ALAMEDA -- Since 1944, Alameda painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists have gathered as members of the Alameda Art Association.
Nearly seven decades later, the association has taken new strides with a strikingly full-range gallery at Alameda South Shore Center, next to See's Candies. The works boast creations from artists ages 19 to 93. The gallery opened in 2009, and since then, said association President Gil Garitano, members have worked to recreate the gallery's feel, lighting and other elements. The results show off the jewelry, fused glassworks, solid surface images and the whimsical, somber, contemporary and classical pieces that welcome visitors.
Another new perk is a monthly featured artist. January's featured work, by artist Sylvia Chesson, showcases fused glass, a delicate, precise craft that highlights. While she has other pieces in her exhibit, its centerpiece is a set of three creations fashioned after Japanese scrolls. Using special tools to painstakingly create each element of the scrolls and hand-painting them, she used a kiln to fire the pieces of each scroll together until each reaches the vision she had planned.
The scrolls were inspired in memory of an Alameda friend who died while wind surfing in the bay. It was, she said, done with her usual phases of creating the vision, authenticating it through research (including the calligraphic messages on the scrolls) and finally "spreading the word" through art.
"One false move can change the meaning of the work," she said. "In this craft, you learn what glass will and will not do."
She was referring to the need for the perfect heat temperatures, the handwork in forming the elements and the need to be completely present while creating the glass art pieces. These pieces took more than three months to create. Other works she created are also in the exhibit.
In February Garitano's pieces will be featured. His work is a new technology, one he invented, in which he embeds images into solid surfaces such as mural tiles for homes. He has created such works with fine art, people's personal photographs, border designs, historical plaques and other artworks. They are durable, easy to clean and resistant to bacteria and stains. Garitano has been granted a U.S. patent for the process.
The gallery is filled with a range of styles from Alameda artists -- illustrators, photographers, oil and watercolor painters -- even funny little animals. Gallery hours are noon to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and some evenings. Call 510-523-4475 or go to www.alamedaartassociation.com for more details.
On Valentine's Day, the artists will join the monthly "Art Walk," held in part in Oakland's Jingletown neighborhood, just across the Fruitvale Bridge. Garitano said in the future there will be tours for school children who will participate in artistic projects.
"We're branching out," he said.