Art Space: Artists studios still a hum of activity | May 15, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - May 15, 2009

Art Space: Artists studios still a hum of activity

by John A. Barry

Once upon a time, there was a gallery at 524 Hartz Ave. in Danville. The Pioneer Art Gallery occupied the building's first floor.

While gallery visitors could view and enjoy artworks on the ground floor, above them some gallery members labored in their studios, creating works to show below.

When the gallery closed, potentially more than 12 artists in the second-floor studios were stranded. Fortunately their existing spaces for creation and collaboration are still humming, due to the efforts of Brad Blake, the building's owner; the ADAS gallery committee; and B.R. (Randy) Stockton.

Though Stockton has a "day job" as CEO of STS International Inc., he has stepped up to act as landlord for the studios, which provide a shared work environment, relative quiet, and a bright, airy space.

"My long-term support for the art community in Danville and Alamo comes from my raw appreciation for and admiration of the artists themselves and their creations," says Stockton. "The low level of public funding and support for art and artists makes it imperative for private citizens to be involved in the arts and provide whatever support they can to sponsor creativity in our communities."

The studios are funded by the artists themselves, paying rent and expenses, leaving Stockton to provide management and bookkeeping functions.

Here's a quick look at some of the artists in residence:

* Found-objects assembler and former editor John A. Barry (disclaimer: It is I) is an amateur in both senses of the word: He loves doing what he does, and no one buys his stuff (with one exception so far). "I represent words/terms in visual form, usually three-dimensionally, and call these assemblages 'visual puns,' or punishment, depending on your perspective."

* Inge Behrens specializes in vibrant floral images in oil. "Painting gives me a lot of joy and a source of serenity."

* Diana Busse works mainly in oil on large canvases. She also teaches art. "My work, realized mostly in oil and mixed media, can range from abstract to highly representational. These different styles are unified through the exploration of postsecular themes and a Colorist (Fauvist) approach."

* Bill Carmel , a former university instructor and director of the Pioneer Gallery, sculpts and paints. "Almost all of my artworks begin as ideas and feelings about the world around me, my personal life, and the nature of art. The best part of being an artist is making beautiful things that inspire other people."

* Bead weaver and jewelry artist Marie Dutcher-Dreyer says her childhood home was infused with creativity. Since age 6, she has studied fine art, weaving, stained glass, jewelry and bead weaving, among other things. "My work is mostly one-of-a-kind, with emphasis on a wearable, durable and displayable piece of art."

* Acrylic is currently the preferred medium of Melinda Kahler. "After an absence of 30 years in the corporate world, I returned to creating art. What has emerged in a studio atmosphere is more colorful and on larger-scale canvases than prior work."

* "You can take the artist out of Hawaii, but you can't take Hawaii out of the artist," quips Leslie Ruth, who attributes her artistic abilities to family background. "Art is in my genes; my mother and grandmother were artists. I work in watercolor, ceramics, and textile. My work is featured throughout the Hawaiian islands, where I lived for 12 years."

* Stephen Sanfilippo is a "plein air" painter. What, you ask, is plein air? "I create landscapes and seascapes en plein air (outdoors) with a realist/impressionist style. My work has earned many awards and is consistently invited to juried exhibitions throughout the U.S."

* Darlene Sochan produces multimedia monotypes, original artworks created by transferring to paper an image that was painted on a Plexiglas plate, and layered acrylic applications to paper and canvas, a technique achieved with a roller and paint squeezed directly onto the surface. "In both media, there is always an element of surprise, which makes the process exciting. The result of both these techniques is generally an abstract but is occasionally representational."

"Stop by and see artists at work, take a class, or just join into the creative enterprise," Stockton invites.

--John A. Barry is a writer and aspiring artist. To share anything art-related, call him at 314-9528 or e-mail


There are no comments yet for this post