Artists Studio Tours — a weekend when art lovers can visit the studios of Calaveras County artists — has long been a signature event for local artists in September.
But this year, due to COVID-19 risks to artists and collectors, the Calaveras County Arts Council has pivoted to an online event.
“We understand that this is a difficult year for all,” executive director Kathy Mazzaferro said. “We propose a different way to support our Calaveras County artists. Instead of two days in September for people to visit studios, we’ve created an online event, which lasts until the end of October to advertise our participating artists to the public.”
The Calaveras County Arts Council is featuring the work of 25 local artists on their website. The online gallery includes work and statements by the artists, as well as a sales page.
“We’re very pleased with the selection of artists we have this year for our online tour,” said Maggie Sloan, marketing director and creator of the event. “The art is beautiful, fun. Charming. It’s created with so much heart.”
The first artwork in the online gallery is a watercolor heart painted by Linda Abbott Trapp, an artist who explores the boundary between art and psychology.
Next is the work of Judy Cain, known for her soft, romantic oil paintings of flowers and landscapes that lean on a traditional aesthetic that continues the heartwarming theme.
Home is highlighted in painter Lonna Coleman’s brightly colored acrylic paintings, especially her interior scenes, where she creates interlocking flat shapes of bright primary colors that evoke a childlike sense of wonder.
Oil and acrylic painter Barbara Hall builds her aesthetic from nature, where she’s inspired by the peace and calm she finds in settings like snow covered mountains or leafy tree-lined trails.
Mokelumne Hill artist Anne Cook considers herself a bricoleur (pronounced bree-kooh-loor) — someone who transforms diverse objects into something new. Cook creates sculptures from found objects, bits of glass and broken mirror. The ensuing sparkle creates a kaleidoscope of light and color to brighten homes and gardens.
If stress is getting to you, lose yourself in the whimsy of painter Victoria Fout. She blurs the line between painting and sculpture with fanciful creatures in heavily textured bas-relief built up with acrylic gels.
Likewise, Moana Hendrix Baily works in fantasy. She digitally composites photographs and artwork to create quiet dreamscapes of Sierra treasures.
Arvid Morrow’s oil pastel scenes of the countryside transport art lovers to a gentler time.
With a more realistic point-of-view, oil painter Sonya Ziegler’s work is restful. She explores the beauty of natural subjects ranging from landscapes to animals to simple homey items like asparagus in a copper bowl or Tempranillo grapes on the vine.
Watercolor is well represented in the online gallery.
Portrait artist Margaret Sloan prefers to paint children and pets.
“The ability of watercolor to be both transparent and opaque makes it a perfect medium and metaphor for painting portraits,” she said.
Mokelumne Hill artist Deborah Marlene’s watercolors and alcohol inks glow like jewels, and Sue King’s soft watercolors breath warm, relaxing tones into flowers and mountainscapes.
Lynne Sutton finds her ideas from her travels, and creates elegant watercolors with strong shapes and subdued colors.
Venerable watercolorist Ruth Morrow uses the fluid nature of the medium to document Calaveras County with loose, gestural studies.
It’s hard to corral an artist into a box; many of the artists on the tour work in several mediums.
Multi-skilled artist Maura Purcell honors the natural world in media as diverse as watercolor, oil painting, mixed media, and clay sculpture.
Painter Tabitha Kremesec alternates between oil painting and watercolor to create ocean and lake scenes.
“Painting the ocean is my favorite thing,” she said, although she does figurative work as well.
Ann Nancy Macomber works in fabric and paint, often in the same piece. She enriches her images, whether abstract or representational, with color, texture and linear designs.
For decades, Calaveras has been blessed to have Quyle Kilns, a pottery just above Murphys. Potters Pam Quyle and Amanda Sedgwick-Maule display their works there. Quyle’s functional ware is almost too beautiful to use, and Sedgwick-Maule’s work ranges from cups and saucers to whimsical totems and dancing bears, among other fantastical items.
Steven Hall has made a cottage industry of his functional pottery, and he’s now breaking out to try different finishes for display pieces. His sensitive and oft organic forms pay homage to that which he reveres.
Epic ceramic work is always a surprise, and Michael Gustavson’s giant sculptures, inscribed with symbols and markings, are an addition to any landscape. In his recent works — a series of large hand built tectonic and monolithic forms — he explores and expresses the language of clay.
On the other side of the scale, potter Heidi Gaissert is drawn to small pieces. She concentrates on the character of the piece, and likes to experiment with hand-built work, often inscribing patterns that make her work instantly recognizable.
Artists often find their passion in literature; sculptor Larisa Stevenson found her latest project in her childhood favorite, Alice in Wonderland.
“I breathed life into the White Rabbit, then felt the freedom to create other Wonderland characters, all whimsical, yet ambitious and intricate,” she said.
Only one woodworker — Andy Trinkle from Glencoe — graces the Calaveras Artists Online Studio Tour. His furniture highlights the beauty of the woods he uses; most are hardwoods, native to California, which he cuts and mills himself. His grizzly bear wall hanging, made of strips of wood to recall California’s flag, is a perfect tribute to the Sierra.
To explore the gallery, visit www.calaverasarts.org.