- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
- RENEGADES : Pictured, left to right, are Eric Soderquist, Burl Vreeland, Peter Antonio, and Katie Kramer in their interim gallery window.
Within the ruins of the old Moondoggies board shop location in SLO is a quasi art space. Atop the blond hardwood floors, canvases lean against walls in four slightly designated areas. Most are finished, some barely out of their cellophane wrap. Empty Tecate beer cans and old coffee cups half filled with liquid rainbows are scattered about. A forgotten glass counter case with orphaned hats, sunglasses, and wallets serves as a reminder of what has come and gone.
The energy is immediate and raw.
“We thought it would be sick to have an art show in here … the idea was to harvest paintings for a month,” says Burl Vreeland, who, along with Peter Antonio, Katie Kramer, and Soderquist, participates in Art Harvest, a month-long cultivation period culminating with a party Oct. 29 to showcase more than 20 completed works.
“We chose each other because we bring energy to each other’s art,” said Soderquist. The deeply local group (all are lifelong residents of SLO County with the exception of Kramer), puts heavy stock in their opportunity to bounceideas among them, a detail that’s just as important as the exhibit itself.
A common goal was to collectively limn the same thing for one piece; they chose the Mission, an inevitable subject after hearing the bells every day from their workspace.
Peter Antonio, 35, Arroyo Grande
He’s an avocado farmer and family man by day, painter by night. After joining the show, Antonio found inspiration from the simple things: a tree on the side of the road, and Hazards, a dangerous surf spot with a notoriously volatile wave. Not a surprise; he’s been a surfer since the tender age of 9.
Antonio has been laying paint to canvas for more than ten years in a unique, freeform style. With no sketch, Antonio revels in getting the imagery down on canvas, then scraping away, adding to, turning, and twisting the pigment, resulting in what he proudly presents as abstract landscapes.
In “Palisades” he finds the yin and yang of light and dark contrasts. “It has to be something more than just a landscape,” he explained. A sky and sea of perfectly patterned blues, whites, and devoutly impressionistic brushstrokes create the necessary movement. Although he hasn’t shown in a few years, he hopes others will be inspired by his work, and maybe buy a piece or two.
This Santa Ynez native is the lone woman, and probably the most formally trained in art of those in the group; at UCSB. Kramer, who has been painting since she could hold a brush, moved to SLO only a month ago, but has known the other artists for years through her boyfriend.
The blonde seems tailor-made for this show. Her art has always flowed from her surroundings; she takes pictures for inspiration wherever she goes. Her creative soul mates are the old neon signs and historic buildings of yesteryear. Oil rigs off the coast of Santa Barbara or longhorn cattle grazing among old telephone wires—these are the images that arrest and inspire her to paint.
Kramer’s various canvasses, one featuring the Fox Theatre in Paso Robles, another the Fremont in SLO, encompass small details. Her signature style is drippings that go on the piece before anything else, rising from the palette she mixes on the floor.
Eric Soderquist, 31, Shell Beach
Various makeshift paper palettes adorn the two-by-fours flanking both sides of the gallery, acting as easels for the artists. Soderquist’s landscapes are currently “blowing his mind” with their rich, layered, burnt oranges and dueling blues of the massive, clouded sky and Laguna Lake. There’s a poem featured in his rendering of the Mission, its original text written on the back of a Fed Ex Kinko’s bag during the rain storm a few weeks back.
His obsession is capturing the natural beauty of the Central Coast—the place where he lives, loves, and a part of the world he claims doesn’t change that much. His series also includes oil paintings of the Seven Sisters.
Like Antonio, Soderquist found his inspiration off the beaten path, observing peaks from the side of the road; the two even had a downtown SLO studio a few years back. Having just completed a book tour for the bestseller The California Surf Project, Soderquist’s next venture is a short film he’s written and produced.
Burl Vreeland, 25, SLO
Fiercely dedicated painter Vreeland is reminiscent of David Hockney: bright, primary colors, while bedding a serious photographic quality.
During Art Harvest, which succeeded a four-month painting hiatus, Vreeland attempted to change his style, but returned to his tried-and-true approach.
“I always go into it thinking I’m going to do it a certain way, and it never pans out, and in the end I go back to what I know how to do, and that is fine, because I love to paint.”
His latest output is heavily influenced by his recent move to downtown SLO from South County. There is a moment frozen in paint depicting a back alley behind Monterey and an architectural triptych of a pan of downtown, which Vreeland claims is out of his comfort zone. The artist unvaryingly emits stylish portraits of everyday life, speckled with silvery, shimmering stencils, large polka dots, and brick.
Christy Heron is still thinking about that blow-up doll straddling her desk. Slap her silly at cheron