“A Celebration of Tasteful Art”

Janet Morita is one of 16 members of Oakhurst’s Timberline Gallery who are displaying their work in the “Celebration of Tasteful Art” show at the gallery opening Saturday, and running through Aug. 2.

The public is invited to the first of three receptions for the innovative show, a collaboration between 16 artists paired with 16 Eastern Madera County restaurants, from 2-4 p.m. this Saturday at the Highway 41 gallery. The concept of the show was to have artists create pieces inspired by a specific restaurant in the Mountain Area.

A a variety of artistic mediums are represented in the exhibit including fiber art, weaving, watercolor, pastel, oil, jewelry, sculpture, and photography.

Morita, of Coarsegold, has been painting for 20 years, and is a seven-year member of the Timberline Gallery. She works primarily in watercolor and mixed media, painting scenes of California landscapes, florals, and animals.

“I began by taking classes from Joan Brumley and, although she is no longer teaching, we still get together to paint on Thursday evenings,” Morita said. “Throughout the years I have taken many classes and workshops both in person and online from various artists to help hone my skills.”

For the “Celebration of Tasteful Art” show, Morita was inspired by Time for Tea, located on the north-west corner of Crane Valley Road (426), and Highway 41.

“After my assignment to Time for Tea, I gathered some friends and we drove there to eat ... what a charming place,” Morita said. “We were all thoroughly enthralled by the atmosphere as well as the delicious offerings. Judy Mininger is a gracious hostess and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there.”

While there, Morita took many photographs for reference

“I thought painting a teapot, teacup, and flower would capture the essence of Time for Tea,” Morita said. “I used a pouring method in soft tones to reflect a feeling of serenity.”

Morita’s framed 16 x 20 watercolor is appropriately titled “Tea Time.”

“I feel privileged to be part of the event and thankful to be paired with Janet (Morita),” Mininger said. “She created a beautiful piece of art ... I love it.”

The unique lunch and tea restaurant is open 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Wednesday - Saturday, featuring sandwiches, salads, and a large variety of teas.

Artist David Caris is participating in the exhibit with his 100% ceramic large dinner plate, and a taco salad, representing El Cid Mexican Cuisine on Highway 41. The two pieces took him about 16 hours to create.

When Caris was approached with the idea of creating a glazed plate of Mexican food based on the more than 100 delicious offerings of Ed Cid, he was happy to oblige.

“It is our hope that this art exhibit will help the public become more aware of Gallery Row, the Timberline Gallery, and the many talented artists in the area,” Caris said.

Caris created his first ceramic piece, a nativity scene, in 1960 while stationed in Morocco with the U.S. Air Force. He has been creating ceramic pieces off and on for 45 years, seriously for the past 12.

It’s not the first time Caris has created ceramic food. Years ago he had the idea he would make a plate of ceramic, frosted donuts. The piece was very realistic.

“I love to eat, and this was a way of satisfying myself without all the calories,” said a smiling Caris, who explores both whimsical and more serious projects with clay. Currently, he is working with aspiring area clay artists to help them build Christmas nativity sets.

Caris is also a certified yoga teacher with a license plate that reads ‘Mountain Yogi.’ He is is a retired Air Force pilot and marketing executive who, with his wife Jeannemarie, has made his home in Oakhurst for nearly 20 years.

Caris encourages the public to come see the exhibit, especially during Saturday’s reception.

“By attending the reception, people get a chance to meet the artists who created some of these great pieces, and talk to them about their work,” Caris said.

The restaurant, just north of Oakhurst at 41939 Highway 41, is open 10:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily, and features more than 100 menu selections, specializing in chicken, beef, and shrimp fajitas, and combination plates.

“When we first proposed this idea to our Mountain Area restaurants, they responded with great enthusiasm,” Kurt said. “Each artist learned all they could about their partnered restaurant, including menu, food preparation, ambiance, staff, and location. They then returned to their studios to create an artistic impression of the establishment using their specialty media.”

Saturday’s reception includes the artwork of Julie Mitchell (Oka), Wendy Denton (DiCicco’s), Anita Stoll (The Blue Heron), Lola Nelson (Iron Horse BBQ), Janet Morita (Time for Tea), Dick Nelson (Pete’s Place). Appetizers will be offered by that afternoon’s featured restaurants.

Saturday’s reception will also feature Patti “Kizan” Hummel, who will present a demonstration of Japanese floral arranging. Hummel has studied at The Tokyo Sogetsu School of Ikebana.

Two additional receptions will follow:

*  2-4 p.m., Saturday, July 25. Featured artists and restaurants will be Francis Ades (Taste of China), De Sheldon (Sweetwater Steakhouse), Raymond McGee (Pops Family Restaurant), Vivian Helena (Alice’s Cookhouse BBQ), and David Caris (El Cid Mexican Cuisine).

*  2-4 p.m., Saturday, Aug.1. Featured artists and restaurants will be Merylyn Whited (Supernaw’s Bar-B-Q), Zyg Zee (Cool Bean), Karen Tillison (South Gate Brewing Co.), Jacqueline Kurtt (Jade Gazebo), and Sandy Kowallis (Crab Cakes Restaurant).

Music for the three receptions will be provided by area artist and singer, Terry Robinson.

Details: Timberline Gallery, 40982 Highway 41, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily, (559) 683-3345.