The public is invited to hop in their cars this weekend and drive to homes, ranches and galleries nestled throughout Eastern Madera and Mariposa Counties where more than 100 artists will be showcasing their creativity as part of the 10th Annual Sierra Art Trails.
There will be a variety of artists -- from mixed media and paints to photographs and sculptors -- ready and willing to speak to art lovers about their passion for art from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday at 60 locations.
The event allows visitors to meet many of the artists while they work in their studios and have the opportunity to purchase original fine art and quality crafts directly from the people who create them.
A number of artists participate in the event every year, but there are also some new artists joining the event and adding even more variety to this year's experience.
Fine craft, mixed media, sculpture
What started out as a tragic situation, turned into something more magical for Deborah Martin a couple years ago. A resident of Madera Ranchos, Martin had to go through the unfortunate and emotional tragedy of losing her home to a fire. Forced to live in a trailer on the property, Martin said she was soon bored out of her mind so she went to the craft store and bought some clay. Martin said she had always been crafty but had never taken art classes.
"Once I started working with clay, it just kind of evolved," she said.
What evolved was a mixture of elves, ogres, trolls and fairies and other mystical creatures from Martin's imagination -- each with a name and a story.
"They're mystical forest creatures that took on their own personality and when I look at them, each has its own story," Martin said. "When growing up, I played with Trolls instead of Barbies and had a Troll cave instead of a Barbie house so I think it kind of stuck."
It takes Martin a couple days to mold her mystical creatures but the hardest part for her is not their detailed and expressive faces, but sewing their clothes. Martin has never used a mold and says she's inspired by the world around her.
"Certain things inspire me, whether it's a branch or a pine cone in the forest, I have to go home and work on it," she said. "You kind of go into your own little fantasy world and see whatever comes out at the time."
Martin said she never really thought of herself as an artist, to her it's "just craft stuff," and says she is kind of nervous about her first year showing at Sierra Art Trails. However her friend Sheila Boyd pushed her to do it and she finally relented.
Currently one of her sculptures, "Ivy's Incantations" is on display at Stellar Gallery. Prices for each piece differ, because they are calculated on hours it takes to create each one. Martin says she hopes to someday get them in stores, but for now she's just taking it a day at a time.
"It turned out this was just my niche and it just happened that it took off and people like them," Martin said.
Art enthusiasts can see Martin's sculptures over the weekend at Coarsegold Historic Village, 35300 Highway 41.
digital art, mixed media, photography
High country packer John Sanders says he's been an artist all his life, but it wasn't until eight years ago that his passion resurfaced and he began creating 3-D art pieces that look like painted canvas.
Sanders was brought up in ranching and that's where his roots were. So after retiring from the advertising business, he bought a small ranch near Porterville and began to spend his time on the back of a horse. His horseback trips into the forest are what he says became fodder for his compositions.
Sanders' pieces reflect the cowboy life but all the scenes are out of his imagination -- none of them are actual places. He says sometimes he wakes up in the night with an idea or one pops into his head while out on a trail ride. Although the place isn't real, the cowboys appearing in his art are real -- cowboy friends he's photographed himself, then meshed into the 3-D image.
"My extractions are absolutely seamless," Sanders said. "You can take a magnifying glass to them and not find a pixel out of place."
Sanders says he creates his pieces with computer software the same way special affects are created, only his interest is in stills. He creates everything in each art piece -- from blades of grass and bark texture to lighting and even dust -- all carefully calculated through mathematic algorithms.
Mathematics and art are two things that have always intrigued Sanders.
"I was born an artist," he said. "I fought that and decided to be an architect, but they're artists, too."
However, after a year, he changed his major to fine art with a minor in math -- the most unusual educational combination his advisors had seen, he said.
"What architecture really taught me was a comprehensive understanding of perspective and perspective is everything," Sanders said.
Although he's played with other art mediums, Sanders says he was "just made for this."
Sanders' is beginning to show more of his work in galleries and he has an upcoming exhibit in January in Ojai. He will be showing his artwork -- with some pieces marked 40% off -- Friday through Saturday at the Yosemite Lakes Park Clubhouse, 30250 Yosemite Springs Parkway in Coarsegold. There will also be an artist's reception Saturday at the Blue Heron Restaurant.
About the event
Sierra Art Trails is a non-profit corporation run by volunteers with a mission to support and promote working artists in the mountain communities while developing the area as an arts destination. Additionally, the group raises funds for scholarships, school art programs and community art projects.
Oakhurst artist Jonathan Bock spearheaded the original committee along with Ellen Hurst and serves as Sierra Art Trails president.
"Sierra Art Trails is the most anticipated art event in Central California," Bock proudly said.
Trails details: Jonathan Bock, (559) 658-8844, sierraarttrails.org.