Jerry May and Ken Kaberline are best buddies. After retiring from the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991, May stayed busy joining several Cayucos community organizations; and Kaberline transferred from Fresno to complete his 35 years with Caltrans.
When May found out Kaberline liked to drive, he persuaded him to drive the van for the Cayucos Seniors. Then May found out Kaberline liked to cook.
“I remember Darlene (Kaberline) would answer the phone and ask what I was going to get Ken involved in next,” May said.
Not until retirement did they discover their diverse artistic talents. Both joined the Cayucos Art Association. And May 4, their two-man show will kick off with a free ice cream social from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Cayucos Veterans Memorial Lions Hall, the gallery’s home.
“About 12 years ago, Al Musso invited me to attend his weekly art class,” May said. “I enjoyed photography but hadn’t considered painting. He asked me to come have coffee, but had paints, a brush and watercolor paper set up for me to try. (Musso would) tell me I was doing good, then say, ‘Turn it over and start again.’ He’d also say, ‘Do your thing, and style will come.’ ”
Now 92, May will show 40 of about 80 landscapes, lighthouses, animals and portrait paintings he has completed. “Painting takes me away from the outside world,” he said.
The Kaberlines were in San Francisco when they stumbled upon a “high-end” art merchandise show. Darlene was intrigued by birds made from gourds dressed with seaweed.
“She wished she’d bought one after we left,” Kaberline said. “We returned the next year with artist Virginia Nelson, and she suggested I could make them.”
Kaberline says most are caricatures of birds, unless someone asks for a specific breed. He’s created more than 200, including shorebirds, hummingbirds, owls, parakeets and pelicans. He’ll have at least 40 at the Cayucos show.
“I tend to be an engineer to make them structurally sound,” Kaberline said. “Each bird is intensive. I like doing them, but not for a job. The feet are the hardest; it takes two hours for one foot. My favorite is the roadrunner.”
All the birds are made from gourds except the hummingbird. The beaks and long necks are made with seaweed gathered
locally. Feathers are made from specialized paper torn, layered and glued, rather than painted.
“Darlene names and prices each bird,” Kaberline said. “I make them, then forget them.”
Some say the Birdman of Cayucos lets them fly away.
Judy Salamacha's column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at email@example.com or 801-1422.