent theme.  I picked up a 7” round hanging with fish swimming in circles at Bodega Artisan Coop one day.  Such a find!  Great for any bathroom.  Maggie continues to evolve her style which keeps me coming back to see what is next.  Do not miss the opportunity to experience her talent the first two weekends of June during Art @ the Source.

Maggie participates in Art @ the Source with her friend and fellow artist, Janet Charnofsky (Artist Profile – May 2006), at 10430 Mill Station Road.  That is where I purchased my kitchen hanging some years ago.  It is a great studio to visit with displays from Maggie, Janet and Dennis.  You can see Maggie’s art year round at Local Color in Bodega Bay, Bodega Artisan Coop in Bodega and Dolphin Gallery in Gualala.  Do not miss Art @ the Source.  This is a wonderful opportunity to meet local artists and learn their stories.  I will be posting some of my older Artist Profiles at in the coming weeks so that you can learn about artists before you meet them.  Have an inspiring tour of West Sonoma County Artist.

June in My Wine Country Village


Graduate Taylor with her Proud Parents

June is the month of graduations, weddings and moving.  At least this year I experienced the graduation tradition thanks to the lovely Taylor who graduated from Christian Brothers High School last weekend.  The following day party brought together  family and friends for a delightful warm day in Sacramento.  One of those days that you expect in June with enough sun to get the boys in the pool and the rest of us searching for shade to keep cool. 

No weddings on my social calendar this year.  Probably a good thing since I am fully experiencing the opposite and could be less than upbeat at such an occasion. 

And, while I moved months ago, I am still in the final stages of moving.  The house on Conor Court was to have closed today but, alas, the loan did not go through and the buyers are trying a different bank.   (Read my post of May 18 on banks these days.)  We are now looking at June 24 for the close of escrow. That would be quite a birthday present.  I am not discouraged as this will happen and other movings are happening.     

Florence Avenue - with The Rabbit by Patrick Amiot

 A cute little yellow house on Florence Avenue in Sebastopol has new owners.  It is darling and will be transformed into a wonderful oasis by my friends and clients, Anne and Simon.   Florence Avenue is famous for the delightful sculptures by resident artist, Patrick Amiot.  I did an Artist Profile of him some years ago.  I will post it in the next few days so that you can learn more about Patrick.   Today I am off to San Jose for inspections at a condominium that will make a wonderful home for a young family.  New properties are coming on the market daily and there are buyers eager to find their perfect nest.  I showed property for the last two days and have other showings scheduled throughout the month of June.  It is the time when real estate is hopping.  Many people are anticipating an uptick in home prices but I am still seeing substantial price pressure.  Loans are still difficult to get even though the interest rates are remaining low and 95% loans have returned.  It is a good time to buy.  If you are planning on buying, it is a good time to sell.  The market is the market and you have to do what you have to do. 

What June 4 Should Look Like! The Forestville Parade Judge's Stand 2009

The weather forecast is rain for this afternoon and it is quite foggy as I look out the window but June is shaping up to be a great month.  The rainwill be gone for the year and sunny skies will be with us for the coming months. Tomorrow is the Forestville Youth Park Parade and Barbeque.  It is always great fun but I will not attend this year due to my commitments in San Jose.  I am sure it will be wonderful without me.  I love summer in Sonoma County.

Rik Olson – February Artist Profile for Sonoma Gazette

Rik Olson with Painting in Progress

I once made the decision that all interviews must conclude before 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  The light is better in the morning – I am awake – and most artists have something to say prior to tea time.  Alas, the only time to schedule was in the evening.  At 6:20 P.M. in the pouring rain, I entered the driveway of Rik Olson – pitch black with only faint streams of light through the trees, I see a figure approaching my car with a welcoming smile. Thankfully, Rik gives good directions and has great signage or I would have buzzed right past the Vinegar Lane sign and ended up in Occidental.  Most thankfully, my artist is Rik Olson – easy going, hospitable and uberaus talented.

Why do I use the German word “uberaus” to describe Rik?   Because it fits perfectly.    

Many of you already know Rik’s work. He is the informal trademark of The Sonoma Gazette.  Take a look at this paper – front to back. All of those wonderfully detailed depictions of trees and landscapes and fruits are from the steady hands of Rik Olson.  You have seen Rik’s signature style on Sebastopol Apple Blossom posters and the Sierra Club logo.  In fact, once you start looking, you will notice that his stamp is well spread around Sonoma County and throughout the world.  

While Rik is known for his woodcuts and scratch board prints, he is also a painter, a woodturner and a connoisseur of printing presses.  His workshop has an antique printing press with the requisite cabinet of typeset, a modern Apple computer and everything in between.  An etching press from Bologna, Italy sits near an old Sharp copier that with modification can pass as a print making device.  If it has to do with printing, Rik either has it or knows where to get it.

So who is this person and how did he end up out on Occidental Road?  Rik grew up in the town of Clayton in the northern shadow of Mt. Diablo.  His first award in art was in third grade in the Walnut Creek Art Festival.  The certificate hangs in his studio amongst his diplomas and many other parchments of distinction.  Rik ventured to the great city of Oakland to attend the California College of Arts and Crafts (which is now known as California College of the Arts – CCA).  After graduation in 1967 with a BFA in Illustration, Rik was drafted into the US Army and served two years in Germany as a Military Policeman.  While in Germany he sought out a print shop to hone his skills and met his wife, Brita.  Recognizing that he had a good thing going, on discharge he stayed in Germany and spent the next 8 years teaching Art & Crafts for the US military in Germany and Italy.  He worked in a print studio and had 3 art shows in the Palozzi Strozzi in Florence.    He took in the European experience and enjoyed the life of an expat artist.  This is the life of dreams for a young man from a one-street American town.

But all things must come to an end.  Rik and Brita returned to his native Northern California and settled in South San Francisco.  Rik continued his prolific contribution to proving that illustration is a true artform.   He studied wood engraving under John DePol and Barry Moser and drew inspiration from the 14thcentury printmaker, Albrecht Duerer and Oakland Arts and Crafts era printmaker artist William S. Rice. 

With his great talents and engaging demeanor, Rik successfully participates in the upper circles of his chosen craft.   He has illustrated over 200 books and is currently working on a rendition of Herman Melville’s Norfolk Island and the Chola Widow from the Encantadas with Nawaken Press. Rik is an active member of the San Franciso Center for the Book (SFCB), a place to learn the many arts of the book.  He teaches workshops each month on methods he utilizes in book illustration such as linoleum prints and wood engraving.  Each September for the last six years, a group of artists make 3’ by 3’ linoleum cuts and take their work to the streets – literally!  A San Francisco street to blocked off to traffic and a steamroller is the press for 3 to 6 prints each.  The event is called ROADWORKS and the prints made are sold at auction to support the work of  SFCB.  Rik is a favorite at these events, returning each year to wow the crowds.  Rik is a member of the Graton Gallery in Graton and Local Color in Bodega Bay.  Beginning on February 28, Rik will have a 2 month exhibit at Sonoma Academy, complete with a lecture to the student body, faculty and friends on March 10.  Look around and you will find Rik’s art and if you are lucky, you will run into Rik.  You can learn more about books and locate Rik’s workshops at   Or check out Rik;s website at  Rik participates in ArtTrails and Art at the Source.  However you find him and his art, you will be thankful for the experience.


September 2021


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