A decade of artists’ opportunity: Nevada County artists studio celebrates 10 years of creativity | TheUnion.com

A decade of artists’ opportunity: Nevada County artists studio celebrates 10 years of creativity

Katrina Paz
Special to Prospector

Like most great things, the Artists' Studio in the Foothills started small. Simple. It evolved and flourished into a thriving center over the past 10 years, celebrating, cultivating and teaching all mediums of visual arts.

This Friday ASiF marks its anniversary with a reception and special exhibits by alumni, resident artists and students. The evening includes food, wine, live jazz by Gregory S. Young and Andy Armstrong and a lecture by museum collector Ken Underwood.

The 10th anniversary show began Aug. 14 and runs through Sept. 29.

Several of the original artists from ASiF's beginnings in 2008 will exhibit work as part of the Resident & Alumni Suite. Sculptors Claudia Jeffers, Deborah Bridges and Amanda Paoletti will exhibit sculptural works and the center's newest resident potter and wheel-throwing instructor Saskia Martin will exhibit her pottery.

The beginning of ASiF

When ASiF first opened its doors it was the only local artist gallery in the Grass Valley-Nevada City area. According to Paoletti, who took over the studio shortly after it opened, it was immediately embraced by the arts community.

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Hundreds of artists gathered at the initial exhibits and receptions to connect with each other and supporters. The events were so well attended, Paoletti had to expand the gallery area to accommodate more guests.

The original founder Randy Rigg never intended for ASiF to be a gallery. The space was to be used as a shared studio where artists could come together to work, learn and lead workshops and classes. Not long after the studio opened its doors, Rigg moved on to explore culinary arts and entrepreneurial adventures in the food industry. That's when Paoletti came on board.

"Though the gallery piece wasn't really Randy's thing, the gorgeous studio and common space area he designed and so masterfully and generously created is what made the gallery a no-brainer for me," she said. "The visual artists' community will be forever grateful to Randy for creating our beautiful gallery and the wonderful making, teaching and learning space that we now call our 'art home'."

Paoletti studied ceramic sculpture at California College of the Arts in the late '80s and early '90s while working as an administrative assistant at a few San Francisco galleries. During that time she was hired to work on a start-up for an emerging artist gallery for which she spent two years curating a stable of sculptors, painters and performance artists for a roving SF art gallery. She saw the Grass Valley studio as an opportunity.

"Amanda Paoletti is a very dynamic studio director, which contributes hugely to our success," said Denise Wey, a resident artist and ceramics instructor. "In addition, I think that there's a tangible feeling of combined creativity and warmth of all the resident ASiF artists, which is the heartbeat of the studio. People coming to art receptions often comment on how good it feels here."

10 years and still growing

With ASiF, there was finally a venue were local visual artists see their work. Paoletti emphasizes that while the gallery got them on the map, it's the programs that keep the doors open. Adult classes were the first to be offered then when Mud Hut lost their space in 2010, Paoletti invited them to take over the ceramics program.

Today the studio offers dozens of ongoing classes, from watercolor and acrylic painting (some of the most popular) to metal-smithing and jewelry making.

"The people really make this place," Cheri Guerrette, a watercolor and mixed media instructor said. "Its noncompetitive atmosphere is a beautiful place to create art. I teach about 900 students a year. My classes consist of students that range from beginner to advanced and many of them have been with me for years."

The center's extensive children's program, ARTsCOOL at ASiF, is in collaboration with the county wide Art in the Schools program, bringing art instruction to local public and charter schools. ARTsCOOL also offers after school art, homeschool programs and summer art camps at its Idaho Maryland Road location.

It's hard to quantify the studio's success, but Paoletti is most proud of the community and artists that it's cultivated. "We have students that take classes over and over again, it's more like mentorships. This is their art home. I'm also proud of how much our programs offer the community and how inviting it is to non-artists."

Those students will also have the opportunity to shine this month. ASiF's 2018 Student Showcase shares the gallery for the special exhibit with an impressive group of works by adults and children studying with resident artist instructors.

Katrina Paz is a freelance writer for Prospector and is a resident of Grass Valley.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: 10 Year Anniversary with opening reception, fine art, food, wine & live music

WHEN: 5-8 p.m. Friday

WHERE: ASiF Studios, 940 Idaho Maryland Road, Grass Valley

COST: Free Admission

INFO: Visit asifstudios.com for more information