ORINDA -- During her first serious attempt at creating art, Lois Reynolds Mead couldn't help but send in the clowns.
Reynolds Mead grew up in Pasadena going to the circus with her artist father, Charles "Chang" Reynolds, who loved to sketch circus animals. He also had an affinity for clowns, which showed up in his drawings and paintings. More than a generation later, Reynolds' daughter created ceramic clowns, an homage to her father who died in 1987.
This month, the Orinda Library Gallery presents a father-daughter art show featuring Reynolds' drawings and paintings along with Reynolds Mead's own collages and ceramics. The show not only links two generations of artwork created by members of the same family but also highlights the differences -- and similarities -- between how art was produced then and now, said Reynolds Mead.
"My dad used a sketchbook to record his favorite subjects, and now I'm using an iPhone to record mine," she said.
Wherever her father went, he always carried his sketchbook. Reynolds Mead said that while other students sketched models in life-drawing classes her father took when he was a young man, he could be found at the local zoo sketching the animals. His favorite was an elephant named "Chang" and soon his friends started calling him Chang, a nickname he kept for the rest of his life.
"He was chronicling animals and performers he liked and didn't use his camera," said Reynolds Mead. "He used his sketchbook as part of his mental training to see if he could capture a pose before the animal moved."
All of Reynolds' paintings on display at the Orinda Library Gallery are part of his daughter's personal collection, which normally hangs on the walls of her Orinda home. She grew up in an artistic family -- her father painted and displayed art regularly as her mother ran a ballet school -- so Reynolds Mead took up ceramics and later collage.
She remembers the days her father created art studio space in their 1950s ranch house's "breakfast room."
"He had a lithograph press in the garage and it would be a grand production when he was ready to print," she said.
But while her father once taught art in a junior high school and Reynolds Mead taught art for 13 years at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School, the similarities end there.
"Because I taught art for so long, I know sketching on paper can be difficult," she said. "My father used to say to me that art was a matter of hard work and practicing. I didn't develop my artistic side until after I left home because I was intimidated by how good my father's art was. I had to find my own path."
Her father's paintings show an art technique he devised called "acrylic ink dry brush," on paper. In addition to clowns, Reynolds' work shows his devotion to capturing wildlife. Reynolds Mead recalls visiting the condors at the Los Angeles Zoo with her father, an Audubon Society member, who painted the condors, as well as other wildlife.
The iPhone has been the ultimate art tool for Reynolds Mead, in the same way the sketchbook was to her father. When Reynolds Mead was in charge of the middle school's yearbook the last few years before she retired, she said she immersed herself in photography and got acquainted with the iPhone really well. She recently took her iPhone with her on trips to Italy and Paris where she took dozens of images that she's included in her collages.
Chris Cozen, Reynolds Mead's friend for 30 years, knows what it's like to grow up with an artistic legacy.
"Lois and I were both fortunate to have fathers who viewed the world through an artistic eye," Cozen said. "From a very young age, our sensibilities were honed to take in details, look at nuance and articulate what we saw. When Lois and I met, we found we spoke the same language. It was only natural that we became friends. When you share time and space with creative people your own sense of seeing the world expands. Lois and I have bounced creative ideas off each other for so long that even if we don't see each other often, we can pick up right where we left off the last time."
THE WORK OF FORMER JOAQUIN MORAGA INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL TEACHER LOIS REYNOLDS MEAD AND HER FATHER CHANG REYNOLDS
WHEN: Through January
WHERE: Orinda Library Gallery