Saturday, October 24, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 34
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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on October 14th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 33 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 33

Santa Ynez Botanic Garden welcomes artists to meet monthly for a social-distance-friendly, outdoor art group

By CALEB WISEBLOOD

Painters, photographers, poets, and other practitioners of the arts gather once a month on the grounds of the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden for a free, self-directed happening described by art therapist Stacey Thompson as “an outlet for people during this difficult time.”

“There is no format or directive. No structure. Artists who wish to work alone find a spot away from people who are gathered. Artists working closer together wear masks while keeping at least 6 feet apart,” Thompson, co-host of Art in the Garden, told the Sun.


Monthly magic
Art in the Garden takes place on the last Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Santa Ynez Botanic Garden, located at 151 Sycamore Drive, Buellton. Visit syvbotanicgarden.org for more details, or email your questions to co-hosts Stacey Thompson (thompsonarttherapy@gmail.com) or Mac Duncan (marymacduncan@gmail.com).

DYNAMIC DUO
Artists, friends, and frequent collaborators Stacey Thompson (left) and Mac Duncan (right) co-host Art in the Garden meetings once a month at the Santa Ynez Botanic Garden. The duo previously hosted Day of the Dead art therapy workshops at the garden last year.
PHOTO COURTESY OF STACEY THOMPSON

On the last Saturday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., attendees of the group are welcome to bring their own art supplies, along with a chair or blanket to sit on, and enjoy the company of fellow artists in the garden, while still maintaining a safe distance from one another. Thompson and co-host Mac Duncan extend “an invitation to all people to nurture themselves through art,” as newcomers are always welcome to join.

The next Art in the Garden meeting takes place on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31. While the group began in June, the idea for a monthly, community art gathering in the Santa Ynez Valley had been on the duo’s minds since last fall, Thompson said.

“We had kicked around the idea for a long time, probably since the Day of Dead workshops that I organized at the garden last October around the topic of death, loss, and grief,” Thompson said. “The garden turned out to be the perfect location and a resource for people as they moved through the feelings associated with the grief process. Everyone expressed feeling safe, nurtured, relaxed, and peaceful there.”


YOU CAN GO YOUR OWN WAY
“There is no format or directive. No structure. Artists who wish to work alone find a spot away from people who are gathered. Artists working closer together wear masks while keeping at least 6 feet apart,” Stacey Thompson, co-host of Art in the Garden, said of the group.
PHOTO COURTESY OF STACEY THOMPSON

Thompson and Duncan have worked on several art therapy workshops in the past, including the Day of the Dead series last year, and are close friends as well. Both artists also share a passion for environmental awareness.

“She’s [Duncan’s] game to do just about anything, but she’s always trying to steer things in the direction of least impact on the planet, steering away from toxic supplies and moving forward reusing materials,” Thompson said. “It’s nice to work with someone who stands by her convictions and walks the walk. We often make art together, talk about art, and share images of what we’re working on. It can be a wordless conversation sometimes.”

Art in the Garden didn’t come to fruition until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, Thompson said, after “the need for some kind of creative outlet and a safe community connection became apparent.” 

Like Thompson and Duncan’s previous workshops at the outdoor venue, the concept of using art to alleviate grief is explored. 

“People are definitely grieving now, whether from the loss of a loved one, a job, or a routine, and we are going through it mostly in isolation. So I guess it’s come full circle, back to grief work in the garden,” Thompson said. “This has not been a widely publicized group so the gatherings have been fairly small and intimate thus far.”


HAVE A SEAT
On the last Saturday of each month, attendees of Art in the Garden are welcome to bring their own art supplies, along with a chair or blanket to sit on, and enjoy the company of fellow artists in the garden, while still maintaining a safe distance from one another.
PHOTO COURTESY OF STACEY THOMPSON

THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED
The Santa Ynez Botanic Garden’s monthly Art in the Garden series has attracted musicians, basket weavers, crocheters, and several other types of artisans besides painters.
PHOTO COURTESY OF STACEY THOMPSON

The group has attracted musicians, basket weavers, crocheters, and several other types of artisans besides painters, Thompson said. While social distancing is pivotal during the gathering, one of Thompson’s favorite things she has observed so far from month to month is the communication between attendees. 

“I hear a lot of talk about how people are coping, and I see kind, supportive listening. I hear folks sharing tips and tricks related to supplies and techniques and resources,” Thompson said. “But I also see authentic connection, even amongst passersby who stop for a chat.” 

While all levels of experience are welcome, Thompson hopes the group will attract non-artists, or those who don’t consider themselves to be artistic.

“My whole jam is about creating opportunities for people to play with art materials and engage with their creative impulses,” Thompson said. “Building trust with yourself and accepting that you might not make a perfect mark is all part of the process.”

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is already planning a day trip to the garden. Send comments to cwiseblood@santamariasun.com.









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