Artist of the Month - October 2022

Each Artist Group selects a member to feature each month
SCULPTORS - Keasha Willingham

Keasha Willingham has a passion for facilitating all things creative and inspirational, promoting self-expression and growth to all willing to take the journey. With nearly three decades creating and teaching alike, Keasha’s deep love of people shows in the connections made.

“One must, from time to time, attempt things that are beyond one's capacity.” As an Intuitive life-time, self-taught artist, Keasha works from a “feeling”: as she seeks to produce that “feeling,” she works, imagines, sketches up an image and chooses a medium.

A multimedia artist, she works as a sculptor with mediums such as cement, fiberglass, clay, resin, wire and paper. As a painter she works in watercolor and acrylic. Her goal is to use a medium that speaks to the feeling and produces the image.

IMAGE: Build/Destroy, wire, clay, paper and UV resin,
18" x 6”

PAINTERS - I. Bob Mourenza

"I was born in Cuba in 1946 and lived there until 1962 when I was one of the many unaccompanied children who came to the U.S. under the Project Pedro Pan (Peter Pan), sponsored by the U.S. Government. I was relocated to Los Angeles, California, after three months in Miami, Florida.

"While living in L.A. I had the opportunity to finish high school and attended Junior College. That was a time of exciting change, starting with the opening of the new L.A. County Museum of Art, Pasadena Museum of Art (now Norton Simon), plus many galleries large and small. I transferred to Cal Poly SLO to study Architecture and started taking art classes at Cuesta College as Cal Poly didn’t have an art program at the time.

"Over the years I have studied drawing, painting, ceramics, printing, etching, and sculpture in various media. I have enjoyed the good fortune to keep developing my craft even when fully employed and raising a family. Now older and retired, I have the luxury to indulge myself in artistic endeavors while participating in art groups and exhibitions in local venues.

"Currently I mostly paint in the oil medium and do a bit of printmaking. My work reflects the many experiences and influences from prehistory on…"

IMAGE: Solitude, oil on canvas, 20" x 29” 

CRAFTMAKERS - Mike Toppe

"In 2017 as a means to raise funds for various causes, I created clay miniatures of my dachshund, Earl. That took off and by Spring of 2020, I started creating custom pieces for clients across the states. Using photos of pets or favorite animals, I make “Clay Critters.”

"My specialty is interpreting animals by hand-molding in polymer clay, with glass beads for eyes (and sometimes wire armature for fragile pieces like small ears, etc), baking and then hand-painting them with acrylic paint. Most popular are the free-standing, table-top busts on a visible or hidden post, with a stand. I also create the animals as “art magnets.”

"I find what drives me to create these Critters is my deep love of animals. While creating, until I finish, I keep pushing myself until I “see” their likeness. It's a hunt to find the animal’s essence.

"The polymer clay busts are typically 3-3.5” inches tall and 2-2.5” wide. I have had a few commissions that were 8 inches tall, and one commission that was the entire animal, 6 inches tall."

IMAGE: Clay Critter, hand-molded, baked, and hand-painted clay

PHOTOGRAPHY - Marlin Harms

"Having an interest in various forms of photography for several decades, I have mostly been recording and trying to celebrate diverse types of nature, especially birds with telephoto, and wildflowers and tidepool creatures with macro lens.

"My photo motto has been, “In a good light.” I seem to be endlessly amazed at the intricacies and details of nature. Photography has stimulated me to look closer, and as a biology student, to ask questions and often to learn more about the particulars and their relationship to larger systems.

"It has been most gratifying when some of my photos are used for public display, as in the book, The Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo, in ongoing displays at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and at the National Estuary Program in Morro Bay. For several months, my work appeared in a display at the Wildling Museum in Solvang. I have been equally proud of the use of my photos by three land conservancies in preserving lands for the public."

IMAGE: Santa Barbara Nudibranch, Under a Dock, Morro Bay, photograph

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