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A Conversation with Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 7 p.m.

 Dennis Mitchell at I Capelli SalonPassion Flowers,
 Pulse OneLovina Designs,  
Peterson Graphics, Ventura College

Focus on the Masters (FOTM) will present a film screening of “A Conversation with Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo” on Wednesday, October 26 at Ventura College.  The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Applied Science Center.
Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo is a Ventura County textile artist and caretaker of a sacred Tibetan tradition: silk appliqué thangka. Creating thangkas (sounds like Tonka) is more than an art form, it is an ancient practice Leslie learned while living in Dharamsala, India, home to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. Located at the base of the Himalayas, Leslie spent nearly ten years living and studying among the Tibetans.  Thangkas are intricately pieced bits of fabric that, when sewn together, form a picture that is an integral part of Buddhist religious practices.  They are vibrantly colored, meticulously sewn, sacred fabric scrolls that act as objects for meditation and contemplation.  Creating a thangka involves techniques that are centuries old.
Leslie is one of only a few women who have mastered this highly specialized craft.  Creating a thangka is an act of devotion in and of itself.  It requires more than nimble fingers and a steady eye.  This art form involves a keen understanding of and appreciation for spiritual tradition.
Leslie’s surname of Freilich was changed by a Tibetan lama to Rinchen-Wongmo, a Tibetan name that means Precious Empowered Woman.  It was not done to deny her past but rather to catalyze her spirituality and reflect Leslie’s embrace of life and the philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism. 
Over the years Leslie’s style has morphed from creating very traditional scrolls to a more modern, personal style that evokes both the ancient art form and modern quilting techniques.  Whether ancient or modern, all of her art is infused with joy and serenity.  Leslie’s work is collected and exhibited world-wide. 
A Conversation with Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo is the edited version of her FOTM Artist Spotlight interview that took place on March 28, 2015, hosted by FOTM founder Donna Granata as part of Leslie’s formal documentation for the FOTM Archive & Library.  The all-encompassing documentation includes extensive oral histories, a videotaped public interview, digitized library of the artist work, the collection of historic photographs and ephemera. Just as Leslie puts together bits and pieces of materials to create a thangka, she also put together funding to create this film including a successful Indiegogo crowd funding campaign.
Established in 1994, Focus on the Masters, one of the oldest arts organizations in the City of Ventura, is dedicated to celebrating and documenting artists in our community.  Monthly artist interviews are open to the public and lessons based on those documented artists are included in its award-winning Learning To See in school outreach.  Originally a program designed for middle school children, in recent years it has been expanded to serve adults with mental illness through a joint venture with the Turning Point Foundation.
For additional information, you may call Focus on the Masters at 805-653.2501.  To learn more about Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo, go to

Dine at Ventura’s Himalaya Restaurant, 35 W. Main Street #A, anytime on October 26 and 20% of your check will benefit Focus on the Masters. To RSVP a table, call 805.643.0795.
 Click on image below for printable coupon.



Baubles, Bangles & Bright Shiny Beads

An Evening with Jo Ellen Lee & Elaine Unzicker
Saturday, February 6, 2016 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Sponsored by Meg and Jim Easton
AfterGLOW hosted by the Old Broads Catering Company

When does jewelry become art?  Is important jewelry made only with precious metals and gems? How does jewelry transform the wearer? These and other questions will be explored as Mary Galbraith visits with Jo Ellen Lee and Elaine Unzicker.  Jo Ellen earned a Ph.D. in Medical Genetics and worked for many years in genetics laboratories in the southwest.  She took up beading in 1993 and it was soon evident that her precise, careful work and superb color sense took her beaded art pieces and jewelry 

         to high levels of excellence.  Elaine, a member of the Ojai Studio Artists, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, Master of Science in Art and Master of Fine Art.  Her specialty is working
with chain mail, a material that is tantalizingly soft and hard at the same time.  Traditional jewelry pieces such as earrings, chokers and bracelets form but a part of her work.  The clothing pieces she designs are truly wearable art:  unique, stylish and definitely cool (in all senses).  Mary is a long-time volunteer with Focus on the Masters and a devoted wearer of jewelry.  Please join us.

An Evening with Rich Deppe and Carl Friedlander
Sunday, March 6, 2016 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.
Sponsored by Betsy Chess and John & Cherie Brant
AfterGLOW hosted by the JoEllen Lee and
prepared by the Old Broads Catering Company

filaments twisted together; a line of reasoning that connects ideas or events. 

Weave: to form cloth by interlacing strands of thread; to produce by combining elements.
Spin: draw out wool, cotton, or other material and convert it into threads.
Our Artist Spotlight shines March 6 on two members of the Ventura County Handweavers & Spinners Guild, Rich Deppe and Carl Friedlander. 

Rich Deppe spins
-- not working out on machines at the gym but at home, working on a piece of machinery most know only from the movies:  a spinning wheel. The most interesting aspect of fiber art is, for Rich, spinning the fibers themselves. A current project involves spinning dog hair and silk that will ultimately be used to weave a blanket.

Carl Friedlander enjoys fine thread weaving, especially in the construction of a tallit, a prayer shawl that is worn when attending Jewish services. Although Carl does weave other beautiful yet utilitarian items (table mats and runners, material for clothing), it is his work as a man of faith that is perhaps most impressive.
Please join us as Mary Galbraith chats with Rich Deppe and Carl Friedlander, connecting the threads and weaving their stories together to give greater understanding of the creative process.

Tattoos: Not Just For Drunken Sailors Anymore!
A Conversation with Sandra PriceSunday, April 3, 2016 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m.
Sponsored by Jo Ellen Lee and Paula Spellman
AfterGLOW hosted by FOTM Board Member Karen Hoffberg

Tattoos are everywhere! Grandmothers want
them. Rock stars and celebrities sport them.  A tattoo can be decoration or can express solidarity among those who have served overseas.  An exquisitely colored song bird may be a way of overcomingunspeakable tragedy or a celebration of lifelong friendship.  Black and gray or flamboyantly colored, tattoos are today’s fashion statement and much, much more.

Sandra Price is the owner and manager of White Lotus Body Arts in Ventura.  Her life has taken her from Washington, DC to Iceland to California and points in between.  She is a graduate of Ventura College.  Portfolio in hand she applied to and was accepted for study at the Pasadena College of Art and Design, with emphasis on illustration.  Her professional career included work on graphic novels and Emmy Award-winning animated programs.  Sandra has taught conceptual design at Associates of Arts.  Becoming disenchanted with the entertainment industry, Sandra returned to Ventura in 2001 and changed professional direction to become a tattoo artist.  In 2014, after several years of apprenticeship and working in other salons, she opened her own tattoo studio, White Lotus Body Arts.

Please join us as Mary Galbraith and Sandra Price take us to the colorful and fascinating world of Tattoos.

An Evening with Donna Granata
Saturday, July 9, 2016 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Cosponsored by Richard & Yvette Franklin and John and Cherie Brant
AfterGLOW: Special location to be announced.

Donna Granata and Mary Galbraith will share Focus on the Masters plans for the future on Saturday, July 9 at the Screening Room, Brooks Institute of Photography.
The Focus on the Masters (FOTM) Archive is a treasure-trove of unique recordings of oral histories and video-taped interviews, each one tracing the professional and personal arcs of an artist’s life.  Now in its third decade of providing timely and provocative discussions of bringing the humanity behind the arts to our community, FOTM will adapt new technological methods to educate the public. 
Donna has just completed a year of intense study of Arts Journalism at USC Annenberg and is eager to put new practices to good use.  “Harnessing today’s technology to time-tested research means that Focus on the Masters can communicate the importance of the creative spirit to audiences well beyond our geographical boundaries,” comments Donna.  “Our cultural treasures are too important to be restricted to our own community.”
Mary has been a FOTM volunteer since 2003.  “Although our methods of compiling and storing information may change, our core belief remains the same:  the arts are essential to a healthy community, all of the arts!”

An Evening with Karen Kitchel
Saturday, August 6, 2016 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Sponsored by David and Patricia Herman
AfterGLOW: Ojai Home of Kevin and Christine Beirne
Special thanks to Seafresh Ojai for the wine!

Karen Kitchel’s landscapes are definitely not traditional. Of her work Karen states:  I paint them with the traditional craftsmanship of the genre’s past, and a critical eye on the geography of the present.   She narrows her focus to a small patch of dried grasses or what you may always have considered just plain weeds.  In isolation we see their architecture, we sense the brittleness of leaves, the wonderfully chaotic arrangement of stems and leaves.  These generally small wood panels, square or rectangular, allow us to see familiar details or fragments that are often un-seen --
Karen Kitchel Presentation & Representation, oil/birch, 2013 courtesy Robison Gallery, Denver
 weeds our pants legs brush by or that are trampled underfoot.  Seen in groups, these paintings create a sense of time elapsed, of seasons passing, and create a subtle awareness of how the land has been sectioned off, divided.  Another series, Home on the Range, overlays images of industrial intrusion into the western landscape on what might be picture postcards of an another era.  Karen earned her BA in Art at Kalamazoo College and MFA in painting at Claremont Graduate School.  She exhibits throughout the country and is widely collected.  Reserve your seat today for an opportunity to learn more about a painter who is engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the land.

An Evening with James L. Webb
Co-sponsored by:  Ted & Joyce Lombard and John and Cherie Brant
AfterGLOW: Mary & Jim Galbraith

It’s a pleasure to welcome back to the Artist Spotlight James L. Webb who was extensively documented by Focus on the Masters in 2009.  Jim, for over 10 years, wasa master printer for Gemini G.E.L., the ground-breaking and highly respected publisher of fine art that is now celebrating its 50th anniversary.  It’s impossible to underestimate the role Gemini has played in the art world.  Recognizing the impact of this venerable institution, LACMA will present The Serial Impulse at Gemini G.E.L., opening September 11 and continuing through January 2, 2017.
[NOTE: If you're interested in the LACMA private docent-led tour Oct. 13, click HERE]
For an artist like Jim, who admits that he “feel(s) a kinship with paper,” the opportunity to work with giants of the art world such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg was a career highlight.  Jim’s insights into the world of printmaking, his personal recollections of dealings with the artists who became life-long friends, are sure to do more than entertain us; we will come away prepared to savor the riches awaiting us in the LACMA exhibit.  Please reserve your seat today. 

This is a FREE event -  SUGGESTED DONATION: $10 General public, $5 students and seniors.


Ventura College:
Applied Science Center
4667 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
(South east section of the campus near Telegraph & Day Road.)

Parking on Campus: $2.00
Some parking is available on the street.

RSVP - call 805.653.2501