Lori Mitchell: Sketching the World Around Her

Native Californian Lori Mitchell loves to travel and sketch the world around her. As a child, she and her two sisters were encouraged to be creative by her mom, a fashion designer, who would set up an art studio in the garage and put on backyard art shows for all the neighborhood kids.

Mitchell graduated with honors from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena with a BFA in Illustration. She has since illustrated myriad projects, including 10 books. Her most famous book, Different Just Like Me, which she authored and illustrated, was featured on Oprah and The Today Show.  Her work is known for its warmth, humanity, and charming detail.  One of her favorite pastimes is sketching in locations around San Diego.  A long-time art educator, Mitchell has taken groups of students on sketching tours in Europe.

Detail of Sunday

Writing about the pieces in the 20/20 show, Mitchell says: “I am fascinated by the dichotomy between opinion and truth. Whether we are discussing religion, politics, science, history, or if the color of that dress on the internet was black and blue or white and gold, we each have our unique perspective. That two perspectives of a single subject can diverge should not automatically instigate a hardening of positions, but rather should invite exploration of that which we consider self-evident. I learned long ago that my ideas about myself, my surroundings and the world at large didn’t always overlap with those of others. The German filmmaker Wim Wenders once said, ‘the more opinions you have, the less you see.’ With ‘Saturday’ and ‘Sunday’ I hoped to begin a conversation about opinions and truth, and about the value of different perspectives. What you see here today – what you see as dynamic or uninspiring, what you find clear or puzzling, what makes you smile or roll your eyes – will almost certainly differ from the view of the person standing next to you. Go ahead and ask – and revel in the notion it could enhance your own perspective. After all, if you always see things as they are, you’ll never be able to see things for what they could be.”

Lisa Bebi’s Family Album

“I’m interested in painting snapshots.  I particularly like snapshots of a singular, quiet event with a lone person.  Since the other person in the scenario — the one who took the photo — is only implied, the subject tends to give way to a kind of empty, half told story.  My hope is that my colors and brushstrokes help isolate or identify a specific emotion to the viewer.”

San Diego native Lisa Bebi’s slightly campy, nostalgic “snapshots” in the 20/20 show might be from our own family photo albums.  These spunky, independent women might be our own mothers and aunts.  We know them. That, at least, is the impression they give.  Frozen in time, they invite us to tell their stories.

Detail of Ruby’s Ride

Bebi holds a BA in Fine Arts from SDSU, with a concentration in painting and printmaking, and attended the SLADE School of Art in London.  She has exhibited extensively in San Diego and in several national shows and has been featured in several books and over 50 newspaper and magazine articles. 

Kathy McChesney’s Portraits

Kathy McChesney’s advice to young artists is “Open up to what scares you.”  That’s exactly what she did on returning to art in 2000 after a more-than-thirty-year hiatus.   A native of Southern California, McChesney grew up playing in Santa Monica Canyon in LA, which she describes as “a child’s paradise.”  She studied Fine Arts at UC Santa Barbara in the 1960s but stopped creating art shortly after, only to return after years of marriage, jobs and raising children. 

When she returned to art making in 2000, she began with watercolors; now, most of her work is mixed media.  She paints faces almost exclusively – “Each face has a new voice.”   And she spends hours on each painting, capturing what makes each person unique.  McChesney works daily in her studio and describes her process as intuitive: “I don’t plan my paintings but rather let them evolve as I get more connected to the subject.”  The results are gentle, evocative and soulful.


Writing about her paintings in our current exhibition, McChesney says “The 20/20 show inspired me to look back in time. As a painter of faces, my work for this show was inspired by my family’s visit to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Museum in Washington DC. There, my daughter and granddaughter were able to have their faces digitally inserted into old portraits of these early American women. The resulting contrast was both startling and familiar. A real connection emerged, and I was moved to capture the ethereal effect using collage, mixing old and new materials to capture the sense of passing time.” 

Christine Schwimmer: The Future is Female

“I love to paint, I love the challenge.  I struggle with every piece, mixing paint right on the canvas, using charcoal and scratching to make lines, creating images and then destroying them. Sometimes I am satisfied with the outcome quickly and sometimes never.  Painting allows me to express my emotions and/or the emotions I choose to explore.  Sometimes my images are abstract, sometimes figures without facial features.”

Christine Schwimmer grew up in Chicago and lived there until moving to San Diego in 1982.  She lives and paints in her studio in La Mesa, California. Her passion for art began as a child growing up in a culturally and ethnically diverse city.  For the past 15 years, she has pursued her passion for painting by studying at the Athenaeum School of the Arts in La Jolla and San Diego, UCSD Extension as well as the Art Academy of San Diego.

In addition to participating in Artwalk/San Diego for the last several years, Schwimmer has exhibited, donated, and sold her work throughout Southern California at both juried and non-juried venues.  Her paintings are in numerous private collections.  She is a member of the San Diego Art Institute and The La Jolla Athenaeum. She is inspired by artists such as Nathan Oliviera, Antoni Tapies, Franz Kline, Cy Twombly and Basquiat.  

Detail of Words Transcend

Inspired by natural and urban surroundings and drawing from life experiences, Schwimmer’s paintings employ simple strokes to evoke a mood, a thought, a feeling or an emotion. Her work is narrative but open-ended; she suggests a story and leaves the narrative to be completed by the viewer.  What are these people doing?  What are they thinking?  The four pieces in the current show are from a series called “The Future is Female.”  Schwimmer says “I painted the dresses using bright colors to convey female energy and emotional intelligence.  I chose to use two figures as a representation that women stand together for equality and opportunity now and in the future, and demand recognition for their contributions and leadership. ‘The future is female’ appears in each painting as my declaration that women will have better, brighter and more equal opportunities, reminding us that each of us has a voice.”

Bronle Crosby: Walk Treasures

“When my kids were small, we walked: neighborhood, seashore, park. Those walks meant hunting for those small and happy finds that might turn up — if you were looking. Some were only sightings, some got to come home and join the collection on the windowsill. We learned plant names, bird species, bugs, sea creatures, stones, seeds… and we petted all the neighborhood cats who would put up with us. The best thing was all the seeing, touching, smelling, and pleasure those small treasures gave. I still have the marble and the sand dollar. I treasure them.”

Detail of Walk Treasures

20/20 artist Bronle Crosby’s artistic goal is to invoke calm and contemplation. She paints focused natural histories: close-up corners of the big picture of life, “places for the eyes and mind to take a rest,” in subtle colors and painterly detail.  In “Walk Treasures,” the charming images stand in for treasured memories, inviting our own contemplation of special memories of childhood, our own or our children’s.  In all her work, she focuses on capturing the fleeting moment – the second before the dewdrop falls, the widening circle after the raindrop hits the water  — encouraging the viewer to pause and recollect the small miracles of daily life.

For more about Bronle, see this excellent interview.