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Water worlds

'Koi Around IV' by Heidi Franscioni at Art at Studios on the Park in Paso.  Photo by Jayson Mellom  06-04-11
'Koi Around IV' by Heidi Franscioni at Art at Studios on the Park in Paso. Photo by Jayson Mellom 06-04-11 The Tribune

Studios on the Park’s juried show, “The Color of Water,” features a variety of art interpretations of water, water everywhere.

For Heidi Franscioni, koi fit the theme swimmingly. Before her recent and “amicable” divorce, the artist used the carp to represent fertility. Her intent now for its universal symbol for prosperity paid off. Her encaustic and photography blend, “Koi Around IV,” earned her Best of Show.

The warm jewel tones in her piece are unexpected for colors of water, she said. Instead of blues and greens, “I went opposite. I went with the reds.” Inspired partially by her snorkeling experiences, Franscioni said “There’s so many wonderful colors” below the ocean’s surface. She incorporated her own photographs, with florals and swirls “that give a dreamlike quality,” she said.

Instead of first-, second- or third-place awards, show organizers gave three sponsor awards of equal value to painters Greg Simmons and John Cosby and photographer Timothy Wampler.

Simmons said he painted “Liquid Kimono” specifically for the exhibit. “I tried to come up with something really different,” he said. His triptych is a large panel flanked by smaller ones to represent kimono sleeves.

“The shape is what is interesting to me,” he said. “I love the kimono shape.” Since retiring from a dental lab, Simmons began painting full time five years ago. The Atascadero resident describes his work as realism with a twist of surrealism. “I hide a lot of stuff in the painting,” said Simmons. “The more you look, the more you find.”

Cosby has led an unconventional life. He worked for President Richard Nixon and during the Ford administration in communication advancement, paving the way for presidential visits worldwide. Cosby plays down landing that position at age 18. “It was completely being in the right place at the right time,” he said. “It was just pure dumb luck.” However, the fact that he says he scored higher than anyone else on the test to qualify for the position while in the Army negates that statement. His grandmother introduced him to art, and he wasn't aware of his own talent. “I thought everybody could do it.”

Cosby has since created the In and Out Burger logo and the first vintage-car T-shirt, then opened his own gallery in Newport Beach. He moved full time to Paso Robles a year ago.

Wampler’s photo-abstraction “Aqua II,” is a single shot of a Canadian mountain lake. “I’m fascinated by the movement of water and how light reacts,” he said. Wampler and wife Sandra spend half the year traveling and shooting photos.

Instead of honorable mentions, Judge’s Choice awards were given for Judy Lyon’s watercolor “Piedras Blancas Cove,” Laure Carlisle’s watercolor “Memories of the Shore,” Janine Kirkpatrick’s mixed media “Creekbed,” Sandra Wampler’s montage photograph “The Columery” and Steve Weaver's glazed container “Shoreline.”

Show organizer and Studios in the Park founder Anne Laddon said that Harold Spencer juried the entries and Gil Dellinger was judge. Laddon expected Dellinger’s taste to reflect his own bent for traditional pastels, but his selections impressed her. “He really had a very eclectic eye.”

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