For just $20, the price of admission for two adults for three days, the public has access to almost 100 artists, their work, and demonstrations of their craft during Sierra Art Trails this weekend (Sept. 29-Oct. 1).
The juried show, celebrating its 15th anniversary, is an area treasure and one of the most anticipated art events in Central California.
Three of this year’s artists, all members of the Yosemite Western Artists, will be displaying their work in the historic Gertrude School in Ahwahnee on Road 600.
“YWA is a great organization with artists and photographers who go on outings and paint together and have shows, potlucks and demos,” said Suzanne Banks, who works in oil, acrylic and watercolor.
Joining her at the Gertrude School will be Sandra Lee Scott who works in pastel, mixed media and photography, and Laura Fisher who specializes in fiber art.
“I love capturing the beauty of our environment, but I also like to use my art to make statements about our world,” said Scott, a retired licensed psychotherapist. “For instance, my mixed media piece entitled ‘The Forgotten Old West,’ depicts the trampling of the native peoples as settlers from foreign lands usurped their homeland.”
The environment also influences Banks, who has practiced her craft for 20 years. “My mother was a professional artist and teacher,” she said. “She instilled in me a love of art at a very early age. Today the beauty of nature in the foothills and Yosemite are a big influence in my paintings.”
Fisher’s two grandmothers taught her to sew and her mother shared her love of visual arts. After getting her first Barbie doll at the age of nine, she began sewing doll clothes.
Much of the inspiration for Fisher’s fiber art comes from nature’s seasonal changes and is developed on her design wall, a vertical surface for pinning pieces of fabric. She calls her method of creating improvisational.
“I’ll grab pieces of fabrics, pin them to the wall and make a visual display to decide on a composition,” Fisher said. “As I sew fabrics together, alternative choices may make the composition stronger.”
On one piece, she cut leaves that were printed on a piece of fabric, incorporated scraps from another project, embellished the composition with Prismacolor colored pencil and then couched other threads she pulled from the raveled edges of fabric she had washed to remove excess dye and sizing.
All three artists will be doing demonstrations of different techniques used in their art and a stop at Gertrude School affords an opportunity to see many other artists’ works, as anyone belonging to YWA may display one of their pieces there.
The price of admission includes a catalog showcasing each artist and a piece of their artwork. The catalog also includes maps showing the locations of each artist - several artists may be showing at many locations.
History of Gertrude School
Those who stop along the Sierra Art Trail at this location also have a chance to learn about the school’s history, as it was “built originally in 1878 by John Haley,” according to the E Clampus Vitus Grub Gulch Chapter 41-49 plaque mounted in front. “Named after his wife, Gertrude, it was situated at the base of Potters Ridge across the Fresno River in Fresno County (now Madera County). In 1893 the school was relocated to the Crooks Ranch in Ahwahnee.”
A new school was built in 1913 on the site where it stands today, according to the plaque. There was a remodel in 1937 and in June, 1962, Carol Pritchard was the last eighth-grade student to graduate from the school. Jenny Nichols was the first teacher. Robin Harris and Leonard Brown were the last teachers when the school was closed in November of 1964.
“I imagine they had to take it apart and move it, because there was no bridge there,” said historian Debby Carter, a volunteer at the Sierra Historic Sites Association Research Library, and author of the Sierra Star column Remember When. “By 1882, it had an enrollment of 40 students, and eventually served students from Grub Gulch, Gambetta and Gertrude, as well as Ahwahnee during the 1880s.”
Additional history about the school can be found on the website freepages.history.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gtusa/usa/ca/gertrude.htm.
Scott’s work may be viewed at the Timberline Art Gallery in Oakhurst and at www.sandralee-scott.pixels.com.
Banks’ work may be viewed at: www.suzannebanksart.com, her home studio, various YWA art shows and in a small gallery at the Chris M. Sorensen Art Studio & Gallery in Fresno.
Fisher’s work may be seen at the Timberline Art Gallery. A private showing can be arranged by calling (559) 877-7075.
Work by Scott and Banks may also be seen at: www.yosemitewesternartists.com in the Artist Gallery section.
Details: Sierra Art Trails hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with artists’ locations in eastern portions of Madera and Mariposa counties in three general areas: Coarsegold/Yosemite Lakes Park, Oakhurst/North Fork, and Mariposa/Ahwahnee. Most artists show all three days, Friday to Sunday - if they are not showing on Friday, that is noted in the catalog. The catalogs may be purchased at a number of venues including the Stellar Gallery at 40982 Highway 41, Oakhurst. There is also a preview exhibit at Stellar Gallery where works by all Sierra Art Trails artists are on display. (559) 658-8844, www.sierraarttrails.org.