LOVE OF CLAY -- Cheryl Weiss
considers clay her prime medium of expression.
Although Cheryl Weiss
dabbled in the arts since childhood, only recently did she
begin to embrace the creative process as one that defines her
, offering her
work for hundreds to view. Her
rural designs will depict Santa Maria in a freeway mural; her
ceramics will likely intrigue visitors during the fifth annual Open Studios Tour.
"I held my breath and jumped off the cliff," said Weiss
, describing her
decision to display her
work in bold ways.
The studio tour will serve as Weiss' final "coming out" party this weekend, affirming her
place as a Central Coast artist.
"This is my way of saying, 'I'm here and I'm declaring this now.'"Weiss
was born into creativity and culture.Her
father was a scientist with a soulful streak, she
said.Involved in the space program, he
to imagine life on other planets and trips to the moon.Her
mother worked as a psychologist and possessed a deep love of the arts.
Growing up in upstate New York, music, theater and the arts marked her
"I had a rich life in terms of broad exposure to amazing things," she
said."Both my parents were concerned with things beyond the obvious; they provided so much raw material for creativity."
A move to Los Angeles later propelled Weiss
into the world of film.She
helped launch a film program at UC Berkeley
, trained as an agent and wrote a movie for television treatment.Now, she teaches film at Allan Hancock College.
"I see my life as trying to find a medium of creative expression that helps me best express my ideas," Weiss
said."I'm an art freak."
promoted and represented artists, Weiss
only pursued her
own art on the side.She
called it "sneaking clay."While attending Berkeley, she snagged minutes in the studio, experimenting with the substance that would later serve as her main medium of expression.
"I started working in the studio, but then academics got in the way.Art always seemed impractical."Weiss
moved from Southern California to the Central Coast to work as literary manager at PCPA
has a checklist of items she
wants to accomplish professionally.Working in a theater in a small coastal town was one item.She
affair with clay, sneaking time to mold and sculpt at Allan Hancock College
main pursuits revolved around the business side of art and not art itself.
"I kept getting drawn to the business side and that is not where I really belong," Weiss
Painting sets one day propelled her
down the road to artist acknowledgment.
The production team begged for help finishing sets for an upcoming PCPA
was only asked to paint black lines on flats, she
was in heaven.
"I was so happy painting those black lines," she
That day, Weiss
determined to seriously pursue her
own art.She started taking classes and displaying at Allan Hancock, selling jewelry in Cambria and joining the newly formed Nipomo Arts Commission -- a group lobbying for public art and artist exposure.
does not use a wheel, but sculpts sea shells, landscape bowls and pendants, which all evoke the earth.
"I know this stuff isn't for everyone, but for people who like to look at things for a long time," she
focuses on the depth and richness of surfaces, spending months to perfect colors and glazes.
"On and off for the past year, I've been trying to find glazes that will capture the experience of walking on the soda lake beds in the Carrizo Plain and the Mojave," she
, the search is part of the joy of creating.She
will showcase her
work, outside, at her
3-acre home in Nipomo
during the Open Studios Tour.
The rural backdrop and light will prove the perfect place to display, she
Each piece will be for sale.
"Maybe this is making a fool of myself, but I'll survive," she
For years, friends have urged her
to show her
"I finally found the courage to say, 'This really resonates very deeply with me as something I need to do that gives me great pleasure, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually."
During preparation for the studio tour, doors began opening for the emerging artist.Weiss
will show her
work in Los Angeles during the spring.Ultimately, she
hopes to display in a gallery.
Eight of her
designs will also be included in a 32-panel freeway mural.Scaffolding has already gone up on Santa Maria's Stowell Road.
Besides nurturing her
own talent, she
is seeking to support others through Nipomo's art commission.Weiss, the group's treasurer, joined upon its inception because she places a premium on public art.
"Supporting the arts in Nipomo
is really important for the whole community.We need art; it keeps us alive."
own life, art has enlivened Weiss
"There's something energizing about saying, 'OK, I'm not sneaking clay.