Ellen Boulanger has always been drawn to visual art, though when her mother wanted her to take a “more practical” approach, she dutifully took typing lessons and worked as a computer programmer. But after a couple of decades, Boulanger turned her attention more completely to visual art, from photography, stained glass, and weaving to the plein air painting that captured her imagination and her heart. Boulanger paints, she says, “to give voice to the pigments applied to my canvas. . . to bring my love of color and brush stroke to those who enjoy the music they convey.”
Schooled at San Francisco State and Sonoma State Universities, Boulanger has also participated in art workshops with Tim Horn, Ovanes Berberian, Judy Butler, and Jeannette LaGrue. Her work has been widely exhibited in Mendonoma, including at Gualala Arts’ Art in the Redwoods and the Healdsburg Center for the Arts and Graton Gallery, where her work took Best of Show. In spite of the demands of everyday life, Boulanger always makes time for art. For her, creativity is a “source of spirituality, a kind of meditation, a way to shut the hasty world outside the studio door and enter into a state of complete and utter absorption.” Inspired by the natural world she sees around her, she paints to capture special moments in time and to record our gorgeous and ever-changing scenery.
Joan Rhine, who grew up in New York City, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The Cooper Union and her Master of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from the Pratt Institute. In addition, she studied hand papermaking at the Dieu Donne Paper Mill in New York and jewelry-making with Charlene Modena at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. Saying “I continue to learn at every opportunity.”
Rhine and husband Jim Meilander established Submarine Paperworks in San Francisco in 1984, but in 2000 they moved to Gualala, where Rhine now offers workshops on hand papermaking. Her works have been widely exhibited on the northern California coast, from the Morris Graves Museum in Eureka to Ukiah’s Art Center, the Neumann Gallery in Gualala, and the Gualala Arts Center. Attendees at this year’s Festival of the Trees had an opportunity to see some of Rhine’s stunning jewelry there, and can also see her work at The Ren Brown Collection in Bodega Bay, Red Stella in Gualala, and Mendocino Gems in Mendocino. Winner of numerous awards, Rhine took First Place in jewelry and ornamentation art at Art in the Redwoods in 2012, 2015, and 2018
The Dolphin exhibit features work in “two separate yet related directions”: jewelry using precious metals, semi-precious stones, and selected beads; and sculptural mixed media artworks that combine copper wire and handmade paper. As Rhine puts it, “I enjoy exploring the versatility of metal and paper, which can be perceived as both hard and soft, and contrasting simple shapes with rich texture, controlled forms with random elements, shiny surfaces with matte, and geometric elements with organic forms.”
Rhine’s deeply expressive pieces of jewelry are unique, each piece one-of-a-kind and completely handmade. Recent sculptures combine copper and her extraordinary handmade paper with mixed materials. Much of her work is inspired by nature, as she walks on the beach or the forest absorbing natural forms, textures and colors: “Landscapes, skies, even man-made structures along the coast stimulate my imagination,” she says.