Thursday, May 17, 2012

Subterfuge Studios Project: Episode 5: Sara Drennan

Subterfuge Studios Project is a blog series aimed at providing a glimpse into the studios and spirits of an eclectic mix of local artists. Whether they be painters, writers, musicians, performers, designers, or crafters, each artist featured in SSP has agreed to share his or her personal space with you, the reader. All bio and interview questions are answered in the artist's own words.

In this episode of SSP, diverse mixed media artist, Sara Drennan, opens for inspection her charming, light-filled, multi-purpose studio.


Sara Drennan

Mixed media/assemblage

Studio name: 

The Pneumatic Studio
College Heights
Studio Dimensions:
10' x 12'
Favorite Feature:
I have a quiet and private space to make work—this  means a lot to me.  A space that at times I've had the pleasure of sharing with other artist/friends and students.

More info at: 

1. Best era for music? Favorite genre?
The Jazz Age. Alternative. 
2. Describe a day-trip getaway:
I really enjoy living so close to the Sequoia National Forest.  I try to take advantage of that whenever possible.  The Forks of the Kern is a great spot to enjoy a picnic or camping adventure.  Before home I always make it a point to stop in at the Kern River Brewing Company in Kernville.  There's nothing like a refreshing cold pint after a long day of exploring the wilderness.
3. What is your favorite part of our city, and what makes it so?
I like many parts of our city.  Downtown has that quaint community feel with all the great boutique shops and restaurants; Old Town Kern is full of rich local history; the bluffs provide us with a bird’s eye view; and the bike trail gives us access to several great parks--not to mention Truxtun Lake. 
4. If money were no object, describe a business that you would create to enrich other artists:

I would buy some old manufacturing warehouse space and create a community of artist studios & galleries so that every artist had a space to create and display their work--much like those found at Bergamot Station, Los Angeles & Studios on the Park, Paso Robles.

5. Personal soapbox:
I'm a starving artist.  I can't afford a soapbox. ; )

[Ed. note: To see more work from The Pneumatic Studio, catch Sara Drennan in front of SwatPC (corner of 19th & Eye Streets) on First Fridays downtown. She will also be participating in this year's Eye Gallery, hosted by the Bakersfield Californian, which will be exhibited at Bakersfield Museum of Art, June 14th - August 26th.]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Subterfuge Studios Project: Episode 4: Vesper Lucille Rasputin

Subterfuge Studios Project is a blog series aimed at providing a glimpse into the studios and spirits of an eclectic mix of local artists. Whether they be painters, writers, musicians, performers, designers, or crafters, each artist featured in SSP has agreed to share his or her personal space with you, the reader. All bio and interview questions are answered in the artist's own words.

In this episode of SSP, elegant seamstress and visual artist, Vesper Lucille Rasputin, shares her lovingly arranged creative space, as well as some strong opinions about the hard work involved in being an artist.

Vesper Lucille Rasputin a.ka. "V", Ves, or Vesper

Oils, acrylics, brushes, canvas, inks, nibs and pens, pencils, Bristol, needles, thread, fabric, etc. I am a mixed media artist, and am involved in various projects from painting to illustrating, designing to sewing, photography modeling to artist modeling, and so on.
Studio name (if any):

I don't call the studio by any official name; it's simply “My studio”, and I'm just grateful to have the space. I know it won't be my last studio, and the one I have now will continue to go through many changes and re-arrangements. I think the only name that would be able to stay accurate, or fitting, enough over those changes would be “Swiss-Army Studio”, because it is used for a myriad of activities: painting, illustrating, writing, researching and reading, sewing, belly-dancing, etc. It re-adjusts to my needs every day, it is constantly changing, and more items need to be built and added to the space.

Northwest Bakersfield
Studio dimensions:

Approximately 14' x 10'

Favorite feature: 

I think my favorite part of the studio is the painting corner. It has the easel and converted card catalogers, which I hand-sanded and stained. Then I have a framed magnetic board (which my outrageously amazing boyfriend built for me) to match the other items, and to hang sketches and favorite quotes on. The corner also has a framed picture from the Victorian era (which is my favorite era) hanging just by the window. Then all of my canvases, paints, paper, brushes, pens, and pencils are in easy reach for when I'm working. It's the perfect little corner to lose myself in my work.
More info at:

1. Desert island book/movie/album (the one you can’t live without): 

Book: The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll--I am a die-hard Alice fan. Movie: The 1950s Disney animated version of Alice in Wonderland. Album: If I wasn't able to have my whole music collection with me, I would just drown myself in the ocean anyway.

2. Describe your favorite outfit: 

Neo-Victorian/Aristocratic or 1920s adventurer. I have studied the Victorian era and the fashion, and describe myself as a Neo-Victorian (and I'm sometimes referred to as “that Victorian chick”). I also like the 1920s aviation/adventurer style wardrobe. Corsets, gloves, goggles, stockings, hats, knee-high boots, flowing skirts and fitted's all fun and good.

3. What local events do you promote/attend? 

Well, every blue moon, I would go to the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra concerts, and during the holidays, will attend the Nutcracker Ballet. I try and go every year, or else it just doesn't seem like the holidays. Music is my most favorite and adored art form, and nothing is as wonderful as hearing it in person. The ticket prices can be a bit much to go frequently, though, but for some free fun, checking out the local galleries, or perusing the streets at First Friday are enjoyable, as well. It's always inspiring to see other artists' work, and to see the change that is happening in the art scene; it keeps growing, which is what this town so sorely needs.

4. When/how did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I never really thought to myself at any point, “I want to be an artist.” I simply enjoyed drawing and painting when I was younger, and kept on with it. Then, I got involved in many other artistic and artisan activities, and progressed in them, too. After drawing and painting for so long, I changed my major at university from music to studio art, and “studied to be an artist”. That blew up in my face, because after I graduated in June of 2011, I stopped drawing and painting for the rest of the year. I was burnt out and frustrated, and still lacked knowledge and technique that I should have received. I'm only now getting back into the habit of drawing again, and will soon pick up a paint brush when I feel that I'm ready. I am focusing on studies, and drawing items over and over again. My main focus is to re-learn, become re-acquainted with the tools and materials, and to study from life. That is the only way I will get better, and catch up for time lost. 
5. Personal soapbox: 

I tend to find that many people in the art scene are not artists; they don't take their art seriously, they don't practice, they don't want to learn, and they don't want to get better. Fleshing out the same things repeatedly, without any effort, is not learning; for example, paintings shouldn't be started and finished in thirty minutes (notorious amongst acrylic painters), and no one should start and finish five paintings in a day. They're not going to be good—period. They're certainly not going to be as good as they could be, if more time and effort was put into them. Art isn't a race, and to respect it, people need to stop treating it as though it were. 
Art is hard work, and so many “artists” don't put in the work to actually be artists. The label gets used, abused, and tossed around, because it's easy to do so. I never see anyone walk around and say, “I'm an accountant”, and then not actually do any sort of accounting. People tend to think anything can be art, and that anyone can be an artist. Just like music has a theory, art has a theory, and just like music has rules, so does art. Music theory is nothing but mathematics and equations, and not surprisingly, art is nothing but mathematics and equations. In order to be a successful artist, you have to know the rules. If you want to make distorted, abstract art, you have to know how to break the rules properly. So many artists jump right into art, and don't know what they're doing. Art isn't about putting down “whatever feels right”. There are rules, which actually make it easier to make art, since art doesn't rely on instinct—there is a scientific basis. Knowing the rules = better art. Practicing (with effort) = better art. Drawing the same thing repeatedly = boring, but absolutely necessary in learning how to draw it properly. 
While in university, it was saddening to see so many students create portfolios with absolutely no effort or talent. I remember in the life-drawing class, many students kept making the same mistakes, acknowledged the mistakes they were making, and kept making them. They didn't measure proportions, even though they knew they should have—they didn't put in the effort to learn, or get better. I worked hard in the life-drawing class, because the opportunity to draw a model from life is difficult to come across in this town. In other classes, though, I found myself not putting forth the effort. I wasn't trying hard enough in my work outside of university, either; I was following the cycle many others fall victim to, and don't get out of. Then again, in a town like this, it seems to me that there is no reason to try, because there is nothing to compete with, and there are no high standards or expectations—very few people actually try, and it seems no one expects you to. It's a harsh truth, but it is the truth, and more people need to hear it. With better education, informative ateliers, and working together, the artists in this town could rival artists in other major art-concentrated cities. If we all put in the work, it can happen, and with the art scene expanding, it needs to happen. 

[Ed. note: Vesper is currently focusing on master work studies, creating Art Nouveau style pieces, and costume work for an upcoming Celtic project. Keep your eyes peeled for more from this fashionable artist--coming soon.]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Subterfuge Studios Project: Episode 2: Poet Bakersfield

Subterfuge Studios Project is a blog series aimed at providing a glimpse into the studios and spirits of an eclectic mix of local artists. Whether they be painters, writers, musicians, performers, designers, or crafters, each artist featured in SSP has agreed to share his or her personal space with you, the reader. All bio and interview questions are answered in the artist's own words. 

In this second installment of SSP, the impish and enigmatic Poet Bakersfield invites us into his garage-studio, and shares some insights about art and life.

Poet… AKA Poet. ; )
Spray paint and acrylics on a variety of surfaces ranging from canvas to sheet metal.
Studio name (if any): 
The world is my studio. 
Central downtown area.
Studio dimensions: 
This is a hard question for me to answer. The studio that I work in is an unfinished garage with an exposed ceiling… it’s probably about 25 x 25 but it also has some of my sporting equipment and tools in it as well. When you are a street artist the world sort of becomes your studio. The vast majority of the work that I do is outside on the side of a building, most likely well after the twilight hours have come. Sometimes it’s inside a nice air conditioned building, sometimes it’s on a dilapidated rooftop, but it’s always fun.
Favorite feature: 
I like being able to express an idea with limited color. Some of that comes down to necessity considering what I do. Not having a lot of time to do a piece because I am worried about cops/criminals/civilians means I don’t always have time to add in a lot of color for visual effect, so I do what I can do with as little as possible.
More info at:  
Bakersfield Poet on Facebook. It’s easy to find. That is where I tend to put up most of my photos and converse with whoever is inclined to learn more about what I do. I don’t have my own website, I guess I am a bit of a luddite in the art world to that regard but…. I dunno.. .I suppose I am just lazy.

1. Books or movies? (And favorite?)

Books for the most part, though it’s a toss up much of the time because I do love movies. I’m a big fan of Chuck Palahniuk, Brett Easton Ellis, and some fantasy writers like Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan.
2. What do you do to unwind?
I paint. This isn’t a job for me, I don’t get paid to do it and I don’t do pieces that don’t call to me in one way or another. Something about the smell of spray paint and the hiss of that can just puts me in a happy place.
3. Local business that should get more love?
The Foundry for sure. They are trying to do something that other galleries don’t have the balls to do, and that deserves more attention. People should attend their shows, buy their art, and support the local scene. Downtown Records has an art supplies shop off Easton that most people don’t even know exists, and the walls inside are covered with the best graffiti in town. Very cool place.
4. Favorite childhood memory?
I don’t think I ever stopped being a child. I mean it’s a fine line between a kid scribbling on a wall with crayons and me adjusting the visual appeal of a certain piece of wall with some spray cans. As for a particular memory? I can’t really pick one, they are all too important to me. I honestly believe that when we go, our memories are all we have to show for our life.
5. Personal soapbox:
When it comes to art, I think that we get wrapped up in what we assume the world wants us to view as the definition of the word. And I also believe that people don’t place enough value on the work that is done by real artists. Anyone can paint, what I do is relatively simple, a guy with some spray cans and an exacto knife could probably replicate most of my work. But it takes something special to make art. To speak to people through what they see, to engage them in this kind of magical yet silent conversation, that’s art. It doesn’t have to be on the walls of a museum or a gallery, or oil on canvas, it can be anything. I just wish people would open their minds to a different idea about what art means, and what it truly takes to create it.

[Ed. note: Some photos, above, were taken on the street. Be on the look out for more from Poet Bakersfield--coming to a neighborhood near you!]

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Subterfuge Studios Project: Episode 3: Alex Ortiz

Subterfuge Studios Project is a blog series aimed at providing glimpses into the studios and spirits of an eclectic mix of local artists. Whether they be painters, writers, musicians, performers, designers, or crafters, each artist featured in SSP has agreed to share his or her personal space with you, the reader. All bio and interview questions are answered in the artist's own words. 

In this episode, Alex Ortiz, a young, aspiring visual artist, shares her toy-filled, inspirational bedroom/studio.

Alexandra Ortiz a.k.a Alex


I carry sketchbooks everywhere to draw. I paint nearly every day. I also experiment in collage, sewing, sculpture, and poetry. At Cal State Bakersfield, and as I meet other artists out in the world, I am introduced to new mediums all the time. As I explore new mediums, I find some are more dangerous than others, and would advise beginners to proceed with caution, maybe even proceed with gloves and goggles.

Studio name:

The Fortress of Solitude. I spend a lot of my time here, most of it is alone. Because of the size of this space, and the odd hours I create art, I don't often have visitors. I create late at night, or in the morning, or in the afternoon, whenever I am inspired and have some free time, or when I make free time to carry out my inspiration.

My studio is in South East Bakersfield. It shares the space of my bedroom. 

Studio dimensions: 

10' x 11' 

Favorite feature:  

There are so many great features to my studio, but I would have to say the best is my easel. It's one of a kind. Before I built [it] I was using thin display easels, or leaning canvas against the wall, or putting canvas on the floor to paint. These methods were okay at the time, but this easel is sturdier and enables me to paint on larger canvases. And no one else can use this easel because it does, indeed, bite, because it is converted from a sculpture of a spider.

More info at:

1. English or Math?

English all the way. English is how we communicate and can be an art form. Words inspire me. Words that interest me, or adjectives that remind me of longer stories, become titles of my art work or become poetry I write.

2. What kind of toys did you play with, as a kid? 

I played with Barbies, Legos, puzzles, and so many stuffed animals. I made forts out of pillows and blankets with my brother and sister. I had an Easy Bake Oven when I was a kid, but put it away when I found out the real oven made more goodies at once. I also got the first strain of Pokemon cards. There were always crayons and coloring books; always watercolors to doodle with. Sometimes, on regular books, I would find a blank page at the very beginning or end and color on that, too.

I like to keep a few small toys around to remind me to not always take things too seriously.

3. Favorite locally owned restaurant:

Bill Lee’s Bamboo Chopsticks. I start with some hot tea. Next, I get a bowl of egg flour soup with oyster crackers. I read the Chinese zodiac to compare mine with whoever I am with. I like the crunchy noodles with sprouts; the fried rice is good too. Entrees I enjoy are the Egg Foo Young, Sweet & Sour spare ribs or shrimp. Anything you get there tastes great.
Bill Lee’s is located at 1203 18th Street, Bakersfield CA 93301.

4. Describe a recurring dream/nightmare?

I often dream I am driving. Sometimes up hill, sometimes down. Sometimes I drive on the freeway or in the country. Sometimes I dream of sitting in a parked car or trying to get into my car. Every now and then, friends will make cameos in my dreams. In real life I love driving and always enjoy a good road trip or just to cruise. 

5. Personal soapbox:

An important charity in town is Bakersfield AIDS Project. BAP works to promote AIDS awareness and prevention in Kern County. Ricky’s Retreat is a home, through BAP, for persons living with AIDS, who need hospice/a transitional home where they can stay as long as needed. Bakersfield AIDS Project is a non-profit organization that can always use help from the public in donating hygiene items, time, or funds.
For more information see

A philosophical perspective of mine is to be generally optimistic and open to new experiences. Try to catch opportunities when they come, or make your own. Taste new foods. Explore new sounds of music. Gaze up at a huge painting (or a tiny one) and let it fill you with its beauty, or let it inspire you to do better. New food, new music, new art is being created daily by tons of people all over the place. If you haven’t seen, or tasted or experienced any, look for some. If you’re not satisfied with what you see, make some of your own. Try cooking something without a recipe or pick up an instrument. Make messes, clean them up, and make more messes. I don’t claim to have invented this philosophy, but I am trying to use it.

And, as always, don’t forget to color.

[Ed. note: Alex Ortiz is a member of The Foundry; she, and her art, can be found downtown on First Fridays and at other special art events.]