As soon as you enter the Duke Theater Foyer Gallery at the Lake Tahoe Community College, your eye strays to the wall where a series or larger-than-life figure paintings flood the corner with their bright, bold colors.
The work is part of Charlotte Castillo's first-ever solo exhibit, "Seeing Red," a debut made even sweeter by the fact that the art is being displayed at Castillo's alma mater.
"When I could finally step back and process my work, it felt really good. It's like the paintings can have a conversation with me. It's really nice to be back in the place where I grew up. The old stomping grounds," she said.
Castillo moved to Tahoe in 1999 at 13 years old. She attended South Tahoe High School, worked summers at LTCC's Intensive Spanish Summer Institute, and studied at the community college before enrolling in Sonoma State University to pursue a bachelor of fine arts degree.
She completed the degree, and now the 27-year-old expressionistic realism artist plans to keep traveling and possibly continue her studies in graduate school. The travel is the key to her inspiration, she said.
"Seeing Red" was inspired by an Otto Dix painting she saw while touring Europe last year. The painting, "Portrait of Dancer Anita Berber," depicts a tall, sensuous woman dressed entirely in red.
"The energy and power of the painting stopped me in my tracks. It stayed in my mind, the color really stuck with me," Castillo said.
When she returned to her Lake Tahoe studio to put together the exhibit, the color dominated the paintings. Red is traditionally associated with passion and violence, but as she traveled Europe, Castillo saw the color every day, and not in the abstract. It was on people's T-shirts, jeans and make-up, and Castillo represented this literal level in her artwork.
"My art is a representation of what I see. I don't just make things up out of my head. The people I paint are people I know. I'm drawn to find an aspect of them to highlight," she said.
Painting red is a complex issue, LTCC Art Department Chair and Gallery Director Phyllis Shafer said, but Castillo captured the color in a powerful way.
"The works are large-scale, very outrageous figure paintings that are just mesmerizing. She uses photography, and there's a slight distorted quality. She's has an illustrious career ahead of her," Shafer said.
In addition to the Foyer Gallery, Shafer arranged the new memorial exhibit in the Haldan Gallery that displays the drawings of David Schnabel who died of heart-failure in 2010 at 86 years old.
Schnabel was an accomplished artist who won a variety of awards and honors for his drawings and oil paintings. He also worked for 36 years as a professor and eventually art department chair at Pasadena City College.
Schnabel drew the works currently on display at the Haldan Gallery during his retirement, which he titled Drawing Life and has never been shown publicly before.
"You hardly ever see drawings of this size and magnitude. It's really rare. He did all the pieces in his 80s, which is also unusual," Schnabel's grandson Scott Valentine said.
Valentine, who is also the earth science department chair at LTCC, had many of the works at his home. When Shafer visited the house and saw one of the paintings over the fireplace, she was stunned.
"It's the scale that hits you. The thing about David Schnabel's work it that from a distance you see what he wanted with regards to composition and design. As you move in closer, you see all the textures and details," Shafer said.
Some of the exhibit's pieces are for sale, and all proceeds will go to providing scholarships to current art students in the community college. The exhibit is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The final exhibit highlights student artists at LTCC. Last year's award winners from the annual student art exhibit displayed their art at the Student Gallery in the college's main building.
"It's an incredible teaching tool for us. The students really don't complete their education until they put their art on display. For the community members who come to see the gallery, it's a way to enrich their knowledge and awareness of art," Shafer said.
In other news:
Math club kicks off
The Lake Tahoe Community College Math Club started last week, and will offer tutoring every Monday through Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the LTCC Tutoring and Learning Center.
New TRiO grant at LTCC
Upward Bound, the newest TriO grant at LTCC, offers college-prep support to students from low-income families. Eligible participants receive free tutoring and academic advising. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tahoe Youth and Family Services grand re-opening
Tahoe Youth and Family Services is hosting a grand re-opening party on Thursday, Oct. 11 at 4 p.m. with cider and other fall refreshments to celebrate the remodel of the South Lake Tahoe office located at 1021 Fremont Ave.
Lake Tahoe Educational Foundation
The LTEF's Food Fest will take place on Oct. 27 to raise money for the enrichment grants. Applications for the fall enrichment grants are due Oct. 12, while spring applications are due March 8. The grants are used to help support programs in LTUSD schools, such as the anti-bullying programs, after-school enrichment clubs and Kinder Adventure Nights. For more information about the grants, visit ltedf.org.
Free Bijou breakfast
Bijou Family Breakfast will take place on Friday, Oct. 12, at 7:45 a.m. with free food for everyone who attends.
A run for education
The Douglas County Education Foundation is holding its annual Run Ed Run fundraiser on Oct. 7. Participants can run distances from 5 kilometers to a half-marathon. For more details, visit www.douglascountyeducationfoundation.org.