Peacekeeper by Camille VandenBerge.

Spotlight Columns

Kid in the Candy Store explores artist’s origins

By From page B2 | August 30, 2017

If you grew up in the area during the 1960s, perhaps you remember a small gallery on Folsom’s Sutter Street called The Candy Store.

It featured the works of local artists who would eventually become the forerunners of the Funk Art ceramics movement.

Funk art is an American art movement. Like previous movements, it was a reaction to the art forms before it — in this case, against the non-objectivity of abstract expressionism. Funk art is very mainstream today, with its figures as the central subject matter. It is quirky, fun and understandable.

Hard to believe that this was an art form of an anti-establishment movement; although some works certainly rattled some cages back in the day.

New, vintage art
Next week a special exhibit featuring some of the work of The Candy Store artists — and the newest work of the artist they inspired — opens at the Gallery at 48 Natoma in Folsom.

Back in the day, The Candy Store featured the works of Peter VandenBerge, David Gilhooly, Robert Arneson, Clayton Bailey and Maya Peebles, among others.

It was in this world of artists that young Camille VandenBerge grew up.

Artistic heritage
VandenBerge is the daughter of two talented artists. Her mother, Marilyn, painted and her father, Peter, sculpted. Art and artists filled the family’s world.

It was only natural that her latent artistic talents flourished in such an environment. VandenBerge pursued her interests in the visual and dramatic arts, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Davis.

She has fond memories of going with her father to the Candy Store Gallery as a child.

“At about the age of 8 I remember waking up on the Candy Store floor in the corner of the gallery, during an art opening. I was curled (up) like a dog, looking up through cigarette smoke at a crowd of loud adults. Wine glasses in hands, sunglasses on heads, bell bottom jeans on legs,” she said.

Scandinavian influence
VandenBerge’s work is inspired by her experiences in the Dutch woods as well as her interest in Northern European folklore. Charged with intuitive complexity and emotional depth, her new work celebrates the human spirit, while balancing the ponderous solidity of monumental sculpture against delicacy and lightness.

Her sculptures of tall, elongated female figures are densely textured and stained with lovely pastel colors. The stylized expressions on her figures are dreamy and serene; their waif-like faces juxtaposed to their tall, stretched thin torsos. Many of the sculptures include small animals, flowers and vegetables. In her female figures, she attempts to transfigure the vitality of nature that she associates with the fertile powers of women.

Kid in The Candy Store opens Sept. 8 and runs through Nov. 2. The gallery is hosting an opening reception on Friday, Sept. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. Come meet the artists, mingle with members of the arts community, enjoy a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres.

The Gallery at 48 Natoma is located in the Folsom Civic Center campus at — you guessed it — 48 Natoma Street. All exhibits are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. The gallery is also open the second Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call (916) 355-7285 for more information.

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected]

Susan Laird

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