Posts Tagged 'Artist Profile'

Artist Profile – Jann Aanestad

JannThere are some people who need an unusual name to be remembered but Jann (pronounced as Jan) Aanestad transcends the uniqueness of her moniker. She looks like the California girl and was born in San Rafael but she lived throughout the United States until she struck out on her own as a young coed at Stanford. Full of life and life experiences, Jann and her husband moved to Sebastopol 25 years ago from Clifton, Virginia where they had restored a condemned farmhouse and launched Jann into a career of interior decorating. The home was featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine in 1988. The Aanestads enjoy the occasional recognition of their past home in a current advertisement or decorating book. The decoration is a testament to Jann’s inherent talent in color and composition that has carried over into her paintings.

This profile is about artists and I focus on the artist and their art. But Jann’s motivation of moving to Sebastopol because she had found relief from her symptoms of lupus from an acupuncturist who practices on Petaluma Avenue named David Walker is a compelling storyline. And one that I feel is worth discussing. Jann has been involved in many enterprises from a very early age. Her energy and vitality – along with exceptional intellect – catapulted her into startups ranging from high tech to antique dealer. But at one point she could hardly get out of bed and was eventually confined to a wheelchair due to the debilitating effects of lupus. Lupus is a disease that saps the energy from even those who seem to be tireless. Times of normalcy are unpredictably interrupted by flairups (the common lupus terminology) of fatigue and pain. This is a difficult condition that does not allow consistent activity or employment. The Aanestads relocated to Sonoma County because of the relatively mild weather that is advantageous and to be near treatment.

Vineyard by Jann Aanestad at Risk Press

Vineyard by Jann Aanestad at Risk Press

Jann remembers sketching portraits of students and staff during her early education as well as having paintings flung out the window because they were deemed worthless. She sketched tourists on the streets of New Orleans the summer after graduating from high school. She gave drawings to friends of her children that she produced while volunteering at Apple Blossom School. But when I asked when she became an artist, Jann answers “about 7 years ago.”cowboys

Seven years ago Jann began painting and that is what she does. In her tiny studio behind the family home on Blackney Road, Jann produces paintings of animals, buildings and still lifes. She is in preparation of her second showing at Risk Press Gallery in Sebastopol. The exhibit is CRITTERS and she is sharing the limelight with Nancy Winn, paper-mache artist. The exhibit started on June 29 and continues until July 28. Jann has benefited from the inputs of local painters and seasoned collectors and others have taken note. She has shown her work at Balletto Winery, Martin Ray Winery, Screamin’ Mimi’s, Corks at Russian River Vineyards, and currently at Stillwater Kitchen.

Nancy Winn's Chows on Display at Risk Press

Nancy Winn’s Chows on Display at Risk Press

Artist Profile – Barbara Valles


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 or email her at

Artist Profile – Alexandra Jacopetti Hart

ImageLast night was the opening of the retrospection exhibit  of textile arts from Alexandra Jacopetti Hart.  It was spectacular.  I would say that even if Jennifer Beckham had not been the curator.  The show was a wonderful collaboration between Alexandra and Jennifer.  Congratulations to both.  You can see the exhibit on the weekends until July 7.  Make it a point to go.

Here is my article that is published in the Sonoma County Gazette.

ImageAlexandra Jacopetti Hart took the 60’s by storm and led the crowd in making the most of the times.  But do not think that Alexandra is locked into the era that formed her.  Here is a woman who can provoke innovation today and know that the path continues into a new realm.  Beginning June 7, Alexandra’s past will be only the step to a new and exciting future at the opening of a retrospective exhibit of her Funk and Flash creations.  During the last 50 years, Alexandra has participated in the art scene of Northern California through painting, performing and participating.  But what will keep her in the forefront of creativity to many of her admirers is the large contribution to the textile arts – weaving, embroidery and design.  Thus is the focus of the installation at Occidental Center for the Arts from June 7 to July 7.

The early years of Alexandra’s life were spent in Southern Idaho and Salt Lake City.  She learned the craft of sewing and creating with fabric by spending time with her grandmother and grandmother’s friends as they quilted.  She dissected the tailored garments that her great aunt gave her and learned how clothing was created.  Still a teenager, she discovered the value of quality fabric when she designed and constructed an embroidered dress for her younger sister.  She became interested in weaving to provide the substrate that she needed for creating original art with needle and thread.  At age 18, Alexandra was a mother with a second child on the way and newly divorced.  A person she met said “you belong in North Beach.”  She had never heard of North Beach but she left Salt Lake City for The City by the Bay and never looked back.

It was not long after coming to San Francisco that Alexandra met Roland Jacopetti and the two of them began fast friends.  Roland taught her the ins and outs of San Francisco and Berkeley.  They were then known as Ben and Rain which may have been their names given at birth.  Rain combed the beaches of Berkeley and used driftwood to create art.  With the acceptance of a collage on driftwood for display at Vorpal Gallery in San Francisco, Rain/Alexandra felt she was an artist.  Until that time she did not feel that she “qualified” to call herself an artist as she did not meet the high standards formed by the admiration of artists within her family.  The Open Theater in Berkeley began in July of 1965.  Founders Ben and Rain Jacopetti had formed a group called the Berkeley Experimental Arts Foundation “for the presentation and study of new art forms and trends”.  The Open Theater began presenting shows every weekend, and sometimes on weekdays as well.  This venture may have introduced Psychedelic  Music to the 60s counter culture as an advertisement in the Oakland Tribune is the first known printed reference.  Alexandra recalls that the average audience size was around 10.  Everything changed with the Trips Festival at the Longshoreman’s Hall in San Francisco in early 1966.  The organizers included Roland and Alexandra and Bill Graham. Accustomed to audiences of less than twenty, they were overwhelmed when the line to get in wrapped around the building.  Ten thousand hippies showed up to the three day event .  Not only were lives changed but the world changed.  Bill Graham went on to rent the Fillmore – Roland and Alexandra went another direction and relocated to Morningstar Ranch outside of Occidental.

attendeeA dream of Alexandra’s was to live in a compound with her family where they could grow their own food and create life and art.  This dream was realized at Sunshine Camp in Forestville.  Alexandra  returned to her roots of textile art.  She embroidered jeans, jackets, ethnic inspired garments.  She founded Native Funk and Flash, Folkwear Patterns and Dharma Trading Company.  She was in the beginning of Baulines Craft Guild.  She created the Macramé Park to the delight of children in Bolinas.  Her energy seems endless and her enthusiasm is contagious.

The exhibit at Occidental Center for the Arts is a celebration of Alexandra’s creations and contribution to our collective culture.  The Native Funk & Flash book reissue featuring unpublished material will be in conjunction with a gallery exhibit and a film event featuring The Saga of Macramé Park and Eric Christensen’s Trips Festival. This will be a fun time – full of nostalgia for the old hippies and history for the local youth.  For Alexandra this is a transition time – while she is no longer able to do the delicate manipulations of needle and thread, she is not willing to stop her time of creating.  Her next project is to be a “social” artist – creating by who she is – not what she makes.  I think that she began this project the day she stepped into North Beach.

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Artist Profile – Peter Krohn

Luminescent Botanicals is the name Peter Krohn gave his collection of stylized prints.  The stark contrast of vibrant florals on a black base grabs your attention.  Then you are caught by a familiar image in an unfamiliar juxtaposition.  And finally, the detail of each individual item draws you into an intimacy with nature.   These pictures are a true facsimile of botanicals but are only natural in that they are living – whether emerging or declining – plants.  The placement of each element is painstakingly executed to produce a compelling work of art.  Peter chose his words well.  In fact, Peter has written a brief narrative of his feelings about each piece that reveals the depth of his knowing the right words to choose.


Peter Krohn began his journey as an immigrant early in life.  He was born in Zurich, Switzerland- the son of two German refugees – and spent his toddler time in Milano, Italy.  With Hitler’s war looming in Europe, the Krohn family lit in Montreal, Quebec to establish their new life.  The environment that Peter grew up within was inner city and little tolerance for creating anything that did not result in income.  Peter recalls that he took a class from the Canadian painter, Arthur Lismer.  Lismer was the influential member of The Group of Seven in establishing a recognizable style for Canadian painting with his organic connection to the Canadian landscape.  He further distinguished  himself by establishing children’s workshops to promote the arts to the children in Montreal and Toronto.  Lucky Peter was one of those who benefited from Lismer’s passion.  However, as much as Peter wanted to be a part of the art community, he was taught that art was a pursuit for those who were not required to bring in money.


Since painting was not an acceptable creative outlet for Peter, he turned to the written word.  Having read the epitaphs to Peter’s prints, I was not surprised to learn that poetry was a great part of Peter’s development as a young man.  He shared the stage with another Montreal native, Leonard Cohen, reading poetry he had written to the local crowds.  But the life of an immigrant could not be sustained on poetry either.


Peter worked a number of jobs that kept pushing him towards advertising.  After failing to find employment that stimulated his imagination, Peter founded his own ad agency.   Krohn Advertising was recognized as the “most creative” firm in Montreal by his peers.  Peter produced photos, ad copy and TV spots.  And still this self effacing man does not see that he has been an artist his adult life.


After twenty years in the advertising world, Peter changed everything by moving to San Francisco.  He enrolled in The California Institute of Integral Studies and entered the world of couple’s therapy.  He met his wife, Beth, while both were volunteering at San Francisco Suicide Prevention.   In 1985, Peter and Beth wanted to move to a place where they could have a garden, enjoy the country and pursue their careers.  Sebastopol was suggested as the ideal place for them to plant their seeds.  Thankfully for our community, the Krohns settled on a tree lined lane outside of Sebastopol.  This environment has allowed Peter to slow down and observe the blossoming of poppies, the gathering of bees and the aspects of botanicals that are often missed in the bustle of daily life – very far away from the crowded alleys of Montreal and the cramped quarters of city life.  Sonoma County is the treasure that he had sought throughout his youth and early adulthood – the home for his creative vision.


Peter began an honest pursuit of his lifelong dream to “become an artist” about five years ago.   He discovered Scanography through Tim Fleming of Petaluma and has raised it to a new artform that he has dubbed PhotoGraphica – a marriage of scan photography and computer enhancement.  His son, Zak Krohn, collaborates with him by contributing much of the computer image modifications.  I saw my first Peter Krohn PhotoGraphica piece while interviewing Amber Moshin in 2011.  I was mesmerized – yes, breathless.  The production possibilities were swimming in my imagination.  How was this stunning work of art generated?  Peter showed me how he gathers the subjects from his garden (or roadside or friend’s garden) and then carefully places them on the scanner or above the scanner.  There are stands, brackets, clips, cogs, strings – whatever it takes to suspend the objects above the glass of the scanner.  The scan is done in darkness and the vegetation jumps with life as the beam crosses the bed.  Fascinating!  Peter and Zak are experimenting to vary the background from black to other shades and colors.  Peter’s studio is full of prints on paper, canvas, aluminum – any substrate that could render a unique representation of the same image.  To visit Peter’s world of art is an adventure and an honor.


For the last two years, the Santa Rosa Photography Club has awarded to Peter’s work the “Image of the Year” distinction.  Peter first participated in Art@theSource this June and was an instant hit with the freshness of his offerings, demonstrations of scan art and beauty of his location.  If you missed his first open studio, you have the opportunity to experience it during the two weekends of ARTrails, October 13, 14, 20 and 21.  Follow the tree lined Yule Tree Lane off of Pleasant Hill Road and enter the world of PhotoGraphica.   He is Studio 117 in the catalog.  To view Peter’s work, go to his website at




Betty Ann Sutton – Artist Profile

Betty Ann Sutton and a new Pastel at the Donkey Barn Reunion Show

Betty Ann Sutton is known by many names – Elizabeth Ryder Sutton, E Ryder Sutton, Betty Ann.  Then there are the less personal but equally as distinctive monikers – owner of Donkey Barn Studio, proprietor of Mr. Ryder & Company, rescuer for Forgotten Felines, organizer of the Graton Pet Parade, sponsor of the Mr. Ryder Spay and Neuter Fund at the Sonoma County Humane Society.  I could go on and on about the many contributions that Betty Ann has made to our community.   But this column is about artists and their art and I want to give appropriate emphasis to the artist who has given so much to many.

Betty Ann is such a recognized personality in the West Sonoma County world that I would never have guessed that she came to us via Florida and Southern California.  With a minor in Art from the University of Miami, Betty Ann traveled to Los Angeles and began her career as a teacher of art.  She eventually relocated to South San Francisco where she continued to be involved in the artist community.  She taught at Fort Mason for two years.  She migrated from the paintings of her early training to pastels where she has exclusively focused her efforts since arriving in Sonoma County in 1990.  In her first years in Camp Meeker, Betty Ann met a broad spectrum of animal lovers and helped a great many cats by volunteering with Forgotten Felines.  In 1993 Betty Ann purchased a desirable property east of Occidental with a small cottage and much wanted space.  Her animal family of cats and the much beloved Mr. Ryder was expanded by two donkeys.

A barn was built.  The intended purpose of the barn was to have studio space for Betty Ann since the home had no room.  When Betty Ann’s vision was realized, the space was far greater than she could fill and invited others to join her.  Soon there were 20 local artists painting weekly.  It started with a few friends painting for a few hours – then the potluck lunch was added – next was a band to keep the creative juices flowing – finally a professional model was part of the package.  Figurative art flowed.  Betty Ann engaged her pastels and enhanced the subject with wonderful hats and demure dresses.  The last of the Donkey Barn Studio gatherings was in 2002.  But these festive events are still in the minds of all who inhaled the euphoria of the day and created beautiful memories as well as drawings.  This group of friends and colleagues include artists whom I have included in this column – MaryLu Downing, Jack Stuppins and Jerrold Ballaine.

Painting by MaryLu Downing at Reunion Show

Betty Ann, MaryLu and Diane Senia are planning to recreate the camaraderie with a reunion showing at the Occidental Center for the Arts this month.   The Donkey Barn Reunion Art Show runs from August 5 to September 4.  The opening reception is Sunday, August 7 from 3 to 6.  You will have the opportunity to view the works of some of Sonoma County’s most acclaimed artists and take in Occidental and all it has to offer.  If you have not been to the Occidental Center for the Arts, it is located at the old Harmony School across the street from the Occidental Community Center. This beautiful venue opened earlier this year and has quickly become a successful location for art, music and theater.  The trip to Occidental is an invitation to eat the local fare, browse the shops and take in the overall beauty of the area.

A wonderful side effect of this Show is that Betty Ann has picked up her pastels and has created a new body of work.  Friends within the animal rescue community have benefited from Betty Ann’s talents with portraits of their beloved pets.  Mr. Ryder is no longer sitting watch over the antique shop but he is captured beautifully in many representations.  In 2001, Betty Ann participated in The Object of My Affection, an ensemble of Pastels and writings on the relationship between humans and pets at Quicksilver Mine Co.  Some of you may know of Betty Ann’s art through Art Trails in which she participated for nine years.  Her new pastels depict nostalgic scenes of family, home and nature which come from the pictures and memories of youth.  You will not want to miss them.  Whether it is starting a gallery, teaching a class or decorating her home and store, Betty Ann is in the thick of creativity in Sonoma County.

I greatly enjoyed getting to know yet another terrific person through this column.   Thank you, Betty Ann for allowing me into your home.

Theater in Santa Rosa

Theater on the Santa Rosa JC Campus

Each summer a group of friends attends one of the musicals produced by the Summer Repertory Theater at Santa Rosa Junior College.   We have seen Bye Bye Birdie, Kiss Me Kate, Forever Plaid – to name a few.  All have been terrific.  This year we saw Hairspray.

I remember seeing snippets of Hairspray, the movie, when I had teenagers but I had never really paid attention.  I recall dancing, a lot of teased hair and  Ricki Lake making it in the Big Time.  I had no idea that it had become a Broadway hit over a decade later.  Well, what a performance was put on at the JC.  I am always amazed at the incredible talent in this area.  For as little as $12 a ticket you can see top notch performances at the JC, in Sebastopol at the Main Street Theater, in Monte Rio at a couple of venues and Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Players.  We are not only blessed with a beautiful place to live but one full of arts and other delights.

Tomorrow I am planning to attend the opening of the Donkey Barn show at the Occidental Center for the Arts.  It is featured in my column in the Sonoma County Gazette this month.  Watch for it here in a couple of days.

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.

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.


September 2021


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