Monday, September 6, 2010

Christy Anderson, Tami Wood, Mary Kinninger Walker and Judy Wishart

Christy Anderson in her well-organized studio.
Many know her as the "license plate lady," but there's more to Christy Anderson's art than just her license plate signs.  As we are discovering, most artists allow their creativity to lead them in many directions.  Anderson is no exception.  The thing that is so wonderful about Anderson is that everything she creates is  recycled.  She makes leather wrist bands out of old leather belts.  She makes larger sculptures out of old rusted metal and "junk" she finds.  She is currently working on a commissioned piece that includes "Old Chrome", a rearing horse made from a variety of found objects, including what appears to be the rear tire of a motorcycle.  Christy told me "Old Chrome" was fabricated entirely from things that had survived the fire in Pioneertown a few years ago.  Anderson also makes bird houses, which is something I didn't know until my visit to her Yucca Valley studio yesterday.
Anderson's "Trailer Tags" - signs made from old license plates.
Old Chrome
Wrist cuffs made from recycled belts.

Anderson is a native of the desert.  She was born in the low desert, and just "kept moving up."  She has been an artist for 15 years.  Before becoming an artist, Anderson ran heavy equipment.  She remembers digging up all kinds of amazing things at a dump site.  Finally, she could not resist the lure of picking up some of these treasures and making them into something else.  She started with bottles and glass.  When asked about a defining moment, she talked about an art challenge held by Coca Cola called "Waste to Wonders."  She entered a piece made of glass and copper tubing called "Cut my Eye."  Her piece won first place in her division, and she received a check for $1000.  It was at that moment that she knew she could make it as an artist.
Anderson's bird houses.
Anderson will have plenty of new work for the Open Studio Art Tours this year.  We can expect her license plate signs as well as larger metal sculpture, her leather wrist cuffs, bird houses, and bottle cap snakes.

This year, Christy Anderson has opened up her studio space to three other eclectic artists.  One of those artists is Mary Kinninger Walker.  Walker has been on the Art Tours for three years now.  Her vibrant paintings are often combined with intricate bead work and collage.  Walker has a strong interest in people, relationships, and symbols of society.  You will often see religious themes in her work.  She is always looking for the mother, because she was abandoned by her mother.  She has always worked in a variety of mediums, but one medium that seems to stay with her is acrylic paint.  Walker says she works quickly.  She likes to take chaos and re-organize it into what she likes.  Reflecting, she says she tries to do the same thing in her life:  take chaos and re-organize it. 
Mary Kinninger Walker with some of her paintings.
A "Madonna" painting with beads.
Kinninger Walker has been in the high desert since 2004.  She had lived in San Diego for 30 years prior to moving here.  It was a huge adjustment for her, going from a place where she had lived for so long and knew so many people to being in the desert, where she knew only one person.  She came here to recover from being the caretaker for both her mother and then her husband, both of whom passed away.   She told me she came out to Wonder Valley to "sit on her porch in her pajamas and recover."   Mary has been an artist since the forth grade, and has always had an interest in fine art, the healing arts and religion.  Those things remain the healthy practices that keep her from slipping into depression.   This year on the tours, Kinninger Walker will have jewelry in addition to her colorful paintings.  I am sure you will love meeting this lovely lady and seeing her art.
Two of Kinninger Walker's necklaces

Another amazing woman who will be showing with Christy this year is Tami Wood.  Wood is new to the Art Tours this year.  She lives in Morongo Valley, and has been there for five years.  She lived in the Coachella Valley prior to her stint in the high desert.  Tami uses acrylic paint to render her lively, joyful vision on wood.  She likes to use found wood for her paintings - things like old doors, ammunition boxes, etc.  She loves old wood.  Her paintings are not pre-meditated.  She told me that she used to "go against the grain" when she painted, and fought the images she saw in the natural grain in the wood surface.  Her more recent paintings use the grain of the wood to give her some of the forms and shapes visible in the finished painting.  Wood loves the outdoors and thinks American Pride is important.  You will see many playful versions of the American flag in her work. 
Tami Wood with her artwork.

Wood was born in Texas, and loves "everything country."  Her work is visible evidence of the things she loves and holds dear.  She uses colors that become 3-dimensional in her paintings, and if you buy a painting, you will receive a pair of 3-D glasses.  She has been known to paint on benches and stools, and is interested in commission work.  She says she drew a lot, growing up, and remembers a grandmother who painted.  In addition to participating in the studio tours, Tami has shown her work at the 29 Palms Inn, and has work at the Purple Agave in Morongo Valley.  You can also see some of Tami's work on her new website:  Make sure you walk over to this tall blonde, say hello and enjoy her playful paintings, while you visit Christy Anderson's studio.
A sampling of Wood's paintings.

The fourth artist showing with this light-hearted group is Judy Wishart.  Wishart paints on bowling balls and globes.  Acrylic paint comes alive on Wishart's bowling balls.  She told me it all got started when she went to a Lakota sweat lodge.  After the sweat, she saw a bowling ball in a thrift store and while looking at the ball, she began to see Hopi imagery.  She still uses Hopi imagery on most of her bowling balls.  She has been adopted by Shamens, and is inspired by Native American Imagery.  The painted globes are recent work for Wishart.  She said about a year ago, she suddenly just needed a globe.  She looked all over the high desert, and finally did find one.  Once she had painted her first globe, globes began to just come to her.  She also receives bowling paraphernalia as gifts.  She is not an avid bowler, although she has bowled.
Judy Wishart
Painted bowling balls by Judy Wishart
One of Wishart's globes.

Wishart has been in the High Desert for thirteen years.  She moved here from Orange County, where she worked on TV shows and managed music bands.  She came here to take care of her mother, and stayed after her mother passed away.  She and Christy met about six years ago at the Camper Van Beethoven annual camp-out at Pappy and Harriet's.  Judy says she likes to keep her art reasonably priced.  She just wants people to enjoy them.  This will be Judy's third or forth year on the Art Tours.  In addition to her painted globes and bowling balls, she will have mandalas painted on canvas, and hopefully a beaded bowling ball.
A close up of one of the bowling balls.

Four creative minds in one fantastic space!  Please do take the time to stop at Christy Anderson's studio this year.  These four will be showing the second weekend, October 30th and 31st.

written by Karine Swenson

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