Sacramento Art History Consortium’s Featured Artist: Sandy Fong Whetstone

by Bree Garcia

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 SFW:   As a wife, mother of two teenage boys, and an English and a Second Language teacher, it is often hard to find time for art.  Although I knew from an early age that I wanted to have art in my life, it wasn’t until 2005 that I began to devote much time to it.  Now that I have a ceramics studio at Panama Pottery and a painting and crafts studio at home, I find it easier to pursue my passion.  Having the studio at Panama Pottery has opened opportunities for me to give ceramics and mosaic workshops.  I have also developed, directed and taught a summer art program for children at Bergamo Montessori school, and volunteered at my sons’ schools teaching ceramics, hand-crafts, and tile mosaic.

Although ceramics is my primary medium, I have worked with bronze, steel, acrylic, silver, fiber, batik and remnants of house remodels.  I have shown at Fe Gallery, SMUD Gallery, Solomon-Dubnick Gallery, The Contemporary Temporary Gallery, Union Hall Gallery, The Blue Line Gallery, and the E Street Gallery in Sacramento, as well as in Davis and the Bay Area.  I currently volunteer in the Sacramento City College ceramics lab, learning from Mark Boguski and Mimi Fogg.

I draw inspiration from everything around me, which can lead to a tendency to hoard – “I can make something with that.”  Everything is an art project, but my primary influences are from nature, and my work tends to be humorous or whimsical.  I believe that there is enough in the world that is disturbing and provoking.  I want to create something that makes me smile or laugh.  Art is both my therapy and my passion.

My other interests include traveling, crafting, fitness, and home improvement.  I have lived in Thailand and China and have traveled in Europe, Mexico, and South East Asia, but have always returned to my home in Sacramento.

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SAHC: Can you give us a brief description of your creative process? What is your preferred medium and style?

 SFW: I find inspiration all around me. The trick is to remember all the things that I want to make when I get in the studio.  I take pictures and make sketches and post some of my favorite things on my cabinet in my studio to help me remember what to make when I get in the studio.  It is easy to forget if I do not write down my ideas.  My preferred medium is clay.  I love the feel of it, the malleability, and the fact that I can make a 3-D object, but I also love acrylic painting, printmaking, mixed media and fiber arts.   I really haven’t encountered an art medium that I have not liked or wanted to try. 

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SAHC: As a Sacramento artist what responsibilities do you believe that you have to the local and the global community?

SFW: As an artist, I believe that I have a responsibility to stay true to my visions, my inspirations.  I also believe that I need to share my art with others.  I have volunteered at my sons’ schools for years, teaching handwork, ceramics and mosaics.  I also taught an art camp at a local Montessori school where we created a tile mosaic of student art for permanent display outside of the school.  I wanted the students to see their art on display every day they went to school.   They could see their individual work, and also how it contributed to the whole, which was greater than the sum of its parts.  So my work as an artist is not only to create my individual pieces, but to add to the community of art through teaching, displaying and yes, selling.  I want my art disseminated, not just piled up in my studio.  

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SAHC: What advice do you have for emerging artists, or those pursuing a career in the arts?

 SFW: If you want it, make the time.  If it is your passion, pursue it.  Take classes, visit museums, galleries, surround yourself with inspiration, talk to other artists, make connections.  Spend the time.

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SAHC:  Who are some of your favorite Sacramento Artists, and why? 

SFW: Gary Dinnen:  His work is so fun!  It just always makes me smile.  I can never look at any of his work without smiling. 

 Michaele LeCompte:  Luscious layers, textures, colors, and vibrations.  Just sends tingles up my spine.  Great teacher.  Inspiring. 

 Paula Wenzel-Bellacerra:  Great expression and charm.  Makes me giddy.

 Emily Wilson:  Fine printmaker and teacher.  Inspiring.

 Randall Won:  Great sense of style.  Well-crafted, thoughtful, creative work.

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 SAHC: Where are some of your favorite Art/ Art History resources found? 

SFW: The Crocker, The DeYoung

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 SAHC:  Is there anything else about the arts here in Sacramento that you would like share with our reader?

 SFW: Support the arts!!  If you love it, buy it!  Or make it!  Visit the galleries and museums.  Take a class.  We have some truly talented artist in the region who are willing to share their knowledge.  Take the leap. 

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SAHC: Where can your work be viewed, or found online?

 SFW:  I currently have some work at the Adamson Gallery in the Art Building on R Street.  I have an etsy shop, but am really bad about maintaining it.  I participate in art fairs a few times a year and participate in open studios occasionally held at Panama Pottery where I have my studio.  Private viewings can be arranged by appointment.  Email me at sandywhetstone68@gmail.com

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