Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Art After Dark" October Highlight: The Growing Grounds

On the 1st Friday of every month, ARTS Obispo coordinates with shops all over San Luis Obispo to host artists and their work in their shops for an event called "Art After Dark." This October there were 29 hosts, most of which offered food and beverage to its wandering patrons. The Growing Grounds garden shop was one such establishment that kept its doors open past closing hours. Nestled in the ally between the Adobe and Ja Nene Natural Body Products on Chorro, across from the Mission, it is a beautifully comfortable shop supplied by the Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA)'s own farms in SLO and Santa Maria. This month is the last time they engage in the Art After Dark event until the spring, due to the establishment being out of doors.
The setting of the shop is intimate, nuzzled gently between two older buildings, the character of their siding lending to the atmosphere of the little garden shop. The owners make the most of the small space; plants and products are packed into every nook, yet it avoids feeling busy or cramped. In fact, the shop's organization has the opposite effect; instead it begs you to take your time and look about, to take it all in. Past the main selection of plants, Growing Grounds provides their customers with a unique selection of local or USA made products. The garden-related objects are often handmade, organic, or even vegan.

"I love Art After Dark," was one patron's exclamation, "it's wine, it's art, it's walking, does it get much better than this?" She is one of about 200 who stroll in and out throughout the evening, enjoying the relaxing decor of the backyard garden party. There is no rush as people chat over the donated Javadi wine and samples of produce fresh from the Growing Grounds farm. "These tomatoes are so good!" is heard again and again as people visit the table throughout the evening. 

Twinkle lights braided through the branches above and adobe brick-work below lend to the atmosphere. Food and wine in hand, they turn to the art work and artist to ask questions and to learn about all there is around them. "What's the process you use?" is an inquiry that induces a personal tour by the artist of his methods, throughout which we learn something of his values and his history. Suddenly his art gains deeper meaning for us too.

There are two artists tonight at Growing Grounds, author Anthony Taylor and photographer Barry Goyette. Taylor is a friendly man, chatting with inquisitive costumers as he signs his book, "The Sacred Sites Bible."

The Sacred Sites Bible: The Definitive Guide to Spiritual Places (... Bible)

Goyette and his partner happily discuss their art as well, a method called "tintype". (Unfortunately, his website didn't display any of this form of his work). The work is beautiful and understandably attracts a lot of interested viewers.

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