Photos by Asia Morris. Works by participating artist Slater Barron.
Get up close and personal with the curious lives and work of some of Long Beach’s most interesting artists during the 8th Biennial Mid City Studio Tour this weekend. The free tour will take place on June 3 and 4 from 11:00AM to 4:00PM, when 15 established artists will open their studios to the public.
Founded in 2003, the tour was created to give local artists, who have shown nationally and internationally, a chance to promote their work while interacting with the public, allowing visitors to see new work and view the the artists’ work spaces. Artworks will include paintings, mixed media constructions handmade artists’ books, prints, assemblage, silk painting, and sculpture, with work for sale at studio prices.
Lynn Shaw, one of the tour organizers, has used her and her husband’s home near Cal State Long Beach as a makeshift gallery for the past 16 years. The space will be used not as an open studio, but a gallery, offering a starting point for viewers to gain a preview of what they can expect during the tour. On display at the Shaw home, or Chez Shaw gallery, will be pieces from each of the artists opening their studios to the public.
Work by Slater Barron.
The tour presents a temporary solution to a lack of gallery space in Long Beach, without taking any of the typical cuts a gallery would require for representing an artist. The artists are in control of their spaces and can price their work as they see fit. Shaw runs her home-slash-gallery space without taking a profit, and, as an art collector who regularly hosts shows out of the space, having beautiful work in her home for months at a time is payment enough, she said.
“It’s a very mixed bag, but I do think people sell,” said Shaw. “I don’t think artists would do it unless they were selling their work, because they have to clean up their studio and make it look good, you know, it’s a lot of work for them. [...]Since there’s no gallery cut—usually galleries charge 60 percent or 40 percent—it’s really nice for the artists.”
The tour also showcases the work of mostly women, which, perhaps surprisingly, is an unintended facet of the two-day event. Albeit unintentionally, the tour and many of its organizers, which include most of the participating artists, aim to make more visible the work of women artists, who Shaw says are underrepresented in museums.
Works by Slater Barron.
“It’s primarily women and women are often neglected in the arts community so I think that’s really an interesting element, and I think that’s kind of always been the way of the art tour, it’s not planned, it’s not by design,” Shaw said. “I think if you look at the museums, women are really underrepresented in the art collections, I think that’s important.”
Slater Barron, one of the artists showing off her studio this year, may be the exception to this belief, as her unique media has drawn a great deal of attention to her work. Known as “The Lint Lady” her oftentimes humorous art uses dryer lint to create social commentary on topics such as Alzheimer’s disease. Her resume lists 30 solo shows and 100-plus group shows nationally and internationally. Television appearances include The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Visiting with Huell Howser.
Participating artist Slater Barron in her studio.
“I don't think in terms of being unrepresented myself because I have work that has been exhibited all over the world,” Barron told the Post. “Because of the unusual media of dryer lint that I use, my work has been featured in print and television as well.”
“In the 70s, when laundry duty for my four teenagers interrupted my painting time, I switched to using dryer lint as a medium so that the chore became a positive part of my work,” Barron said in a 2014 interview.
If you pop into her studio this year, you’ll notice there’s rarely a single object that hasn’t been turned into art in one way or another. She’ll be showing her lint work, as well as earlier works including art books and small sculptures. Currently, she’s looking for venues to donate some of her large works about her mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other groups of series.
“Visitors who are new to the tour are delightfully surprised to find such a high caliber of art locally and then look forward to each new tour,” Barron said. “Our reputation has garnered several grants for us from the Arts Council and other groups in Long Beach.”
Artist Gail Werner’s mural-in-progress from Pow! Wow! Long Beach 2016.
Another artist opening her studio to the public is Gail Werner, who painted a mural last summer as part of Pow! Wow! Long Beach. Werner’s larger-than-life painting of a Rock wren songbird perched upon a collection of dried yucca pods is depicted on the side of a laundromat and is visible on Alamitos Avenue and East Appleton Street in downtown.
Werner is a painter and a printmaker, inspired by the Southern California desert and mountain landscape, plant and animal life, as well as cultural elements related to her Native American heritage as a member of the Cupeño band of Mission Indians.
While Shaw isn’t certain of exactly how many visitors have gained a look into the studios during years past, she noted that last year they printed 6,000 flyers and they ran out quickly. This year, with 8,000 flyers printed, not to mention a blurb in Westways Magazine, organizers are hoping to reach even more people to show them the artwork being created in Long Beach’s mid-city area.
“This is a very open, friendly, welcoming event that is for the experienced art viewer, but it’s also for the novice,” Shaw said. “I think it’s really fun to go into artist studios, it’s like peeking behind the curtain of the art-making process, so I hope people can come enjoy it.”
Participating artist Gail Werner at work on her Pow! Wow! Long Beach 2016 mural.
The participating artists this year are: Kristine Baker, Caryn Baumgartner, Slater Barron, Dorte Christjansen, Cynthia Evans, Moira Hahn, Bob Potier, Dawn Quinones, Carol Roemer, Joan Skogsberg Sanders, Annie Stromquist, Craig Cree Stone, Alice Foss Thorne, Gail Werner and Jaye Whitworth.
Maps for the self-guided tour are available throughout the Long Beach area at coffee shops, art galleries, the Long Beach Museum of Art and at the art departments and art galleries at CSULB, LBCC and Cypress College. Guests can also visit the website here for the map, as well as more information about the tour and the artists.
The tour is free thanks to a micro-grant from the Arts Council for Long Beach and is sponsored by the Cultural Alliance of Long Beach (CALB), Trader Joe’s, Ralphs, Krishna/Copy Pro and Partners of Parks.
Chez Shaw gallery is located at 1836 Nipomo Avenue.