Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Studio sneak peaks, pottery and paint

The open studio art tours have been in existence in slightly varying forms since about 2002.  The first art tours were organized in conjunction with a fall art festival that featured exhibitions at the 29 Palms Art Guild, the 29 Palms Inn, and a few other venues.  There were theater performances and musicians.  There was a gala.  (a smashing one, from I have been able to gather.)

Change is the one thing we can count on in life, and as the organizers of the MBCAC have changed, so have the Art Tours.  This year will be another new year of Art Tours.  There will be familiar faces and art, there will be new faces and art.  It will be an event worth venturing out for.

This blogger, being a recent desert dweller, is asking around.  Finding some of the original artists and organizers.  Meeting new friends.  Discovering that this high desert is rife with talent and artistic variety.  Today was a day of meeting two of the artists who are long-time desert dwellers.  Both of whom were involved in the first studio art tours. One of whom was instrumental in organizing the event.
My first visit was the studio of ceramicist Janet Braley.  Her studio is a treat for those of us who thrive on a certain degree of organized chaos.  It sits at the end of a dirt road, near the top of a hill on the north side of Hwy 62.  It is shaded by mature trees.  Boulder outcroppings set the tone for this magical desert studio locale.  Have a glimpse of what I saw, and what you will be able to see if you decide to make this a stop on your Art Tour in October.

I took more photos than can even be posted here, as there was so much visual stimulus and rich creative activity.  Like many artists, Ms. Braley has other creative outlets in addition to her pottery.  She sews aprons, insulated shopping bags, and aprons.   In this studio you will find not only functional ceramic mugs, platters and plates, but also her more sculptural pieces and what she refers to as her "serious" art.   There is a kick wheel and an electric wheel for throwing.  (no, this does not mean you spin the wheel as fast as you can so the clay is thrown across the room...although late at night I suppose that could be fun.)  A wheel is where a potter places a lump of clay and uses the centrifugal force to create a bowl, mug or vessel.   There are several kilns outside.  Tables filled with platters, plates, bowls, flower pots, and mugs.  I truly felt as though I could spend a full day looking, and still not see it all. 

The Artist, Janet Braley.
One of the kilns.

As much as I could have stayed at Janet Braley's all day, I had another stop to make.  My next visit involved a drive to the other side of Hwy. 62, to the dome house of Chuck Caplinger and his wife, near the entrance of the Joshua Tree National Park.  Mr. Caplinger was instrumental in organizing the MBCAC, and the first Fall Festival that included studio tours.  He has painted more than one of the famed murals in 29 Palms.  Caplinger paints masterful portraits and paintings of the southwest.  He will not be opening his studio during the Art Tours this year, but you will get a chance to see his paintings at the 29 Palms Art Gallery.  

Mr. Caplinger's clean and orderly studio.
 An appropriate collection of hats, for an artist whose wife has dubbed "Cowboy." 
Caplinger is a talented artist as well as an active community member.  He remains active today, promoting public art in 29 Palms.  Artists like this are an inspiration to all of us. 

Stay tuned for more glimpses into the studios of other artists who will be making this year's tours another unique event.  

written by Karine Swenson

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