MARIPOSA – The Mariposa County Arts Council invites the public to the opening reception of Two from the Heart, a dual exhibition featuring individual and collaborative work from artists Penny Otwell and Tim DeWitt.
The exhibit will take place on Thursday, Jan. 24, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Treetop Gallery in Mariposa.
Alongside their gallery work, Otwell and DeWitt have designed a playful participatory art installation that includes an opportunity to support the Arts Council’s art education and outreach programming for 2019. Light refreshments will be served.
Motivated by the rhythm and design of the natural world, Penny Otwell chooses to paint where she lives, here in the Sierra Nevada. Since 1964, she has been drawing and painting Yosemite where she has had meaningful experiences backpacking, hiking, and even working in the High Sierra Camps.
Living in the mountains profoundly affected Otwell’s painting style. Self-taught with a curiosity about geology and landscape, she had studied natural history principals through direct observation along the trail and attended scientific outdoor field seminars from experts; what she knows and loves about the mountains translated through her paintings.
Otwell begins a painting working “en plein air,” occasionally finishing completely in the field. Other times her work comes back to her studio for slight adjustments and a critical eye away from the source.
She says her paintings are not a “record,” but a manifestation of her feelings about the place or subject while she is there.
“Something about the available light is usually my guide. Over time, I’ve become a keen observer of nature by painting in the outdoors.”
Currently, Otwell is “leaning abstract,” observing a scene carefully but drawn to designs with light and color, the “what if?” constantly pulling her sleeve.
Tim DeWitt began his art career making leather clothing and accessories in the Haight-Ashbury of San Francisco in 1967. He had hitchhiked there from his home in Ohio after spending three months in Europe and a year in India attending his senior year of college.
In late fall of 1968, DeWitt left California with four friends to open a store in New York City called “Wisdom and Folly” on East 9th Street. During his time there he handcrafted leather clothing, accessories and gifts for high-profile musicians including Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Janis Joplin, Neil Young, Sonny & Cher, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, and many more.
Gradually his career transitioned into architecture, where he designed commercial and residential working drawings for over 25 years. In 2011, DeWitt retired from architecture and promptly revisited his past passion – creating leather coats and bags once again, though this time, not necessarily for musicians.
DeWitt’s working life has orbited around creating things for people or drawing things for other people to create. Inspired by Otwell, he has recently expanded and experimented with his intrinsic need to create, finding fresh forms of artistic expression.
DeWitt and Otwell’s families first met in Yosemite National Park where DeWitt led backpacking trips, which Otwell organized for the Yosemite Hiking Association. They remained friends while their now-grown children attended school together here in Mariposa, but say they really “re-met” four years ago.
Both discovered that they spoke the same languages of art, color, love for Yosemite, the High Country and family.
“We were both in our sunset years; we both thought our suns had set. But turns out, there is a whole new chapter,” says Dewitt.
Two from the Heart will run from Jan. 24 to Mar. 15 at the Treetop Gallery, located in historic downtown Mariposa at 5009 Highway 140.
For more information please visit the Arts Council’s website or call the office at (209) 966-3155.
The MARIPOSA COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL, INC. is an incorporated not-for-profit organization, created to promote and support all forms of the cultural arts, for all ages, throughout Mariposa County.