Treasure-seekers visit Alpine

Follow the free map issued at the Alpine County Visitor Center in Markleeville on Oct. 7 and 8, and treasures will reveal themselves in various guises. The fourth annual Markleeville Artists Autumn Open Studios, extending from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, marks the height of the colorful foliage in Alpine County and the desire of area artists to share this bounty with others.

Map-followers not only will be treated to a full spectrum of colors in nature's own palette of aspen leaves, but also to a wide array of artistic media at the artists' studios.

Alert treasure-seekers will discover valuable troves of art hidden among the displays of an eclectic collection of 18 artists. As for the jewel-like aspen leaves, whether they are set in brilliant sky-blue hue or in silvered cloudy color, they will be beautiful. Even when skies are gray, the golden orbs appear to be illuminated within themselves as they shimmer in the soft breeze.

Some years ago, I overheard Sandy Baenen talking in the library to Alpine County Librarian Bessie Platten about the possibility of area artists opening their studios once a year to the public. While I thought it was a grand idea, I was somewhat skeptical about the artists coming together cohesively, because it's no secret that artists don't like to attend meetings.

We have succeeded in organizing ourselves by having potluck get-togethers instead of meetings and setting our egos aside for the greater good. A small but efficient group deals with the nitty-gritty; Sandy Baenen uses her talents of graphic design to implement postcards, signs, banners and maps Ð all bearing her distinctive aspen leaf, mountain peak and sun ray logo, sculptor Jeff Brees handles the money, and painter Charles Muench and I share writing chores. Then there are the "banner boys," Brees, Muench, photographer Todd Branscombe and potter Mark Vaughn. They put up signs, large announcement banners at Woodfords Station and Markleeville Gas, along with the bright "Bali" banners sewn by fibre artist Deirdre Wallace that mark each home-studio on the tour. Pastel artist Evelyn Yonker is helping Baenen distribute materials. Dave Brees, husband of sculptor Jan Brees, volunteers each year to sit at the registration table on the porch of the visitor center. This year, bead-crafter Dale Bennett will be selling Indian tacos. All of the artists distribute postcards announcing our popular October event.

Artists who will be opening their studios to the public are Diamond Valley Road metal sculptor Susan Flakus; Mesa Vista pastel artist and sculptor Evelyn Yonker. In the town of Markleeville, studios opening include Washo Indian bead-crafter Dale Bennett on the visitor center porch; designer Sandy Baenen; watercolorist Peter Chope; watercolor and oil painter Linda Lindsay Stallcup; pen and ink artist and potter Tanya Berger; fibre artist Deirdre Wallace; and etcher and mask-maker Gina Gigli. Artists in Markleevillage are topiary and garden sculptor Jeff Brees; nature sculptor Jan Brees; chocolatier-sculptor Debra Esteban; plein-air oil painter Charles Muench; nature photographer Todd Branscombe; bead-crafter and basket-maker Kay Jobst; potters Carolyn and Mark Vaughn; and photographer Jennifer Vaughn.


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