Ashley Herrin Art Direction & Photo




California Pt. II: Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts

During my spring trip to Los Angeles for production, I spent a weekend with a friend exploring the wonderful west-coast town of Ojai (more of which you can read about here). Known for the strong positive energy and spirituality felt within the town's limits, the town has become home to a burgeoning population of creative types.

One of those people was the exceptionally talented Beatrice Wood. Beatrice was a creative woman of all trades. She was an American artist in the Avante Garde movement in the US, she founded The Blind Man in 1917 alongside Marcel Duchamp and writer Henri-Pierre Roché - a Dada movement art magazine (she has been characterized as the "Mama of Dada"). She studied art and theater in Paris and was an actress in New York City. In her later years she found pottery, creating impressive sculptures and ceramic wares and eventually become a published author after being urged by her good friend, Anais Nin to pick up a pen. Throughout her life, Beatrice stayed busy, expressing herself through a variety of art forms and mediums.

But what I found most impressive was Beatrice's foray into ceramics. Having begun taking pottery classes this past winter, I had a newfound appreciation and love for the art. And Beatrice's introduction to the medium is even more impressive. On a trip to the Netherlands to hear J. Krishnamurti speak, Beatrice brought along a pair of baroque-period plates finished in a luster glaze with the hopes of finding a matching tea pot to round out the set. Her search turned out unsuccessful, but in turn inspired her to enroll in a ceramics class in hopes of making her own tea pot. She studied ceramics at Hollywood High School. Her hobby quickly became a passion that would span over six decades of creating, though she never made that matching tea pot.

By the late 1940s, Beatrice felt as though is was time to settle down. She looked to Ojai, California where she lived, taught and practiced out of her home overlooking the mountains of Ojai. Ojai also happened to be home to Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti, who largely influenced her artistic practices.

Knowing I had taken up pottery as a new hobby, Sarah decided to take me to The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts to kick off our tour of Ojai. Sarah had done some work alongside the members of the center earlier in the year, so we were warmly welcomed and given an exclusive tour of Beatrice's former home, studio and the surrounding grounds.

Surrounding Beatrice's property is thriving gardens and rolling green hills that give way to the Ojai mountains. Walking around her property I immediately realized just how lucky Beatrice, and others who live in the area, are to create in this valley of stunning views... 360 degrees of endless inspiration.

But what was most impressive was Beatrice's ceramics studio just a few steps from her front door. Today, the studio is still a working studio, though it still feels like a moment from decades ago preserved in time. Jars of glazes ready for mix adorn shelves that surround the studio while hundreds of clay tools and brushes fill pots and mugs ready for use. Clay molds of Beatrice's work and some of her pieces are scattered throughout the studio, as if she is still here throwing at the wheel.

The work of Beatrice Wood is perfectly preserved at the Center, displayed and presented for all to see and experience first-hand. I highly encourage you to visit the center if you happen to be in the area - it's a wonderful place to explore, learn and find inspiration within it's walls and the surrounding grounds. To learn more about The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, click here.

Ashley Herrin