Pinole Art Center Too!

Pinole Artisans, a wonderful group of artists and crafters in the East Bay, just opened a second gallery at the Pinole Valley Mall (across the mall from Trader Joe’s), just off I-80 at Pinole Valley Road.  The original gallery, still open — the grand opening of the newest show will be Saturday September 12th — is at 2221 Pear Street in Old Pinole, right near City Hall.

Initially, the hours for the new gallery will be 4 to 8 pm, Thursday through Sunday.  We had a glorious grand opening on Saturday September 5th for the first show: The Drama of Light.  Here’s Joan Landis, the immediate past president of Pinole Artisans and current manager of both Pinole Art galleries, cutting the celebratory cake ….  Ira Nelken, current president of Pinole Artisans, supervises.

Joan Landis cuts the cake!

Joan Landis cuts the cake!

The gallery is large and light, showing the artwork off beautifully.  The walls and panels are covered with an amazing array of paintings, photographs and mixed media artwork.  Fiber art, including scarves and purses, also adorn the walls.  The many talented jewelry-artist members of Pinole Artisans have filled the glass cases at the new gallery with a wonderful variety of handcrafted necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and pins, including PMC, beadwork, polymer art and my butterfly earrings made from lutradur.

Grand opening

Grand opening

The big attraction on Saturday was an amazing sculpture by Donald Lieske.  Lieske is an incredibly talented sculptor who uses recycled materials to create unusual and thought-provoking metal works, usually with incisive wordplay titles.  Many of Lieske’s pieces are mechanical and use electricity. This rolling ball sculpture combines light, sound and movement:

Donald Lieske sculpture

Donald Lieske's rolling ball sculpture

The gallery also has an abundance of surfaces to display 3-D arts and crafts, good news for me because so much of my artwork doesn’t hang on the wall.  There are shelves for the many things I make out of the fabric that I design and print: vases, fabric books, pillows, purses, and more, my tile boxes, etc.

Grand opening

Grand opening

The Pinole Artisans meet the first Friday of every month, usually at the Pinole United Methodist Church, 2000 San Pablo Avenue, in Pinole (make a right just past the Bus Stop Mural if you are coming up out of Old Town Pinole toward Appian Way).  It’s a very friendly and talented group of people — notable for welcoming a wide variety of artisans.  Members also offer art classes on a range of subjects.  If you’re interested in learning more about the group, check out the website: and come to a meeting.

To exhibit your work in the Art Centers, you must be a member and sit for a number of hours a week (currently 4) in one or the other gallery.  The shows last about two months.  If you have any questions, call the Artisans at (510) 724-2008.

Demise of a gallery

This is for local readers, my loyal local patrons and friends who have taken the time to come see my work at the local art gallery, or to visit me when I was working there.  If you’re not from around here (Northern California) or just not interested in the topic, then you’ll stop reading, or push on for a cautionary tale. 

For a bit less than a year I’ve been working on Saturdays at a gallery in El Cerrito.  The space is beautiful, well-lighted, with creative displays and a great variety of artwork and crafts.  It’s owned by the family of an artist who used to have only his work in the gallery, but generously opened the space up to other artists less than 2 years ago.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the gallery until after the holidays last year, so I couldn’t take part in what was a successful holiday season for them.  Shortly after that, though, I started working every Saturday (on top of my full time job).  Even though it was hard giving up my Saturdays I wanted to see how my things sold, and I really looked forward to this year’s holiday season.  I also looked forward all week to going into the gallery — if people came in to buy art, that was fantastic.  If they came in to look around and chat (or not), that was wonderful too.   And if no one came in, I got my work done.  Since most of the work I do involves the use of a computer, printer, sewing machine or other large equipment, it was always a challenge to plan what I would work on, and make sure everything I needed fit into the box that I carried back and forth every week.

Most lately I had been using the time to coat lutradur or metal sheets with Golden Paints’ digital grounds (see my articles on that product).  I also took advantage of the great natural lighting in the gallery to take photographs of my work.

The few of us who worked there were volunteers, who in exchange for our time got a larger percentage of any of our work that sold.  That was great for me for several months, but when the economy tanked, sales dried up.  Lately only a few people were even coming into the gallery on Saturdays (usually the busiest day of the week).  I was committed to staying, though, and thought that my work, often popular as gifts, would do okay during the holidays.   Well you know what I’m going to say next.  The gallery is now closed.  The artist whose family owns it couldn’t keep it open through the holidays.  He’s evidently thinking of getting an artist or two in there with him to pay rent.  I hope that works out – we need all the venues for art we can get!