March Artists & Colorful Work

This article was originally published in the Davis Enterprise in March, 2018.

Pence Gallery: March artists bring colorful work

By Natalie Nelson

At the Pence Gallery this March, we are hosting three new solo artists, each who plays with color in a distinctly different way. As we start to plan for our Garden Tour on May 6, color is a fitting subject to center on for the beginning of spring.

Joe Kabriel’s exhibit, “Sense of Time and Place,” is on display from March 2 to 25 in our Andresen Gallery. Kabriel’s landscapes, such as “California Dreaming in Yellow and Gold,” are first drafted in pencil on one of his travels through the Santa Monica Mountains, where he lives and works.

Like many Davis residents, he travels largely on a bike, and his scenic views merge a panoramic perspective with heightened color and texture.

Some of his drawings are printed on aluminum plates, which gives them an iridescent sheen — an appearance that he heightens through digital manipulation of color and pattern into a truly unique landscape.


As he writes, he hopes through his views to “rediscover the wonder of nature seen through a child’s eyes … and to ponder the meaning of life with fresh hope.” Like many landscape artists, Kabriel reflects on how capturing nature can be both a space to “explore the personal conversation between the inner and outer landscapes of the world around us.” Kabriel will be present for the public reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 9, at the Pence, so please feel free to stop by to see his amazing view of nature.

Much like Kabriel, Davis artist Hannah Klaus Hunter spent a lot of time in her childhood outdoors, “picking up leaves, studying their shapes and colors, their textures and veins, taking pleasure in small details.”

Hunter still loves to collect leaves, which she brings into the studio, to capture the shape, texture and linear qualities of various leaves onto paper. She uses a monoprint process to do this, rolling out a layer of acrylic paint on top of a gelatin-based plate, and then placing leaves on top. After the paper is placed on top, a brayer is used to press the paint onto it.

Some prints are layers of four to five individual print runs, and successful prints are assembled with other versions into an overall larger composition. Sometimes the artist uses natural dyes and pigments to create her prints, which gives her work a natural feel.

To learn her process, plan to attend her Botanical Print & Collage workshop, on Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sign up now at The cost is $105 ($115 non-members) and includes all supplies. Attendees will also create a small accordion-style book with their prints. Hunter’s exhibit, titled “Paper + Leaf,” is on display through April 13, with an opening on Friday, March 9, from 6 to 9 p.m., sponsored by Far Western Anthropological Research Group.

Another related workshop this month is our Ecoprinting session, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 17. Book artist Dorothy Yuki has taught this workshop on using natural dyes and metals to make prints on cloth and other materials for many Bay Area arts organizations, and after Hunter participated in it, we heard so many great compliments that we had to bring it to Davis. The cost is $165 ($175 nonmembers), and artists can register online through

Last but not least, San Francisco artist Nicole Mueller unveils a new installation as part of her “Light Matter” exhibit, on view through April 13. Mueller’s works are both exuberant and complex, with shifting figure-ground relationships, vibrant color and pockets of deep space, creating pathways that weave in and out of her compositions.

Her large works are painted, cut, collaged, arranged and rearranged, resulting in works that exist between chaos and cohesion.

Mueller is the winner of the Glickman McClure Artist Award for 2018. Given to an emerging artist who produces a new body of work for the Pence, the award is donated by Mark M. Glickman and Lanette M. McClure, and includes a generous stipend.

Mueller is primarily a painter and mixed-media artist, but she is stretching into three-dimensions with an installation of suspended colored Plexiglas shapes. This one piece will be installed in the Bill and Nancy Roe glass tower, visible from our D Street entrance. Not daunted by heights, the artist will be installing at the top of a 20-foot scissor lift soon, securing clusters of wires with the colorful forms on them, so that when light passes through, the hues merge and overlap in truly magical ways.

Mueller’s inspiration was a French chapel with stained glass designed by Henri Matisse, and her installation is sure to have a very spiritual presence. As with any piece that is dependent upon natural light, it will constantly be changing, due to the shifting light conditions.

Her Artist Talk, which describes much of her artistic process and the fabrication of this recent installation, is from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 24. While the event is free, we are asking visitors to RSVP online, at (search Pence Gallery). Mueller will also be present during our public reception on Friday, March 9, from 6 to 9 p.m., so stop by for a glass of wine and to meet the artist.

— Natalie Nelson is executive director and curator of the Pence Gallery; her column is published monthly.

Text and Image

I was recently asked to write a guest blog post for Ann E. Grasso, a talented East Coast artist and architect. I had a great time reflecting and writing it and wanted to share this repost with all of you.

Because I take classes online, I meet people from various geographical locations that I would never bump into otherwise. Hannah fits this category. While my usual draw is the visual, in the case of Hannah, it was her words, her thoughts, her care, and concern. Therefore, it is interesting to learn from her writing below that her first solo show was titled Text and Image. Text came first. It is my sincere pleasure to know Hannah through her art as well as her words.

Ann Grasso

And now the page is hers.

Text and Image

Text and Image was the title of my first solo show, many years ago. The title conjures a feeling of magic; the alchemy that occurs when words are combined with images. Those 3 words continue to resonate in my art, years later.

You Know Who You Are  @2004, 11” x 14,” Acrylic and colored pencil on paper, private collection

You Know Who You Are @2004, 11” x 14,” Acrylic and colored pencil on paper, private collection

How did I come to add text to image? It’s classic case of nature and nurture.

I went to college in Iowa City, IA, home of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Words flew through the air like birds. And my parents were writers; it was natural that text would flow into my work. A bookworm from childhood, I just figured that the best way to approach a piece of paper was as a page of a book.

Gazing Ball , @2004, 11” x 14,” Acrylic and Collage on paper, Collection of University of Iowa Hospitals

Gazing Ball, @2004, 11” x 14,” Acrylic and Collage on paper, Collection of University of Iowa Hospitals

Nonetheless, it took many years to figure out how text and image (painted, drawn or printed) interact and how I can use them in my art to create a tight and powerful piece of work.

When I incorporate text, I’m aware that the words exist as hundreds of drawn lines which combine with the lines of paint or drawing to form a composition.

I love to use foreign language books and because I can’t read Japanese or Hebrew (for example) and I lean more on the linear quality of the letter forms.

I also use my intuition when placing text. There are times when someone sees my work at an exhibit and knows the language that I have used.

More often than not, the meaning of the words harmonizes with the spirit of the artwork.

Another issue that arises when incorporating words is whether or not the words need be readable (especially in English). I’ve gone back and forth on this.

There are times in my work when I obscure the words, turn them upside down and make them difficult to discern. I don’t want them to lead the meaning.

Seeds: New Year , @2017, 7” x 10,” Monoprint collage on paper

Seeds: New Year, @2017, 7” x 10,” Monoprint collage on paper

In my most recent work though, I’m more open to the words being easy to see and read. I’m using a Hindi-English dictionary as well as another dictionary in French.

I can understand some of the French, and that adds additional shades of meaning to the piece.

And although I can give you reasons why I include words in my work and tell you how I use them, what undergirds it all is a kind of joy. When words come together with color, shape and form, I feel whole and complete.

As You Begin , @2017, 12” x 12,” Monoprint collage on panel

As You Begin, @2017, 12” x 12,” Monoprint collage on panel

How about you? How do you use text in your artwork? I’d love to hear from you.

You can find me at, or on Instagram: @hkhunterarts.

In Spite Of, @2006, 12” x 12,” Collage on panel, private collection

Bridging the Gap

I've been tucked into my studio for the last couple months, drawing jade plants, diverse succulents, taking notes and obsessively printing gelli prints. I’ve filled a notebook, and in the process, found a rhythm and perhaps some answers to a problem I've been trying to solve.

For the past couple of years, I've worked on a series called Shift, in which I explored my ecological niche of Davis. As the series progressed, I became more interested in the unusual shapes of plants I found visiting various botanical gardens. I began another series of collage works I called Botanical Dreams, inspired by the 30 paintings in 30 days  challenge presented by Leslie Saeta.

I’ve wanted to continue this series and I wanted to wed the monoprints of Shift with the collage, but after several months of trials and lots of recycled prints, I think I’m trying to make an arranged marriage. Shift needs to be one series and Botanical Dreams another.

As I write this, I realize that actually, I'm the bridge. I think that it's hard to leave the safety of a known series and decamp to another largely unknown territory, but the connection lies simply in my own two hands.

Discovery of a New Series

Sometimes, a project ends with fireworks and celebration, sometimes with the feeling of quiet satisfaction of a challenge met and completed. In the case of 30x30, I found the latter but also, the opening to a new series of work. In Kauai, I was captivated by the foliage and flowers; the variety of colors and the fantastical shapes of the leaves. One day, riding down to the beach, I twisted my head around to stare at a tree whose branches and needle patterns wound around in an elegant spiral. I made the decision to return to the island this fall for an artist's retreat; a time to study, paint and draw the plant life. Until then, I think I'll be spending a lot of time at our local botanical garden, haunting my favorite, the Australian section, the closest cousins we have to tropical plants.

Below you'll find a convening of the 30 days--I was excited to make them into one giant collage; a celebration of the challenge.





25,24,23, 30x30--Counting Down!

I got busy over the weekend with an art therapy project for Wellness Within. They are a wonderful organization in Roseville, CA that works with cancer patients, survivors, their families and caregivers. It's a new job for me and I wanted to do my best for the workshop, so I put the 30x30 on the backburner for that time and let it simmer. In order to catch up and cover the three days, I laid out the ground papers and worked on all three simultaneously. It was fun and gave me some ideas about how to expand aspects of this series into larger pieces.







Day #22, 30x30, The New Year of the Trees

Tu BiShvat Seder, or the New Year of the Trees is a Jewish holiday that takes place each year at the end of January or beginning of February. There are many different explanations for the holiday, but I'm most fond of the one that expresses gratitude for the quickening of life within the trees, or, in other words, the first invisible signs of spring.

Although it is gray and rainy outside, warm inside my studio, I think of the Dylan Thomas' poem: The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.

#22 celebrates the greening of life, becoming juicy and ready to bloom whatever our age.



Day #18, 30x30, Total Immersion

After I've been in Kauai for more than a few days, it's easy to feel like I've been swallowed up, head, heart and hands. Even if I hold back, there are the mountains, the  mist and the sea, beckoning me with their hands out, and slowly drawing me in. Once immersed, I want to stay forever! I'm returning to my sweet home in Davis, California tomorrow, but all of these days will come back in the form of art. And if you'd like to share in the aloha and own one of them yourself, don't hold back! Each piece is $100, mounted on cradleboard, $150 with cradleboard and frame. You can contact me at



Day #15, 30x30, Talk about blessings!

Attachment-1(5) I'm straying again from my theme of Botanical Dreams, for good reason. This morning our family traveled to one of our favorite beaches to explore. I stopped in front of the crashing waves and offered a short prayer for the day: for protection, for grace and for generosity and walked off towards the lava rocks.

I stopped to put on my Keens, knowing the danger of lava cuts. As I bent to pull on my sandal, a man appeared and began to warn us of the 40 foot waves. My mind took in the information, but as it did, a huge wave flipped me over and dragged me out. There was nothing I could do, but shout for help.

My sister and the gentleman had to wait for the water to go out before they could reach down and pull me to safety. My next thought was for my daughter and her boyfriend who had gone on ahead. I asked the man, who appeared ocean savvy, to go with my husband and find them. Which they did.

But the story wasn't over. My leg was fairly cut up from the lava and my husband also scraped his foot, trying to help. We stopped at a local store for band-aids and Neosporin. My sister, who was still in shock from the incident (as was I) ran in without her wallet. When she got to the cash register, she discovered she'd forgotten her wallet. Another protector emerged in the Australian woman behind her in line, who simply said; "I'll get it." Amy promised to pay it forward.

After two such incidents of grace what can one do but be thankful?


Day #14, 30x30, Still Sailing

After a day trip to the south shore of Kauai to visit family (and a delicious meal from my chef cousin), I decided it was time to keep it simple on the 30x30 challenge. A night of aloha can mean a morning of, well, you know! Sometime during the evening, my cousin Mike mentioned that on a clear day, he could see to Oahu. His remark stuck in my mind and manifested in these sailboats that I remember from the Honolulu harbor. FullSizeRender

Day #13, 30x30, Immersed in Blue

I'm fascinated by the way a location alters my approach to collage. The light, landscape and colors all change my choice of images and composition. While this is obvious for a landscape or plein air painter, because so much of my work is studio based, my recent changes in location brought this to my awareness. I began this collage sitting on the airplane, taking pages from the Hawaiian airline magazine. I ripped, folded and politely answered the unspoken question from the passenger seated next to me. A lover and collector of art, he was very understanding.

Yesterday, I made reference to days #9, #10 and #11 of the 30paintingsin30days. For my own vacation sanity, I've decided to create a new page in my portfolio just for the 30x30 challenge. You'll find them there...soon!


Day #12, 30x30, Flight to Paradise

I took a break from 30x30 over the weekend to begin my Yoga Teacher Training program at Kaya Yoga in Davis. Not making a collage Saturday and Sunday felt like trying to keep my hand out of the proverbial cookie jar. And then, flying to Kauai on Monday, well how can you argue with that? Now, settled in our home away from home, the colors of #12 surround me.