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OGS members come in all shapes, textures and points of interest. We know you will love them!

These members have made a deep impression on us...

Gretchen Flesher has been an Architect on the Monterey Peninsula for 36 years. After taking a drawing and composition class from Denese at MPC, she made the realization that she needed more art in her life for pleasure and personal satisfaction, and decided to become a founding donor and member at OGS. "I joined Open Ground Studios because it offers a community of artists of all levels that provide a constructive and inclusive environment to explore art in. No experience is required only a desire to learn and meet people who share an appreciation for growth and artistic endeavor.
I believe that the mission of OGS is bigger than offering art classes. The studio provides a space for people to share their process of discovery with others and gain inspiration to include art in their lives. OGS has provided a place to be inspired. A place for artists and non-artists to share an expanded view of expressions, experiences, and observations."

Helen is from Mexico originally and has lived in California for over 40 years. She's been a retired school teacher for 2 years now, and has been living in the Monterey area ever since. In her words: "I've always liked to draw, paint and write. This is what I hope to focus on for the rest of my life! As I'm new to the Monterey area, OGS has been a crucial part of my social life, as well as providing a space for me to work in whenever I want the extra bonus of having other artists around me. I have studio space at home, but at times one needs to be surrounded by other people's art and to hear different kinds of ideas and feedback. All the people I've met at OGS have been kind, helpful and interesting. OGS is very much appreciated!"

As a recent college grad struggling to find a path that's both rewarding and practical, Corinn decided to volunteer 10 hours a week at OGS, which turned into a paid internship and finally, due to her positive attitude, skillful contributions and the Arts Council grant, she is OGS first employee! Corinn says she has gained more than just job experience~ she's discovered the value of artistic expression for both herself and others. Seeing the impact OGS has had on its various members has increased her dedication to making art a part of daily life. In her words: "Although I've only been a part of the community for a short time, I am recognized and known by almost every member and many of our students in a way that seems impossible had I spent the last few months working in a corporate environment. I am continuously and deeply rewarded by the environment here and my personal art practice has become infinitely richer as I've been encouraged by both new friends and relative strangers, and have been mentored by amazingly talented artists. This place is a wellspring not just of art, but of inspiration and belonging."

CSUMB students from various departments ~ psychology, visual and public art and computer science ~ have spent over 100 hours learning professional and community building practices, working and interacting with a diverse intergenerational population, experiencing the behind the scenes management of small businesses, and coordinating programs and events while working alongside professional and vocational artists. Interns make wonderful impressions!

Local educators and leaders have recognized OGS as a unique resource for student interns, mentorship, team building, community service opportunities and arts education, which allows the public further access to our diverse expertise. We are excited to continue building partnerships and connections with local teens through public education and community projects. "You have taught me so much about art, but also about patience and courage and I am so very glad I've been able to spend time learning from you for the past year." ~ Athena, MBCS 8th Grade Mentee

Molly Nance was born and raised in Monterey. She is a supporter of all arts and has a professional background in journalism, hospitality, photography and videography. She is an active volunteer for local art organizations and has helped produced art events around the Monterey Peninsula. In her words: "When I first walked into Open Ground Studios, I was greeted by Denese Sanders - and boy, is her energy contagious! She has such spirit - we instantly hit it off. I told her about my 7-Day Sunrise Challenge Exhibition idea and without hesitation, Denese immediately offered to host the exhibit at OGS. I think we had less than a month to get everything together, but we hustled and pulled off a pretty cool event featuring over 350 photographs. And we laughed...a lot! Working with her was a blast, plus she is an absolute professional in her field. Open Ground Studios is a wonderful place for all creative types to
hone their skills, work on their art professionally, or discover a whole new community
. I encourage everyone to get involved with OGS!"

Frank Trueba has made such incredible impressions on OGS since the very beginning~ from building our furniture, teaching Japanese woodcut, assisting on start-up strategies and coming up with our awesome FROG metaphor, we wouldn't be the same, without him!

"I support OGS because creativity and exploration and art and friendship and fun are the stuff that makes life interesting and worthwhile and you can find that, and more, at OGS. I have learned practical skills such as medieval bookbinding as well as the more important skills of contributing to community, teaching makes as least two people feel better, and sharing is good for the soul."


Patrice Vecchione is a collage artist, author, and teacher. Her most recent book is Step into Nature: Nurturing Imagination and Spirit in Everyday Life, (Simon & Schuster). She loves paper and glue and scissors... a lot!

 "I love that Open Ground Studios makes art-making a part of our community. When I walk into OGS to teach there in front of me or hidden away in an easy-to-access cabinet is almost everything I need. The tables are clean and everyone has plenty of space to work. The participants are receptive and curious and, well, artistic! Denese has created the place we needed but didn't know we did. She makes making art as natural as brushing one's teeth and a whole lot more fun!"


Cindy Davis learned printmaking from a Franciscan Friar in central Italy, 35 years ago. Until recently, she was a member and president of a printmaking cooperative in Columbus, Ohio. She lives in Santa Cruz and this spring she joined OGS as a Network Member which gives her one full day a month in the studio and a few days in our gallery coworking space. In her words:
"I love the community of artists and printers at Open Ground Studios. I instantly felt at home in the printshop. This feeling was strengthened when I spent a day printing in the beautiful facility, as people came by and offered friendly support."

Melissa Pickford has been a wonderful friend to OGS through as a co-op artist in 2014 and a student and now a supporting member. Melissa has always had a career in arts education---in schools, museums, and independently. She has been a gallery curator for 13 years and enjoys painting with watercolor and acrylic, and printmaking. She also enjoys singing, writing, and acting. In her words: "I find I can be both quiet and peaceful AND sociable at OGS, and I need both of those atmospheres in my creative life. I joined OGS because I believe wholeheartedly in artists having a supportive sanctuary where they can learn, grow, and exchange ideas. It is wonderful to have an art space I can use where I am always welcomed with delight and acceptance. Even if I show up inconsistently, I can always settle into creative activity and feel supported for my efforts and experiments."

The Wood Family has been supporting members of OGS since its inception! "We have always appreciated Denese's emphasis on creating community through the events at the studio. Although I hadn't taken a single art class before coming here, I have always felt welcomed and encouraged to explore without pressure or expectation. The beauty of the space and the warmth of those who frequent the studio create a setting where I can relax and enjoy the company of others. I also appreciate the many social events at OGS where good food, fine art, and music abound. In a time when gathering places that inspire creativity and conversation are few and far between, OGS is an invaluable asset to our local community. If you haven't stopped by yet, I hope you will come to our third anniversary celebration on May 27th!"

Alyssa Endo has been a part of OGS since it's opening in 2013. She has been working on a series of large scale reduction woodcuts with Japanese Geisha as her main theme. We are so excited to offer Alyssa her first solo exhibition in September this year! In her words, "OGS has helped me get back on track with my art. When I graduated from UCSC in 2013 I pretty much floundered around for a bit unsure of where my artistic path was going to lead me. OGS was there to help me get back into art, test the waters of different mediums to see if an idea stuck. And thank goodness it did!! At the beginning of 2014 I found my Geisha Series path and haven't looked back. For a while my passion for the series dwindled (after number 6.5 of 13...) but I was given the opportunity for a personal exhibition so as to light a fire under me and get me moving! Now I am back at it and am so grateful for everything OGS has provided not just me, but the community as a whole. The classes, workshops, and expertise that is available in such an awesome space is one of a kind!"

Deb Burke is a faculty member at CSUMB with the Service Learning Institute. She integrates art and creative projects into her teaching, research, and personal life. Artists who move and inspire her include Paul Klee, Frida Kahlo, Romare Bearden, Kehinde Wiley, and Benjamin and Lilah (her nephew and niece). 
In her own words, "OGS--the people and the space--are a tremendous gift. I have been involved with OGS for almost 2 years. Here, I feel that I have a home where my creative life (which had no real outlets previously) is supported and cared for. I have had the joy of connecting with others doing art, and this has inspired and strengthened my own creativity and led me to experiment with new media (e.g., graphite, charcoal, acrylic painting, intaglio printmaking). Every time I enter OGS I know that I will be able to return to my center and feel content and alive in the present moment. I am grateful for the space and the community." 

A day in the life of OGS was forever transformed the day Katie Crawford walked in. In her words, "My time at OGS has been the most productive, creative, and fun time in my creative life. I am a self taught mixed media artist living in Monterey, CA. I hold a Bachelors of Science degree from James Madison University where I studied anthropology and art history. Art has been my passion from a young age however and since graduating I have been showing in fine art shows and galleries on the East and West Coasts. 
"OGS has benefited me greatly. Because of the diverse artistic pursuits of the community I have been able to explore new mediums and incorporate new techniques into my work. The constant creative atmosphere encourages joyful productivity and makes me want to come to work every day. The community of artists are incredibly talented, encouraging, and enthusiastic. The people of OGS have made a building full of artists into a creative home full of friends. " 

Billie Abbott, during her tenure as a co-op artist devoted countless hours to developing a custom-made data-base for OGS. Her generosity and mindfulness has made a long-lasting impression on the manageability of this small business! Billie began painting floral still lifes in 2013 after leaving the nine-to-five work life behind. She looked for a place where she could practice her artwork outside of her limited living space and found a supportive community at Open Ground Studios. "Open Ground offered me a welcoming space to practice my art at a professional level, one that I could not have achieved at home. It has also offered me a wonderful community of caring artists to bounce ideas off, and who provide moral support when I need it.
"Living with my sister in a very small apartment makes art creation difficult in the best of times. Open Ground Studios has allowed me the space to prime my canvases, project and sketch, and it has allowed me to spread out when doing serious color studies. I could not have come this far without it.There are very few places where an artist can freely create without physical or psychological restraints. Places like OGS must always be supported."

Wednesdays are always happy days because they're "Terese Day!" For over a year, Terese Garcia has come in to OGS one day a week to paint. It is her only day off from work at the Ventana Gallery. Terese is a non-representational artist whose work has been shown throughout California and in Syracuse, New York.
"Open Ground Studios has been a wellspring of inner growth for me, not just as an artist but as a human being. This is all due to OGS for offering studio art space and art classes that foster inner and outer growth on all levels (i.e. emotional, physical and spiritual) without the false pretense that some Artists Cooperatives I've been involved with in the past have unfortunately had. Last year, after taking a summer of Monotype Printmaking classes with Denese Sanders, I realized that my painting had improved because the experience cultivated not just learning true knowledge of the techniques, but more importantly, true knowledge of the self. Thus, I was able to go deeper into my abstract paintings and my sense of palette became more defined and clear. I attribute this to our in-depth discussions and the printmaking we did as a group and not as isolated artists. I encourage all people, whether you're an artist or not, to become a member or join in some way. You'll be happy you did!"

Susie Berteaux has been not only a steadfast co-op member since day-one, she's supported every twist and turn through out these past 3 years. Having found art and printmaking in 1996, she has discovered that creating art "keeps me open to new ideas, new thoughts and self discovery." Here are a few words from Susie:

"The opportunities OGS offers have made my artistic endeavors expand and improve. There are working, full time artists painting, printing and building who bring a professional feeling to the studio that has inspired me to be more productive. Aside from the fact that the people at Open Ground Studios are helpful, encouraging and friendly, I have learned more about my skills and how to fulfill my art needs. The ambience of the studio is a place of community and inspiration. A great second home."


Active duty Navy Lieutenant Kristen Wheeler has a passion for art, artists, entrepreneurship, and community. She was a driving force getting the concept of this community studio off the ground. We are forever grateful for the encouragement and support she has given us over the years. Here is her story: "Serendipity struck in 2012, when I stepped into Denese Sanders Drawing night class at MPC. Loved every minute of the experience, and left with an even deeper appreciation for creating art. When the class ended, I knew I wanted more... But not in a college class setting. Turns out I wasn't alone. As a tribute to the community Denese built in her classroom, most of us met for Mexican food after our last class. It was over margaritas that day that the unnamed OGS was conceived as truly something that could actually come to be. OGS brings together people who are interested in experiencing what I believe is the most precious part of being a human... Artistic expression. OGS's community is warm and open and allows its members to feel vulnerable in a safe space where each person is free to explore their thoughts, feelings, insights, and passions in much deeper ways because of the community of trust. It's a special place. Those that have experienced it, "get it" and walk away fundamentally changed in all the right ways... And also leave their own impression on their fellow members."

Founding Supporting Member Bob Rocco has made a huge, forever impression on OGS with his multitude of skills, thirst for experimentation, and generosity of spirit and information! He helped build much of our custom furniture, has taught multiple workshops in printmaking and has been a constant mentor in the development of our photo-based printmaking system.
In his words:
"I know and enjoy working with many of the members who helped start OGS. I am a founding member of a co-op of printmakers in Santa Cruz, and feel it is important to support other print groups. My [art] interest is in experimental methods of printmaking. My [art] object is to put something of myself into an image that reflects a specific time and place."

Anastasiya Bachmanova is an artist based in Moss Landing who depicts local nature and wildlife in a bold and colorful style. She grew up in Russia and Philadelphia before taking on studies at CSUMB, where she studied environmental science and fine art. Her outdoor adventures - surfing, climbing, kayaking, etc. inspire her acrylic paintings and linocuts! "Follow the Sun Art" is where you can find Ana's passion and work. When Ana walks into the studio, her smile lights up the room and her peaceful presence is a gift to be around.
"I originally found OGS because I was looking for an affordable space to create in. I've been a member for a year now, and the studio has provided so much more than that: one of the most genuine and supportive communities I have ever been a part of, opportunities to show work and learn new skills, constant inspiration to keep pursuing my goals! I definitely see this place as my second home and always look forward to coming in!"

Marie Murphy's love of art stems from her early days when drawing was one of her favorite activities. During her years in college and graduate school, she had dual majors in education and art. Once she became a teacher of elementary school children, she found art to be an amazing vehicle for teaching.

"After moving to the Monterey Peninsula and retiring from a second career in graphic design, I was delighted to find a variety of classes at OGS that appealed to me. Denese's expertise in making hand-made books and teaching printmaking made me realize what an incredible resource OGS was. I have been a member for three years. OGS continues to provide a welcoming, positive setting for artists of every level to experiment with different projects and media and to meet people in the community who are interested in continuing their work in art."

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