OSA Welcomes 17 New Members for 2022!
After two years of caution and Covid lockdowns, the Ojai Studio Artists are thrilled to welcome a diverse group of 17 new artists to their ranks — including painters, sculptors, ceramicists, fiber, assemblage and collage artists. Bert Collins and Gayel Childress, both founding members of OSA, feel this is one of the strongest groups of artists that have ever applied to the organization.
Juried in by the OSA membership, the new artists are Joce Aucoin, Dorte Bistrup, Emily Brown, Kristen Clawson, Sally England, Sharla Fell, Julie Grist, Skye Gwilliam, Margaret Haden, Robert Larkin, Lisa Skyheart Marshall, Marie McKenzie, Christopher Noxon, James Robie, Virginie Snyder, Emily Thomas and Marc Whitman.
Two of OSA’s new artists work in collage and assemblage. Joce Aucoin works in collage, using pencil, scraps of paper and photographs. “The art that I make is…an exploration – of self, of world and in particular, of what is here in front of us right now.” Joce grew up in the Silicon Valley, ran an indie music record label out of college, releasing close to 100 albums in ten years. With a public relations, social media and fundraising background, she is currently a consultant for the Santa Paula Art Museum developing their sponsorship program.
Robert Larkin has been a professional visual artist for 35 years, working primarily in collage, both analog and digital, as well as mixed media, text-based art, and digital print multiples. His work is often satirical and leans on nostalgia while focusing on current issues of concern in the world, such as climate change, pollution and over population.
New to Ojai, Dorte Bistrup was born in Denmark and has lived in Japan, France and many parts of the United States. She thinks of her art dolls, artbooks, mosaics and 3D assemblages as a form of storytelling. With intense attention to detail, Dorte creates her intricate works using antique textiles and objects as well as rusty fragments and hand stitching to add texture.
Three new ceramists will be joining OSA. Emily Brown is one of the founders of Ojai Pottery and Clay School and makes fine, functional pottery which is stocked by stores in
California and New York.
Kristen Clawson creates pottery that is “useful and beautiful and feels good in the users’ hands.” A long time Ojai resident, she enjoys mixing in organic textures and shapes from nature, integrating interesting stones, driftwood, grasses and wire and “nudge a piece from the functional world toward art.”
Also recently new to Ojai, Margaret Haden creates whimsical, colorful pottery, vessels and sculpture with highly decorated surfaces. She has exhibited across the country and now teaches ceramics at the Ojai Valley School. “Beauty through elements of subtlety combined with excess is what drives my work.”
Two fiber artists are also joining OSA. Sally England creates fiber-based forms through the use of ancient handwork techniques such as knotting, weaving, and twining. Bringing a fresh look to macrame, Sally is inspired by architecture, symbology and the human connection to nature.
Sharla Fell combines technology and art to create large fabric wall hangings. Her work originates with drawings, pastels, paintings and fabric collage, then are often digitally edited. She prints on fabric, again adding collage and embellishing the surface with embroidery and beading. A professor at Ventura College, Sharla has lived in Ojai for 24 years.
Among the six painters joining OSA this year, Julie Grist is a portrait painter, working
primarily in oil. She often focuses on the face, but also finds universal feeling in a clench of the hands or the sweep of a bent back. Having lived in Asia, New York and California, her background includes working in the foreign service, film production, graphic design, writing, historical preservation, and publishing.
Skye Gwilliam is a British American painter with artist parents and has been part of the Ojai artistic community as long as he can remember. He currently lives and works between here and Saint Girons, France. While painting traditional figurative and abstract paintings, Skye also is an installation artist, transforming his whole studio, walls, ceiling and floor, into an ongoing art installation.
Lisa Skyheart Marshall creates delicate, detailed watercolor, ink and acrylic botanical paintings that include birds and insects, but also sometimes adds such things as marbles, a drink parasol or puzzle piece. “My work expresses my appreciation for the beauty as well as the imperfection of the natural world, a recognition of its cycles and impermanence. A celebration.”
Christopher Noxon is an illustrator-turned-landscape painter inspired by the spirit, light and landforms of the Ojai Valley and works primarily in oil and acrylic. In addition to making artwork, he also is a published writer and journalist and has facilitated workshops in illustrated journaling and personal essays in Los Angeles.
Born and raised in France, Virginie Snyder paints primarily still lifes which become a launching point for introspection and investigation. “The luminous quality of oil can unlock a world of emotion in seemingly mundane subjects: bruised fruit and blemished flowers reveal hidden passion and pain. Close study of tiny details allows me to dive
into psychedelic abstraction.” An experienced woodworker, Virginie also creates frames, furniture and other structures.
With a background in art and design, Emily Thomas paints ethereal landscapes, “Simplifying complex ideas, layering textures and colors to create a minimal composition are of special interest to me,” she explains. “I believe what isn’t there is as defining as the elements that are present.” A longtime member of Ojai Search and Rescue, Emily uses her time in nature – trail running, hiking and backpacking, to feel grounded and inspired when she is alone in the mountains.
Marc Whitman is an architect by profession who has been creating art his entire life. In the past 15 years, he has focused on oil painting, in particular figure painting, and more recently luminous landscapes. “I wish to record that majesty and mystical wonder that I see in nature.” His mother, painter Nancy Whitman has been a long time member of OSA as well as his brother sculptor Fred Whitman.
Marie McKenzie is both a woodworker-sculptor and painter, working in oil and watercolor with a focus on pattern and motion in her work and a strong interest in subject matter related to the environment. “In my wood shop, the feeling of wood fibers bending beneath my hands is a joy. If the wood responds to steam, these experiments may become new forms, for the living salvaged wood offers unpredictable results.” Her most recent sculptures are inspired by kelp and coastal ecosystems.
James Robie is a sculptor who ran a corporate graphic design business for over 45 years and also taught design at Otis Art Institute. He crafts intricate sculptures in wood, carving the work from a single piece of wood. “My work is constantly evolving,” James, who recently taught himself ceramics, declares. “I believe the process is as important as the finished piece. I look to nature and the world around me for inspiration.”
These 17 new OSA artists will be part of OSA’s Second Saturday tours which begin March 12 and continue through August. They also will show at the annual OSA exhibit at the Ojai Valley Museum and OSA’s three-day fall tour, October 12, 13 and 14.