Design Notebook: Cyber-studio makes finding art a virtual reality

From left, Julie Dunn, Rosanne Seitz and Dotty Hawthorne, co-owners of The Gallery at the Network and
From left, Julie Dunn, Rosanne Seitz and Dotty Hawthorne, co-owners of The Gallery at the Network and

A picture frame, a pedestal or the walls of a gallery can’t always contain art.

This is why San Luis Obispo’s The Gallery at the Network created the Home and Garden Art Link website — — in September to showcase the work of those who create both functional and decorative art for the home.

The site features 35 artists in categories that include ceramics, fabrics and textiles, glass, murals, wood, metal and mosaics. There are also fine art categories such as paintings, sculptures, and photography. Currently, all of the artists are local, although this is not a prerequisite.

While some of the featured artists show their work in the gallery, many pieces (such as the mosaic-covered garden hardscapes of Grover Beach’s Fred and Donnell Pasion) are not easily displayed in a traditional gallery setting.

The website offers a sampling of the artist’s portfolio along with biographical and background information, a statement of the artist’s philosophy, and details on the types of commissions they accept. Many have photos of already completed pieces that are available for purchase. Contact information is provided so clients can work directly with the artists.

Browsing the website reveals the myriad ways original art can bring individuality to a home or garden. You can use the site when you’re serious about buying, or just glean inspiration from it.

“You can sit in front of your computer with a glass of wine and peruse a whole lot of art, all at once,” said Rosanne Seitz, who co-owns the gallery with Julie Dunn and Dotty Hawthorne.

There are plates, bowls and bird baths created by San Luis Obispo glass artist Richard Mortensen, whose work is influenced by his travels through the American southwest and Latin America. Bud Tullis of Solvang crafts contemporary organic furniture with a Danish Modern influence. Barry Lundgren of Atascadero sculpts local and exotic woods into natural-edge bowls, vases and urns. There are also intricately carved vases and whimsical totems created by Cambria couple Fox and Lois Garney, who go by the name Foxlo.

Customers can visit the site independently, or browse at the gallery with the assistance of gallery staff who can help people make a selection and get them in touch with artists they are interested in.

The low overhead involved in running the website makes the process budget-friendly, said Seitz. The gallery’s commission is much less than the 50 percent often charged when work is physically displayed in a gallery.

“There’s no middleman, so the artist can work with the buyer and negotiate a price that would be less than if they had bought a piece at a gallery,” she said.

For those who have never worked with an artist before, the website explains the process of how to commission a custom piece. Tips include how to communicate your wishes to an artist, what type of insurance you will need and how to draw up a contract.

Tips from The Gallery at the Network


Most artists love to talk about their work and meet people who appreciate what they do. Attend one of their openings or call and make an appointment to visit their studio. Even if you are just in the beginning stages of decision making, artists will appreciate your interest, give you their background and answer questions.


When commissioning a custom piece, it often helps to sketch out ideas to show the artist. You can then get his or her expertise on materials and artistic considerations. Look at the artist's portfolio to select elements you enjoy from past works. Discuss dimensions, color, texture, finish and timing elements.


Try placing a garden sculpture near a window where you can see it from the indoors or outdoors. Kinetic sculptures that move with the wind can be eye-catching and appealing. A mural can enliven a blank outdoor wall, or visually expand a small space.

Rebecca Juretic is a contributing writer for Home&Garden. Contact her at