SLO County art aficionados share favorite exhibits of 2012

Special to The TribuneDecember 28, 2012 

For this year-end column, I asked a handful of artists and arts administrators to share their favorite visual arts experiences for 2012.

Flo Bartell’s picks resonated with several fellow artists.

“In June the Pastel Society of the West Coast filled all the walls of Art Center Morro Bay with outstanding work. I visited that one several times,” she said.

Gallery director Ann Brown said the pastel show was one of her highlights as well, and reported that the number of daily visitors broke all records.

Bartell and Lena Rushing both said they were in awe of the Sha Sha Higby textile exhibit in April and May at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

“Phantom 2 in Paso Robles was evidence of the large number of working artists in our county,” Bartell said. “I had to visit the exhibit four or five times to take it all in.”

Artists Larry LeBrane, Laurel Sherrie and Lucie Ryan also singled out Phantom 2, the May event organized in part by the Central Coast Sculptors Group that featured 500 pieces of artwork in the A&R Furniture Building.

Lebrane showed his work at the first Phantom Project in February in a temporary space in downtown San Luis Obispo.

“What a privilege that my glass sculpture ‘Combat Stilettos’ was featured in the front window,” LeBrane said. “Volunteers joked that they had to clean the windows each morning because there were so many nose prints from people coming by to take photos of those wild art shoes.”

Of the many exhibits and activities at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, Sasha Irving favored Kids Art Smart. “This life-changing program has developed into the heart and soul of our efforts to share the creative process with our community,” said the programs director. “This fall we provided over 800 students from Georgia Brown and Kermit King elementary schools with hands-on art classes with our professional artist instructors.”

Art that transforms how the viewer thinks about things is what grabs Jeff Kleeck, gallery coordinator at Cal Poly’s University Art Gallery.

“I loved Geoff McFetridge’s exhibition in January and February,” Kleeck said. “His transformation of the space was spectacular.”

Watch a stop-action of the work at

Cambria Center for the Arts Gallery Director Lucie Ryan also chose her favorite because of the transformation in the gallery space. The “Body Language” exhibition featuring Mike Hannon, Leslie Hannon and Evany Zirul presented huge figures dancing, swirling and kick boxing. “People were just gobsmacked. And so was I,” Ryan said.

You can still catch David Prochaska’s favorite for the year through Feb. 10 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

“For me, the most memorable visual experience of 2012 fell on the shoulders of the great Zurburan painting, ‘Saint Serapion,’ he said. “The painting is part of LACMA’s exhibition ‘Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy.’” The artist and Cuesta College instructor says it’s well worth a journey down south.

Next week, I’ll highlight what several folks in the arts community are most looking forward to in 2013.

Contact freelance writer Monica Fiscalini at

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