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Truckee artists shine in ARTour

Katherine Morris
Photo by Lindsey RhynardArtist Elizabeth Carmel creates what she calls "photo impressionism"
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Some work with clay, others a camera, still others, a canvas and brush.

Despite the various media, these artists all share a common subject and source of inspiration – Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra.

In just a few days, several of the area’s talented artists will open their doors and inviting the public into their homes and studios as part of the 2002 Tahoe Artour.

The annual event, hosted by the Sierra Artists’ Network, allows local artists to showcase their work in a comfortable, relaxed environment, while promoting the rich local art scene.

This year, nearly half of the 40 or so artists chosen to participate hail from the town of Truckee. Here’s a sneak peek at four of them:

Audrey Dygert, watercolors

“I paint everything from the nude to the crude oil rig,” says Audrey Dygert, motioning to the rows of watercolors and lithographs lining the walls of her Tahoe Donner home.

Even after nearly 50 years as a painter, Dygert said she still practices her craft every day.

Before moving to Truckee 18 years ago, Dygert lived in Texas for 20 years where she was frequently commissioned by the oil companies to paint watercolor renderings of rigs and oil fields.

Today, local residents and second homeowners alike often hire Dygert to paint their houses and even portraits.

Dygert’s work emphasizes rich textures and colors, and explores a variety of subjects, namely flora and fauna.

“My favorite subjects to paint are always the local scenes in Truckee,” she said.

Dygert, who is participating in her fourth Artour, is convinced that people come to see her home just as much as her paintings.

The multilevel Tahoe Donner bungalow is a work of art in itself. It not only houses Dygert’s studio and a plethora of her life’s work, but more than 160 indoor plants including her hardy African lily collection.

Barbara Prodaniuk, clay

When Barbara Prodaniuk sits down at her potter’s wheel, she’s trying to create something that satisfies herself as well as reaches out to someone else.

“I’ve always liked to play with mud – get my hands dirty,” Prodaniuk said. “Working with clay is such a responsive medium, a sensitive medium, too.”

Prodaniuk came to Truckee in 1981, after earning an art degree from California State University, Northridge. She had grown tired of the Los Angeles studio she’d be working in.

From a studio in the rear of her Glenshire home, Prodaniuk creates an eclectic mix of pottery and sculpture influenced by traditions and cultures from around the globe.

“A lot of what I do is very whimsical, for everyday use, yet a lot of my sculpture work has a much more serious side to it,” she said. “I try to make my work feel alive and interesting.”

Her work ranges from delicate pitchers adorned with irises to heavy plates and bowls with a playful frog motif, to bold sculptures of ravens and other wildlife.

Prodaniuk said she likes to experiment with a range of firing techniques in her state-of-the-art kiln in her backyard.

She’s also a veteran of the Artour.

“[It] is a wonderful venue to have people come out and see how you do what you do, and to preview your work,” she said. “It’s always a very positive experience.”

James Hacker, metal and wood

Who would have ever thought that an operational engineer could apply his formal training in chemistry, welding and science to his art?

Twenty-two year Truckee resident James Hacker has been able to do just that with his intricate metal and wooden sculptures and designs.

“If you’d told me 30 years ago that I’d be doing this, I would have given you a funny look, but now, I can’t think of doing anything else,” said Hacker, who has turned the basement and garage of his Truckee home into a studio and showroom.

Hacker said much of his work is influenced by his natural surroundings, which is one of the main reasons he moved to Truckee, along with the laid back atmosphere.

Each piece of Hacker’s work is an original and unique, and often he is commissioned to create specific scenes and styles.

While much of his work focuses on the natural elements of Tahoe – crisp, fall leaves and thick forest scenes – other detailed pieces show majestic ships on the open sea or children at play.

In addition to sculptures, Hacker also creates jewelry and indoor fountains, and likes to work with bronze and pewter that he casts himself.

Olof and Elizabeth Carmel, photo impressionism

Olof and Elizabeth Carmel have found the way to combine their love of landscape photography, the outdoors and technology in a new and innovative art form they’ve dubbed photo impressionism.

“Our work mainly uses a combination of digital photography and painting effects with Adobe Photoshop,” Elizabeth said. “Our focus is really on enhancing the colors and textures of the images.”

Olof described their pieces as not trying to pass off as the original image, but rather an artistic interpretation of the scene.

The husband and wife team has spent years traveling around the Western U.S., capturing images of the rugged Pacific coast to the snowy Sierra.

“Our local prints still seem to be the favorite,” Elizabeth said. “There’s just so many wonderful places around here to photograph.”

All of their prints are limited edition, with no more than 200 of each made and done on their state-of-the-art equipment in special fade-resistant, archival inks.

So far, it seems to be catching on with the community, as their work has been showcased in such local establishments as Cottonwood and Starbucks.

“We’re one the few pioneers as far as this type of art goes,” Olof said. “We’ve found a way to do something unique and different, something that people seem to like.”

The Artour will take place from Thursday, July 11 through Sunday, July 14. Maps for the tour are available for purchase for $10 at various locations. For more information, call 581-2787.


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