Art Works Gallery’s world traveling local artists

“LOCAL ART BY LOCAL ARTISTS” IS THE MOTTO for Art Works Gallery in downtown Grass Valley. Artwork in the gallery regularly features the scenic foothills and mountains that surround our region, including the South Yuba River, rolling, oak-studded hills, and Lake Tahoe.

But many of the over 30 juried visual artists that belong to Art Works Gallery also venture out around the world, capturing the sights of Europe, Mexico, South America and Asia. Others hold artist workshops in exotic locations. Traveling opens the artists’ minds to new ways of thinking, and the experiences can be shared back at the gallery.

“Traveling gives you real perspective as an artist,” says David Wong, a fine-art photographer from Art Works Gallery, who led a group of photographers to southwestern China this past spring and is returning in October. The small group visited the Yunnan Province, home to 54 ethnic minorities. It included a visit to cities such as Shangri-La, home of Tibetan Buddhist monks and monasteries.

On the journey, Wong also introduced the group to the regional cuisine. Back home Wong helps in-house chef Alan Tangren teach a Chinese cooking class at Tess’ Kitchen Store in Grass Valley.

This summer Wong plans to visit Paris, where he will take a class from a prominent portrait photographer. Then he’ll visit Florence, where he plans to lead a photography workshop next year.

Other Art Works Gallery artists travel to Mexico for artistic inspiration. Painter Eileen Blodgett and oil pastel and mixed-media artist Liz Collins host an annual art retreat to Sayulita, Mexico, a relaxed, cobble-stoned town north of Puerta Vallarta.

Artists stay in a Balinese-style home in a coastal-jungle setting during the weeklong retreat. They find time to walk to the beach and view tropical wildlife in between the art classes.

Art Work Gallery photographer Gail Lipson has some spectacular photos of Italy, including Venice street scenes, colorful beach umbrellas and village sunsets.

Painter Robert Libutti travels to Yelapa, Mexico—a tiny, seaside village that is 45 minutes by boat from Puerto Vallarta—to gain inspiration for some of his paintings. “I usually begin by assembling photographs I have taken that inspire me in some way,” he says.

(Photo: “Jungle Birds” by Eileen Blodgett)

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