I went to see Sharon Payne Bolton for the first time yesterday in her Benicia art studio because I liked what I saw on her website well enough to invite her to teach at La Cascade. Her studio is in the historic Arsenal district, home to one of the best artist communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Upon arrival I was swept up in a warm welcome by a 6 foot tall goddess wearing apron, army cap and goggles. Sharon was working flat out to get ready for the Benicia Open Studio this weekend (May 5 and 6)as well as filling the role of Mother to her 3 year old son and graciously showing me her art and studio.
I had seen Sharon’s artist books online, but was unprepared for the impact a total immersion in her art environment would have on me. She has created an space which acts as a stage upon which beautifully arranged collections of vintage artifacts and partly finished pieces mingle with finished works of art. Giant speckled eggs, glove forms, calipers, old books etc are displayed like museum pieces in cubby holes along the walls. Each cubby hole is, like the room itself, a theater housing visual elements awaiting their cue to come to life as works of art.
Sharon’s small artist books are miniature versions of the room, each page a tiny cubby hole. I’m returning for Open Studios this weekend because there’s no way I could take it all in yesterday. If you can make it, don’t miss studio 930.