On the art trail

Art lovers will have the opportunity to get an up-close and personal glimpse into the creative process of more than 100 artists during the Sierra Art Trails 13th Annual Open Studio Tour, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2 through Sunday, Oct. 4.

Many of the artists open their home studios for this event and offer demonstrations of their craft. In addition, original fine art and craft pieces may be purchased directly from the artists during the weekend.

The cost for admission to the studio tour is the purchase of an $18 catalog that admits two adults and allows them to visit as many of the artists as they wish. The catalog lists the participating artists, pictures and example of their work, and gives detailed maps showing the location of each artist.

Catalogs are available at Oakhurst’s Stellar Gallery, 40982 Highway 41, where there is also a preview of work by artists exhibiting on the Art Trails. Some additional locations for catalogs are Artifacts and Timberline Gallery in Oakhurst, the Mariposa County Arts Council Gallery in Mariposa, and Allard’s Art Supply in Fresno.

“There are 29 new artists this year (in the show),” according to Jon Bock, president of the Sierra Art Trails. Bock has been instrumental in creating and promoting the Sierra Art Trails concept.

“We started Sierra Art Trails because we realized we had an asset in the community (in the various artists) in addition to the beauty of the place we live and its proximity to Yosemite,” Bock said.

Students have opportunity to exhibit

Although Sierra Art Trails gives artists the opportunity to promote their work, just as important to the non-profit corporation is the nurturing of art education. Their student sponsorship program teams students from grade three through 12 with mentors and the students are also included in the show. This year, eight students worked with mentors and since 2003, 35 young artists have participated in the program.

Artists Vicki Thomas and Shannon Grissom have been mentoring Ben Sanguinetti, a Yosemite High School sophomore, and Jerico Garcellano, a YHS junior. All four will be showing their artwork at Grissom’s home studio in Coarsegold.

Grissom uses oils applied with a sculptural palette knife to create paintings with texture. She will demonstrate her technique at noon all three days of the show. Originally she painted with a brush but one of her paintings was returned from a show in Tennessee with a good sized gash. It was while repairing that gash on “Private Label” that she was reminded about “resiliency and that things don’t always go as planned,” and she found that the texture she was adding to make the repair was very appealing to her.

“I’m smack dab in the middle of a metamorphosis with my art,” Grissom said. “Before I came here, I painted mostly with a brush, and my work was very controlled. I’ll admit I blended away much of my personality. Now I’m painting with a knife and allowing my wild side to shine. I love the perfectly imperfect work that is emerging. No matter how I paint, it has always been my intention to uplift all who experience my work,” she said.

“I believe all people are hard-wired to appreciate beauty and art ... born with the gift to either create or to enjoy various kinds of art ... visual, dance, music, writing,” said Thomas, who works with watercolors, acrylics and drawing. “My art interest started when I was quite young. On long, cold wintery nights, I would draw and color with my mother who also loved art.”

Sanguinetti’s (who drew his own comic books at age 11) mediums are drawing and acrylic.

“My favorite type of art is fine pen art ... it gives me the precision that I like and the contrast of black to white is very satisfying,” Sanguinetti said. “I can also do portraits with pencil even though I prefer abstract pen because it pushes my limits.”

His art has a recurring theme of nostalgia and landscapes.

“I love the juxtaposition of urban and rural life,” Sanguinetti said. “I try to balance those two elements of life into my art. I like to be inspired by components of old pieces of artwork and add my own twist to it. Bob Ross has always been an inspiration to me as I used to watch his show ‘The Joy of Painting.’”

“This whole experience has really boosted my self confidence towards my art,” said Garcellano describing the mentoring he has received from Grissom. “I love the fact that I dove into the art world of Oakhurst, because I never knew such a thing existed ... this whole event has made my little kid dreams achievable and come true as I’ve always wanted to do a show. Shannon is so great, talented and has such a great heart. I’m so grateful to have her as a mentor as she teaches not only the technical side of it but the financial side.”

The most rewarding aspect of the student sponsorship program for Sanguinetti is the “opportunity to get my work out there. My two mentors, Vicki and Shannon, have been a huge help with everything Sierra Art Trails related and Shannon is even allowing me to present at her private studio at her house. They introduced me to the gallery up in Oakhurst where I recently sold my first piece.”

Inspiration for these four artists comes in a variety of forms. For Thomas, it is “a quiet day with no pressing tasks, although that is very rare, painting plein air or working from my photos that I’ve taken in beautiful and intriguing places,” she said.

“I love the hidden gems of cities and towns and grand skyscrapers,” Garcellano said. “I have a special place in my heart for the Bay Area and Southern California, as those are the two places (that) are basically my childhood.”

Much inspiration for Grissom comes from painting with the Yosemite Western Artists (YWA) during the live models sessions on Fridays at the Gertrude School.

“It’s a group of brilliant artists and they feel like family to me,” Grissom said.

Grissom, newly-elected YWA president, moved to the area with her husband from Hollister about a year ago. In addition to her own painting, she enjoys painting with her grandchildren and making music with her sister and brother-in-law.

Thomas came from Los Angeles to the Mountain Area with her husband about eight years ago.

If they could have a personal conversation with any artist, who would these artists choose? Grissom would choose John Singer Sargent. “His entire body of work inspires me and I’d love to know more about his personal life,” Grissom said.

“I would have coffee with Bob Ross, no doubt.” Garcellano said. “He has always been an inspiration to me and the way he talks is just so soothing.”

A conversation with Hieronymus Bosch would be Sanginetti’s choice.

“He had a very interesting view on the world and I assume it would be a very intriguing conversation,” Sanginetti said.

Details: Stellar Gallery, (559) 658-8844,