Anne Scheid goes to the Garden at Fig Tree Gallery. Plus: 5 picks for July ArtHop
The biggest gallery-related event in July isn’t happening in time for ArtHop. The Artist Tree Dispensary Fresno, which calls itself the city’s “first ever licensed cannabis retail destination,” had promised a July ArtHop show but isn’t opening until later in the month, according to its website – but there’s still lots to inhale in terms of promising exhibitions at the July ArtHop, the monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods. (Most venues are open 5-8 p.m., check the Fresno Arts Council’s ArtHop website for times and show descriptions.) We’ll start with this month’s featured artist, then follow with five picks.
Anne Scheid at Fig Tree Gallery
Scheid’s new show at Fig Tree is titled “Garden of Being.” As she puts it in her artist’s statement, “Ink, water, and nature (leaves, flowers, seeds) are the materials used. The unpredictable start swiftly takes me away from the rational mind to a place of unexpected possibility.”
Though she’s known for her mastery of drawing – and Scheid does call these latest works “drawings” – she is not literally drawing, in an observational sense, a garden. Something in the garden catches her attention: the light, the unpruned tree structure, the delicate buds of flowers.
“These are my inspiration,” she tells me. “The creative process is how to translate this inspiration.”
One of her works in the show, “Impermanence” (pictured at top of this post), is unusual in its method of sale. It is to be sold in units, not as a single image. The image is sectioned into 43 units, each measuring 8” x 6”. Unit price is $20. The drawing will be dispersed, never to be seen again as a whole, being impermanent, she notes. All proceeds go to the gallery.
You can read more about Scheid’s work on her website. The show runs through July 31.
I asked her a few questions by email to expand on the show.
Q: I usually associate your drawings with black and white. You embrace color with this show — even using yellow, a color that I wouldn’t expect from you. Is this a departure for you?
A: Yes, your experience of me is as an artist who works in black and white. But I have a history of working in color, for many years actually. In the mid-80s, in graduate school, I made a conscious decision to make some changes and expand. Those changes were global. I moved away from color media with landscape subject matter and embraced black and white media with the human figure as my subject.
It was a jolt for sure, but exciting, too. It took time to settle into the new, but eventually the grays and the body began to mix with the natural landscape, and now color comes into the picture when it needs to. Black and white and color are both present in this show.
Q: What was your timeline for creating these works?
A: There are 15 new pieces in the exhibition, timeline 2019-2022, two and a half years. My last exhibition was in 2019. Many, actually most, of these pieces were done during Covid. The creative process does not stop because the world shuts down, it simply morphs. My experience went like this: The outward pull of the world (events, inspiration, deadlines, opportunities) stopped. I, being the introvert, quietly rejoiced, and my creative process slowed and stayed local (went within). The artwork expanded in new and unexpected ways. This did not always go smoothly, but, in this, I learned to be more patient. I learned to say, “I don’t know” and to wait.
Inspiration still comes from nature, not from the dramatic scenes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains but “Nature” closer to home, gardens, mine, and gardens of friends: trees, sky, flowers, earth, light. I had to quiet myself to see this world that is close.
Q: Among your materials are leaves, flowers and seeds. How did you incorporate these into your works?
I used acts of chance to start all these drawings. I am calling them drawings because they are all works on paper. The surface is heavy watercolor paper (Hot Press). It comes in a roll so the paper must be soaked in a water bath. After I take the paper out of the water I throw ink on it, randomly. I control only how much ink and how dilute it is. Prior to soaking, I collect “Nature” from the surrounding landscape (leaves, seeds, branches, acorns, flowers), anything I find locally that has interesting shapes. I then throw all of this “nature stuff” on to the wet paper that is running with ink. Then, carefully, I fold the paper in half, cover it with plastic and wait (45 minutes to 2 hours).
This part of the process, I think of as Water doing her thing. And I wait, anticipating how it will look. The effects are never the same and often dramatically different. Formerly, I soaked paper in mountain streams; now I soak it in a pool that I make out of plastic in my driveway. Less dramatic for sure! But equally effective. When it is finished, that is when the paper is about 70% dry, I stretch it on a wooden frame, where it finishes drying. As the paper dries it straightens; the ink is now permanent, as are the nature patterns that remain revealed by the ink that has been quietly circulated by water.
My creative process works the results of this chance process with my inspiration. Ninety-five percent of the work in this show starts with this chance process.
There is one piece in the show called the “Voice of Water.” It is the only piece I did not nothing to after I cut it off the stretchers. I could not improve on it in any way. It is the pure work of water, ink and Nature. I just facilitated the encounter.
5 picks for ArtHop
Diran Lyons at Corridor 2122
Lyons is having a busy month: Along with his involvement with Summer Arts, he’s also unveiling a show at Corridor 2122 that is inspired by his work as the gardener of a summer camp in Sierra National Forest. As he explains in his artist’s statement:
“I encountered a certain type of quiet there, bordering on silence, when isolated in this grove of Sequoia trees. While visiting Converse Basin in 2019, I experienced it again as I surveyed the graveyard of Sequoias. This time it was accompanied by strong sentiments of anger and anxiety. The experience prompted me to visit groves and mountain ranges destroyed by the increasing presence of wildfire.”
Lyons borrows from the traditions of documentary, landscape, natural, and pictorialist photography. The exhibition runs through July 24.
Clay Hand Studios
Long, long before electricity, ceramics were a still a thing, of course. Clay Hand Studios is celebrating that pre-electric-kiln time with some “Fireworks!” (Get it? Fired works?) The show features ceramic works fired with actual fire, not electricity: pit fire, raku fire, wood fire, soda fire, salt fire, saggar fire, and smoke fire.
The exhibition runs through July 30.
Arts in Corrections
If you didn’t know it already, the Fresno Arts Council has long been a proponent for arts education for incarcerated individuals. (Actually, the council promotes arts education for everyone, but programs for inmates are a particular emphasis.) The council takes over the display space at Fresno City Hall in July with the “Arts in Corrections” show. Omar Nare will play his music at ArtHop. Artworks are available for sale.
Interesting fact: The Fresno Arts Council currently employs 19 teaching artists at seven institutions.
Chance James at Jeffrey Scott Gallery
James straddles the worlds of commercial and fine art. Here’s a description of his latest fine-art explorations at Jeffrey Scott Gallery: “His work focuses on surrounding spaces and how we fill them. Most of his large-scale pieces run off the page and explore the outer layers of the familiar. His pieces are made up of house paint, wood panel and various other routines and materials that makeup thick and moving visual art that creates curiosity and intrigue for the viewer.”
Also an established commercial photographer, James has had solo shows in San Francisco, San Clemente, Carmel, Fresno and Clovis.
Dulce Upfront celebrates its new space
Here’s a can’t-miss ArtHop stop: Dulce Upfront, the vibrant multimedia arts activist collective, has moved into some new digs, and from advance pics, I can tell you the space is looking pretty smart. The big housewarming coincides with ArtHop.