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Local artists open new gallery in Pescadero

Space can become community hub

By Peter Tokofsky

Dec 13, 2023 Updated Dec 15, 2023

The former Made in Pescadero showroom on Stage Road re-opened over the weekend in its new incarnation as Madrone Arts. The revived exhibition and gathering space grew out of years of conversation among a group of artists seeking to create new opportunities to show work and connect with their community. ​The artists formed a cooperative, rented the space from furniture-maker Ken Periat and now plan to organize workshops as well as four exhibitions each year. Deborah Webster and Delma Soult, two of the founding members of Madrone Arts, said they have talked about forming an artist co-op for a few years. After curating the annual show for the South Coast Artists’ Alliance in the I.D.E.S. Hall at the Pescadero Arts and Fun Festival, the duo felt the need for a permanent space to bring local artists together. Soult, who is director of finance and administration at Pie Ranch when she’s not painting, drafted a business plan for a new organization. She and Webster shared the idea with a list of local artists, hoping that 10 of them would sign on. The response exceeded expectations and they ended up with 12 founding members. Webster said the group put blood, sweat and tears into renovating the space that opened more than a century ago as a strawflower processing plant. With fresh paint and other new details on the interior, the lofty structure that has been home to a hardware store, salon and plumbers’ office before becoming Made in Pescadero is ready for its new identity. It seems to be working. Webster sold two works within hours of the doors opening. Soraya Orumchian, a realtor based in Half Moon Bay who is friends with members of the group, suggested that they should have a neutral party curate the first installation in the refurbished gallery. The artists agreed and immediately recruited Orumchian herself to do it. Orumchian’s design for the space helps the art shine. A variety of two-dimensional works, including Soult’s surrealistic “Emerging Feminine” series of oil paintings, are artfully grouped on the fresh white walls. Like others in the collective, Soult has considered herself an artist since childhood but only became more serious about the pursuit later in life. Unique slabs of repurposed wood atop vintage sawhorses provide a platform for work by artists such as Martha Tingle, who a few years ago dusted off the pottery wheel she bought in college and got more serious about ceramics. She uses micaceous clay that links her art to Native American ceramics in the Southwest as well as to culinary traditions around the world because the stable clay is often used for cooking. Another table nearby features the work of glass artist Barbara Grauke, who captured an aquatic spirit with the blue-green vessels on display. Until now Grauke has mostly sold her work at art fairs. She acknowledged that a gallery in Pescadero faces challenges getting customers but was delighted with how great the space looks. The tabletop displays create more intimate sections in the gallery, helping break up the cavernous space. A second, smaller room behind the main gallery, called the Annex, features a selection of work by Bay Area artists who are not members of the co-op. “It has been a wonderful trajectory for the group,” said Lynnette Vega, who was unable to attend the opening. “We all want it to work.” Many of the people who gathered for the inaugural exhibition expressed their hopes that Madrone Arts will become a hub for a variety of local events. The group already has workshops scheduled to take place in the Annex in January. For now, the new gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends at 216 Stage Road. It will also be open occasionally on Fridays and Mondays.

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A crowd of art lovers turned out for the opening of Madrone Arts in Pescadero. It came to fruition after conversations among many in the South Coast arts community.

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