Category Archives: Gallery exhibitions

Eureka: Northern California’s Golden Light

Eureka: Northern California's Golden Light
Eureka: Northern California’s Golden Light, an exhibition by the Greater Sacramento-Sierra Chapter of the California Art Club, opens July 12, 2013.

I’m happy to report that one of my paintings, Colusa Marsh (Snow on Snow Mountain) will be included in this exhibition.   This is the second exhibition of the Greater Sacramento-Sierra Chapter of the California Art Club.

The gallery is at the Three Stages at Folsom Lake College.  Since this flyer was published, the venue has been renamed the Harris Center at Folsom Lake College.  It’s a theatre complex in eastern Sacramento County intended to rival the Mondavi Center in U. C. Davis.  The gallery is tucked away in what appears to be an extra space next to one of the theatres.  Which means–it’s open very limited hours:  Tuesday-Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., plus an hour before every performance and during intermissions. Still, this show will be worth seeing, if I do say so myself!


Ebb and Flow: a solo exhibition by Kathleen Dunphy

I had the chance to attend the opening of Kathleen Dunphy’s solo exhibition, Ebb and Flow, at Knowlton Gallery in Lodi, California, this past weekend. Twenty-six paintings fill the gallery at Knowlton with light and—I have no other word for it—grace. The works range from still lifes of flowers in glass vases, to cows quietly watching the watcher, to fog rolling onto the Marin Headlands. Some were created on site, en plein air; many are larger studio pieces. (A couple of the pieces are 36″ by 48″, and one is 48″ by 60″.)

Kathleen Dunphy at Knowlton Gallery
Kathleen Dunphy discusses how she painted “Sanctuary” from the small plein air sketch in her hand. At the opening of Ebb and Flow, October 2012. Photo by Stephanie Benedict

The landscapes, especially, have a grandeur and immediacy to them that stops you in your tracks. And it’s not the plein air pieces, so full of the energy, that strike you. No, it’s the big ones. So often, enlarging a smaller painting results in a loss of the energy of the original work. However Dunphy did it, whether by creating a new composition by using multiple sketches as the source material or what, she has given the larger pieces a different kind of energy: less visceral, perhaps, but more intense.

I overheard another artist at the opening say, as the highest compliment he could pay, “I wish I’d painted this.” Well—me, too.

(Full disclosure: I’ve taken several of Dunphy’s workshops. I’m a huge fan, so this is not an unbiased review.)

I’ve long maintained Dunphy is an incredibly generous teacher. She was also generous with visitors at the opening. The 30 or so people who attended last Saturday afternoon got to hear Dunphy describe how she uses her small plein air sketches as source material for her larger pieces. Her stories of trying to catch the light before the fog engulfed the view, or heading out for trip to the Sierras and forgetting all but one brush, helped give each painting a life beyond mere canvas. They also helped her listeners understand a bit of what it’s like to be a painter.

It’s also nice to see all the red dots at the exhibition.  But then, most of Dunphy’s paintings sell.  So if you’re interested, act quickly.


Ebb and Flow: Painting Nature’s Rhythms is at Knowlton Gallery in Lodi through November 24, 2012.


A Framing Malfunction

I learned something about framing recently. Never wait until the last minute.

I’ll have more about frames in a future post, but for now I want to show you what happened recently when I waited too long to order and test out a frame.

First, here’s the painting. I seem to like these panorama formats.

Around the Bay by Stephanie Benedict. Oil on canvas.
Around the Bay ©2012 Stephanie Benedict 15” x 45” Oil on canvas.

I always envisioned this painting in a floater frame: that is, not with the frame wrapped over the edges, but the frame held away from the painting.

Detail view, Around the Bay by Stephanie Benedict
Detail view, Around the Bay, showing how it would look in the frame.

About a month before the deadline to take the piece to the gallery, I ordered a gold floater frame. It arrived about a week before I needed it—and I left it wrapped in the bubble wrap. The painting was wet, I was trying to finish it, and I didn’t want to risk scratching the frame by handling it too much. So I waited until the painting was done and dry.

With typical frames, you attach the frame to the painting with brackets or framers points or even nails—but you don’t nail through the painting. The painting is rigid, so all you need to do is put the framers points or nails behind the canvas to hold it into the frame. The front lip of the frame itself keeps the piece from falling out the front.

With a floater frame, there is no front lip, so you have to attach the frame to the painting by screwing it to the stretcher bars from the back. But when I went to do that, the brackets the framing company provided were too short, and would have put the screw right through the spline holding the canvas to the stretcher bars. This might be OK, but I didn’t want to risk my painting by screwing directly through the edge of the canvas.

On this floater frame, the screw would have gone through the canvas
On this floater frame, the screw would have gone through the canvas

I went to two hardware stores and a Michael’s to find longer brackets: no luck. Happily, my friend Kat Oliver works in steel. She fabricated some longer brackets for me. But she had a problem: the jig she had made them deeper than the originals: from 3/8” to ¾”. And when I tried to use them, that extra depth made the painting stick out in front of the frame awkwardly. So I couldn’t use them.

The bracket on the left came with the frame. The one on the right was hand-fabricated.

In the meantime, just in case, I had put an extra coat of black around the edges of the painting. I’d used black gesso on the edges to begin with, but paint had splattered around the edges, so I added a layer of oil paint to the edge.

Around the Bay by Stephanie Benedict: edge view
The black edges of Around the Bay by Stephanie Benedict

So for now this is how the painting is hung, at High Hand Gallery. I’m still working on getting longer brackets, so I can frame this piece eventually. Otherwise, I need to order or make another 15” x 45” canvas—without the gallery wrap—just so I can use that floater frame!

Have you had framing malfunctions? Do you prefer not to use frames?

Rivers of Gold

Full disclosure: I am an associate artist member of the California Art Club, and my painting was not accepted for this show.

The California Art Club finally came to the greater Sacramento area in the fall of 2011, when it established its Greater Sacramento-Sierra Chapter. Although the club is over 100 years old, it had never had an inland northern California chapter before. (And already the chapter has more than 90 members!) To celebrate, the club is currently holding its inaugural exhibition for the chapter, Rivers of Gold, at the Bank of America Gallery at Three Stages, at Folsom Lake College, east of Sacramento.

South Fork-Cosumnes River by Annie Fountain
South Fork-Cosumnes River by Annie Fountain. Oil. 6″ x 8″. Used by permission. On display in Rivers of Gold through September 2.

This is, as expected, a very strong show. The California Art Club is dedicated to supporting traditional painting and sculpture—that is, representational art. Rivers of Gold, themed around the rivers of Northern California, showcases 17 artists and about 25 paintings in styles that range from semi-abstract to very traditional tonalist works to impressionist styles. Many are plein air pieces, though not all. The artists represented include some well-known painters, such as Kathleen Dunphy, Susan Sarback, and Michael Knepp, to newcomers Annie Fountain, Tatyana Fogarty, Jane Welles. (I wonder if it’s significant that there are 5 men and 12 women represented in this show.) It’s great to see so many excellent pieces from around our region all showing in one place.

The gallery itself is fairly new. It’s part of the Three Stages complex in Folsom, which opened only in 2010 or 2011.  The gallery space is quite small, a triangular room tucked between the building’s exterior wall and an interior wall surrounding one of the theaters. While I’m glad to have another art gallery in the region—the space could use some sound muffling. The maybe 50 people who attended the reception July 21 filled the space with the kind of din you get at modern restaurants, where you almost need to shout at your companions to be heard. I am sure that lots of attention went into the acoustics for the theaters, but it seems they overlooked this gallery space.

And the gallery is open very limited hours. So if you’re planning a visit—and I do recommend the show—be sure to check the website or call first, to make sure it’s open. Rivers of Gold runs through September 2, 2012.