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The Moment Is Now (Open)

OAKHURST – The Moment Gallery is truly a delight to the senses. Every corner of the place is bursting with color and style, filled with a line-up of work that’s satisfying to the soul.

Industrial artist/owner Jeff Otto has put his heart into the venture, and invited a handful of artists to join in, displaying their efforts on the deep crimson and brilliant lemon walls. The art is a mix of genres that together strike a balance Otto is pleased to have achieved.

“This gallery and store has been my vision for many years,” says Otto, himself an award-winning woodworker. “This could never have happened without the input of so many people in the community, from the artists to patrons.”

Moment Gallery - Owner Jeff Otto with his metal sculpted planetary door -  June 29 2013 - Photo by Virginia LazarOtto, 52, has been part of the Oakhurst community for nearly a decade. Before that he sold motorized scooters in the Bay area, organizing events and races around the city. San Francisco has had an influence on him, and it’s evident in the bold, modern feel of the gallery that doubles as a special-event space.

“The gallery will be open days, and in the evening too, and everyone should come visit,” Otto invites. “The space is fluid and ever-changing.”

The Moment is a great place for a party. Otto plans to open for music and host other gatherings, and may offer the location as a rental on some occasions. “There will be photography in the gallery and occasional ‘pin up’ shoots where ladies can dress stylishly and pose in the gallery viewing fine art and lounging on fine furniture.” In short, it’s a happening place.

The main draw, of course, is the art. Mixed-media paintings, photography and sculpture are among the treasures Otto has culled for the gallery. Most of the artists of The Moment got together for the gallery’s Grand Opening June 30. Newly-engaged Rivka Scaffner is the first Artist in Residence. She’ll use the gallery as her studio away from home, painting live when elements allow.

Moment Gallery - Artist in residence Rivka Schaffner seated surrounded by work - June 29 2013 - Photo by Virginia Lazar“I’m a post-pop surrealist artist,” explains Rivka, who lives in Raymond and travels frequently to Mexico. She’s recognized there as a top notch graffiti artist, garnering numerous accolades, particularly in Jalisco.

“I’ve been doing graffiti since the 70s and now graffiti art is recognized as a true and well-documented art form. There’s a lot of spray artists out there,” Rivka herself included. Known to many as Ms. Rivka, she taught art at Yosemite High School for ten years. Rivka is now engaged to David del Rio.

“My artwork is mainly inspired by being in Mexico where I go three or four times a year and paint,” Rivka says, adding that she appreciates being home here in the mountains, where her brother and father live.

“This area has brought me a lot of happiness and gives me time to work, because you don’t have to spend a lot of money to live here so you can actually have time to be an artist.” Of the gallery, Rivka says, “I really like this place; I’m a rebel that’s respected here.”

Moment Gallery - Artist Charlene Rice makes a decision on where to hang one of her pieces before the gallery opening - June 29 2013 - Photo by Virginia LazarLocal artist Charlene Rice would probably agree on all counts. The Oakhurst resident runs a studio in Mariposa. Her upbeat, collage and mixed-media work also graces the walls at The Moment. Rice and Rivka sometimes paint together at the gallery, for all to see.

“We are really one community on the mountain, when it gets down to it,” says Rice, speaking of the shared resources that have gone into creating The Moment and are the mainstay of artists’ life in the foothills.

“There is nothing that we can’t have up here,” enthuses Rice. “Culture is what we need, that vision of our future for the schools and the kids. The dreamers know how to dream and this is how bridges are built,” she says, referring to art as a bridge between people and ideas. It’s clear the artists involved at the gallery are fans of owner Otto and vice-versa. “It’s refreshing to see somebody of this caliber showing up with the love,” says Rice.

Moment Gallery - Artists Ernie Reda Charlene Rice and Gina B. Ahrens hang out before the opening - June 29 2013 - Photo by Virginia LazarAlso showing at the gallery is the steam-punk sculptural design of Ernie Reda, Oakhurst resident for more than a dozen years.

“I’m doing steam punk art, bringing all the sophistication of old machinery back into today’s living rooms,” says the Reda of his take on mechanical odds and ends. Reda is also a well-known electrical contractor. “It’s a recycling of sort. I look at all the parts that I have and try to create something that looks kind of robotic, something that we expected the future to be.”

San Jose artists Gina B. Ahrens drove in to town for the gallery opening.

“My paintings always have a mix of media in them, mainly acrylic but not only,” Ahrens offers. “There’s frequently, in the layers underneath, charcoal, pastel, maybe some India ink, markers, some rubber stamps; you never know what’s under the layers of paint. Often it’s some sort of metallic or iridescent paint in the background, and if you shine the light on them in the right way, it will show up. I like sparkly,” she admits. The gallery’s lights are well-suited to bringing out the shimmer in Ahrens’ canvases.

Moment Gallery - P Bass original acrylic painting by Alexandra Kube - June 2013 - Photo Courtesy of The Moment GalleryAlexandra Kube creates landscapes, often in oils, although she made a little room in her van from Los Angeles to include some graphic close-ups of musical instruments, specifically guitar and cello. “It’s my latest series, a new style and subject matter for me. Since this style doesn’t require any blending I’ve gone back to acrylics just for this work.”

Kube’s landscape paintings, taken from a much wider viewpoint, are affecting in a different way that’s rich and wild.

“I would call that style abstract realism,” Kube offers, adding, “This is out of my imagination, kind of fashioned after Monument Valley but it doesn’t really exist except between my ears.”

Steve Siefert is relatively new at the painting game. His cityscapes are fresh and a welcome contrast with some of the nature-themed work in The Moment. Like Kube, Siefert also lives in the LA suburb Valley Village, home to many artists and industry professionals. Like all the artists represented at the gallery, Siefert is both friendly and willing to answer questions about his work.

Moment Gallery - Artist Steve Siefert assists in hanging others work before the gallery opening - June 29 2013 - Photo by Virginia Lazar“I’ve been coming up here to Yosemite for a long time, and for years my family used to camp at Nelder Grove. For me, it’s a really conducive area for creativity and I hope the gallery gets a lot of traffic.”

Photographer Michael Wicks is responsible for a truly striking triptych of a riotous Sierra sunset.

“By splitting it in to three pieces and putting that tree on the right hand, it brings you in and then your eyes go across and then you see the sky and the colors from there and then you go down to the bottom… it’s just the way your mind processes things. It’s the rule of thirds.” Though the sunset piece is colorful beyond belief, it hasn’t been touched up at. Some of his work reflects that Wicks is also a certified scuba diver who travels the world, submersing himself in some of our most beautiful locations.

Moment Gallery - Tina by Carlos Neito III - June 29 2013 - Photo Courtesy of The Moment GalleryCarlos Nieto III is the fourth artist from the southland whose work hangs in the gallery. While Nieto III wasn’t able to be at the artists’ reception, his large, vibrant sugar-skull and Day of the Dead oils speak volumes on their own.

Overall, The Moment Gallery is a smart venue both comfortable and intimate. So comfortable that you’ll probably feel at home strolling from the paintings into a room filled with intimate lingerie, dresses, and accessories, all tastefully assembled and ready for purchase. Yes, did we mention The Intimate Moment lingerie shop?

Melissa Marino is the store Manager and she appears to be a super-woman when it comes to multi-tasking. The night before opening, she was laying out a lovely spread for the artists, putting on make-up, making sure her son got some protein, opening bottles of local wine and fielding questions.

Moment Gallery and Lingerie - shoes - June 29 2013 - Photo by Virginia LazarShe has no problem with the question that starts, “so… an art gallery and a lingerie shop… why?”

“The connection between lingerie and art is that lingerie is art. We have a really big selection of lingerie and I’m most proud that we have lingerie for everybody,” swears Marino. We checked. It’s surprisingly true. “We brought in stuff for every body type, full figured women, tiny women, young, older… they can come in and pick something out.”

The collection also features stylish dresses, clothes to go out or stay in, with various accessories including shoes that are taller and sweeter than a five-layer cake. Don’t worry, they’ve also got beach cover-ups and flats, too.

“Whether it’s a night on the town or a day at the lake, Jeff did an amazing job for every kind of moment,” Melissa attests, and that seems to be the consensus among his peers.

Moment Gallery - View of lingerie room outside looking in - June 29 2013 - Photo by Virginia LazarFinally, Otto explains the gallery’s name, which is subject to a lot of interpretation, depending on what one wants it to be. For Otto, it’s specific. “The Moment is the moment I decided to live the life the way I wanted, one of art and beauty.”

That’s a moment to which we can all aspire. In the meantime, we have galleries. And lingerie.

Thank goodness.

The Moment Gallery is located at 40680 Hwy 41

The Moment Gallery on Facebook

The Intimate Moment lingerie shop on Facebook

The Moment Gallery Is The Place To Be And See

OAKHURST – If you haven’t stopped by The Moment Gallery yet, you’re in for a real treat. Every corner of the place is bursting with color and style. When your feet cross the threshold, it’s immediately apparent something wonderful is in store.

Industrial artist/owner Jeff Otto has put his heart and soul into the venture, and invited a handful of artists to join in, showing their work on the deep crimson and brilliant lemon walls. The artwork itself is tremendously varied, yet with a notable balance the Fresno State alumni and former teacher is pleased to have achieved.

“This gallery and store has been my vision for many years,” says Otto, himself an award-winning woodworker. “This could never have happened without the input of so many people in the community, from the artists to patrons.”

Otto, 52, has been part of the Oakhurst community for nearly a decade. Before that he sold motorized scooters in the Bay area, organizing events and races around the city. San Francisco has an influence on him, and it’s evident in the bold, modern feel of the gallery that doubles as a special-event space.

“The gallery will be open days and in the evening, too and everyone should come visit,” Otto invites. “The space is fluid and ever-changing.“

The Moment is a great place for a party. Otto plans to open for music and host other gatherings, and may offer the location as a rental on some occasions. “There will be photography in the gallery and occasional ‘pin up’ shoots where ladies can dress stylishly and pose in the gallery viewing fine art and lounging on fine furniture.” In short, it’s a happening place.

The main draw, of course, is the art and the artists. Mixed- media paintings, photography and sculpture are among the treasures Otto has culled for the gallery. Most of the artists of The Moment got together for the gallery’s Grand Opening June 30, including recently-engaged Rivka Scaffner, the first Artist in Residence at The Moment. Rivka will use the gallery as her studio away from home, painting live when elements allow.

“I’m a post-pop surrealist artist,” explains Rivka, who lives in Raymond and travels frequently to Mexico, where she is recognized as a top tier graffiti artist, garnering numerous accolades particularly in Jalisco. “I’ve been doing graffiti since the 70s and now graffiti art is recognized as a true and well-documented art form. There’s a lot of spray artists out there,” Rivka herself included. Known to many as Ms. Rivka, she taught art at Yosemite High School for ten years. Rivka is now engaged to David del Rio.

“My artwork is mainly inspired by being in Mexico where I go three or four times a year and paint,” Rivka says, adding that she appreciates the region here very much where her brother and father are nearby.

“This area has brought me a lot of happiness and gives me time to work, because you don’t have to spend a lot of money to live here so you can actually have time to be an artist.” Of the gallery, Rivka says, “I really like this place; I’m a rebel that’s respected here.”

Local artist Charlene Rice would probably agree on all counts. The Oakhurst resident runs a studio in Mariposa. Her upbeat, collage and mixed-media work also graces the walls at The Moment. Rice and Rivka sometimes paint together at the gallery, for all to see.

“We are really one community on the mountain, when it gets down to it,” says Rice, speaking of the shared resources that have gone into creating The Moment and are the mainstay of artists’ life in the foothills.

“There is nothing that we can’t have up here,” enthuses Rice. “Culture is what we need, that vision of our future for the schools and the kids. The dreamers know how to dream and this is how bridges are built,” she says, referring to art as a bridge between people and ideas. It’s clear the artists involved at the gallery are fans of owner Otto and vice-versa. “It’s refreshing to see somebody of this caliber showing up with the love.”

Also showing at the gallery is the steam-punk work of Ernie Reda, Oakhurst resident of more than a dozen years.

“I’m doing steam punk art, bringing all the sophistication of old machinery back into today’s living rooms,” says the sculptor of mechanical odds and ends, also a well-known electrical contractor. “It’s a recycling of sort. I look at all the parts that I have and try to create something that looks kind of robotic, something that we expected the future to be.”

San Jose artists Gina B. Ahrens drove into town for the gallery opening.

“My paintings always have a mix of medias in them, mainly acrylic but not only,” Ahrens offers. “There’s frequently, in the underneath layers, charcoal, pastel, maybe some India ink, markers, some rubber stamps, you never know what’s under the layers of paint. Often it’s some sort of metallic or iridescent paint in the background and if you shine the light on them in the right way it will show up. I like sparkly,” she admits. The gallery’s lights are well-suited to bring out the shimmer in Ahrens’ canvases.

Alexandra Kube creates landscapes, often in oils, although she made a little room in her van from Los Angeles to include some graphic close-ups of musical instruments, specifically guitar and cello. “It’s my latest series, a new style and subject matter for me. Since this style doesn’t require any blending I’ve gone back to acrylics just for this work.”

Kube’s landscape paintings, taken from a much wider viewpoint, are affecting in a different way that’s rich and wild.

“I would call that style abstract realism,” Kube offers, adding, “This is out of my imagination, kind of fashioned after Monument Valley but it doesn’t really exist except between my ears.”

Steve Siefert is relatively new at the painting game. His cityscapes are a fresh welcome that contrast nicely with some of the nature-themed work in The Moment. Like Kube, Siefert also lives in the LA suburb Valley Village, home to many artists and industry professionals. Like all the artists represented at the gallery, Siefert is both friendly and willing to answer questions about his work.

“I’ve been coming up here to Yosemite for a long time and for years my family used to camp at Nelder Grove. For me it’s a really conducive area for creativity and I hope the gallery gets a lot of traffic.”

Photographer Michael Wicks is responsible for a truly striking triptych of a riotous Sierra sunset.

“By splitting it in to three pieces and putting that tree on the right hand, it brings you in and then your eyes go across and then you see the sky and the colors from there and then you go down to the bottom… it’s just the way your mind processes things. It’s the rule of thirds.” Though the particular piece is colorful beyond belief, it hasn’t been touched up. Wicks is also a certified scuba diver who travels the world, diving in some of our most beautiful locations.

Artist Carlos Nieto III was the fourth artist from the southland whose work hangs in the gallery. While Nieto wasn’t able to be at the artists’ reception, his large, vibrant sugar-skull and Day of the Dead oils speak volumes on their own.

Overall, The Moment Gallery is a smart venue both comfortable and intimate. So comfortable that you’ll probably feel at home strolling from the paintings into a room filled with intimate lingerie, dresses, and accessories, all tastefully assembled and ready for purchase. Yes, did we mention there’s a lingerie shop?

Melissa Marino is the store Manager and she appears to be a super-woman when it comes to multi-tasking. The night before opening, she was laying out a lovely spread for the artists, putting on make-up, making sure her son got some protein, opening bottles of local wine and fielding questions well.

She has no problem with the question that starts, “so… an art gallery and a lingerie shop… why?”

“The connection between lingerie and art is that lingerie is art. We have a really big selection of lingerie and I’m most proud that we have lingerie for everybody,” she swears, and we checked. It’s surprisingly true. “We brought in stuff for every body type, full figured women, tiny women, young, older… they can come in and pick something out.”

The collection also features stylish dresses, clothes to go out or stay in, with various accessories and shoes taller than a five-layer cake. Don’t worry, they’ve also got beach cover-ups and flats, too.

“Whether it’s a night on the town or a day at the lake Jeff did an amazing job for every kind of moment,” Melissa attests, and that seems to be the consensus among his peers.

Finally, Otto explains the gallery’s name, which is subject to a lot of interpretation, depending on what one wants it to be. For Otto, it’s specific. “The Moment is the moment I decided to live the life they way I wanted, one of art and beauty.”

That’s a moment we can all aspire to. In the meantime, we have galleries. And lingerie. Thank goodness.

40680 Hwy 41.

The Moment Gallery on Facebook.

About Kellie Flanagan

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