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Monday, November 28, 2011

Fine Art Print Sale

Give Original Fine Art Prints by Eric Engstrom this holiday season

I'm offering limited edition numbered and hand-signed high quality inkjet prints of my recent art at a substantial discount. The prints are matted in acid-free white mats backed by white illustration board, and are ready for framing in standard sizes. The prints are offered at a 33.3% discount from gallery/retail prices only until the end of the year.

11" x 14" image in 16" x 20" mat - gallery price $180 - now $120
8" x 10" image in 11" x 14" mat - gallery price $120 - now $80

Contact Eric at to get details and to order.
Also, check out

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Mixed Media Small Works

Recently I created a new group of mixed media small works and exhibited them at Gallery Route One in Point Reyes Station, California. By limiting the size of the pieces, I was able to experiment with a more painterly approach than normal. These pieces will serve as prototypes for a new group of mixed media works for a solo show at Gallery Route One that will run from February 24th through April 1, 2012.
The new works cover the same subjects I've used in the past - abandoned, re-purposed, or underutilized rural and urban vernacular buildings. From photographs taken on peripatetic drives on secondary roads across the USA and Canada, I've amassed a trove of pictures of buildings and landscapes that will serve as subject matter for many years to come. Because of health issues, I haven't taken as many road trips in the last year or two, so have gone back to older images to use as inspiration.
Enjoy the new work, and send me a note if you'd like to see more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mentors and Friends: Two Very Special Men

Mentors and Friends: Two Remembrances
Each of us has many mentors who have guided and influenced us in life by their guidance, kindness, or excellence as people. Those people who shape us are few and far between - and I have been very lucky to have had two mentors and friends who recently passed away. They are sorely missed.

Jerry Allison FAIA - 1932 - 2011
I was working for Architects Hawaii in Honolulu in the mid 1970s when I became involved in photographing and writing for the monthly magazine produced for the Hawaii Chapter of the AIA, and I was introduced to Jerry Allison. I was immediately impressed with his drawing ability and storytelling talent, and how he could generate ideas from a small kernel of information - a quotation, a clipping from a magazine, a shard of pottery - they all fed his creativity and became the basis for his approach to design. He approached life with a playfulness that appeared in the architecture of exotic resorts that became his trademark. We often talked of the need for a strong story line in every endeavor undertaken - in a sense, a screenplay outlining the drama and character of the design. Jerry did lots of research to make sure that the resorts WATG designed were always "of the place" they were located. Whether in South Africa or South Asia and the Pacific, one always knew fabulous resort hotels designed by WATG belonged to the environment where they were sited.
We both moved from Hawaii to California in the late 70s - early 80s, and only got together every year or so - I was in the San Francisco Bay area, and he was in Newport Beach, and our paths didn't cross that often. In later years, we saw each other frequently at gatherings of Hospitality Design Magazine's Platinum Circle, an honor we both treasured and delighted in. When I think of Jerry it will always be how much fun he had telling the story with almost childlike delight, and what he did with it either as a sketch, a birdhouse, or a ceramic bowl. He had a great life, but I miss him.

Naokuni Arita 1941-2011
In 2002 I received a call at my office from Kobe, Japan from a representative of Mr. N. Arita, who had seen EDG's design for Wolfgang Puck's Spago restaurant at the Four Seasons Maui, looked us up on the web, and wanted us to design the concept for a new confectionery concept in Japan. He wanted to know whether I could be in Kobe the following week. I said that I was too busy, and would have to think about it. After doing some research on Mr. Arita and his Henri Charpentier and C3 concepts, and his company, Good Earth, my partner and I decided that we could set up a meeting with him "halfway" in Honolulu. I flew to Honolulu and met Mr. Arita for afternoon tea at the Halekulani Hotel, and through an interpreter began the process of getting to know each other. We then decided I should go to Japan to survey his existing shops, tea rooms, and restaurants and write a report on their competition with the idea of coming up with a new American concept. For the next two years our team led by Jennifer Johanson and Patrick O'Hare crossed the Pacific frequently, and ended up developing a prototype called "SUGAR". Unfortunately, the Japanese economic climate made it impossible to undertake the project, and none were built. However, EDG won a Hospitality Design Magazine Design Award for "Best Unbuilt Project" in 2005 and shared it with Mr. Arita.
Mr. Arita had exquisite taste and amazing design knowledge - his impressive white marble offices filled with mid-century furniture masterpieces and the full set of Vitra miniatures was a treat to behold and be part of. We both had a long standing appreciation for the work of Carlo Scarpa.
He treated us as VIPs, taking us to the best restaurants, letting us explore the unique retail landscape of Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo, and was receptive and always respectful of our designs. He loved all things modern, and beamed when he showed us his baby blue 1956 Lincoln Continental that he kept at the main baking facility. If you get to Japan, visit the Henry Charpentier Tea Room and Bar in a restored 1920s bank building in the Ginza. The elegant design of the pstries and cookies in an amazingly elegant modern space are worth a special trip. I learned a lot from Mr. Arita, enjoyed his company immensely, and am depply affected by his recent death.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Altered Books: Cranberry Red

The Marin Museum of Contemporary Art will be exhibiting artist's altered books from April 26th through May 21st in their galleries at Hamilton Field in Novato, California. The exhibit is a benefit for Marin MOCA and their programs. My submission is shown above - a very personal response to the challenge of altering a book and making art from it.

Cranberry Red was a novel written by Plymouth, Massachusetts newspaperman Edward B. Garside, Jr. Ted Garside was a good friend of my father, and during my childhood served as an inspiration to me - he was a real writer, and that was one of the things I aspired to do. His biggest career accomplishment was to review books, especially histories and biographies, for the New York Times. He wrote a column of “things that interest me” for the Old Colony Memorial, a weekly published every Thursday.

Ted was like a kindly, rather reticent "uncle" with a dry sense of humor. The book critics savaged Cranberry Red, and my dad said that he never got over it. He tried to show what life was like for the Cape Verde islanders who provided the hard labor for growing cranberries. The large local Portuguese immigrant community in southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod did not accept the Cape Verdeans.

They were dark-complexioned and their language was a distinct dialect. They were also ignored by the majority of the white population, and lived their lives in their own small communities surrounding the cranberry bogs. Garside had made many friends among the workers, and the book was sympathetic to their plight. But the tone of the times was not kind to an account of immigrant agricultural workers, especially dark-skinned.

Ted Garside’s book is no longer available and he never wrote another novel. However, the Cape Verdean population has assimilated into the population at large in the 70+ years since the book was written. The cranberry crop is still a major source of agricultural income for the area, and the distinctive "screen house" barns and bogs have survived, albeit in smaller numbers as development of new housing has encroached.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Home Town Notes

Fairfax, California lies twenty-five miles north and west of San Francisco, bisected by the Marin County-wide east west thoroughfare Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Located in the geographic center of Marin County, the town has approximately 7,500 residents, and for many years has been known for its political independence and laid-back qualities. The icon of the town's center is the 1948 art deco Fairfax Theater which has added screens over the years to become on of the county's top first-run movie houses.

Fairfax is home to many unique businesses including the oldest natural foods market in Marin, Good Earth Natural Foods.
Currently occupying its second location in thirty years, the market will expand to a new facility twice its present size in October 2011. Other businesses include art galleries, music stores, a famous ice cream spot, bakeries, restaurants and great bars featuring live music. I've lived in Fairfax since 1978, and my children grew up here enjoying the small town ambiance and comfortable atmosphere. We chose Fairfax as a place to live not knowing much about it, and have come to love it.

To the west is Taylor State Park, San Geronimo Valley, and Point Reyes National Seashore with the wonderful coastal hamlets of Inverness and Point Reyes Station only 40 minutes away by car. We're close to San Rafael, the Marin County seat, and about 45 minutes from San Francisco. We are situated in a series on conjoined canyons with hills covered with native live oak, redwood, and other indigenous varieties of flora and fauna. It's truly a unique place, and I truly think of it as my "home town". Come visit us some time . . . .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

In The Wine Country

I'm very lucky to live less than an hour away from Northern California's Wine Country. The valleys of Sonoma and Napa produce some of the world's finest wines, and the planting of grapes has altered the natural landscape in myriad ways. One of my favorite areas is the Carneros District that spans the southern flanks of both Sonoma and Napa, bordered by San Pablo Bay. The wine produced by Bouchaine, Artesa, Etude and others ranges from chardonnay to especially wonderful pinot noir.

The landscape here is fascinating, with parallel rows of vines criss-crossing the rolling hills down to the bay. Different varietals require different row spacing and direction, so the patterns are like patchwork quilts. The winery buildings range from faux French castles to rustic redwood barns, and reflect many styles of vernacular and high style architecture.

Every season reveals different colors and patterns, from the heavy dark green leaves and grape bunches of harvest season to the pruned bare black trunks of winter to the bright green new growth of spring. Visiting wineries and enjoying the wines and surroundings is now a year round activity.

I've been working on a new series of Carneros images to be published by ArtBrokers, Inc. The three illustrated here will join an earlier work, Carneros Winery Barn in a series of four prints. My thanks to David Coyle for his art direction and collaboration in bringing these images to life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back on the road again - Kind of. . . . .

It's been a year and a half since I sat down to write in my blog - during the fall of 2009 I spent three months in hospital and rehabilitation, and rejoined the artistic community about a year ago at this time. My life is very different now - because of chronic pain issues and a colostomy, my travel and endurance has been limited. I did manage a solo show in San Francisco at 555 California from January to March, and another at the Fairfax Library in April 2010.
I traveled to Rome and spent the month of June at my sister's home in my birthplace, Plymouth, Massachusetts, catching up with relatives and old friends. In July, I took part in Gallery Route One's Members' Show, and in August entered the Box Show, an annual fundraiser. My piece, The Blue Barn, was sold for the show's high bid of $700. I was elected Chair of the Artist Members and have spent much time and effort in that role.
In December and January I had my first solo exhibition in the Center Gallery, and exhibited 30 works, among them several new three-dimensional assemblages of vernacular buildings from around the country, selling a few. The response was very good, and I'm currently working on new pieces for the 2011 Members' Show at GRO. I've found much satisfaction in my involvement with the gallery - I've met many people who have become good friends, and I feel as if I'm contributing to something very worthwhile.
Through the help of my dear friend JoAnn Locktov, I was featured in three recent prominent design blogs: <> (Veronika Miller / Tim Bogan), Roaming By Design: <>(Saxon Henry), and Architects+Artisans: <> (Mike Welton).

The response to all three blogs and to the show has been good. I feel as if my newish (3+) year career as a fine artist might at last be coming to some measure of success. Now I'm busy working on the "next step", contacting galleries and looking for new venues to show my work. Because of financial and health constraints, I'm traveling shorter distances, and have gone back to earlier images as the basis of new pieces. And I promise to write on my blog a bit more frequently.