Home Doll industry Where the magic happens | The Comstock Magazine

Where the magic happens | The Comstock Magazine


Visiting a gallery – curated to let the art shine against stark white walls – is a moving, if predictable, way to consume art. By contrast, stepping into an artist’s studio, with its paint-spattered floors, works in progress, and supplies strewn about, is a thrill in its own right. Sac Open Studios, the annual two-weekend event created by the Verge Center for the Arts, invites artists to open their workspaces to the public and share their processes to connect with art lovers.

The self-guided tour, now in its 17th year, has 270 participating artists spread over two weekends based on the location of their space relative to I-80. Weekend 2—September 17-18—takes place east of the highway. Dividing the visit into space gives it a localized feel, allowing visitors, who number an estimated 30,000 a year, to cover a wide range of artists in a concentrated area. Looking at the map of the 2022 Sac Open Studios guide, it is evident that the artists on display go far beyond the urban core. Although Downtown Sacramento and South Sacramento seem dense with a cluster of dots, Arden-Arcade, Carmichael, and Orangevale are home to many artists with access to their studios, garages, or backyards.

“(It helps) to see the art in person rather than just looking at stuff on social media,” says artist Haley Titus, who estimates she hosted 40 people at her Midtown studio over Weekend 1. “I’ve had people come in and say, ‘Oh, I really liked the XYZ piece on your website. But when I come here, things look different and I’m drawn to different styles.

Haley Titus exhibited miniature square abstract paintings at the event, which she said were a hit with the kids.

Guests might also be surprised to see the spectrum of art created by Titus. In addition to the ethereal and floral paintings she is known for (she has many murals in the capital region), she also exhibits many textiles, such as pillowcases, wallpaper and iPhone cases. . Showing off a recently painted 10-foot canvas, she thinks she might try making a tablecloth out of it. Titus says that often when she shares half-baked plans, visitors come up with ideas, giving insight into what her customers want. “I view this event as a bonding experience between artists and their community,” she says.

Down the street in Verge’s second-floor studio wing, abstract painter Caiti Chan says she, too, feels connected to her community every time she makes her space accessible. Now in her fourth year of participation, she says she enjoys seeing visitors again. “It really gets to me because I’m like, it means something impacted them, whether it was the conversations we had or just something the art said to them,” she says.

Chan’s fingernails are painted a bright mint blue, a shade she often pours on her large-scale pieces. In addition to diluted acrylics, she uses charcoal and colored pencils to create “chaotic marks” in specific areas that she hopes will make viewers “dive in and never stop looking.”

The work of veteran painter Laurelin Gilmore could have a similar striking effect, but in different ways. Her deeply human (yet surreal) portraits tell stories the outlines of which you may perhaps be able to make out on sight, but which are all the more captivating when Gilmore shares firsthand the choices she has made to convey them.

Laurelin Gilmore chats with guests about her painting “Rolling Stone” (top center), the art featured in this year’s event guide. The red dots on the wall indicate where paintings have sold.

In “Rolling Stone,” the moody masterpiece printed on the cover of this year’s guidebook, she explains that the subject is her late father. Using a 1974 photograph, she painted him as “a cowboy figure” surrounded by a fox to convey his affable personality and flowers to represent his geography. “The flowers are all the state flowers of the four different states where he spent the most of his heart energy. Thus, California, Oregon, Philadelphia and Georgia. A crow hovers above, symbolizing a connection between he and Gilmore in the living world because “the bird is a creature known to be able to send messages through the veil”.

Amanda Cook poses with her dog Werner in her Verge studio. She jokes that wearing the “Artist” badge for the event inspired her to embrace the label.

To seduce passers-by, some artists dress the outside of their studio or bring their canine friends. Mixed media artist Amanda Cook brought her own for the occasion and outfitted it with a Parisian-style beret and striped shirt to coordinate with her own. During her 10 years renting a studio from Verge, she went from photographer to multimedia artist. She applies a digital sensibility to the retro craft of embroidery, creating layered fabric collages with silhouettes of people using their iphones to take selfies or send a text.

“I get a lot of people into the flags,” she says, pointing to a line of sewn banners of pandemic-era self-portraits. In March 2020, Cook began a self-documenting practice – one selfie per month – as a meditation on existence in a world that has ceased to exist as we knew it. A flag shows Cook in profile looking into the distance. In another, she faces the viewer while yawning. Or scream. “It’s just nice to have something to show for this time,” she said.

Cook says she struggles to market herself as an artist, making Open Studios a good way to bridge the gap. Although prolific, she has a full-time job at a law firm. Separating her livelihood from her artistic practice helps her see art as “just about expression.”

Multimedia artist Tavarus Blackmonster shares the sentiment, as he works full-time as a professor in the art departments of Sacramento State and CSU Stanislaus. He balances the “powerful” and the “goofy” in his work, which contains intersecting eyeballs, protruding fingers, gut oozes and neon drips. “I like to think of musical instruments as an organ and then, as, a bodily organ. Words have different meanings and they have different functions, but they’re somehow related.

This is the third Open Studio that Blackmonster has attended, but only the second in-person event, as its first in 2020 was held on Zoom. “The past two years have been incredibly difficult for everyone, but especially difficult for our community of local artists,” Liv Moe, founding director of the Verge Center for the Arts, said in a press release for the tour. “Now is the time to reconnect and celebrate alongside the creatives who enrich our lives.”

Ramona Garcia shows how she works with the doll form before layering it with paint, fabric and glitter. She leads workshops on making papier-mâché dolls as a form of art therapy.

Ramona Garcia celebrates with strawberry-infused horchata. The sweet, milky drink is a treat for visitors who marvel at its intricately painted papier-mâché dolls, arranged in scenes that are both whimsical (a doll dressed in cobalt blue scales atop a crescent moon) and from pop culture (a group of chola dolls surround and ride a lowrider car).

Garcia crafts her dolls in the age-old Mexican tradition of papier-mâché doll-making, which she learned 10 years ago through an apprenticeship with an artisan in Guanajuato, Mexico. She says the medium keeps her engaged and “has a really fun story” that she likes to keep alive. “Those were the toys kids played with back then,” she says. “It was actually an industry that produced toys for the whole nation during the Mexican Revolution.”

Children enter her space with wide eyes. “I think what I liked the most was the children who come because the papier-mâché really makes an impression on them. They are also very honest in their comments,” she laughs.

Although she’s been honing her craft for a decade, this is Garcia’s first year at Sac Open Studios. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it was great. I see the value of people coming in when you’re usually in your little bubble all the time.

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