On a classic “June gloom” weekend, Studio Tourists were seen winding their way through Topanga’s classic neighborhoods. Enclaves, some known only to locals, are revealed each year on this special occasion. A gift to outsiders and locals alike who are on the prowl for something new, exciting, and inspired. With 43 artists at 19 locations, this year’s event did not disappoint.
Visiting with artists in their milieu is always a treat. On this special weekend, anyone with a desire to unlock the secrets of the creative process, is welcomed by a group of Topanga’s artists and other invited guests, into their proverbial nests. Each site welcomes visitors with a serene setting, snacks, and visual delights. One could not hope to find a more diverse group of individuals answering their own calling, in their own medium, at their own pace.
Those on the prowl for that one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime original purchased straight from the creators, were delighted, seen clutching their newly found prizes, ready to take them home where they will be cherished for years to come. There will always be a story to tell.
There was something for everyone, from works in traditional media—oil, acrylic, clay, tempera, to new/re-discovered media, like pyrography (Calamity Cole); and inventive combinations, like Natalie Evans’ acrylic, alcohol ink, ink and resin nature-based pieces.
Studio tourists were treated in Fernwood to original, organic weavings, linocuts and pencil works on paper by Teri Garcia; timeless works on silk and pastels by Topanga’s very own Linda Bolhuis; ceramics and jewelry of perfect proportion by Kathy Goldberg; and new monochromatic paintings by Paul Schoepflin (all enclosed in a lush native landscape backdrop worthy of a tour all its own). Further on, for those with adventurous spirits, a reward awaited on Saddle Peak Road in the form of Caroline Jones, new to the canyon, an artist and muse; mother and daughter. Caroline’s large body of work features free-flowing paintings, organic sculptural rock formations, and so much more.
Mid-Canyon, the Topanga Creek Outpost hosted award-winning ceramicist Rebecca Catterall and new Topanga resident Connie Cambardella, photographer of rock stars and nature.
At the far reaches of Entrada, creative mystic Calamity Cole treated visitors to her preternatural works featuring packs of wild girls and animal tea parties; while Zo Frampton wowed with her precise, cellular creations on paper. Elsewhere in the canyon, outstanding works of raku pottery (Christopher Phillips), extraordinary plein air landscapes, portraiture, mid-century modern works, and enthralling photography, were seen in studios dangling from hastily built structures; on easels and under tarps or trees.
In Old Canyon, Patrick Ramsey and his wife, Kate Kinkaid, hosted artists Sari Scheer and the fine art she creates from recycled wine bottles. Debbie Green is one of the long-time artists whose animal portraits and greeting cards are always a best-seller. Green is experimenting with new mediums now. Patrick Ramsey’s stunning photographs enticingly displayed throughout his home, made it easy to imagine how well just one of them would enhance a visitor’s home.
The entertaining Kit Plumridge regaled everyone in his South African accent with a steampunk mechanical drawing machine that he envisioned and programmed himself. Unfortunately, it wasn’t plugged in so he couldn’t demonstrate; all the better to draw people’s attention to his paintings before they moved on.
One thing all of the artists on this tour seem to have in common is that they are driven to create. They feel a calling, sometimes only hitting them later in life, creating a whole new adventure. Others have spent a lifetime playing with form and shape, seeing no way to navigate this world other than through the creative process. Some artists on the tour featured new work (paint still drying); others surrounded themselves in a sort of retrospective, offering a glimpse at a lifetime of work. Some are accomplished graduates of famous art academies, others are self-taught. But beware…one would be foolish to believe they could discern the difference between the two. Many offer classes and are open to visitors at other times of the year.
Of course, half of the reason to go on the tour is to get a peek at some of the otherworldly locations, hidden in the hills of Topanga. Another is to glimpse the world-class architecture and funky shacks for which the canyon is famous. Whatever the motivation, the music of the canyon and the visual creations of some of its artists filled the canyon for a glorious weekend.
Here’s to hoping even more join in next year.