Today was the second and final day of Open Studios in Benicia. The weather was great, so I hopped on my scooter and rode down to the Benicia Art Gallery. On the way there, I stopped in my first studio. The artist’s name was Joe Martino, and he had created a series of 100 sketches with a Sharpie on used coffee cups that he had unpeeled and opened up. Every morning, after his ritual coffee, he went somewhere and sketched a scene. He drew a companion sketch on the disk from the coffee cup bottom, too, and then mounted the coffee cup pieces on an assortment of board and other background materials that he had found lying around his studio. What a great guy to talk to. He was so enthusiastic about his work, which I found fresh and spontaneous and joyful.
On to the gallery . . . After looking around a bit, I grabbed a map, and then I went upstairs to see Ann Baldwin, one of my favorite artists. She is such a great lady. Everytime I see her and we get a chance to talk, I always learn something.
She had lots of different styles of work on display this year. On one wall, she had an exhibit of smallish abstract photographs that she had taken, printed on paper, and mounted on a lightweight board . They were so intriguing. She said that someone who had come in earlier had assumed they were aerial photographs. They do have the quality of looking down at something and not being sure of what you’re seeing. She had captured beautiful patterns, textures, and colors from nature- a path carved by rivulets of water, the damp mossy roots of a tree, circles of dampness left by the bottoms of soda cans on concrete- simple, yet mezmerizing. They looked georgraphical and anatomical at the same time.
Over the past couple of years, Ann has worked on developing her skills as a photographer and is taking pictures to use in her collage art. In my mind, it has transformed her work into something more modern than previous collages, which were infused with memory and nostalgia. Though there’s still some of that present, I think her new work feels more contemporary and immediate, and theres’ much more imagery from nature and architecture, which I love.
We talked about copyright issues for collage artists and she told me this was one of the things that lead her to use more of her own photography in her art work. She told me that she recently discovered that in order to photograph (for showing and selling) a more modern building, you have to get permission. It’s even illegal to photograph raptors such as hawks and eagles without the permission of some raptor association. How can a bird be copyright protected?!
One of the things I really like about Ann is that she always asks me about my own artwork and how I’m doing with my altered books. I swear I could talk to her for hours, but I don’t want to monopolize her time when there are other people coming in and out who want to speak with her as well. So I reluctantly said good-bye and headed on my way.
After I left Ann’s exhibit, I went to see an old student of mine who makes jewelry. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.