Four award-winning artists working in several disciplines will be part of the Fall Open Studios Tour, sponsored by the Tucson Pima Arts Council, on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10 and Nov. 11.
The four — Sherry Bryant, Pat Frederick, Candace Greenburg and Ron Schoonejongen — all live and work in Northwest studios, and belong to the Picture Rocks Arts Group, which Bryant called “a loose association of artist friends, rather than an arts group.”
The group, known as PRAG by its four members, includes artistic disciplines (sculpting, painting, earth forms, computer-generated artwork) that involve a wide array of media — watercolors, acrylics, oils, photographic paper and prints, clay, ceramics, and bronzes.
Bryant, who blossomed early with her art talent when she began drawing at two-years-old, called animals the chief motivation for much of her artwork.
“I’ve painted landscapes and florals and even teach them,” Bryant said, “but animal forms are fascinating to me. They’re a part of my language — I find it soothing to draw and paint them. There is a lot of movement with animals that one doesn’t find with still life forms.”
Bryant, whose studio is in Picture Rocks, recently won a Best of Show at the Manos Art Gallery competition in Tubac with her work, “Charo,” a rendering of an Appaloosa horse. She previously was the People’s Choice award at the Horse HeART Exhibit Art Attack Gallery national competition in Lake Tahoe, Nev., for her work, “Roman,” a spotted mustang.
Bryant often works in watercolors as well as acrylics and oils. She is a Signature member of the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild and has shown her work for many years throughout Arizona, California and Nevada.
Pat Frederick, a sculptor who works off W. Ina Rd., is a retired equine veterinarian who went from working on living horses to creating horses out of steel.
“I’ve always had a love of horses and a strong interest in art, but never felt I could make a career out of the art,” Frederick said. “After I retired as a vet, I began working in metal, as well as two-dimensional powdered pastel pigments. But the metal sculpture is what attracted my attention.”
Frederick recently completed an 8-foot tall centaur that she sculpted using a MIG (metal inert gas) welder.
“I’ve created coyotes, bobcats and domestic cats too in metal,” Frederick said, “because I love the motion and anatomy of animals. I usually work in metal, but sometimes do bronze sculptures as well as the steel, working on commissions and also developing my own pieces.”
Each sculpture has it’s own challenge, Frederick believes, “because you want to have some action, some kind of movement in them.”
Another sculptor in the group, Candace Greenburg, grew up in California and has degrees in creative writing and English literature, yet gravitated toward the visual arts as her career.
“My whole life has been a creative process, so I’ve been doing visual arts for about 15 years, but sculpting for only about the past two,” Greenburg said. “I’ve always been very tactile and realized I need something to mold with my hands.”
Greenburg began working in her Picture Rocks studio with hollow wax forms that she would take to a local foundry who cast the piece in bronze.
“There’s such a wonderful patina with bronze,” she said, “you get such realistic looking appendages and features.”
Greenburg concentrates on human forms for her sculptures — torsos, hands and feet — all rendered impeccably lifelike.
“Sculpting hands is a kind of ancient thing for me,” she observed. “I traveled a lot in Europe and saw a lot of hands, arms and feet on statues. That affected me and I wanted to tell the story of what those appendages mean to us.”
Greenburg has begun working in acrylics — what she called, ‘wild colors,’ — in large sizes.
“The largest one I’m working on is three feet wide and eight feet high,” she said. “It’s abstract, all about beauty, textural and full of joy.”
Ron Schoonejongen, an artist who manipulates digital photos and mixed media, is inarguably the most unorthodox member of the Picture Rocks Arts Group in terms of the work he creates. The only male in the group, his medium is in working with photographic techniques to create artwork.
“Most of my work is done with digital cameras, although I’ve also created artwork from scanned 35 mm photographs,” Schoonejongen said.
He’s enjoyed snapping photos since he was a young boy, but about a dozen years ago got involved in making camera modules for some of the earliest versions that went into laptops and cell phones.
“I learned a lot about optics, optical design and how lenses are put together to achieve imagery,” Schoonejongen said. “Now I use those skills to produce digital photos that highlight digital painting techniques, or a combination of photos and digital enhancement.”
Schoonejongen said that while he takes a lot of photographs, “Not all become worthy of crating a piece of art. When I find a piece I like, I work with it to bring out the colors, add pieces to it and create something in my mind that might look surreal, but shows the concept I’m moving toward.”