Paintings, Playful Tapestries and a Public Art Retrospective, Oct. 2

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(Courtesy John Toki)
John Toki’s 10’4” tall stoneware and porcelain clay sculpture, Sakura 2019, was completed over four years and weighs 3600 lbs.

    The Lamorinda Arts Council presents paintings by Loralee Chapleau, tapestries by Aiko Kobayashi Gray and a photographic retrospective of John Toki’s public art career at the in-person and virtual Art Gallery at the Orinda Library during October.
   To view their work online, visit www.lamorindaarts.org/online-galleries. Meet the artists at a reception in their honor outdoors on Saturday, Oct. 2 from 3 to 5 p.m., where light refreshments will be served.
   At 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2, John Toki will host a 30-minute presentation about the historic value of public art, its educational value for young students, engaging in the process of making art for public viewing and the intrinsic value of art in society. All COVID-19 restrictions will be observed.
   Chapleau has dabbled in acrylics on and off since high school in the 1980s.
   “I began painting with oils in 2009,” she said. “My drawing background is expressive, dating back to Professor Luis Gutierrez at San Jose City College in the early 1990s. Whenever I get a creative block or am trying to begin a new piece, I hear his voice in my head saying, ‘Draw with your left!’ That voice is louder than ever lately.”
   She is aware of how many famous masters evolved from being figurative painters toward abstractionists over time.
   “There’s Turner, Matisse and most famously Picasso. Rothko is definitely influencing the work on my easel,” said Chapleau. “I’m experimenting with reducing the landscape to bands of color and playing with shapes a lot lately, reminiscent of the works of Nicolas de Stael. I’ve admired his work for years, and his influence is really starting to show itself in recent work.”
   But Chapleau counts many years of friendship and painting with prominent Bay Area plein air painter Jerrold Turner of the Outsiders as a longtime influence.
   “Among the many lessons he taught is reminding me to embrace imagination and have fun,” she said.
   The push and pull of light and dark is a recurring theme in her work: “Viewers too are important because they are participating in a journey. They bring their own memories, emotions and thoughts to their viewing experience. That’s one of the things I really love about art.”
   Visit https://bit.ly/3iekDaT to see examples of her work.
   Aiko Kobayashi Gray was born in Japan where she studied oil painting. Next, she traveled the world and lived in Europe and Central America to widen her artistic experience. She encountered a wide variety of textiles in her travels and began her career as a textile artist in the 1970s. Over time she learned to speak Spanish, English and Japanese. She has worked out of her Walnut Creek studio since 1998.
   It turned out that weaving was more satisfying for her than painting.
   “When I was painting, I felt the work was never really finished – I could change it at any time with the stroke of my brush. But with weaving, there is an end point. My work is finished and I move on to the next one,” she said.
   Because she chooses to weave with natural cotton, linen fiber, wool and silk, hand-dyeing some of her fabric is possible.
    The 10 large tapestries she is exhibiting fall within her theme, “The Experience of the Journey.” Her unique style is about weaving her tapestries while recalling memories and reflections of certain travels – such as the desert winds from Andalusia or riotous colors from Guatemala. You will experience playful images of children and images of animals closer to home upon viewing her pieces.
   Gray has shown her work in Japan, Spain and the SF Bay area. Visit www.aikokobayashi.com.
   Artist Toki’s career as a public artist runs from 1982 to the present. Besides displaying photos of his many projects, he will also share six models from ongoing projects.
   An educator for over 25 years, Toki retired as a faculty member from the California College of the Arts in 2007. Throughout his career he has conducted workshops and lectured widely, including stops at Kent State University, University of California – Berkeley, Otis Art Institute, San Francisco Art Institute and colleges and institutions in Canada, Holland, Taiwan and Turkey. In 2014, Toki spoke at the DeYoung Museum. View his video on “Sakura” public art sculpture at https://youtu.be/UJ-0Bt7NtFw.
   His Richmond studio hosted students from Del Rey Elementary School in 2016 for a Maker’s Project, resulting in a welded steel sculpture, “Wild Thing.” Learn more about this project at his PowerPoint presentation. Visit www.johntoki.com to learn more about his artistic contributions in the SF Bay area and beyond.
   To learn more about the Lamorinda Arts Council go to http://www.lamorindaarts.org. This exhibit runs Oct. 1 through 31 during normal library hours in the Art Gallery at the Orinda Library at 26 Orinda Way. Hours are Mon. – Thur., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fri. – Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Sun. Call 925.254.2184 for more information about the Orinda Library or visit http://www.ccclib.org. Email curators at gallery@lamorindaarts.org.

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