New to 2011

This year has seen some new changes in Tuolumne’s old art scene. CSAC and the George Post Gallery has a new home under the traffic light in down town Sonora. If you haven’t seen the In Focus photography show they have up right now I suggest you do before they take it down. “Boots” by Mark Bergstrom, show here won first place for color photography. I don’t quite agree with their choice, but then again I am not a photographer. Go check it out and see them all for yourself.

David Garcia of the Annex/Ventanna Gallery has extended into the old George Post Gallery space so we ought to be seeing more high caliber art fill those walls as well. I spoke with Mr. Garcia on Friday and he said that they will be having an opening at some point this coming March. That gives us at least three large galleries in the downtown area now which makes the Night Out for Art that much better. Oh yeah, and if you didn’t know every second Saturday of the month the galleries, restaurants and some shops will stay open later and serve wine and cheese and all that good stuff.

I spent last Saturday night in Backspace listening to Minor Birds live and hob knobing with the other attendees. They have started selling an exclusive line of shirts designed by Corey West and printed by yours truly. They are planning on having me print a lot more stuff for them in the near future so go and visit them for more information. They are working really hard to help build a lively and interesting retail scene in our dusty old down town.

The coming months will also see some movement in the new art scene. The second coming of Alley Art at the Black Oak Casino is in talks and this time we will be seeing some entries from some of the more established local artist like Don Hukari. I am very excited at the possibilities of making this an annual show that people can look forward to every year when they come to see the Pro/Am Bowling Tournament that Black Oak puts on. This time around I look forward to displaying the pieces of art in the prominent and professional manner that they deserve. Hopefully I can get a velvet rope to keep the old people from groping the pins with their pruney mitts this time around. Even little kids know not to touch art, COME ON!

Also group of eager artist and community members (Job Stauffer, Michelle Steranko, Chelsea & Joel Wilde, Jen & Thabo Fletcher, Mindy Marlowe and I) are also working on a video game themed art show titled Gold Cartridge. We will be releasing the call to artists soon and are currently working to secure a venue to display the show. This is fixin’ to be an awesome, full video game culture immersion event that you will not want to miss for any reason.  Our current plan is to open it in down town during one of the Night Out for Art Saturdays so stay tuned for more information as the story develops.

Artist Survey #19: Chelsea Wilde

Better late than never I always say! This artist survey features the responses of my dear friend and collaborator, Chelsea Wilde. I met her and her husband, Joel, when he requested a pin for the Alley Art show. From then on the three of us became fast friends, collaborators and conspirators. Take a look at the images and words below then take a look at Chelsea’s site and studio in downtown. There has been a lot of collaboration going on between us, or at least us talking about collaboration, so expect to see a lot more of her work in future posts.

{Medusa : Photograph}

{Picasso : Hand Beaded Cuff}

{Honey Bee : Photograph}

{Finch : Pen, Sharpie, Colored Pencil}

Name: Chelsea Wilde

Location: Twain Harte, CA

Medium(s): Film, digital, & Polaroid photographs. Pen & Ink. Needle & Thread. Piano keys & vocal chords.

What do you consider yourself (artist/designer/other)? An old soul. A make-believer. A fort builder. A Photographer. A musician.

Where can we see your work (place/publications/url)? Various blogs & a few online shops, , on Courtney Love’s neck,, and my studio in downtown Sonora, CA.

When did you start gaining interest in artistic forms of expression? I most likely made cave paintings in the womb.

Who/What inspired your interest? Being an only child in a mixed-up family of artists and musicians.

Where do you first remember being exposed to art? Home, for sure.

What is your day job? Photographer.

Why do you create? To keep my brain from exploding. The ideas have to go somewhere.

Is there any recurring theme in your work? Whimsy, conflict, and wicked fashion sense.

What do you want from your work? Satisfaction & growth.

What do you want viewers to take from your work? Inspiration & unanswered questions.

How often do you work on personal projects? I make all my work personal.  If I can’t, I don’t do it.

How often do you work on commissions or commercial work? Not as often as I’d like.

Does your art support you financially? It’s getting there.

Do you feel preoccupied with your art, do you think about it often during the day and night and do you anticipate your next session? I don’t think of much else.

What do you do in your spare time besides your art? Cook, kayak, discover delicious pairings of beer & tobacco, build forts, explore forests, and hang out with a bunch of animals.

Which musicians are you currently interested in? Peter Wolf Crier, BRMC, Mumford & Sons,  David Bazan, Maps & Atlases, Meursault, Born Ruffians, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Pelican, etc. etc. etc.

Are there any events you are looking forward to attending? Local art shows & musical fantastic-ness!

How long do you generally take on a piece? Planning & creating for a conceptual shoot typically takes me a few weeks, at most.  If I create the wardrobe, it can take a week to several months.

Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of your art? Nothing important, that’s for sure.

Do you work on multiple projects at once? Guilty. I prioritize, though. Secondary projects take up my free/break time from primary ones.

Do you have trouble parting with your finished work? Polaroids and OOAK pieces, yes. Everything else makes my heart dance a bit.

Artist Survey #17: Mindy Marlowe

{Jelly Belly Tomatoes : Acrylic on Canvas}

{Spats : Fabric and whatnot}

{Dapper Flamingo : Acrylic on Canvas}

{River Monster : Acrylic on Canvas}

Name: Mindy Marlowe

Location: Twain Harte CA

Medium(s): pen & ink, acrylic, spray paint, marker, sewing machine, random up-cycling of household objects.

What do you consider yourself (artist/designer/other)? shy gypsy crafter…so “Other”

When did you start gaining interest in artistic forms of expression? At a young age, my family encouraged my brother and I to experience the outdoors so we would go tearing around making forts, dancing, laughing, petting bees, searching for fairies in the grass. (Which was so much fun, that I once ended up with poison oak in my eye.) Essentially, my concept of art is rooted in make believe, but it seemed real and that was the best part.

Who/What inspired your interest? My mom, she is the original free spirit.

Where do you first remember being exposed to art? Waldorf school.

What is your day job? Driving school manager extraordinaire

Why do you create? Because I feel that I have to, it’s a comfort

Is there any recurring theme in your work? Extremely loose representation of personal freedom, wanton abandon, whimsy.

What do you want from your work? Challenge, solace.

What do you want viewers to take from your work? Hard question… commonality, or an interest in something that was previously uninteresting.

How often do you work on personal projects? A few times per week, 2-ish. At this point, its all personal to me and I hope that stays, I can’t imagine doing art for impersonal reasons.

Does your art support you financially? Not yet…

Do you feel preoccupied with your art, do you think about it often during the day and night and do you anticipate your next session? When I have an idea, I tend to dream of it and daydream of it. I just want to go home and lock myself in my little art space until the project is finished.

What do you do in your spare time besides your art? Camp, write, cook, drink wine, snowboard, read, play softball, sing, drink more wine.

Which musicians are you currently interested in? Tim Armstong, The Black Keys, Jolie Holland, Elliott Smith, Riverboat Gamblers, Tiger Army, O.A.R.

Are there any events you are looking forward to attending? Next roller derby bout, horseshoe tourney at the Lube Room, Renegade Craft Fair in SF.

How long do you generally take on a piece? Hard to say, sometimes I get really carried away and finish things in a matter of hours. Otherwise, maybe days.

Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of your art? Mostly I chicken out at Art’s expense, but I’m standing on the edge of the precipice now.

Do you work on multiple projects at once? No, I’m single minded, I have to get one thing out & done before I can start another.

Do you have trouble parting with your finished work? No, I usually give it away to good homes.

Summer Art Explosion: the Prologue

Everybody is always asking me, “Zac what are you doing‽ Why don’t you keep us informed on the interweb?” And I always answer, “Because I am busy doing stuff and junk…” And then they walk away. But really I have been very busy in recent weeks helping to organize a huge fund-raising event for REVAMP. For those of you squares out there that don’t know about REVAMP yet, they are a non profit dedicated to aiding our few remaining art programs with recycled and re-purposed art and craft materials. If you want to know more visit them here. The event is titled the SUMMER ART EXPLOSION and is being sponsored by the fantastic people at Help-U-Sell here in Sonora. The event will feature food, fun and entertainment such as an open mural, silent auction, craft competition and the kids craft of the day Toy-Hacking!

Here is a little more on Toy-Hacking: Basically we are taking your old and unwanted toys and disassemble them until they are nothing more than limbs, heads, torsos, wheels, wings, etc.

Then with the help of some big kids like Peter and myself kids of all ages will be able to reassemble them.

Once reassembled they will become Frankentoys that are ready for a new paint job and a lot of fun!

Come join us in the fun on August 1st and help REVAMP sustain the creativity of Tuolumne County’s children. If you don’t care to join in the crafty fun you can sit, eat and enjoy the music of the Minor Birds and the other great local bands that will be playing. I hope to see you there!

REVAMP and the Spring Fling

I am currently working with a terrific non-profit known as Recyclers Exchanging Various Art Materials and Projects or REVAMP. Below are some photos of our last craft event which was held in Downtown Sonora during their Spring Fling this April. I spent most of the day helping kids make bugs and flowers while others in the group were constructing a giant beehive, fabric banners, coloring and playing music.

By breathing new life into old objects, REVAMP reduces the amount of waste going into crowded landfills. Anyone, business or individual, can save money on disposal costs and (in the future) receive tax benefits by contributing clean, reusable materials that might otherwise be thrown away.

The Spring Fling turned out to be great fun and only the first of many events REVAMP has planned for the near future. Events in June and August are already in the works. Sonora Help-U-Sell is teaming up with REVAMP on August 1st for our first major fundraiser. The craft for the day will be the franken-craft of toy hacking! This includes tearing apart old or broken toys to be reconstructed into new toys for the kids to take home. The event will also have live music, live art, food, a silent art auction and much more. The event will be held in the Help-U-Sell parking lot near Sonora High School. Check back with this link for more information as it comes up and always remember that when a man wears an apron it is called a smock!

{Photos by Kim Mathie}

Alley Art Update

Spread the word: Alley Art is on it’s way! There are just a couple more weeks until 30+ artists unleash their artistic visions upon the unsuspecting people of Black Oak Casino. Below are examples of some of the directions artists have been taking their bowling pins.

Remember all of the pins and other art will only be displayed together as a collection once, from May 21st to the 23rd. If you are in North America at the time you should make the pilgrimage to Tuolumne City’s Black Oak Casino to roll some rocks, sip a Caucasian and purchase some purdy pins.

Of Dinosaurs, Comic Book & Super-Heroes

Below is an article/interview written about me by local artist Patti Cherry for the Sierra Lodestar, a weekly supplement for the tri-county area. She explains how we met and all so read on!

Zac_in_Studio(Photo taken by Justin Calbert)

Zac Calbert:  Of Dinosaurs, Comic Book & Super-Heroes

I first met Zac Calbert at a planning meeting for Sonora Art Trails.  Quite honestly he seemed out of place.  He was and is an extremely polite young man in a meeting full of outspoken artists who are loquacious to say the least.  We were discussing next years open studio tour.  If you’ve ever attended a meeting with artists you would know that it is a bit like herding cats.  There sat this polite young man, quiet and waiting his turn, that in itself was an anomaly.  Since at this meeting I was head cat herder, I finally got to ask him was he interested in taking part of next years open studio tour.

“I’d like to but I don’t have a studio,” he replied.

“Some of our artists are happy to share their studio, would you like to share studio space with one of us for that week-end?” I asked.

“No, I don’t have a large enough body of work”.

“Well, Zac what can we do for you?”

“You (meaning all of us) can give me a reason to stay in Sonora. I don’t know where all the young people have gone, where they hang out, where they work.”

I tell this story by way of introducing Zac because he articulated an issue that many of us have experienced – young people trying to find their way in the Gold Country.  We need our young people; obviously they are our future.  Two years have gone by and now Zac is moving into a family member’s home and turning the garage into a studio.  He has developed a few graphic design clients.  He is doing his art and slowly carving out a niche for himself.  Check out his blog at  He and others like him deserve our support.

Zac was born and raised in Sonora, graduating from Sonora High School in 2002.  He returned two years ago and was and is on of the key people who brought about “The Returning Artist Show”.  Last years show was successful so they decided to have it again.  You can see it until October 18, at Stage 3 in downtown Sonora.  Thankfully Stage 3 sees the importance of helping out young artists.  He is thankful to them and to others like BZ Smith who have been so helpful to young artists in our community.

Zac’s art is refreshing, full of humor and mythical creatures.  He creates linocuts and woodcuts.  He is interested in illustration and comic books among many other mediums.

“I do Graphic Design, to earn a living and I like it.  It is the field I got my education in.  I do posters, t-shirts and screen-printing.  One of my clients is a swim wear company and I design all of their marketing collateral.  But when you work at the computer all day, it feels good to change up and create linocuts and woodcuts, and printmaking because of the process.  I get to move around, work with my hands, learn new techniques, and take all the sequential steps.”

“I like to use found objects.  For instance my dad and brother refinish furniture and they were discarding an old chair that was too far gone.  I liked the back so I reclaimed it disassembled it and carved out a ‘Happy Cyclops‘, on it.  I like crypto zoology”.

Admitting that I didn’t know what crypto zoology meant, (although it is fun to say). He explained, “Basically it’s the study of mythological creatures, like the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot.   A lot of my work revolves around those themes.  I’ve been criticized for having an immature outlook, because I still love dinosaurs, comic book stores, and super-heroes.  A lot of my work revolves around those themes.”

Being an old artist I couldn’t help advise him to follow his heart that George Lucas also liked mythology and probably still has a so called immature outlook.  George studied with Joseph Campbell to learn all about the hero myth.  We agreed George didn’t do so badly, and that he is looking forward to checking out some of the many books Mr. Campbell left us.

He explained the process of linocut to me.

“I conceive of the design and try to draw out the block first, either linoleum or wood.  You have to carve out what you are not drawing; you have to carve out the negative.   Its easy to make a mistake.  The end result is like a giant rubber stamp.   When I’m ready to print I soak a piece of heavy linen paper, blot and then dry it.  I put that over the inked up block.  The hardest part is if you have a bunch of text, the words have to be backwards and its easy to mess up.”

“I’m really grateful for all of the resources this community has created.  I’m now connected with a couple of other groups of young artists; we are soaking up as much of that as we can. We would like to create and then share with the next generation.”

For me it is inspirational to get to know younger artists like Zac, learn about his artistic aspirations and especially to learn about how our community has reached out to him.  I hope he now has a reason to stay.

But, now I am off to the Marin Coast to paint at Tamales Bay with a group of Plein Aire Painters.  It’s tough duty I know but someone’s got to do it.

Where artists live and work, communities thrive.


Returning Show 2

{ Poster designed by me }

The second installment of the Returning Show kicks of this weekend at the Stage 3 Theatre in downtown Sonora. The show features artworks by several young artists who were raised in Tuolumne County. The reception will take place from 5-7pm this Saturday the 19th. There will be snacks and booze as well as art you won’t see anywhere else in the county. This isn’t the usual water color of flowers, photograph of the Red Church or oil painting of an old barn. This is art with a bit more of an edge. A happy cyclops, a dia de los muertos party, and Jesus with a .45 are just some of the subjects you will see here. So come on by and get yo art on before you drink the weekend into oblivion.

The Return of the Returning Show!

Good news everybody! I have recently been called upon by the Central Sierra Arts Council to resurrect the exhibit of young local artists, known as the Returning Show! The collection will be hung at the newly remodeled Stage 3 Theatre in downtown Sonora, CA. Many of the artist from the previous show will be displaying new works along with some new talent not yet seen in by the art community. The show is slated to run from September 18th–October 18th so don’t miss it. The reception will most likely be on Friday, Sept 18th with more art and an after party at the Frog & Fiddle (located right across the street). Negotiations with Fantasy Metal Island are in the works for the musical entertainment. I will post any new information for this event as I get it.

Here is a glimpse at some pieces I am working on that will make their appearance at the show:


{more linoleum icons for monoprints}


{Tucker v UTL : mixed media : collaborative piece in progress}


{I… I think I just saw something in the bushes…}