Origins: By Josephine Crawford

I have had three names: my father’s, Lisle; my first husband’s, Spinedi; and my current husband’s, Crawford.  So, I prefer to sign my paintings (if I sign them at all) simply Josephine, or even the date.

Like the paintings I make, things change from day to day. I have no favorite style or subject, and to be frank, I paint for my own amusement.

I started drawing and painting as a child of five and remember my artist father telling me “never erase.” I didn’t see him again as he died in the war, but feel his spirit in me as I paint.

My career was as a dancer, and later as a costume designer, so my paintings often reflect those themes.

I have maintained studios in San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica. My current studio is in my house in the railroad district of San Luis Obispo.


My work reflects and is influenced by my environment (when I have a large space I paint big and when it’s simply the edge of my bed, small!) Music on the radio, politics, the weather, my feelings, memories and mood, all go into the work.

At the moment I feel that small things painted in my garden are the thing. They have no meaning except the wonder and uniqueness of every blade of grass, every leaf. I also love to do portraits of people, and of course, always the lines of dancers often dancing in nature.

Come and see the large variety of work I have and be surprised both weekends of the ARTS Obispo’s Open Studios Art Tour. I look forward to meeting you.

You can also see more of Josephine’s pieces in ARTS Obispo’s Visual Artist Directory.


Origins: Dr. C Hite

Origins of the Rag Kabuki

I am a lifetime, environmentally-challenged artist, who works out of my garden sculpture studio in Los Osos, California.

Parades, pageantry, funeral rituals and dreams have long been an influence on my artwork since living in the south of Taiwan as a little girl. My evolution as an artist has its origins in my self-image as the “Rag Kabuki,” a mysterious character, burdened and bundled, making progress by dragging it all forward with me.  I see a common thread of beauty in all things and repurpose, reprocess and recycle as an art form lifestyle.

I have created earth installations since a tot and found-object sculpture since four years of age.  I got well into inventing and creating in kindergarten and grade school when my father, recognizing my interest, gave me permission to use any tool in his crib (as long as I put them back). My mother had long supplied me with drawing paper, paints, pastels, color-pencils and a piano, to keep me occupied.  By the time I had unlimited access to piano lessons, real tools and building supplies, Mother was making inquiries of the butcher who supplied rolls of butcher paper for my epic drawings. I quickly used up the paper rolls, creating a series of individual film-cell drawings, which I then rolled through the back of a card board box theatre.  I read, taught myself to write at 4 years, and was soon composing poems, songs, and piano compositions.  My mother only told me I was a “gifted” child in the last year.  I define “gifted” as having an enthusiasm for life and keen interest in exploring and experimenting. Why some people don’t have this curiosity, don’t nurture it or are not themselves nurtured, I will never know why.

My working studio, #99 on this year’s ARTS Obispo Open Studio Art Tour, is a celebration of my enthusiasm for life during this year of the Dragon and end of the Mayan Calendar.  Installations of silk fans, giant nude paper-dolls, and ornate, repurposed “coolie” hats transform the garden and otherwise serious nature of my monumental ceramic sculpture work will be on display.

I reached the point where I don’t have to have all the answers, I only have to work towards a solution, intuitively.  If I cannot visualize or think of a conclusion for a large work, I will dream it.

Origins: Kira Fluer Olshefski

So where do I begin?  What is the origin of my art?  My earliest memory of being labeled an artist was in the third grade.  My teacher and her aide were standing over my shoulder singing praises of my work and saying,  “What a little artist she is!”  So what was this fabulous masterpiece?  It was a drawing of a penguin in a winter scarf, of course.  What a wonderful feeling being acknowledge for my art.  Those adorable penguins will melt people’s hearts every time.

I moved beyond winter-accessorized penguins when I took art class in high school. During the summers, I took Chinese brush painting classes.  The instructors I had were true inspirations to me. When it came time to apply for college, I seriously wanted to major in art.  Unfortunately, I was a victim of “teen-aged fuzzy brain and scattered thoughts syndrome.” I had no clue of how to put a portfolio together and didn’t realize the deadline for college applications was only a week away. Since I didn’t have a portfolio, I did manage to complete my applications and be accepted to Cal Poly majoring in Biological Sciences (a.k.a. second choice major). Okay, so the art thing had to be put on hold, but I did have elective units!  Between labs of botany, bio chemistry, zoology and physics, I took a variety of art classes.

After college, I went into the teaching field, sharing my knowledge of the sciences and art with elementary students.  My students and I took many walking field trips with drawing materials.  I ruled my class with a white board marker.  I used art as a way to positively manage the classroom.  The students knew that if they were attentive and working diligently during lessons, then they would be treated to an ongoing whiteboard cartoon of my last name caricature, “The Old Chef that Skis (Olshefski).”  Thanks to the students good behavior the old chef had many adventures escaping sharks, entering the Olympics, extreme sports, and much more. I have encountered students from my early years of teaching who still remember my whiteboard artwork and field trips.

My teaching years ended with a pink slip due to a lack of school funding.  Now what do I do?  While figuring out what I was going to do next, I began taking oil painting lessons with Atascadero artist, Tracy Di Vita.  Tracy is an artist that I have admired for many years.  My family and I were regulars at her Open Art Studio. With her inspiration, I learned the medium of oil paint.  It only took 30 years, but now I can say I have a portfolio!  I have travelled full circle back to my original passion of art.  For 25 years teaching was my identity.  Now I don’t have to introduce myself anymore as a laid off teacher; I can call myself an artist.  My work is in Morro Bay at the Gallery at Marina Square, and now will be available at Open Art Studio Tour 2012.

Kira’s studio information can be found in the Open Studios Art Tour catalog, studio #27, page 10.  Need a catalog?  They can be found online and throughout the county.   In Atascadero they can be picked up at The ARTery and the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce.

Origins: Rod Baker

I am a glass artist and began first by making glass windows for my clients when I worked as a contractor back in the 70’s.  My first exposure to fusing was during a trip to a store to purchase glass for a project in 2000, and they had their kilns going. I immediately got hooked and have been fusing ever since. In 2006 on a trip to Oregon, I visited several glassblowing studios and decided that was something I had to do. To gain some basic skills, I attended Cal Poly’s glassblowing program. My first studio and gallery opened in 2008 in Florence, Oregon where I stayed for several years.  I hope to build a studio in Baywood Park soon!

Although I do not have a formal background in art,  I really enjoy working with glass.  By combining glassblowing and fusing, I have created numerous, reasonably-priced pieces including  jewelry, vases, plates , paperweights, bowls and more.

Hope you all come and see me at my home at 240 Travis Dr., Los Osos during the Open Studios Art Tour. Or, you can always reach me at (805) 551-6836 for an appointment.

Catalogs are available at locations throughout the county.  For a complete list, please visit ARTS Obispo’s website.

Origins: Crissa Hewitt

I had the good fortune to grow up with parents who really liked having children. My mother claimed until the day she died that she was not artistic, which was not true. However, because my father created his art in the more conventional manner…with pencil, paint, leather punch, or table saw, she found it easy to give him the title.  Throughout her life, she provided the aesthetic underpinnings that shaped so much of how I see the world.

I loved doing things with my father. Some of the projects were of the home improvement variety such as laying bricks for the patio or painting his homemade barbeque/smoke oven. If he was working in his shop creating with wood, or doing leatherwork in the living room, I was a welcome companion. It is perhaps important here to mention that I was 5, 6, 7, or 8 when this took place.

He had taught himself slight of hand magic and showed me a couple of moves. Sometimes when he arrived home from work (he had his own printing business) he would stand in the kitchen and teach us how to do some cute parlor trick.

One night he came home and handed each of us a wood model kit for a small sailboat. The swimming pool had been built and he thought it would be fun to have races.  The model was simple, consisting of a mostly formed hull and parts for the mast and sails.  We learned how to sand and seal and apply the necessary parts. The races weren’t very successful, but being involved in the process of making struck a real chord with me.

That next spring we went to the hobby store to find another kit. He was very upset because everything for my age was made of plastic. He seldom showed frustration like that, so it made an impression on me. We walked out of the store with our purchase of a chunk of balsa wood. At home he showed me the magic of carving it to create my own boat designs.

By September of that year he was dead. The cigarettes had killed him, but what he lit in me has stayed alive and well.  In those early years I continued to make boats and tool leather. There were some art classes along the way, but it was not until the summer of 1966 that I struck pay dirt. I went to the apartment of a new friend and upon walking through the door was struck by a shelf full of ceramic pots. “Where did you get those?” I asked.  “I made them,” she answered.

That summer I took my first class at Cal State Northridge and the world just continued to open up from there. Yes, today my primary material is metal, but it was walking out of the clay studio around 5:00ish with mud stuck to my clothes and my father close in my thoughts, that I realized I had found home.

Where is the Elephant?

Crissa’s studio will be open both weekends of ARTS Obispo’s Open Studios Art Tour Stop by and see all of her beautiful work!

Origins: Sue McKee

My art life began with tiny circles on the wall behind the toilet when I was 3 (for which my older brother was blamed). He’s 75 now and tells me that I still OWE him for his keeping mum when he took the heat for that. Doodling on schoolwork when I should have been paying attention in class was a constant for me. But as an adult I could be a little more obvious in indulging my interests. I’ve dabbled in oils, inks, acrylics, landscapes, abstracts, the whole gamut.

Shanghai Visitors

When my husband and I spent almost two years in China on a mission, teaching English, everything changed.  Capturing this experience with collage, inks and acrylic paint seemed “right.” The people, sights, and feelings of this awakening dragon still vibrate for me through these pieces. I’ve moved on to enjoy scenes and people of our Central Coast (especially Farmers’ Market days), and these works are an extension of my sensitivity to the extra-ordinary world around us.

I’m thrilled to be exhibiting my work for another year at the delightful home of my friend Meryl Perloff beside her imaginative, tiny creations, along with the playful and unusual work of another friend Julie Frankel.

I even wrote a book about my China years, Days Like Floating Water, A Story of Modern China, that includes some of my artwork. Copies will be available both weekends of the Open Studios Art Tour as well.

(You can see more of Susan’s beautiful pieces on her website.)

Origins: Rachel Tamagni

I have always felt creative, but had a teacher in the sixth grade give me a D on an art assignment.  I was mortified and felt utterly defeated.  At the age of 50 I was inspired by a DIY network show called “That’s Clever” and I just sat down and created my first mosaic. (Below)

Since then I’ve begun working in Acrylics and Encaustic, but mosaic art is by far and away my favorite. Below is a recent mosaic from 2011.

Rachel will be participating in both weekends (October 13th & 14th and October 20th & 21st) of Open Studios Art Tour.  Be sure to stop when you are touring in Paso Robles!