Dr. Jennifer Colby has always enjoyed watching the moon rise over the San Juan Bautista soccer field, so when a spot became available across the street for her new art space, she knew what to call it: Luna Gallery. The space will also host Eco Art Studio, which Colby, who is a liberal arts professor at CSUMB, envisions as a workshop for local artists.
“Before the pandemic, I got a call from Luis Matchain who was interested in opening a gallery,” she said. “At first, I was only looking just for a gallery, but when this space and the space next to it opened up, I thought it would be a great place for workshops. I called Luis and asked him if he was still interested, and there we go!”
This is a return to the art world in San Juan for Colby, who co-owned the Galeria Tonantzin for over 20 years before closing it in 2013. That gallery, which specialized in women’s art, was well-known for its yearly celebration of works inspired by the Virgin of Guadalupe, a tradition Colby says she will revive in the new space.
Located in Suite B at 107 The Alameda, the gallery’s soft opening was August 3. The first show is entitled “Dreamscapes” and is scheduled to run through Sept. 4. Besides Colby’s ecology-inspired artwork, five other artists are taking part in the exhibit:
- Don Faia – Faia is an artist and designer. He was responsible for Odwalla’s early product design and has been exhibiting since the 1970s. His work for this show included mixed media mandalas painted on plexiglass.
- Michele Faia – An artist who works with mandalas in watercolors, she was involved with the first street mandala painted in San Juan in 2019. She has published three books of her work and lives with her husband Don in Monterey County.
- Carmen Leon – Leon co-founded Galeria Tonantzin and is exhibiting acrylic paintings drawn from her Latin and South American cultural heritage.
- Lucinda Lynch – Currently residing in Corralitos, CA, Lynch is a sculptor and painter. Her work for this exhibit draws from her globe-shaped raku ceramic pieces, which serve as a compliment to the Faias’ mandalas
- Michelle Robertson – Robertson is a photographer who stages scenes with models and then works with the images to produce what Colby refers to as “mysterious scenes.” She is from Monterey county and also exhibits at the Nancy Dodds Gallery in Carmel.
Plans for the gallery include collaborating with Matchain to bring more work from Mexican artists and juried shows. Colby intends the studio as a space where ecological issues can be explored in art through workshops.
“There are a lot of artists doing work on climate change,” she said, “and also those trying to understand traditional ecological knowledge. I have been working on trying to understand that for myself doing workshops in Indian Canyon, and it seems very important to bring that to San Juan.”
The gallery’s first visitor was Juna Pareja, a resident of Hollister who works locally and noticed the gallery while waiting for traffic home to die down and was drawn to one of Colby’s works.
“I enjoy that there are a lot of large pieces,” Pareja said. “I liked the acrylics and multi-media pieces that look like collages. The mandalas are great, but my favorite is a large red one about the pandemic. I have a fondness for warm colors, and I like the way a gap creates a space which your eyes follow around.”
Luna Gallery is open Thursday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The first artists’ reception will be held on Aug. 20, from 5-7 p.m. The Eco Arts Studio will debut during the San Benito Open Studio Art Tour, held on Sept. 24-25. A reception featuring artists exclusively from Mexico will be held on Oct. 1.
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