Santa Rosa photographer Judy Keston has displayed her work at the Dolphin Gallery for a number of years through cards and photographs for sale in the display, but this is her first two-person show that will provide a more in-depth look at her pictures of the rich scenery found along the dramatic Mendonoma coast and in the area’s pastoral countryside.
Keston, who grew up in the Czech Republic, found her way to Northern California via a circuitous route that included many years in the more arid Southern California. Once she discovered the verdant vineyards, majestic forests, colorful flora and autumn foliage colors around Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, she started to record on film what she saw. A desire to preserve the scenes for personal enjoyment led her to enhance her photographic skills.
With encouragement from friends, she began to share her work and put it on display in various venues including exhibits at local wineries and participation in West Sonoma County’s “Art at the Source” Open Studio Tours. Always, her intent has been to share the beauty she sees with others, rather than to become a commercial success. She prices her pieces accordingly.
“I find this part of California to be unique, especially in the spring time when everything is so lush,” Keston says. “In some ways, it reminds me of the countryside I saw as a child in the Czech Republic.” She is drawn to the rolling Sonoma vineyards and the colorful gardens near Luther Burbank’s home town. Also, she finds herself returning to the coast, both at Sea Ranch and at the town of Mendocino, where she finds countless scenes to capture on her digital camera.
Her work reflects her love of nature and of the wonders found in everyday scenes seen through new perspectives. Her work appeals to the traveler trying to capture a special moment and to the longtime native who sees a familiar scene in a new light.
Two of the four basics elements – earth and fire – play a key role in the artistic expression of Barbara Tocher, who is both a ceramicist and a candle creator, sometimes incorporating both interests in one piece. Often they look like they could be both artifacts from an ancient burial site and accent pieces in a contemporary living room.
She uses a variety of methods to construct her distinctive ceramic pieces. The bowls are wheel thrown but also hand worked in startling ways. Her ceramic jewelry pieces often suggest Middle Eastern, African and Pre-Columbian influences. In both she relies on natural clay colors of red, brown and black and uses glazes in turquoise and green for contrast.
A California native, Tocher was born in Oakland and remembers her early attempts at art. As a youngster she discovered she was more skilled working with three-dimensional shapes and preferred plaster and clay. After her first unsuccessful attempts at throwing pots in her mother’s ceramics class she pursued other interests. She went on the college at the University of New Mexico where she studied elementary education and art education to prepare for a teaching career.
When still living in Antioch, she took classes at Los Medanos College’s excellent art department. There she rediscovered the potter’s wheel. Working with clay was not only a calming experience for her but also one where she felt the work became an extension of herself. She first came to Gualala on weekend visits from the Bay Area. After retirement she came to the coast full time, but she has relocated to Cotati where she has her studio.
She has previously exhibited at the Dolphin Gallery in October of 2007. She has taught ceramics at the Gualala Arts Center and participated in both the annual Studio Discovery Tour and Art in the Redwoods. To see more of her work visit her virtual studio, www.tocher.net.