South Shore sculptor to study in Costa Rica |

South Shore sculptor to study in Costa Rica

Susan Wood

Sandy Allie displays some of her work in her home gallery. / Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Sandy Allie may be traveling the world to advance her passion for sculpture, but her art roots are harbored at Lake Tahoe.

The South Lake Tahoe woman has been selected to work next month at the International Stone Sculpture Symposium in Costa Rica. The special study, which will run from April 17 to 29, features 21 of the world’s most renowned sculptors working with marble.

Allie initially worked in marble with one of the sculptors, Kyle Smith of Italy. In her travels to workshops to improve her craft, she learned the power of networking – hooking up with Sculptural Pursuit magazine publisher Nancy DeCamillis, who arranged the gig for Allie through The Artists Refuge. It’s an art center in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

“I’m going to learn so much. It’s fortunate I’m being asked to do this,” she said. Allie, a retired escrow officer, plans to return to her homeland with a presentation on the symposium.

Allie, 61, moved to Tahoe in 1972, where she met her husband Don. The couple shares more than a household. They share a three-car garage filled with shelves of work, mostly nude-figure sculptures mainly created by her in LTCC’s figure sculpture classes. She also made a mold through a plastered impression of a baby’s hand and foot for an acquaintance.

“Look, this is the real thing, including the fingertips,” she said, holding the tiny wax sculptures as delicately as a baby’s extremities.

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Work tables are on wheels to make room for the couple’s vehicles during snowstorms. The Allies may extend the garage because of how prolific she has become. Two sheds are also filled with other artwork.

“Sometimes I get overwhelmed,” she said. Juggling several pieces of art is a test in multi-tasking for Allie. Playing opera or classical music will sometimes anchor her.

Allie insists she needs to work alone in the garage with “her kitties” because her husband operates in a different mindset. While she’s creating art, he’s fixing things on his tool bench – a much different mindset. Still, she gets support from her spouse.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this without him,” she said. He carries her pedestals and goes on the road with her to art shows and workshops.

Allie has been attending LTCC’s classes since 1987, when the college was located in a motel then an auto shop. She attributes much of her skill that fuels the passion to learning under David Foster, the head of LTCC’s art department. He’s even hired her as a lab instructor.

“The first time I moved clay around in David Foster’s class – that was it,” she said. “He’s such a good teacher – a generous and gentle teacher, who doesn’t put you down. He has the passion for the human figure.”

That kind of understanding goes a long way for a woman passionate about a craft that may be misunderstood by an American culture that views of the nude body more as sex than art.

Allie knows the misconception personally. She created “Bella,” a piece based on a nude, middle-aged woman. The artwork showed up at her son’s home until it was put away. Her grandchildren were teased by their friends.

Foster is known to stroll through the class, teaching them to see the nude model in the classes in a way that creates a sculpture that is “real, not ideal.” There’s often a crash course in anatomy involved. Foster said he was pleased to hear of Allie’s opportunity.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Sandy,” he said. “She’s the best example of a student in class in terms of taking all the classes in sculpture and going on to become an active sculptor. Now she’s fallen in love with cutting. She loves sharing what she learns. I’m excited for her.”