YoloArts and Gallery 625 present: Sweet!

For some, the pandemic lockdown may have inspired high calorie indulgences in cakes and other sweet things. For artists Robert Gonsowski and Polly LaPorte, it became the catalyst for a special artistic exploration of visual tastiness for a dessert tableau served on canvas.

Sweet! opens August 6 at YoloArts’ Gallery 625 in Woodland.

Friends Gonsowski and LaPorte came up with the idea for this show when the weather got too cold and uncomfortable for plein air painting, and they decided to paint still life setups indoors. Their usual indoor studios were closed due to COVID-19, so in January they set up a mobile studio in an unheated warehouse and began searching for a still life subject that motivated them. A gaudy, colorful, sprinkle donut from a local in-store bakery was just the engaging subject they were looking for and the hunt for parfaits, cake pops, cakes, and more donuts began.

“We began our painting at the warehouse by carefully setting up large still life groups, arranging and rearranging objects, surfaces, and colors until we got the effect we wanted. As you can see in our paintings, we depicted the same still lifes from different viewpoints and approaches. We worked together to make sure the composition was exciting from more than one direction,” LaPorte and Gonsowski said in a joint statement.

Some of the paintings in the exhibition, feature “oddball” objects the artists found lying around the warehouse, and some of these such as playing cards and a red teapot can be found in their paintings in this show.

LaPorte is a California fine art painter who was born in San Francisco and grew up in Placerville. As a young child LaPorte was inspired by her grandmother’s art making and began showing her art, winning blue ribbons at the El Dorado County Fair Art Show. Later, she completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at UC Davis, studies that included classes taught by Wayne Thiebaud. Her career was in media art, and she earned many awards over the years, including an Emmy award for animation. La Porte is dedicated to improving her painting skills, continuing to study with many painters.

Gonsowski is a Sacramento artist with a lifelong interest in art. In grade school he took art classes at the Toledo Museum of Art and has college degrees in art history, also studying art studio and graphic design. He exhibits regularly and has worked with area art groups. Gonsowski works primarily in oil paints and pastels. His artwork includes plein air landscapes figures, and still lifes. Gonsowski frequently paints the colorful landscape of the Sacramento Delta, and has depicted the unique steel bridges, levees, flooded fields, farms, houses, and wetlands.

The artists will attend the opening reception, 5:30-8 p.m. Friday August 6, coinciding with the downtown Woodland First Friday event. Music will be performed by solo guitarist Jon Spivack and sweet refreshments will be available. Face coverings are recommended in the gallery for all guests in accordance with the most recent recommendations from the Yolo County Health Officer.

On Saturday August 14, LaPorte and Gonsowski will be leading an art demonstration and lesson for adults (age 18+) on how to paint your own donut still life at The Barn Gallery in Woodland. Register here.

At noon on August 16 the artists will be giving a talk about their work. The talk can be watched on Facebook/Instagram @YoloArtsCA. The artwork can also be viewed (and purchased) online at yoloarts.org/online-galleries.

Sweet! continues at Gallery 625 through November 30.

Gallery 625 hosts exhibitions and receptions every other month. New exhibitions typically open on the first Fridays of February, April, June, August, and December.

Gallery 625 is located at 625 Court Street in Woodland, in Yolo County’s Erwin Meier Administration building and is open Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, contact YoloArts at ya@yoloarts.org.

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