Is there art just south of San Francisco’s border? Staying in Carmel for a few days, I decided to explore what the beautiful area had to offer besides the sun, ocean, and marine wildlife. Some art was interesting, thought provoking, and masterfully crafted while other pieces of “fine” art were neon pet portraits, naked idealized figures, and tourist trap nightmares.
Overall Carmel, CA is a golden gem near the ocean. First stop was Dawson Cole Fine Art to admire the art of fellow Academy of Art University professor Zhaoming Wu. Unfortunately, that gallery location didn’t carry his works and thought I was talking about artist Jian Wang. The work that stood out at the gallery were two prints by Chuck Close.
The second artist that peaked my interest in the sea of Carmel galleries was Cassandria Blackmore. It was confusing if the artist owned the gallery, if her art was on display 365 days a year, or if the venue displayed additional creatives beside Blackmore. Anyways, according to the San Francisco Chronicle: “Artist Cassandria Blackmore, who is dyslexic and sometimes finds it is easier to read backward than forward, has a fascination for imperfection that led her to her medium: shattered glass.” The gallery attendant told me that the Oakland Art Museum was acquiring one of her pieces. True or not, the broken glass was an interesting texture and element in Blackmore’s work.
Because the sales associates in Carmel didn’t want my husband, golden retriever, and I to leave any gallery we stepped into- time was of the essence to get to our next stops. As a result, we jumped into the Pruis to drive to UC Santa Cruz which is situated in the tall redwood hills with peak-a-boo views of the Pacific Ocean. First stop was the Eloise Pickard Smith Art Gallery featuring artist Bonnie Stone in an exhibit titled In Her Place: Visual Narratives. Ms. Stone’s watercolors are a commentary of women in various domestic or alternative activities. Her education includes the University of Illinois and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
UC Santa Cruz also has the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery. Searching through a maze of campus buildings, I finally arrived at the gallery with 30 minutes to spare before closing time. According to the gallery’s website in regards to their current exhibit: “Award winning and leading chefs and artists in the Bay Area come together to expose the link between art, agriculture, community and experience. The Sesnon Gallery will feature an exhibition of artists’ installations and documentation reflecting this trend between food and art….The Sesnon Gallery will present an overview of the international movement around food and art coming together and forming a greater sense of community.” Thankfully, the exhibit was engaging and interesting.
Stopped by the Cabrillo College Gallery in Aptos but unfortunately they were closed installing an exhibit. Made it past the ladder blocking the door to get a sneak peak but couldn’t see the entire space. The next exhibition looked interesting but would be out of town for its opening date.
On the way back into the Bay area, decided that my aesthetic brain needed to see some good art. As a result, stopped by Cubberley Open Studios in Palo Alto to view the amazing art of Nancy White and Sharon Chinen. Ms. White’s clean lines, precise craftsmanship, and deliberate colors result in amazing pieces of art. Sadly, Ms. Chinen’s studio was closed and we missed her organic goodness of innovative installations. Overall, it was the best way to end the trip South.
Back in Point Richmond, it felt good to back. While Carmel had highlights of interesting art, it doesn’t match the galleries in the San Francisco Bay area. UC Santa Cruz had some thought provoking exhibitions due to being an academic institution. No surprise that back in the Bay area in Palo Alto that Cubberley Open Studios was the art highlight of the trip. Reinforcing the notion that there is really no place like home…