jennifer downey
Orinda News
August 1st, 2009

August Gallery Show: Segmented Wood Vessels to Paintings at Library Gallery
August 2009
by Elana O’Loskey

The Orinda Library Gallery’s August show begins on Sunday, August 2, and continues until Monday, August 31. Five diverse artists show work including finely wrought wood jewelry boxes, large atmospheric oil paintings, tableware made from local black acacia and elm wood, acrylic pop art pooches, and plein-air watercolors.

Jennifer Downey is an oil painter who lives and works in Alameda—her work has been exhibited in California and internationally. “The power I seek to portray is a quiet and implicit one; I find it in misty mountains, thin nighttime air and shadowy plains; I also find it in feminine energy,” says Downey. Her finished pieces are executed in oil on canvas using archival materials and methods. The Feminine Nature series portrays figures inspired by particularly sublime or striking places. Titles include: Old Wise Limbs, Stormy Glow and A Melding of Land and Sky.

Ellis Sjoberg is showing wood jewelry boxes, ikebana type design vases and some free form pieces; he works with cherry, maple and walnut. Sjoberg always “…admired the skills of the carpenters and cabinet makers who worked for me [as a general contractor], and so when I retired I decided to get in on the ‘fun’ side of building.” When he turns a piece of wood into a finished product, Sjoberg says it a thrill as well as a very rewarding experience. George Ehrenhaft of Moraga is showing about 30 watercolors on one entire gallery wall. Two-thirds are of California—locals will recognize Lafayette Reservoir, Tilden Park, Moraga Ranch—while others are of Sea Ranch and Yosemite with a small number of paintings from Lucca, Venice and Florence. He’s lived in the area for over a dozen years, but has retained what he calls an “East Coast palette which is very subdued rather than colorful—but communicates a lot.”

Annie Mathew is showing dog portraits done in acrylic—a departure from her usual oil painting because of her recent pregnancy. She finds painting animals requires an almost Zen-like philosophy, “You need to find a way to get rid of the layers of your ego –animals and for that matter, babies, don’t have that.” Mathew believes art slows people down so they may live in the moment and take notice of what’s around them. At her website,, you’ll find landscapes, works incorporating her Indian ancestry, semi-abstract impressionist work, and work exploring more realism.

George Lucido says “it’s fun to make something from a fallen tree that would otherwise wind up in someone’s fireplace.” Lucido wants people to see what urban trees can yield and enjoy an art form that is somewhat out of the norm. The segmented vessels he creates are extremely time consuming and difficult to create. In this show he will exhibit Southwest Indian design segmented vessels mainly used as art objects in people’s homes and several utilitarian pieces such as platters and salad bowls made from local urban trees such as walnut, eucalyptus, elm and black acacia. Lucido is a volunteer teacher at Campolindo High School in Moraga.
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