Local artist blends history and activism in paintings | News

Livermore artist Carolyn Lord draws inspiration from local architecture and the vernacular landscape to bring her watercolors to life, which often feature city landmarks from the past and present.

Originally from Southern California, Lord moved to Livermore in the fall of 1980 with her husband. Although she said it took her a while to adjust to her new surroundings, her artistry has helped her immerse herself in the community.

“For me, moving to Livermore was like I was in the Midwest – because I had spent four years in Southern Illinois for college – and in Elko, Nevada, where I lived. my dad and his wife, ”Lord said, noting how close Livermore was back then compared to the larger towns in the Bay Area.

She said that initially she spent a lot of time traveling to San Francisco to buy materials for her artwork and got involved in the art community there.

When her son was born, she said that she fell in love with the whole Bay Area as a mother as she joined the Livermore Moms Club and discovered different places and adventures in the area to take her son, such as Children’s Fairyland in Oakland and Happy Hollow Park & ​​Zoo in San José.

“I wanted to be able to say ‘yes I really raised my son and got involved’ and that was part of what made me feel more comfortable getting involved,” Lord said.

While his son has now grown up, Lord still remains involved in community issues. She said that more recently she had attended and contributed to the Livermore Cultural Arts Council meetings for the redevelopment of the city’s cultural arts vision plan.

She said that in Livermore, she found that the visual and fine arts scene is not as strong as music and the performing arts, which is part of why she is getting involved in the process. of re-development of the cultural arts plan. Lord said she wanted to see more effort and support for the visual and fine arts. For example, she said Livermore lacks adequate gallery space.

“I’m going to ask people to ask me why I don’t show in the lobby of the Bankhead – I don’t exhibit art on brick walls with sloping floors,” Lord said with a laugh. “The point is, I know the space was not designed to display art,” she added, noting that there are other spaces in the San Joaquin Valley that are better. suitable for showing art, such as the Grand Theater Center for the Arts in Tracy and the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock.

She also said that another reason she thinks the visual and fine arts aren’t as strong as music and the performing arts in Livermore is because of the different experiences they offer.

“Theater and music tend to be a group event,” she said. “You audition, you rehearse together, everyone’s excited and it’s kind of like being on a team, while visual artists and fine art – like what I do – we do all the work by us – same and all we do is show up for the show and it’s just not that exciting, ”she added.

Lord – who, in addition to art, is also passionate about climate action – incorporates her community engagement into her work. She paints wherever she lives, including her own garden with persimmons and lemon trees, among other plants and flowers.

Beyond his front yard, many of his paintings depict the architecture of downtown Livermore, such as the garages of what was once the site of the Groth Brothers Chevrolet dealership at the corner of First and L streets. The site is currently being developed into a mixed-use and retail housing complex.

“So here we have Livermore – with its historic downtown – and what did they demolish? The state of California’s first flame retardant auto store,” Lord said of the former Groth Brothers location.

She said her paintings not only pay homage to the city’s rich history, but also reflect her take on sustainability and her belief that many older buildings in Livermore could have been saved and reused in community spaces such as a science museum or youth centers or art galleries.

“I know in the green economy, with a building already built, you are further ahead than tearing down and building something new,” Lord said.

Some of Lord’s works also feature the former Valley Pool Center on Railroad Avenue as well as a strip of buildings on North Livermore Avenue, which have housed various businesses over the years but are currently occupied by a martial arts studio, The Good Time Tavern and the City Housing Services Center.

Lord of the Band’s painting is titled ‘Livermore Tattoo’, in reference to a tattoo shop that once existed there but moved in 2008 after the owner said he was told by the town that a tattoo parlor did not correspond to the vision of the city center. redevelopment plan, according to an East Bay Times report on the matter.

Although Lord’s paintings of the various buildings do not include signage indicating what or what they were, the buildings are recognizable as essential visual elements of the city center, especially for longtime residents. of Livermore who lived in town when many of those old businesses were still in operation.

Lord also paints homes in Livermore that showcase an older style of architecture, including the many duo-style homes and duplexes in the city’s neighborhoods.

“When people say, ‘We don’t want change, we only want single family homes in Livermore,’ it’s like, no, if you go to the old quarters, you’re fine here,” Lord said. “It is part of our tradition to have duplexes and multi-family homes. It has surrounded us all along,” she added.

Lord also incorporates environmental concepts into his work. In one of her paintings of the slide that stood on the roof of the Valley Pool Center, she said she chose to paint it in winter with clouds above to indicate that “we need that. our clouds are raining down to put snow on the Sierras, so that we can have pool water, “she said, adding that she titled it” Falls and Ladders “like the game society to represent the ups and downs of the water cycle.

Although Lord has said she would have preferred the city to preserve and reallocate more of its historic buildings, she is supporting the development of affordable housing in the city center. “My feeling is to bring him in because the ship has already sailed, the train has already left the station,” Lord said.

Lord’s art has been exhibited in museums in the Bay Area and beyond, including the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, among others. .

More information about Lord and his work is available at carolynlord.com.

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