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Newark artists go outdoors
By Todd R. Brown
Fremont Argus, November 16, 2007

NEWARK — Sometimes Linda Patterson paints landscapes on a French easel, as she did recently in the splendor of Yosemite. Other times, she creates half-mile-long concrete murals such as the one being installed along a Santa Clara creek trail.

"I like to work big," she said. "To me, art is about ideas and whatever it takes to grasp the idea."

Patterson's works will be on view this weekend at her Mayhews Landing home studio for the ninth annual Newark Artists Open Studios, featuring works by 13 artists at six locations.

She specializes in outdoor scenery and environmental commentaries, such as one she did in Alaska at the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She hardly expected the experimental work, using found objects, to take on a new relevance so close to home with last week's disastrous fuel spill in the Bay.

"I'm still going through the depression over it, I just haven't responded to it yet. But I'm sure I will," she said, noting of the Valdez work, "I took my Exxon credit card and cut it in half. "That was embedded in (the work) with a motor oil container with holes ... in it bitten by an animal from the wetlands in back of my house."

The Wisconsin native said she finds plenty of inspiration in the Tri-City area as well as around the country, taking special solace in Coyote Hills Regional Park.

"The view that you get from just driving over there by Paseo Padre, seeing the sunset while looking at the hills, is aesthetically as important to the people around here as going to a major park. It's like instant tranquility," she said.

"The plan is to do 800 homes on Patterson Ranch ... directly in front of Coyote Hills," she continued. "I think that open space needs to be preserved. Even though it's Fremont land, it's used and seen and enjoyed by more people than just residents of Fremont. We're right next to it, we can see it."

Nature photographer Barbara Miller is another Patterson Ranch development foe, though she is not an environmental activist per se. Her images of snow-covered trees and Ardenwood scenes will be on display at her home studio in The Lake, along with two other artists' works.

"I've always been kind of an outdoors person," she said, noting that she shot some images on her husband's and her sailboat. "I love shooting around the water and near Coyote Hills. I try to catch the beauty of a place as it is right now."

The Ohio native and first-timer with the open studios event is equally upset by the 58,000 gallon oil spill that has marred the Bay.

"What a tragedy," she said. "Being a sailor, I just can't tell you how it's affected everybody in the boating community. All the people out there trying to help, bringing their gloves, and being told they have to sit through a training."

Painter and muralist Simone Archer co-founded Newark Artists Open Studios with etching and collage artist Adriane Dedic. Both are participants this year.

"We met walking our dogs and discovered that we were both artists," Archer said.

"We just wanted to get together to show our work. A lot of people don't realize the talent that's in Newark. They go across the Bay."

Archer also did an elaborate outdoor mural with a colleague near Strizzi's Restaurant in Livermore, a commission for a sculptor friend who owned a local clay shop and was diagnosed with cancer.

"It was time to get her vision going," Archer said. "I had six weeks to do a wine country mural."

Archer said the building owner offered to match expenses dollar for dollar, allowing the work to get done in time for her friend to see it before she died. Otherwise, Archer said, "We'd probably still be waiting."

That highlights the perennial problem of being an artist in America: It ain't easy to make a living.

"It's just, money goes other places in our culture and society," Patterson said. "It doesn't go into nurturing the arts as much as other areas. I think it's real unfortunate that we've had a whole generation now of students, especially in the Tri-City area, that have not had art experience in school (because of post-Proposition 13 budget cuts).

"In Wisconsin ... there was an art teacher in every school. Kids got to experience art actually being taught by an art teacher who could teach them how to think creatively.

"It's just a whole different thing here."

 

 

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