ARTour comes to Truckee/Tahoe
In something as simple as eggs shells, local artist and designer Alison Pratt Shelling, 50, sees rebirth, freedom and even humor.
“People are seeing something broken, but in fact something’s born,” she said.
Her art piece, “When the Shell Breaks” captures the irony of this, with the lower half of a pale yellow canvas filled with broken shells and thoughts like “new beginnings” and “conception” slanted in different directions.
The piece is one among many she plans to show this week during the Tahoe ARTour, a four-day self-guided tour of work by 46 local artists. “When the Shell Breaks” is part of a series she began last year, which explores her own ideas of self-discovery and living “outside of the box.”
“Life is really a process of revealing ourselves-of becoming ourselves. That’s the part that’s most frightening,” Pratt Shelling said. “We spend so much time running away from (finding out who we are).”
Art is a medium with which she began her own journey of dealing with this concept. She uses paint, fabric, crayon, pencil, graphics and a variety of objects to convey her ideas.
“I do the art I do, because it allows me to express certain things that can’t be expressed in other ways,” she said. “Creativity saved my life…because I got great joy from it when my surroundings where painful.”
Originally from Australia, Pratt Shelling began with a career in clothing design and marketing, mostly because she thought she couldn’t make money in art.
Over the years Pratt Shelling began to realize there is an element of creativity in everything, whether it is snowboarding or designing a building, she said. She moved to Truckee about seven years ago and now sells her art, and works in interior design and consulting.
She finished the interior of the Tonini House on West River Street in May 1999, and is now designing another building in downtown Truckee where she will own a gallery featuring local abstract artists.
For the last three or four years, she has participated in the Tahoe ARTour along with artists from Truckee, Tahoe City, Dollar Point, Alpine Meadows, West Shore, Incline Village, North Shore, and Kings Beach. All participants must be members of the North Tahoe Arts, a non-profit organization in Tahoe City holding the ARTour.
Aside from the art they display in their homes, artists submit two pieces: one for a one-month exhibit at North Tahoe Arts and one for a preview party July 9.
During the preview party at the Tahoe Tree Company in Tahoe City, artists will display a sample of their art. The party is the opportunity to see the diversity of styles of the artists while enjoying appetizers and jazz music from Remmel Wilson and his ensemble.
Various businesses have donated a variety of items for a raffle, and each ARTour participant donates a piece for a silent action. Profits go to fund North Tahoe Arts and pay the ARTour coordinator.
Starting July 10, people can tour the different areas and see each artist’s creations where they create them. With the purchase of a map and the ticket for $10, they receive a pass, which gives them the right to enter each artist home or studio. Fowler expects about 1,000 people to attend.
“It is the largest event like this in the Tahoe region,” said Norma Fowler, the executive director or North Tahoe Arts who participates herself. “It is a successful tour in that other people from other areas call us asking us how we do it.”
North Tahoe Arts is an organization that supports artists through exposure, education and participation from artists. They regularly hold forums, workshops, classes and other activities to help artists become involved in the community.
“We are basically catalysts for the up-and-coming artist in the area,” said Fowler.
Artist David Jerome, 30, is showing his stained glass in ARTour for the first time. By using glass, Jerome is “drawing from history and taking that medium somewhere else,” he said.
Historically, stained glass was used in the church, but Jerome seeks to expand this by concentrating on abstract designs, he said.
“There is a good reason why it was associated with religion for so long,” he said. “There’s something very spiritual about that quality of light entering space.”
Jerome wants to bring stained glass to a gallery setting from that of a craft. He frames his work himself and does custom widow installation. He also builds boxes made of stained glass with a light inside. These add color, light and depth to a space, Jerome said.
With translucent, opaque and textured glass, it is a diverse medium, sometimes yielding unexpected results.
“Combining elements into a new piece is always exciting,” he said. “I never know how it’s going to turn out in the end.”
For the ARTour Jerome will show several pieces including four that create one large work, but can stand alone as well. The colors and patterns he used are based on early western music modes, or scales.
Each mode has a distinct quality or mood, which was the inspiration for each of Jerome’s pieces, he said. The pieces carry the name of the mode that inspired it, and he plans to complete the series with all seven modes.
While the subjects of Deanna DiGrande’s artwork are more instantly recognizable, they carry a surreal aspect, she said.
DiGrande draws or oil paints animals and landscapes using pictures at first. After she has the outline, she uses her imagination to give each piece a magical quality.
“I love animals, and I love interpreting them on a two-dimensional surface,” she said.
At her second ARTour, DiGrande has numerous portraits of animals like dogs, a zebra, a moose, and scenes like a birch tree forest to show.
For DiGrande, art is an escape from everyday life. She likes the feeling of a brush or pencil in her hand, she said.
“It allows me to get lost in myself,” she said. “Everything else just kind of goes away.”