I interviewed my friend artist S.A. Barone as she prepared for the “What’s Cookin’ Show,” opening November 14 on 2nd Saturday ArtHop, at her gallery in Redding, the Studio Experience.
You’ve been involved in the North State arts community for awhile now. What’s your take on the state of the arts?
Redding is bursting at the seams with talented artists both in the visual and performing fields. The arts are as prevalent here as anywhere else in the country.
Take us on your personal artistic journey. When did you start painting?
I am a children’s writer and still do write for several of the children’s magazines and book such as Chicken Soup, Highlights and several others. Well, one day, about 15 years ago, a friend asked me to take some art classes with her. I didn’t think I would like it and I didn’t think I had any artistic talent whatsoever, but I did it for her so she wouldn’t have to go it alone. I remember saying to her that I didn’t want to paint any of that ugly abstract stuff and that I wanted to paint landscapes. Well, that lasted about a week. Once I realized how free I could be with the paints and anything else I wanted to use there was no stopping me. And the truth of the matter is I don’t like painting realism as much as I do the non-objective and abstract.
And your recent show in Sacramento sold out – to one buyer. That must feel amazing.
I am thrilled. A buyer walked in the gallery looked around and said “I want to buy that entire exhibit.” I was flabbergasted. I really didn’t know what to say. I still don’t. I’m just very grateful.
You really live like you paint – big, bold, loud, lots of love. Your family dinners must be fun.
Yes my family dinners are delicious and so much fun, like some of my paintings. I have a great time slapping and slopping paint everywhere, finding things and incorporating them into my paintings. Each one is like one of my children, only I can sell these children and not be arrested.
Not even a battle with cancer slowed you down. How did it affect your work?
When my husband of 48 years passed away suddenly I was devastated, then just a week later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in a fog for about a week, then I realized that God does not give us more than we can handle even though it seemed that way at the time. I decided I would pull myself up, take stock of what I had: a loving and supportive family, wonderful friends and a studio at my house where I could go and paint, scream, cry, and laugh. So that’s exactly what I did, and now I am fine. I love life more than I did before and I think I might even paint better than I did before.
The Studio Experience is a cool space. Tell us about how you and Mickey met and collaborated.
I met my partner, Mickey Theobald, when we were both involved in an art organization together. We became friends and I often visited Mickey at her gallery and studio, The Studio Experience on Bechelli Lane. Mickey asked me several times to join her studio. I would laugh and tell her it wasn’t big enough. I only knew how to paint very large. She said she would teach me to paint small. She did and I now love painting small as well, and the rest is history. We now have the Studio Experience, a fine art gallery and studio, in the same complex only on the ground floor with a lot more room. Our gallery and studio is flourishing. We have several artists that hang in our studio and we have quite a selection of outstanding work. I still paint big in my studio at home and I still love slopping paint everywhere.
The latest show there is an great concept – “What’s Cookin’.” Where did the idea come from?
Mickey and I did a food-related show down in Sacramento that was similar and we thought it would be fun to do it up here. So we are. The show opens November 14, ArtHop night. Marge Heilman is the juror.
Tell us about your pieces in that show.
I entered two. One is a monoprint of beets and the other is rather abstract with melting bananas and pears, and wine glasses and more done in acrylic. It sort of looks like I might have had a little too much wine while I was painting it.
So what’s next for S.A. Barone?
I’m not sure, but I am contemplating doing a huge musical painting, with instruments all over the place. The only hitch is I want to do it in oil and I usually work in acrylic and watercolors. Hmmm, we’ll see how I do.
Check out the “What’s Cookin’ Show” at the Studio Experience, 3404 Bechelli Lane, Redding. You are invited to a reception for the artists, Sat., Nov. 14, 6 to 9 p.m., during 2nd Saturday ArtHop. To see more work by S.A. Barone, visit thestudioexperience.com.
Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop.