Please introduce yourself. Who are you? Where did you grow up? Where do you live?
I'm Vera Totos, I'm a handweaver and textile artist. I grew up in Hungary, and have lived in the US for 17 years. I live in the East Bay near Berkeley, with my husband, two kids, cat and a dog. A lot of what I do in art is influenced by the relationships around me - some of my works start as art lessons for kids; or with an idea about a community project, school fundraiser, a wrap to make a friend battling illness feel better; table linens that take on additional meaning after being used for particularly memorable holiday, and so on. I couldn't make the same art in a vacuum; it's all about people and experiences together.
Tell us more about what you create. What style(s) do you work in, mediums, etc.
I do weaving, felting, spinning, dyeing, and whatever techniques my current project throws my way. Right now I am experimenting with 3D structures in weaving and through fabric sculptures using stiffened fabric.
How long have you been creating?
All my life! I started fiber crafts around 7 or 8, when my great-grandmother deemed I was old enough to start learning sewing and embroidery. I have been "collecting" fiber crafts since then, adding knitting, spinning, weaving, shibori dyeing etc. Right now I am flirting with paper sculptures and woven basketry fiber sculptures. I have never done basketry, but it sounds intriguing!
When you're not making your art, what do you do?
I teach weaving to adults and integrated STEAM to young children. What that means is that we use art (the A added to STEM) to explore art and craft techniques along with scientific concepts. It may be a project using colorful lights, creating light play and explore additive color mixing at the same time; or an engineering challenge to build the most stable structure out of common art materials.
Is creativity a luxury or necessity for you? Tell us more about that.
I tried to put aside making things by hand for a while in college and graduate school and focus on reading and writing - I didn't last very long! I picked up knitting to keep myself sane, because it was portable and could do it during lectures.
Where do you find inspiration?
People and important events in our relationships. Weddings, shared meals, friendships, babies and children, bouts of anxiety, pandemic isolation have all inspired pieces I made. I rarely separate art from functional art - a wearable shawl commemorates a wedding; and set of napkins becomes backdrop for important memories; a jacket carries self-expression, fabric designed for a garment ends up mounted on a panel and hanging on the wall - things become experiences and experiences become entwined with things.
Covid has drastically altered Jeff and Wendy’s wildlife photography. Typically, they are traveling to different parts of the world and within the USA photographing a wide variety of animals, but Covid has allowed them to focus on all of the amazing wildlife that can be found locally. It has also provided Jeff, who does wildlife drawing, with the opportunity to devote more time creating charcoal drawings of animals that are near and dear to his heart such as a gray fox, great horned owl and a river otter. Giclée prints of these animals are available for sale at the gallery.
Wendy and Jeff at Work in the Field
This fall, Jeff and Wendy enjoyed spending time with two juvenile great horned owls, who allowed them to capture some very breathtaking images of owl behavior. One image is of one of the young raptors taking flight and another image captures one of the owls having a stare down with its parent as it begged to be fed! The adult won the stare down and flew away!
Juvenile Great Horned Owls
Bobcats and river otters are two of their favorite subjects and over the past six months they have been able to observe and photograph these two apex predators on many occasions. They have also spent time photographing a variety of shorebirds and songbirds often capturing images of them in flight.
They are also very involved in conservation efforts and time at home has allowed them to create Zoom presentations and write articles about conservation issues and ethical photography. They donate their images to Lindsay Wildlife, Sea Otter Savvy and River Otter Ecology Project to support nonprofits that are doing tremendous work promoting awareness and support for wildlife conservation issues.
Jeff’s limited edition charcoal pencil drawings are also available for sale at the gallery.
Please visit Fourth Street Fine Art where you can view their photographs and Jeff’s drawings that are on display or spend a little time exploring their website and step into a world of wildlife wonder www.jeffandwendyphotography. If you find an image you would like to purchase, please contact them and they will create a custom metal or giclée print produced just for you!
Jeff and Wendy’s goal is to capture images which promote an awareness and respect for all wildlife and provide people with a piece of art that reminds them of the importance of connecting with wildlife on an emotional level. So why not bring a little wildlife into your home- we know it will sooth your soul.
Streeters share studio news
Recommended Artist Resources
Frames - Cheap Joes
Matboard - REDImat
Paint - Blick Art, Cheap Joes
Plastic bags - Clearbags
Shipping supplies - Uline
Shoe Making - blog
Supplies - ASW Express
Postcards - PS Prints