PB on farm Photo by: Claudia Pardo Goodbye city life! Paul Benavidez looks right at home in his new country digs in Fillmore.

Art Throb

Paul Benavidez on the farm, Tracy Hudak and KCET

By Claudia Pardo 08/30/2012

Art Caldron fires up in Ventura

It’s an evening of yummy food and even yummier art stories. The new event, organized by photographer and SCIART artist-in-residence Carol Henry, was launched last month with eight eager art lovers.  The Caldron is a salon-style, intimate gathering at Henry’s home in Ventura for folks interested in art and culture. (Her home is a mid-century modern era — or Mad Men lover’s delight.) Art discussion, paired with a homemade three-course meal — made from only fresh local organic ingredients — a good wine selection, and delicious appetizers, is bound to create a buzz.  Henry invites an established artist to give a talk about his/her particular field at each event. The first Caldron featured photographer Just Loomis. Loomis, whose work is currently on exhibit at Art Center in Pasadena, was one of only three assistants to fashion photographer icon Helmut Newton. Loomis’ unpretentious demeanor disguises a prolific and distinctive career of his own merit as fashion and editorial photographer that took him to Berlin, Milan and New York. His evocative photographs were on display as he candidly told the stories behind them. This is what made the presentation so interesting — the details of how he did his work; the way he carried his camera around, finding his subjects, choosing only natural light — the stuff you simply don’t get from reading a bio. To learn more, visit facebook.com/ArtCaldron, or e-mail artcaldron@gmail.com/


If you haven’t yet heard of Tracy Hudak, you must have been in a coma, a creative coma at the very least. With her vivacious personality and smart sense of business — not to mention her love of drum circles — Hudak has become a presence in Ventura County. She is noted for her early involvement with ArtBeat, an event that brings retail, culinary and art venues together in Oxnard every second Saturday of the month. Recently, Hudak was chosen to be one of 20 columnists to write for ARTBOUND, KCET’s web-based program that presents the artistic landscape of 11 Southern and Central California counties. She has contributed stories about the Carnegie Art Museum and artist John White. Her articles are insightful and share her instant impressions of the arts in this region with a fresh voice and a unique sense of discovery. Hudak’s fiery passion for the arts makes her the ideal advocate for the Ventura County art scene. Her genuine, unjaded demeanor screams, “Anything’s possible!” which is just what we need as we move forward and really claim the title New Art City. But there’s more. ARTBOUND is also a competition, and it requires your vote. The most successful stories are made into short-format video documentaries. These videos are posted online for the public at large to react to, engage with and comment on. Every week, a new video debuts online. Every other month, the best online material gets a broadcast television episode. To read Hudak’s contributions, visit kcet.org/arts/

Living the dream in Fillmore

The Blue Ranch House. It’s what multidisciplinary artist Paul Benavidez calls his new studio. Perched up on what seems the tallest mountain in Fillmore, it is so much more than a ranch house. It is Benavidez’s new retreat — the perfect catalyst for his many creative plans. The drive alone, through orchards of orange and avocado trees, up winding dirt roads, higher and higher, seemingly transports you to a simpler time. Benavidez made his move into this home after his eviction from the WAV, where he lived and worked for several years. An exhaustive clash of the minds that ended up in court left the artist’s spirit defeated. Ironically, today, Benavidez has no neighbors, no noise, open spaces and lots and lots of freedom — and he relishes it. “I can feed the birds and have plants without getting a lease violation.” The breathtaking vistas from the porch incited questions about how our environment impacts the work that we do, as artists. Benavidez has plenty of clearance to explore his ideas. He is passionate about the misconstrued truth about human nature. He believes that synergistic living — similar to nature’s — will bring us back to what he refers to as “living up to our universal potentiality.” At the Blue Ranch House, it’s impossible not to feel connected to something larger. It inspires a certain reverence. 

ArtThrob is a monthly column by artist Claudia Pardo, who is interested in what quickens an artist’s pulse and keeps him or her producing work despite less-than-ideal circumstances. If you’re a Ventura County artist, send her an e-mail and introduce yourself.  

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