Both Sides of Atmosphere

Article by Gail Richards

New artwork from Donna Stropes & Bruce Kitts

Get prepared. A real treat is coming this way, and soon!
Willits Center for the Arts proudly announces they’ve scheduled Saturday, March 4 as opening night and artist reception for the latest gallery show, featuring watercolors from Donna Stropes and ceramics from Bruce Kitts. Adding a little intrigue, the show was named “Both Sides of Atmosphere”. You’ll have to attend to understand why.

There’s no way to describe Stropes’ work, she cannot be pigeon-holed, and her latest entries add yet another layer. Anyone who has lived in Willits for any length of time has surely seen the serenity of “Winter Peace” when she captured grazing sheep at the Randrup Ranch, or the same serenity in “Ferndale Gold”, a step-back in time to one of our remaining dairy farms. In fact, her paintings run the gamut from landscapes to florals, vegetable botanicals to travel paintings, to an entire series done at Ridgewood Ranch. Many pieces are cherished in private collections now.

It’s a privilege to be able to see her latest work. From her studio high atop a hillside, she has created a whole set of paintings devoted to constantly changing skies. Be it roiling and rumbling black clouds of a fast-moving storm or beautiful puffy white clouds of Dunoon Harbor in Scotland, she has managed to seize the moment.

Then there’s Bruce Kitts. Selected for the amazing Artists in Residence Program at the Mendocino Art Center, Kitts comes to us from Illinois and says he has grown to love this area and its art community. For this, his first showing in Willits, he managed to take time out from his duties as an instructor at MAC and carefully pack several ceramic pieces for the trip over Highway 20. With the help of Art Center Curator Gary Martin, they’ve created a beautiful display of at least a dozen different pieces, and all for sale. Speaking for himself, Kitts recently noted, “My ceramic work is meant to develop and depict a strong dialogue through its creation of form and surface. My most recent work focuses on showing the inherent qualities of clay. Leaving parts unglazed, over slipping attachments and letting the slip squeeze out the sides, showing ripped edges, leaving marks on the surface; these are all examples of letting the clay speak for itself. Texture and surface play an enormous part in my work. I try not to let any part of the surface go without attention. By utilizing the atmospheric firings provided here at the Mendocino Art Center, many of the minute surface details become far more pronounced.”

The artist reception begins at 6 pm for members, 7 pm for the public. Entry is free.
Willits Center for the Arts 71 E. Commercial Street, Willits. (707) 459-1726

Willits Center For The Arts Winter Gallery hours are: Wednesday - Sunday 11-5pm