Douglas E. Welch

Writing Clips

Douglas E. Welch,

Ventura Studio Artists Tour offers "behind-the-scenes" look at studio and homes

Valley Scene Magazine

May 5, 2005

Watching an artist at work is an intimate experience usually reserved for family and friends. Unless an artist chooses to work in public, most art lovers only see the finished product - the canvas, the ceramic pot, the photograph. On May 21st and 22nd, though, a collection of artists in the Ventura area will throw open the doors to their studios, and even homes, to welcome visitors for the 2nd Annual Ventura Studio Artists Tour 2005.

Visiting an artist's workspace can be amazingly enlightening. Works in progress, source material like photos and sketches, personalized tools like palettes, brushes and easels, each provide a small piece of the puzzle that goes into the final artwork. Even more important, though, are the collections of art with which the artists have surrounded themselves. Balinese shadow puppets hang beside older paintings, which sit beside masks from Venice. These collections can help the visitor understand the underpinnings of the artist's work in ways that words cannot convey.

A preview

Valley Scene received a preview of some of the artists involved in this year's Studio Artists Tour and was pleasantly surprised at the depth and breadth of artists working in and around Ventura.

Gerd Koch, featured artist of this year's tour, greeted visitors in the garden surrounding a typical suburban, hillside home which overlooks the city of Ventura and out to sea. Inside is an extensive gallery of his work along with fellow artist Carol Milton and their art collection. Koch points out his work to the small group, explaining both the how and the why of each piece. Carol then opens the door to her small studio, giving all the visitors a glimpse into the life of a working artist. Koch has an extensive history as an artist and educator, including founding the Artist Commune Tree Ranch in Ojai in 1952 and teaching at Venture College for almost 30 years. His artwork has brought a host of one man shows over the years and several awards.

Robert Eyberg's studio is housed in an industrial-looking shop near downtown Ventura, which is appropriate as he works in the high-tech/high-touch art form of glass sculpture. On this day Eyberg is working on a collection of hanging sculptures he calls "medicine bags." These sculptures are soon to be presented to various art groups and individuals throughout Ventura as the Mayor's Arts Awards " recognize the artistic achievements and contributions to the cultural community."

There are shelves with nearly every type of glass imaginable along with the artist's tools, a large kiln for "heat forming" glass and a sandblasting booth for glass etching projects. Eyberg also designs and produces contemporary and traditional stained glass and etched glass pieces for homes and offices. Although the workshop is dark inside, the glass artworks sparkle with their own light.

Crystal Hawk Studio, owned by David and Linda Elders seems the perfect combination of arts studio and home. While there is a formal studio and workshop where the artists develop their unique wooden sculptures, the entire house is also their studio. Sitting in the middle of the studio is Linda's latest work, a female form entitled "Paradox." The figure seems almost alive even though her body is made of mahogany and her hair, darkly stained walnut.
As the artists guide visitors through their homes, they tell stories about the joy of learning how to raise the large wooden beams by hand and discovering a technique to add the unique sculptural designs around the doorways and windows. Built entirely by hand, the house, obviously a labor of love, is even held together by hand-forged nails created by the artists.

Focus on the Masters

The Studio Art Tour is designed to benefit arts education in Ventura County and Focus on the Masters (FOTM), a non-profit art appreciation program "that documents, preserves and presents the works and lives of accomplished contemporary artists." This includes an archive of over 600 files on artists who have lived or worked in the Ventura area. FOTM also has projects to photograph both artists and their works, youth outreach programs and a lecture series. More information on Focus on the Masters can be found at: or by calling 805-653-2347.

The Ventura Studio Artists Tour takes place on Saturday and Sunday, May 21and 22 from 10 am to 5 pm. Prices for the Tour are $20 for the General Public and $15 for FOTM Members. An Artists Reception Gala will be held on Friday, May 20 at 5:30 pm and tickets are $25/$20. Combined tickets for both events are $45/$35. All ticket holders are invited to the Afterglow Reception at Ventura Harbor Village at 6 pm on Sunday, May 22nd. Tickets and an Artist's Preview are available on the web at: or by calling 805-653-2501.