Aromas artists Linda Bjornson and Tina Baine express the importance of the nonprofit Aromas Hills Artisans (AHA), and its purpose, which is to beautify and engage the Aromas community.
The interview took place during a storm, power off, and a blazing fire, with the center of discussion on the community and the 70-plus artists and writers that make up the small town of around 2,000 people.
While the organization has a range of artistry such as wood carving, jewelry – silver, enameled, copper; lapidary, stained and etched glass, painting – water color, oil, ceramics, pottery, sculpture and photography, the artists are responsible for the many murals in town, including the big fish project at the Aromas park on the corner of Blohm and Carpenteria.
Around two years ago, the Aromas Eagles organization asked the Aromas Hills Artistry club for an art piece to place in the park, and the artists set to work thinking about what kind of art it should be.
The big fish idea that can be seen at the park was born when Baine visited with her daughter, Casey, who is attending school in Korea.
“The inspiration for the fish was inspired by a project I saw in the town of Busan,” she said. “We saw the project that was created in a small community, and an alarm went off in my head,” saying it was a bonus that the community had invested its time and creativity into it.
The idea of the big fish caught on in Aromas, and John Fitzpatrick cut out more than 300 non-traditional shapes of fish.
Various places in the town were set up for people to paint their particular fish. One of those places was at the senior breakfast held at the Aromas Grange.
“When breakfast was over, a table was set up with mural paint and brushes, and seniors painted. We had many opportunities, elsewhere, and there were 2-year-olds, grade school kids, teens, and 80-year-olds,” Bjornson noted.
When the fish were completed, all 300 of them were taken to Baine's driveway and stapled onto six panels that were then taken in sections to the park, where it now sits for all to admire.
Bjornson was a charter member of the artisans group when it formed in January 2000 and Baine joined during the second meeting.
She noted “there was a lot of interest," when it began under the founder — poet, Julie Pickerill — and notices about the organization were posted around town.
“That is the means of communication in Aromas,” Bjornson said.
Bjornson, who served as president for a few years, said as the organization grew, everything grew, including the number meetings, a calendar of activities produced by AHA, and mural paintings all over town.
The murals painted by members of AHA may be seen at Marshalls Service Station, the Chicken Box on Carpenteria near Blohm Avenue, the Aromas Library, Dragon Fly on the Kathyryn Aguras Real Estate office on Blohm , and other commissioned murals throughout the county.
The sponsored events produced by the artisans are as follows:
- At the end of March, an artist – Linda Curtis from Santa Cruz – will visit Aromas and the community is encouraged to take part in the activity. It will be reasonably priced, and a lot of fun, Bjornson promises.
- April 22-23 is the open studio art tour. Maps will be available online at www.sanbenitoarts.org to guide guests to the artists’ studios in Aromas, Hollister, and San Juan Bautista.
- May 13 is the date for the Artists’ in the Garden Tour fundraiser. There will be approximately nine gardens with a map available at the Grange. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for seniors over 65. A booklet is produced with the photos of each garden.
- July 29 is the Summer Fun Art Workshop, with an artist who will teach participants to make a Ukrainian colored egg. For information and reservations, contact Linda Bjornson at 831-726-1786.
- Aug. 27 the Aromas Day celebration featuring Art in the Park, sponsored by artisans. There are other events sponsored by other organizations and individuals such as a parade, food vendors and entertainment.
- Nov. 18-19 is the two-day Holiday Arts Festival. It will be held in the Grange from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with more than 30 artists showing and selling their works under one roof. Visitors can get their holiday shopping finished by purchasing art, books and Christmas ornaments, and enjoy a hot drink while they sit by the fire. A snack bar features chili and other items.
New members are welcome to join the Aromas Hills Artisans. Benefits to joining the club include reduced costs for some classes and events.
The meetings are held from 7-9 p.m.. on the first Wednesday of every month at the Aromas Grange Hall on the corner of Rose and Bardue avenues.
Baine noted that the main purpose of AHA “is to make our community pretty,” and that gives her the most enjoyment about her participation.