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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on December 27th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 43 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 43

The Central Coast was a boom town for local artists in 2017

By REBECCA ROSE

2017 was a year marked by political and social turmoil, and if there is one area of society that tends to shine during such times, it’s the arts. The Central Coast was no exception during this year, as local artists became community activists in the fight for public arts, and theaters and galleries continued to showcase the very best the area had to offer.

Artists engaged with the community not just in their art, by creating unique visions of the world around them (or the world that lives in their imagination), but by connecting with stakeholders such as lawmakers to emphasize the importance of building a vibrant community with the arts. 

 

 


Painting by Margie Bowker
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF MARGIE BOWKER

OUT OF AFRICA

South African-born artist Margie Bowker has been painting the Central Coast (and her memories of her homeland) in Santa Maria for 20 years. In June, she celebrated her long history with a show at the Santa Maria Country Club. Bowker rarely sticks to one medium for her work and instead prefers to let each location or subject dictate what she uses. “Follow your passion and believe in yourself,” she said.

 

 


PCPA's production of 'The Whipping Man'
PHOTO COURTESY OF LUIS ESCOBAR/REFLECTIONS PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO

THE WHIPPING MAN

The Pacific Conservatory Theatre’s (PCPA) production of The Whipping Man was an explosive look at the lives of three men, including two former slaves, following the end of the Civil War. Caleb DeLeon (Matt Koenig) returns to his home to find his family gone and only Simon (Derrick Lee Weeden) living in the house. They’re later joined by John (Antwon D. Mason Jr.). The play was a triumph, largely owing to the powerhouse performance of Weeden, who would go on to star in PCPA’s Fences, another highlight of 2017.

 

 


VTC Enterprises' exhibit at Valley Art Gallery
FILE PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

ARTS FOR EVERYONE

VTC Enterprises launched a new art program in 2016 for adults with developmental disabilities at its Santa Maria facility. The program’s focus is to get participants to explore their artistic side and learn better communication and self-expressions skills. The program culminated in an art show at Valley Art Gallery, which ran through the end of July.

 

 


Lisa Gizara
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF LISA GIZARA

MAD MEN, ARTISTIC LADY

“Painting is a manifestation of what is inside my soul, silently urging me, whispering to me to create beauty and bring some sort of order from chaos,” said Lisa Gizara of her 2017 collection, which exhibited from July through September at the C Gallery in Los Alamos. One of the most stunning and vibrant abstract shows to grace the Central Coast, Gizara’s work is a mad collision of playful chaos and purposeful methodology. Famous for having two of her paintings featured on the AMC show Mad Men, Gizara also works in infrared photography.

 

 

 


Ruben Espinoza
FILE PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

THE RABBLE ROUSERS

In 2017, local artists in Santa Maria got loud. They spoke up at community gatherings, civic hearings, and City Council meetings, with one focused aim in mind: to improve the presence of public art in the city. Artists and activists such as Gale McNeeley and Ruben Espinoza (pictured, left) advocated for programs and work that benefit the beautification of the city as well engage at-risk youth.

 

 


Jeffrey Bloom's exhibit at the C Gallery
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFFREY BLOOM

SHADOW MAN

Haunting abstract visions played out on the walls of the C Gallery in March and April, as photographer Jeffrey Bloom brought his unique interpretation of the visual world to Los Alamos in an exhibit titled Shadows of My Former Self. Bloom, a Hollywood director who once helmed Flowers in the Attic, said he relies on his instincts to allow an image to take shape rather than forcing it into a set vision in his mind. “I was always fascinated by shadows, like a lot of artists and photographers are,” he said. 

 

 


Amiko Matsuo at the Ann Foxworthy Gallery
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF AMIKO MATSUO

PYROMETRIC

Artist Amiko Matsuo put the frenetic tension and haunting dread of living in the wake of the California wildfires front and center at the Ann Foxworthy Gallery in November. Her exhibit Pyrometric featured a wild deconstruction of the barriers human beings use to protect themselves from danger and a jarring look at the relationship between living beings and fire.

 

 


Paul Roark at Gallery Los Olivos
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL ROARK
 

NOT ALWAYS BLACK AND WHITE

Photographer Paul Roark, featured at Gallery Los Olivos in August, spent much of his career focused on democratizing some of the more cost-prohibitive aspects of printing black and white photography. “I develop new approaches for my own use, and it costs me nothing to share the results of my efforts with others,” he said in interview with the Sun. Roark prints his canvas images on large-format Epson printers, utilizing the inksets he himself made with his own formula. The results are massive black and white prints that carry a vast depth of texture and meaning. 

 

 


FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SANTA MARIA CIVIC THEATRE

PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ

The Santa Maria Civic Theatre spent 2017 proving that good things really do come in small packages. With a devoted following and a cast of extraordinarily talented local actors, singers, and dancers, the cast put on one of the funniest shows of the year. Young Frankenstein was an vivid explosion of talent and execution, proving you don’t have to be under the big lights of Broadway to bring the house down.

 

 


Connie Rohde stepped away from her role as head of Los Alamos’ C Gallery
FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF CONNIE ROHDE

ALL GOOD THINGS

On Sept. 1, the Central Coast arts scene bid a fond farewell to Connie Rohde, who stepped away from her role as head of Los Alamos’ C Gallery after years of featuring painters, sculptors, jewelers, and many more contemporary artists. Artist, teacher, poet, musician, and much more, Rohde’s presence will be sorely missed. “Elvis has left the building,” Rohde wrote to her bevy of followers and friends as she announced her retirement. “It is my greatest hope that the arts will be part of Los Alamos.”

 

 


Bill Dewey at the Wildling Museum
FILE PHOTO BY BILL DEWEY

UP, UP IN THE AIR

Photographer and pilot Bill Dewey might not have a career as an artist if he had a fear of heights. His aerial photography, which debuted at the Wildling Museum in November and runs through March 12, 2018, features scenes of the Central Coast from high above shot from his own personal plane. “Flying, of course, is magical,” Dewey said. “To fly and take photos is extra special. There will be times when I will just get up and go.”

 

 


Sculptor Neil Goodman
FILE PHOTO BY REBECCA ROSE

LOOKING WEST

Acclaimed sculptor Neil Goodman brought his timeless profound work to the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art in Solvang from June to August. Goodman’s sculpture featured a compelling relationship between positive and negative space, challenging the viewer to interact with each piece and deconstruct the shapes presented. “Most of my work deals with somewhat perceptual questions of how you look at something,” he said. “Like what happens with the holes through the pieces, how they line up as you move around through the space.”




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