Local Muralist Tells A Story

Posted on January 1, 2017 by  
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Morgan Bricca

Earlier this year, new color bloomed on two Los Altos campuses – public art projects commissioned by school communities to mark ends and new beginnings.

At Covington School, the graduating class sponsored a mural celebrating reading and the California landscape. At Egan Junior High, the PTA launched a mural to honor Principal Brenda Dyckman’s 23 years of service. Both murals stem from Los Altos resident Morgan Bricca, who has left her mark on schools, civic buildings, shops and local homes around the region. Through her business “Murals by Morgan,” she has created hundreds of site-specific works of art.

Bricca’s son, an Egan student, had already introduced her to the student culture at the junior high. In meeting with Dyckman, she built a growing sense of the “schoolwide reason to have fun,” ranging from dances to dunk tanks and pancake breakfasts.

Bricca set out to create a mural for students that also resonated with the “grownups” calling the shots. She shared five widely different designs with Dyckman, expecting that a Viking ship on a lake might win out. But the principal chose the wildest – a bright splash of color that Dyckman told Bricca “reflected the explosion of emotion in the early teen years.”
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Downtown Los Altos Art Exhibitions

Posted on December 1, 2016 by  
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autumn-aspen-and-evergreenFollowing is roundup of local arts events and exhibitions.


Karen White is the featured artist for the month of December at Viewpoints Gallery. Her exhibition, which runs through Dec. 31, features oil paintings created over the past year.

A reception for the artist is scheduled 5-8 p.m. Friday at the gallery.

White approaches her subjects – landscapes, cityscapes and still lifes – in a contemporary way, with bold brush strokes and vibrant colors.

“Painting allows me to explore my subjects through a modern lens,” she said. “Whether painting outdoors or in the studio, my focus on design, color and texture continues right through to the finished work.”

Viewpoints Gallery is located at 315 State St., Los Altos. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, call 941-5789 or visit viewpointsgallery.com or karenwhiteart.com.


“Color of Light,” a group show of Gallery 9 member artists, is scheduled to run through December.

An artists’ reception is slated 5-8 p.m. Friday at the gallery.

The Los Altos gallery, established in 1970 by a cooperative group of nine artists, moved to downtown Los Altos in 1973. Current membership stands at approximately 30 and comprises a diverse group of local artists who work in various media, including painting, printmaking, photography, jewelry, ceramics, sculpture and weaving.

Gallery 9 is located at 143 Main St., Los Altos. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, call 941-7969 or visit gallery9losaltos.com


The Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society has scheduled an art show through Feb. 6 at Vino Locale, 431 Kipling St., Palo Alto. The display showcases the work of 26 local artists.

For more information, visit scvws.org.

To submit an item for “Local Arts Roundup,” email Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com


Loyola Corners Studio Teaches All Ages

Posted on October 27, 2016 by  
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halo-pottery-in-los-altosHila Itzhak’s pottery classes do not just mold clay – they also mold children.

From her Loyola Corners studio, Halo Pottery, she hopes to give children in the South Bay the opportunity to not just make something, but to relax while doing so.

“It is the best activity because it is not just art and creation. It is the most natural thing a child can touch,” Itzhak said of the material. “Clay can heal. It will bring you to your roots. When you open a bag of clay, it smells like just after the first rain.”

Itzhak runs several different programs out of her studio, including weekly classes and one-off workshops. She rents out space for birthday parties and work retreats. Summer camp ended recently. During the long Thanksgiving break, she will experiment with a camp for children out of school for the long weekend.

According to Itzhak, anyone from 4 years old and up can get something out of Halo.  “It builds motor skills,” she explained. “When they draw or paint, it is two-dimensional. With clay, they see things differently. They will not simply draw a porcupine, they know how the animal is structured.”

Itzhak’s students can eat off of their work. They mold the clay, paint it and can bring it home after it has been fired and glazed. Itzhak’s 3-year-old son prefers eating off of his handiwork at the dinner table. “It builds self-esteem when parents use a child’s bowl,” she said. “It makes them want to sit around the table and eat.”

As she gestured toward a sky-blue teapot, Itzhak said its potter was just under 5 years old. He walked in and wanted to make a teapot from day one. Her young student started with a bowl and worked up from there until he could make a watertight teapot and matching lid.  “He understood not just how to make something out of clay, but how a teapot is formed,” she said.

Many of these same skills, besides perhaps the fine-motor dexterity, are just as useful for teenagers and adults as they are for young children. Itzhak has hosted work retreats and girls’ nights out – complete with wine – in the studio. She finds pottery to be a salve for the frenetic Silicon Valley lifestyle.

“Everything here seems very calm on the surface but is very hectic,” she said. “Even children have a busy schedule. People come in and can work together on something. You don’t need experience, just the right instructions and the will to work. Every piece a child makes, I want it to be their best. A child does not need to feel insecure.”

Halo Pottery is located at 981 Fremont Ave., Los Altos. For more information, visit: facebook.com/halopottery


Nature Inspires Work Of Artists Exhibition

Posted on July 6, 2016 by  
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%22Forest Jewel” by Nicole JakabyVIEWPOINTS GALLERY

Viewpoints Gallery has scheduled “Hemispheres,” an exhibition of watercolor work by artist Veronica Gross, through July 30 at the gallery, 315 State St., Los Altos.

Transparent watercolors are Gross’ primary medium, according to the artist. She prefers the inspirational immediacy of plein-air painting. She is most inspired, she said, when engaged in outdoor activities such as traveling, backpacking, hiking and skiing. Gross captures all of these themes in “Hemispheres.”

Gross’ paintings are informed by her recent travels.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

For more information on the artist, visit: veronicagrossart.com

For more information on the exhibition, call 941-5789 or visit: viewpointsgallery.com


Nicole Jakaby is slated to exhibit her recent oil paintings through July 31 at Gallery 9, 143 Main St., Los Altos.

Jakaby is a local artist whose passion is bringing paintings of nature to life through color, detail and depth. Jakaby said she wants to share with viewers of her paintings the “pop” of light and color that captured her eye and made “time stand still.”

“My earliest memories of art are of the trompe l’oeil paintings by William Hartnett that I saw at the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco, where I grew up,” she said. “I remember looking at that painting of the heavy wooden door hung with hunting items – so real that I felt I could reach out and touch the fur or the feathers of the game hanging from the door. … Those paintings that touched me so have inspired me to want to touch viewers of my paintings in the same way.”

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

For more information on the artist, visit: nicolejakaby.com

For more information on the exhibition, call 941-7969 or visit: gallery9losaltos.com


Watercolors Highlight Local Exhibitions

Posted on June 17, 2015 by  
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Baynac to the TopGallery 9

Artist Carol Hake’s still-life paintings are on display at Gallery 9 through June 27.

Former Los Altos resident Kathy Sharpe follows with an exhibition of new work, “Color and Complexity,” scheduled June 30 through Aug. 1 at the gallery. A reception for Sharpe is slated 5-8 p.m. July 9. Sharpe’s paintings feature impressionistic florals and gardens.

Gallery 9 is located at 143 Main St., Los Altos. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 941-7969 or visit gallery9losaltos.com.

Viewpoints Gallery

The work of Nancy Calhoun and Jane Ferguson is on display through June 27 at Viewpoints Gallery.

Their exhibition, “Various Viewpoints,” features Calhoun’s watercolor interpretations from travels to Europe and Ferguson’s encaustic watercolor pieces.

Viewpoints Gallery is located at 315 State St., Los Altos. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 941-5789 or visit viewpointsgallery.com.

Main Street Cafe & Books

The “Silicon Valley Open Studios Encore Exhibition” highlights the watercolors of five local artists through June 27 at Main Street Cafe & Books.

The exhibition features the artwork of Kaaren Marquez, Cathy Zander, Christine Oliver, Judy Coffman and Karen Olsen. The paintings – landscapes, seascapes, florals and still lifes – are considered among the best watercolor works from the 2015 Silicon Valley Open Studios event.

Main Street Cafe & Books is located at 134 Main St., Los Altos. For hours and more information, call 948-8040.

Watercolor Society

The Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society has scheduled “1 Model – 3 Fabulous Artists – 3 Points of View!” 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. July 18 at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road.

The event will feature artists Myrna Wacknov, Christopher Schink and Mike Bailey painting portraits of the same clothed, live model.

The artists will work for two hours in the morning, with model breaks that allow the audience to take a closer look and mingle. In the afternoon, each artist will give a 20-minute presentation explaining his or her individual approach to portraiture.

The schedule includes time to interact with the artists and visit the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society’s exhibition at town hall, “No Limits – Freedom to Create.”

Seating is limited. The reservation deadline is July 4. Tickets, available online only, are $25 members, $30 nonmembers. Lunch and Hobee’s coffee cake are included. For tickets and more information, visit scvws.org. Members must sign in to the members-only section to receive a discount.


LA Library Endowment & Van Gogh

Posted on April 26, 2015 by  
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Van Gogh Self PortraitThe Los Altos Library Endowment has scheduled its annual “Speaking Volumes” program 7:30 p.m. Monday at the main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road.

Dr. Lorrin Koran, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine, will headline this year’s event with the presentation “Vincent Van Gogh – Art and Madness.”

Koran will share his views on what may have caused Van Gogh to cut off his ear and explore whether the artist’s masterpieces were works of genius produced despite his illness, not because of it.

Koran landed at Stanford in 1977 and became professor of psychiatry in 1984. He directed the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Clinic and research program from 1989 to 2010. For more information, visit lalendow.org


Modern meets Old World

Posted on December 15, 2014 by  
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Stone CreationsThe company name, Stone Creations, says it all.

The stone, for the most part, is genuine limestone from quarries in France, which is transformed into art pieces by master stone carver Bernard Renaud and his business partner and wife, Linda.

This Franco-British-American couple has combined their expertise to create custom stonework for homes, gardens, wineries and even an olive mill since moving here from France almost three decades ago.

“We fell in love with the energy and possibilities we encountered in the Bay Area and proudly became U.S. citizens,” Linda said. They established their business in 1987 and garnered attention a year later for their stonework in an American Society of Interior Designers show house.

Stone Creations is known for limestone facades, fireplace mantels and surrounds, kitchen-range hoods, fountains and garden benches. Their designs are both modern – appealing to a younger, tech-based clientele – and Old World. Clients come from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Atherton, Portola Valley, Hillsborough and beyond.

Sara Webber and Victor Martina wanted a fireplace that had the right proportions and Old World aesthetic for the Tuscan-style house they’re building in Los Altos Hills. After a fruitless fireplace search, the couple contacted Stone Creations. Webber gave them a picture she’d torn from a magazine, which Bernard used as the basis for the design. Then, the couple visited the workshop to pick just the right color from among the limestone slabs.

Rebecca and Rod Fallow of Los Altos also wanted a special fireplace surround for their home, which has a Tuscan flair. It posed a special challenge because of the footprint of the house. The scale had to be right, because the entry hall offers a sideways view of the fireplace.

The color was equally important. The couple chose Peruvian travertine from among the countless stone samples at the workshop, so the Renauds imported it especially for them.

“Our goal is to enhance our clients’ dreams, using materials in a way that will enhance their lives and property and be agelessly appropriate,” Linda said. At the time, she was researching eagles on the computer in her office. Why? Because a client wants eagles carved atop his limestone gate pillars and she was looking for just the right pose.

SFor more information, visit:  stonecreationsbayarea.com.


Art Docents Launch New School Year

Posted on October 8, 2014 by  
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Art Docent Students

The Los Altos Art Docents held their Fall Seminar last week, a motivational call to action to ramp up the year of volunteer-led art lessons at local elementary schools.

Keynote speakers Gonan and Johan Premfors and Carla Brooke discussed how therapies and techniques in mindfulness could help educators focus on students’ well-being and lead them to develop successful learning experiences.

Founded in 1970 to offset funding cuts to art instruction in public schools, the Los Altos Art Docents comprise more than 80 volunteers who teach nearly 800 visual art lessons annually to elementary school students in the Los Altos School District.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Edsel Clark, Ph.D., attended the conference and praised the volunteers. He said the program is evidence of the community’s “overwhelming support” and called it “integral to the educational excellence of our schools.”

Docent Chairwoman Vaishali Khandekar shared how hard it is not to brag about being an Art Docent. She said she has tried to contain her enthusiasm about how well organized the program is and explain that it is more than just art projects. The program includes art-appreciation activities; encourages docents to continue to learn and keep fresh with workshops, programs and field trips; builds self-evaluation into the curriculum; and continually develops new classes.

“We strive to ignite an excitement for art because knowledge comes after enduring interest,” she said.

Last year, 84 volunteer docents – including Betty Latta, the longest-serving with 38 years as a docent – taught nearly 800 art classes in grades K-6 in the Los Altos School District. The docents are currently developing lessons for the district’s new Transitional Kindergarten classes.

For more information, visit losaltosartdocents.org.


Modern Art Exhibit Comes To Town

Posted on September 3, 2014 by  
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Christies 2014The Los Altos-based Passerelle Investment Co. is teaming up with Christie’s auction house to host a pop-up exhibition of post-war and contemporary art Sept. 10-18 at 359 and 242 State St. in downtown Los Altos.

The event will showcase major works by Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Richard Diebenkorn and Tracey Emin, as well as contemporary art. Displays will feature highlights from the coming auction season and works of art to be offered for private sale.

The exhibition includes an opening reception 6-10 p.m. Sept. 10.

The schedule will also feature a panel discussion, StART Up: Beginning (and Growing) Your Art Collection, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 13. Panelists will include Janet Bishop, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s curator of painting and sculpture and co-curator of “Project Los Altos: SFMOMA in Silicon Valley;” Sabrina Buell, art adviser at Zlot Buell & Associates; Claudia Altman-Siegel, gallery founder and director at Altman Siegel; and art collector Ravin Agrawal.

Charlie Adamski, Christie’s specialist on Post-War and Contemporary Art based in San Francisco, noted that while it is well-known that the Bay Area is home to some of the “most impressive” collections in private hands, it has recently become evident that it is also one of the most robust emerging markets for art collecting with a growing group of young and new collectors.

“We are particularly excited to open a dialogue with the community and new collectors at StART Up: Beginning (and Growing) Your Art Collection,” she said.

For more information, visit: Christie’s


Life On Canvas: Longtime Los Altos Artist

Posted on July 16, 2014 by  
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artist Helene BarberLos Altos artist Helene Barber fondly recalls the moment she caught the bug to create works of art.

A 4-year-old Barber found herself one day with a purple crayon in hand, drawing large scrolls on the freshly papered wall near the entryway of her parents’ home in Santa Rosa.

“My parents had just hung this paper, and I can remember, believe it or not, these great arm movements,” said Barber, a 60-year Los Altos resident who grew up in the North Bay during the Great Depression. “I was making these circles and I was so happy. But money was an object and they didn’t have any to repaper.”

Because of the lean times during the Depression, the crayon scrolls stayed on her parents’ wall well into her teenage years. The desire to create art, however, did, too.

“I was totally obsessed with drawing and painting. … Sometimes you just have no choice,” said Barber, whose work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions from Los Altos to New York City. “I’d be studying my French lessons and I’d be doodling all the time. I guess it was a compulsion, I don’t know.”

But what began as an obsession as a child eventually turned into a full-fledged career as an artist who creates her work through a wide variety of media, from etchings to oil- and water-based paints. The Artist’s Equity Association, the Art Commission of San Francisco and the San Francisco Art Institute, among several others, have recognized Barber’s work throughout her decades as an artist.

Barber noted that her long career as an artist included a pause or two in between. At age 18, she began attending The California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and soon found herself taking on an entirely different identity – as mother and wife.

In her 30s, Barber began attending outdoor art shows throughout the Bay Area in a bid to sell her work and fund her return to school at the San Francisco Art Institute. She later found a willing partner in her husband, who helped her budding art career by taking on various tasks such as packing and shipping original and commissioned artwork to galleries and clients around the country.

In her 40s, Barber found herself taking on yet another role out of necessity – teacher – when Perry died suddenly in 1970 from heart complications.  “I could no longer depend on selling my work or just exhibiting it,” she recalled.

Aside from exhibiting and selling her art, Barber began teaching various art courses at Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, where she earned the 1987 Kenneth Washburn Distinguished Service Award for Teaching. She later taught courses at Mountain View Los Altos Adult Education.

These days, Barber can be found twice a week teaching art to seniors at Hillview Community Center. She said the classes offer others the opportunity to foster a passion for art and escape from problems in everyday life.

“I really enjoy the people – and they’re serious about their work, which helps,” she said. “They’re very thoughtful people.”  As for Barber, the inspiration to create and teach art continues – even in her later years.

“I’m not as hale and hearty as I used to be,” she quipped, “but I do still make it to my classes.”


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