2010-08-06 / Neighbors

‘Salon’ bonds and inspires artists

By Angela Randazzo Special to the Acorn

OLD IDEA, NEW TWIST—From left, artist and Simi Valley resident Rita Joyce and friends and fellow artists Stephanie Pyren of Northridge, Gwen Wetzler of Van Nuys and Barbara Schade of Studio City have formed the A. Muse Fine Art Salon in the spirit of the French Impressionists. The group meets once a month to support one other and to share, critique and discuss art. Their first showing opens Aug. 14 at The Autry National Center in L.A. WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers OLD IDEA, NEW TWIST—From left, artist and Simi Valley resident Rita Joyce and friends and fellow artists Stephanie Pyren of Northridge, Gwen Wetzler of Van Nuys and Barbara Schade of Studio City have formed the A. Muse Fine Art Salon in the spirit of the French Impressionists. The group meets once a month to support one other and to share, critique and discuss art. Their first showing opens Aug. 14 at The Autry National Center in L.A. WENDY PIERRO/Acorn Newspapers Emulating the salons of Paris at the turn of the last century, Rita Joyce has gathered together sister artists to share support and inspiration.

“I read that the French Impressionists had these salons with artists and writers,” said the longtime Simi Valley resident. “They would talk about their work, critique each other and bolster each other’s confidence.”

Joyce didn’t want her salon to be an art club where artists paid dues to join. She wanted to keep it simple and invited three of her friends to join.

“Artists need to keep up their morale by helping each other, especially in this economy,” Joyce said. “We’re all very social. We talk about our work and how to market it as well.”

In addition to Joyce, the members of A. Muse Fine Art Salon are Stephanie Pyren, Barbara Schade and Gwen Wetzler, all of whom make their homes in the San Fernando Valley.

Ranging in age from early 60s to mid-70s, the four women are very active artists. They rotate their monthly meetings at the homes of each member, sometimes inviting other artists and their husbands to join them.

“We’ve been meeting for over a year now and we’re starting to branch out, hitting the streets to find different and interesting venues to show our work,” Joyce said.

The salon’s first formal show will be in August at The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles. The opening reception to meet the four artists will be from 2 to 4 p.m., Sat., Aug. 14. The exhibit will run until the end of the month.

Joyce’s art career spans more than 40 years. She started drawing as a child growing up in Encino and sold her first piece of art at the age of 17. She works mostly in oils and is best known for her distinctive images of birds, tropical flowers and exotic wildlife.

“I’ve been in galleries in Hawaii and I’ve done tropical birds and plants,” she said. “I don’t see animals as wildlife. I create portraits and try to capture the animal’s personality.”

Joyce’s works have been exhibited in Los Angeles and New York City and in galleries internationally. The Ritz Carlton Hotels and The Universal City Hilton have selected her work as part their interior design. She’s worked in animation for the Walt Disney studios and other studios.

Now 69, Joyce is a respected artist among her peers and her works sell for $1,000 and up.

Barbara Schade lived in Simi Valley for many of years, raising a family here before moving to Studio City in 1988. She’s a veteran animation artist and worked for Disney, Hanna-Barbera and other studios. She received an Emmy Award for her work on “The Magic Pearl” for Film Roman Studios in North Hollywood.

Stephanie Pyren, an artist with a long career in animation, has worked for Hanna-Barbera and other studios and currently works with Moon Scoop Animation Studios in L.A. Her artwork has been shown in the U.S. and Europe.

Gwen Wetzler worked in the animation business for more than 50 years. A pioneer, she was the first woman in the U.S. to direct animation at a major studio. Her early devotion to painting was put on hold to pursue her animation career. Now she’s again able to enjoy her passion for watercolor painting.

“The four of us worked in animation for years and sometimes with each other. We’ve been close friends through the years,” Schade said. “The camaraderie of our group is very important to us. We all need support and joining the salon has enriched our lives.”

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