Artist Profile: Margaret “Maggie” Bolt
Each morning I stand at my kitchen sink taking in the weather pattern over the garden. Whether the day is dreary rain or sunny skies, I can move my glance to the consistency and serene beauty of a Maggie Bolt ceramic wall hanging that occupies the space between the two windows. The impressions in the striations of beige, brown and ecru are of Chinese characters, a warrior, a parasol, a maiden and markings that evoke rays of sunshine and bursts of light. The supporting structure is a braided cord attached to an aged chopstick. The vision is calming, provoking, inspiring. Was Maggie’s intent to create a focal piece for my morning sink side meditation? I really doubt it. But I do not doubt that her natural talents brought together the elements that resonated within her soul and she created something amazing with her full intent.
To visit Maggie’s studio is like stepping into a fairy land of beads, trinkets, swatches of paper, fabric, notecards, wall hangings and light. She immediately apologizes for the state of disarray – she is doing inventory for the upcoming Art @ the Source. Do I believe for one minute that this is not its normal state? Calm art among chaotic inspiration seems to be a familiar theme for artists. Despite Maggie’s claim that she is not a formally trained artist, she exhibits all the traits of the most educated – compultion, proliferation and individuality.
Growing up in Southern California, Maggie visited San Francisco at age 16 to attend her brother’s wedding. She attended Pasadena Junior College after high school but could not erase the lure of Northern California and soon moved to San Francisco. It was not long before she met Geoff Bolt. Geoff has his own story but for this brief mention, he is a well known local wood turner and sculptor. Each year they would venture to Kennedy Road to purchase their Christmas tree until one year they decided that this was where they wanted to live. Moving from San Marino to San Francisco to rural Sebastopol was quite a shock. Snakes in the garden? Septic systems? Life in the country had its challenges.
While Maggie had always participated in crafts – be it flower arranging in San Gabriel to art classes at Pasedena JC – moving to the country added a different dimension. She made wreaths of grape vine cuttings before you could buy them for $1 at JoAnn’s and she drew on the inspiration of the setting. Her son, Dennis – also a local artist – recalls his mother during his childhood as having a glue gun in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She took a clay course at SRJC where she experienced pressing things into clay. That lead to print making and then, of course, one must use the excess from the prints in collage and notecards. When Dennis left for college, he challenged his mother to enter the Sonoma County Fair competition. She was delighted when her humorous painting of a fish received a third place and she was awarded $100. Maggie now had the taste of public appreciation and she was hooked. The detached studio was built and a career was launched.
I asked Maggie about the deep Oriental influence in her art. I was surprised to learn that she has never visited the Far East. Well, physically she has never visited. She recalls a sixth grade social studies project on China that introduced her to the style of Chinese art and culture. With that simple introduction, a profound understanding of Chinese design was tapped. Anyone who questions the value of elementary education enrichment programs should hear this story. What a testament of early exposure to other cultures!
Today you will find intricately carved pendants incorporated in the wall hangings. Fish continue to be a recurrent theme. I picked up a 7” round hanging with fish swimming in circles at Bodega Artisan Coop one day. Such a find! Great for any bathroom. Maggie continues to evolve her style which keeps me coming back to see what is next. Do not miss the opportunity to experience her talent the first two weekends of June during Art @ the Source.
Maggie participates in Art @ the Source with her friend and fellow artist, Janet Charnofsky (Artist Profile – May 2006), at 10430 Mill Station Road. That is where I purchased my kitchen hanging some years ago. It is a great studio to visit with displays from Maggie, Janet and Dennis. You can see Maggie’s art year round at Local Color in Bodega Bay, Bodega Artisan Coop in Bodega and Dolphin Gallery in Gualala. Do not miss Art @ the Source. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet local artists and learn their stories. I will be posting some of my older Artist Profiles at www.MyWineCountryVillage.com in the coming weeks so that you can learn about artists before you meet them. Have an inspiring tour of West Sonoma County Artist.
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