It is a holiday, so time for another field trip. The City of Berkeley celebrates Malcolm X today. I celebrate the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth.
For this field trip, we will go to Sebastopol.
We have seen the work of Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent in these pages.
We saw the dog and wolf at Randi and Steve Herman’s house on Vassar.
We saw the dachshunds at Eni Green’s house on Harper.
If you went along on the Presidents’ Day field trip to Susan Alexander’s little slice of paradise in Glen Ellen, you saw these three Amiot pieces.
In the Continuing Education of Tom Dalzell Department, Alexander took me to the home of Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent in Sebastopol.
Comme c’est étonnant!
Art abounds inside and outside their house and, as we will see later, everywhere you look in Sebastopol. The funk factor is Very Elevated in Sebastopol. It generally makes the funkiest parts of Berkeley look positively manicured and uptight. Love it!
They live in a bungalow on a quiet street. Quiet except for the sculpture.
You see, what happened was …
Thirty-five years ago – plus ou moins – two French Canadian artists fell in love in Montreal. I favor “Francophone” to “French-Canadian,” but it is not the simplest term and runs the risk of seeming pretentious.
Their odyssey took them to British Columbia in 1982 (all dates are -ish), Toronto in 1987, Montreal in 1989, and then Sebastopol in 1997, where they raised daughters Mathilde and Ursule. And where they still live.
Their work was mostly smaller ceramics, wall reliefs and freestanding sculptures. The general division of labor is – Amiot sculpts and Laurent paints. But, in an artistic collaboration such as theirs, the division of labor is not absolute. Creative partnerships often reject rigid boundaries.
Once in Sebastopol, the smaller ceramic works gave way to larger pieces, which Amiot came to call “junk art” on account of its components are, well, junk he finds at flea markets or junk shops or junk yards or in barns. There is the occasional ceramic wall relief these days, but – mostly – big pieces.
The first big piece ever:
At some point over the years, the fisherman’s fish got away. That happens.
In the making of crepes, there is the rule of thumb – la premiere crepe est jamais bon. The first crepe is never good. (La première crêpe est souvent ratée, c’est un peu la crêpe témoin, celle qui nous sert à juger de la quantité de pâte à utiliser, et de la cuisson de crêpes idéale.) Not here though. The first big piece really rocks. No tentative first step here!
Over the last 20-ish years, many, many many more pieces. Amiot and Laurent are nothing if not prolific.
A work starts with a sketch.
Then fabrication by Amiot and the piece comes home for Laurent’s color in the back studio.
Sometimes, as in the case of this hookah-smoking caterpillar, there is a small model and then a big piece.
More often it is sketch to junk to big piece.
Which is not to say that there are not pieces that start and end small. There are, and many of them are in the house – which we now visit.
First thing inside the door – what a floor!
Where are my manners? Introductions, of course.
This is Pistache.
This Angelo. The dogs prefer French, but are passably bilingual.
A small sample of the art in the house:
Up a red spiral staircase is a bedroom with pitched roof ceiling.
And an amazingly cool Pontiac bed.
Just thinking out loud here – I’m seeing a Quirky Beds post (a terrific built-in pun!) somewhere in the future. I can think of a couple. A project!
Downstairs is the room where the daughters grew up.
Another awesome bed – and another shot of Angelo.
Check out this Little Red Riding Hood piece:
I estimate that this is less than 1/4 of the art in the house. Contemplate that!
Out into the backyard that separates the house from the studio. It is something approaching a visionary environment. New term! There are three Airstreams. Here is one of them.
The daughters live in two of them. They have out buildings as closets:
In the yard there is fabricated furniture and there is art and there are old signs and – more.
At the back of the back yard is the studio. Shall we?
That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
In these two photos Laurent holds ceramic pieces from very early in her relationship with Amiot.
Amiot and Laurent are all about art and all about family and all about their community.
Here the daughters prepare food for the Ceres Project – serve the hungry and learn to cook. The photo is from 2008.
Amiot contributes to a calendar, the sales of which benefit schools and the community.
Sales of the calendar have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the community. Quirky Berkeley sez: go here, and buy a calendar. Only $15. Great art. Great cause.
Amiot/Laurent sculptures all seemingly everywhere in Sebastopol. Certainly ubiquitous. I first hear that word in the fall of 1970 in an archeology class with Dr. Potter at Penn. All about me!
There is a map.
Quirky Berkeley sez go here and buy a map.
Just on the three blocks of Florence Avenue between Bodega Avenue and Healdsburg Avenue, you can see these:
Is this not amazing? Very amazing? VERY amazing?
Their art is found at the Loch Gallery in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary.
Much of their work is made on commission. Their website tells you how to get in touch – and it has many more great photos.
I urge you – go to their website and check out the photos of their solar-powered Pride of Canada carousel commissioned for the city of Markham, Ontario, Canada.
Their art is certainly a good reason in and of itself for a day trip to Sebastopol. There are many other good things there.
if you go between August 1 and December 1 – you will want to go to Walker Apples. Open seven days a week. 27 varieties. Try before you buy. The bomb!
Back to Amiot and Laurent. There is so much to admire here – their values and family and their art. Hard work! Drive! The embrace of a Francophone family. All good.
I asked my friend about the photos here. He looked up – “Pack our bags – we gotta go to Markham. That carousel Must Be Seen.”
Well, that kind of a trip isn’t happening on the cuff like we used to do things, but – maybe one day. For the time being, what about the art as seen here?