March Art Happenings
Nikki Basch Davis and Jerrold Turner: Still Friends After All these Years
Nikki Basch’s “Reflections,” Gallery 621
Locals and visitors to Benicia will enjoy a vibrant art scene this month with new exhibitions opening in several venues. Long-time Benicia artists Nikki Basch Davis and Jerrold Turner are featured at Gallery 621, in an exhibition titled “Still Friends.” Basch Davis and Turner share a love of plein air (outdoor) painting which grew into a deep friendship and mutual admiration over several decades. The exhibition features artworks that span the years of their painting together and show an evolution in both artists’ work over the years.
Formally trained at the Bezalel Art Institute in Jerusalem and the Royal College of Art in London, Basch Davis’ work includes landscapes and story-telling figurative paintings, ceramic sculpture, and prints. Turner pursued a career in structural engineering, with degrees from UC Berkeley. He is primarily self-taught in art and painted with Lundy Siegriest and Terry St. John. He turned his focus from abstract works to plein air after viewing the work of Seldon Gile, a member of the Society of Six. His works include landscapes, urban scenes, and whimsical, fantasy-like depictions of invented characters and places.
Basch Davis recalls meeting Jerry over forty years ago as a student in a painting class at the Walnut Creek recreation center. “He strolled into class and gave the ladies present the once over. I could see that his pursuit was not limited only to art,” she laughs. “It was the seventies, an exciting time for emerging artists. A new group was introduced to us, ‘The Society of Six.’ It was the first time we learned about plein air.” Basch Davis studied with Lundy Siegriest, son of Society of Six member Louis Siegriest. “The idea of painting outdoors in all seasons and every weather was a new concept. We took to it quickly.” Often painting with a group that varied in membership, Jerry and Nikki were regulars. Their long days of driving around, exploring scenes and immortalizing them on canvas quickly evolved into a close friendship.
Right: Jerrold Turner and Nikki Basch Davis painting outdoors.
Jerrold Turner’s “Two Kids on China Camp Beach,” Gallery 621
“Jerry’s eye for color was his strength. I was always amazed how convincing the shadows in his paintings were and how brilliant the surfaces appeared, washed by sunlight. Watching him spread brush strokes of thick paint on the canvas helped me let go of years of art education and react to what I see with intuition and freedom.”
Turner also fondly recalls those early years painting with a group of artists every Saturday, with Basch Davis a constant among the group. “When I first met Nikki she was mostly a watercolor painter, very accomplished. She started exploring with oils. We painted all over. Some of our favorite places included Crockett, the Berkeley Hills, and China Camp. She’s very versatile, and fearless. She doesn’t work her art over in her mind too much, she just goes for it.” “Still Friends” can be viewed from March 4 to 27, from 12 to 6 pm, Thursday through Sunday. Visit gallery621.com for a reception date to be announced.
“There’s No Place Like Nowhere”
The Marilyn Citron O’Rourke Art Gallery at the Benicia Public Library has recently opened “There’s No Place Like Nowhere,” an exhibition of work by Benicia resident Michael Shannon Moore, curated by Kathryn Weller Renfrow. The opening was originally scheduled for March 2020 and canceled due to the emerging pandemic. The exhibition runs through April 3. Moore’s acrylic drawings and ink paintings are inspired by regular travels between his studios in Benicia, the Smoke Desert in Nevada, and Huerfano County in southern Colorado. After years of travels, Moore finds himself at home in these barren empty desert spaces. Mainly landscape abstractions, his works represent his memory of a place rather than an attempt to paint the actual scene. “I quickly float washes across the canvas with horizontal brushstrokes … eventually it will begin to evoke something I remember.” As he works, the evolving painting reminds him of images he has seen, suggesting changes and additions. To learn more about Moore, visit beniciamagazine.com/further-afield/. A reception is planned for March 5, from 3 to 5 pm. Library and gallery hours are available at benicialibrary.org.
Michael Moore. Part of “There’s No Place Like Nowhere”
Peter Vandenberge, Tap Roots Exhibition, Arts Benicia
Arts Benicia opens “Tap Roots, Ceramic Artist Educators of Northern California,” on March 12; the exhibition runs through April 10, concurrent with the 2022 conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). “Tap Roots” is a joint exhibition produced by Arts Benicia and the Epperson Gallery, in Crockett. The exhibition includes works by 28 ceramic artist-educators, including Richard Shaw, Wanxin Zhang, Peter Vandenberge, Lisa Reinertson, John Roloff and Mark Messenger. Works are displayed at both galleries. Opening receptions are planned for March 12, at Arts Benicia from 2 to 4 pm, and at the Epperson Gallery from 4 to 6 pm. Visit artsbenicia.org/taproots/ for more information.
The Benicia Plein Air Gallery features the work of Maria SantoStefano this month. Her show is titled “Colorfornia,’’ displaying landscapes painted on location from a variety of Northern California spots. SantoStefano is a colorist following in the Bay Area tradition of Pam Glover, Louis and Lundy Siegrist and the Society of Six. She resides in Orinda. The Benicia Plein Air Gallery is open from 11 am to 5 pm, Friday through Sunday. For more information, visit beniciapleinair.com
Visitors are encouraged to check the website of each gallery for locations and updates regarding hours and events. Enjoy the art!
Feature photo: Maria SantoStefano, Colorfornia Exhibition, Benicia Plein Air