Artist finds her passion in watching children create

By From page B1 | January 11, 2013

FAIRFIELD — There’s a twinkle in Bonnie Weidel’s eyes when she talks about children exploring art.

The majority of her Benicia studio showcases the works of her students. Only a small area is reserved for the things she’s created. She doesn’t like to discriminate between the youngster’s work and hers.

Yet, the 30-year-plus Benicia resident remembers doing very little art in her childhood. Two memories come to mind – one when she was 8 or 9 and would trace over the black outline in coloring books.

The second time, she was about the same age and remembers finger-painting with pink paint on a paper on her desktop. The teacher was playing Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” at the same time.

Weidel, who attended 12 schools in nine states before she was 14, found her niche in organizing dances and plays. Early on, that got her in trouble as she formed a girls club that met after school. Dues were a penny. When a parent got wind of the money and reported it to the school, Weidel was expelled.

But that didn’t stop her from bringing people together. She helped launch Benicia Community Arts, which sponsored Art in the Park for 20 years. Today, she’s trying to gather some members from the now-defunct group to help her sort through what’s left behind as far as supplies and items the historical society may want.

“We lived on donated funds,” Weidel said.

The group’s annual fundraiser was Christmas at the Clocktower. The location was important.

“I want the community to put history and art together,” she said. While she appreciates the fact that the city’s art community is well-known, Weidel would also see less focus on marketing and more on developing artists.

She operates Art for Kids, where youngsters as young as 2 began to explore their world through art. As one enters her studio, a small, legless chair sits in front a chalkboard. Youth are encouraged to sit there and create.

“We work on them developing their own process,” she said.

The first shape students tackle is a circle and the last a triangle, Weidel said, explaining that the latter ability doesn’t come until the child is 6 or 7.

Weidel is showing two pieces of her artwork at Arts Benicia Art of a Community, which opens Thursday. Both are black and white. One is a print, the other a collage.

“They are both using black and white in a different way, she said.

It will be the third time she’s shown her work in Benicia.

“I’m much more excited to be working involving people,” she said.

Weidel is battling cancer but remains involved in exhibiting her students’ work at the Java Point Cafe in Benicia. The next showcase will feature two 5-year-old girls who draw feminine figures. One is free to draw what she wishes. Another is being told by a parent what to draw, an idea that doesn’t sit well with Weidel.

The mother of two adult sons, Weidel earned her bachelor’s degree in poetry and philosophy from the University of Washington and completed her work for a master’s in studio art at the University of California, Berkeley.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Art of a Community

  • Thursday through Feb. 17
  • Opening reception 7 p.m. Jan. 19
  • Family Art Day, 1 p.m. Feb. 10
  • Arts Benicia, 991 Tyler, No. 14, Benicia
  • Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, during exhibitions
  • 747-0131
  • www.artsbenicia.org
Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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