On the art trail in Carmel

I’m beat.  Bushed. Knackered.  All in.  This has been a long day; sometimes being on vacation can really be work.

After our quick sojourn in Seattle yesterday, we grabbed a short nap and headed out this morning on a 3 day trip to Carmel and Big Sur with the Oakland Museum Art Guild.  We had to be at the museum, on 11th street in Oakland, at 8:00 am.  These people don’t understand vacation, but that’s when the bus was leaving so we had to be there.  Yes, I’m now one of the old geezers I used to laugh at taking bus trips around the state.

For some odd reason we took a bizarre route–through Oakland to 580, all the way to 680 and then down through Sunol.  Seems like much the long way around, but I guess it doesn’t matter–I was just sitting there, with no plans for 3 days in any event.  Our regular, trusty driver Pete was at the wheel, why should I worry?

A little over 2 hours later we hit Carmel.  Tour busses have to park in a specific spot,   feeding $10/hour into the meter.  First stop–restrooms.  I saw this sign on a gallery that wasn’t open yet, and hoped it would not be an omen for the trip:

I wonder if they see the irony here.

I wonder if they see the irony here.

Then we walked a few blocks and came to the first stop–the Cassandria Blackmore gallery.

Ms. Blackmore, the owner, is also the artist. Her metier is painting in acrylics on the back of a sheet of glass, then carefully shattering it.  The resulting work is both planned and random, and quite interesting.

Cassandria Blackmore giving us a talk about her work.

Cassandria Blackmore giving us a talk about her work.


Cassandria does work both figurative and abstract.  I like the figurative much better:

This I could have in the house.

This I could have in the house.


The abstract sells better, because it’s safer.  Hotels, banks, consulting practices, law firms, all want good looking, non-confrontational art to decorate the wall, and Blackmore’s abstracts fill the bill.


We ate lunch at il Fornaio.  On a tour like this the menus are planned well in advance–you get a choice from a couple of salads, two or three entrees, it’s all planned before you leave home.  Gail did the planning for this trip while I was in Gatlinburg, so it will all be a surprise to me.  For lunch I had a spinach salad, with too many mushrooms (well, one is too many, but this salad was 35% mushroom) and some grilled salmon.  The salmon was not bad.

A major reason to come on a tour like this is that you get to see things you could not see by yourself.  We next visited the private homes of two collectors, on on 17 mile drive and one up in the hills.  The group leaders claim that the homeowners don’t allow photos of their houses, but I’m not a believer.  Perhaps some indeed don’t want photos, but it is not probable that they ALL don’t.  I think that’s just a rule the leaders made up by themselves, but I’m stuck with it.  You’ll have to believe me that we saw a couple of beautiful homes with interesting art collections.  The house on 17 Mile Drive was cooler–it was formerly used as a guest house for members of the Firestone Family.  The house on the hill had the better art collection, some really priceless works from early California painters.

Our day was not over yet.  We next drove way the heck out into Carmel Valley, on lovely back roads I’m told.  I fell asleep immediately after the last collector’s house and slept the entire way.  We were going to the studio of Patricia Qualls, a self-taught abstract expressionist who used to be a clinical psychologist who used painting as a means to unwind.  Then she got addicted to the joy of creating art, and now she’s a very successful full time painter–all in the space of about 10 years.

Her large studio displays many of her works:

Patricia works in large canvasses

Patricia works in large canvasses


Here's Patricia talking to us.  Her personality, vivacity and excitement fill the room.

Here’s Patricia talking to us. Her personality, vivacity and excitement fill the room.

The other side f the room.

The other side of the room.

And here’s where the world comes full circle.  See that table in the photo above?  It is a large sheet of plastic, which Patricia painted on the back–just the same technique Cassandria used in the first gallery we saw this morning.  Although Patricia won’t be shattering it, the similarity of style, method and purpose, coming from two such very different artists, was incredible.

Last photo of the day, which has no purpose at all.  I just hadn’t seen a caterpillar in ages, and here this fellow as creeping along a railing.

Some kind of little caterpillar--this guy was just over one inch long.

Some kind of little caterpillar–this guy was just over one inch long.


We got to our hotel about 7 pm, then went out at 7:30 for dinner at the Quail Inn.  Gail ordered me a spinach salad and salmon.  This was better, though.  No mushrooms, better salmon.  Strawberry pie for dessert.  It was almost 10 by the time we got back, and I had writing to do.  This recreation keeps me busier than work does.


Have to be on the bus early tomorrow for the drive to Big Sur.  I think we’re having lunch at Ventana.  Life is good.


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