The Ojai Studio Artists Second Saturday mini-tours starts on February 8 with five open studios in the Meiners Oaks area of the Ojai Valley. Featured this month are Eilam Byle, new member Eric Dubnicka, Andrea Haffner, Vera Long and Elaine Unzicker. Studios will be open from 10am – 3pm. Admission is free, and the studios are all located within a few miles of each other. The mini-tours are a great way for people to leisurely visit with the artists and have in depth conversations.
Eilam Byle says, “After two decades of honing and relying on my skills to carry me through,. I have been slowly letting go for the past 2-3 years and flowing with my intuition and feel. My aim, as much as I can, is to let my work reflect my raw self, naked of the protection and security of skill. Much of my work today, whether paintings, furniture or turnings, are pieces that years ago, I felt overly skilled to make. That’s why this stage in my work means so much to me. I feel like I earned the right to be simple.”
Sculptor and new member Eric Dubnicka came to Ojai from 18 years in Duluth, Minnesota and was heavily involved in the art community there. He creates intuitively, being conscientious of materials, tactility and form. The biomorphic and otherworldliness of his most current series of sculptures, created in the short time he’s lived in Ojai, uses his interpretation of humanity’s awakening and the ascension of human consciousness as the catalyst. Eric says, “Deep down I believe we are collectively growing beyond the worn and tired trappings of the way things were and ascending into our next phase of development. This notion, or hope, is my starting point.”
A professional artist for the past 18 years, Andrea Haffner’s resin cast pieces are unique and delicate. Inspired by the natural form – from yucca capsules to maple samaras, Haffner assembles and suspends bits of natural material in resin colored with transparent dyes. With a background in both photography and glass, light is a primary consideration in her work. Elegant yet abstract, she encases her assemblages within small sterling silver or larger steel frames. She creates jewelry pieces as well as large commissions. Haffner has exhibited extensively across the country and recently completed numerous large-scale commissions for hospitals, hotels and private residences.
Working with live models, Vera Long creates bold figurative pieces. “Although I must draw people’s outsides, I aim to draw their insides to get under their skin and feel what they feel.” Daughter of a Russian physicist and Norwegian-American writer, she grew up in Los Angeles attending Le Lycee de Francais de Los Angeles and the L.A. County High School for the Arts. She has worked as a Wildland Firefighter and a river raft guide at the source of the Nile, photographing and living with Uganda’s native nomadic people. After spending several months making art in Kyoto, Japan, she returned to the States to raise her two children in Ojai. Her art installations include an opera opening at the Los Angeles Music Center and work for the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, Uganda. Currently Long is creating a creativity empowerment center for local schools.
Manipulating metal into chain mail came naturally to Elaine Unzicker. Inspiration comes from seeing the body as an armature. How does the piece lay and move on the body? These questions inform her designs. Color patterns of anodized aluminum chain mail interlocked one ring at a time overlay the stainless surface. Or, she may embellish the chain mail with castings from nature in bronze or gold-plated brass. Alternately, pearls are used to soften the metal.
A map for the February 8 mini-tour will be available on the website www.OjaiStudioArtists.org by February 1. Any changes or additions to the list of artists will be posted there.
About Ojai Studio Artists
The organization’s mission is to create an environment where artists thrive ― professional and student alike — and fulfill the potential of the arts to enrich lives and build community.