Long before our 8th anniversary in 1995 we each had begun our individual art careers. Michael drew cartoon images of Popeye and Donald Duck when he was 5, graduating to WWII images of tanks and soldiers in battle during the long nights before TV. Then a pause before entering the art department at UCLA in 1959, studying painting with Sam Amato, William Brice, Jan Stussy and Paul Wonner, as well as Richard Diebenkorn and Elmer Bischoff in summer classes. Heady stuff and he stuck around until 1962 working on a Masters of Fine Arts degree (dropping out just before completing to become an interior designer in LA).
Ricia drew and painted from a very young age, starting with paint by number and wood burning kits. There were various classes along the way, in school and with private instructors. She simultaneously studied design, using her own houses as well as clients and friends' for her interest in interior design. She moved to Mendocino, CA in 1975 mainly because it was (and still is) an art community and her devotion to the arts became a full time commitment. She studied at the College of the Redwoods as well as the Mendocino Art Center, developing an abstract sensibility in painting, drawing, collage and printmaking, while also restoring a large Victorian house. Michael left Los Angeles in 1965 to pursue a Masters in Architecture at Cal Berkely where he taught architectural drawing and design as a teaching assistant. He graduated in 1969 and soon after moved to Mendocino to practice building design and construction.
We met in1985 when he came to buy her house, which she had remodeled and decorated. The house came off the market, we married, and that began a collaboration in the field of architecture and interior design that has paralleled our art career to this day, with projects from Los Angeles to San Francisco and of course the Mendocino and Sonoma counties.
But the most exciting part was yet to come. On the previously mentioned 8th anniversary Ricia wanted to spend the day making art together. Michael thought that meant quietly drawing side by side, but Ricia wanted to work on a piece together. It was so magical and fulfilling that since that day we have worked almost exclusively in collaboration, working on the same canvas at the same time. We work in mixed media with a base of acrylic paint, often adding collage materials, particularly recycled cardboard and found objects, finding beauty in the discarded. These materials, plus metal, mirror, old painting tools, etc.find their way into an occasional sculpture as well.
In 1999 we were founding members of Partners Gallery in Little River, CA where we exhibited exclusively for a number of years, subsequently branching out to other galleries in Northern California.
With deepest regrets artist and dear friend Michael Leventhal passed after a long illness Tuesday May 22nd. Michael's goal was to make it to Ricia's and his opening night "Art for Life's Sake" at Cobalt Gallery.
Please Join us June 10th from 5-9 PM at Cobalt Gallery "Art for Life's Sake" celebrates Ricia's and Michael's painting collaboration and 30 years of an amazing life together. "Art for Life's Sake" is a bright and inspiring show, reflecting a beautiful connection between two lovers.
Ricia Araiza and Michael Leventhal
There are moments we share because they feel right. They may make no rational sense other than whim. Sometimes we paint as one, playing off each other's exuberance. Other times a lull settles and we falter, semi-defeated by disappointment, only to again be spirited by a flashing line or a bold color splash. Our pieces are seldom static and possibly never finished. The outside world gives us clues but ours is an inner moment - guided by our love of creating and our love for each other - the real reasons we are here.
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