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By day, Alina Cervantes is a professor of early childhood education at American River College. But as soon as she steps into her “woman cave” (aka the garage), she becomes an artist—and an archaeologist. Using knives, woodworking tools and random odds and ends, she layers acrylic paint on wood panels, then carves and digs to reveal surprising reflections of her conscious and subconscious. Cervantes’ work has been shown multiple times at Tim Collom Gallery, and for the past two years, she has been invited to participate in the Crocker Art Museum’s Big Names Small Art Auction.
“Sunset Tide,” Micah Crandall-Bear, acrylic, 2014
“I love it, because it’s a little risky in that it’s bright pink. It really stands out and is the first thing people comment on in our living room.”
What is the first piece of art you ever bought?
The first real piece of art I bought was a 2011 commission of de Vere’s Irish Pub by Tim Collom—the perfect Christmas gift for my husband, Simon (de Vere White, the pub’s co-owner). Tim would eventually be our Realtor, and that was how he discovered some of my work hanging in our old house, which led to my first group show at his gallery.
“De Vere’s Irish Pub,” Tim Collom, oil, 2011
“ You can see a reproduction of this painting hanging in the lobby of our downtown pub. I love his use of color, and the painting really captures the hustle and bustle of pub life.”
What do you look for in a piece of art?
All of my purchases have been love at first sight. I’m usually drawn to colorful, contemporary art, with some attachment to the natural world. The only thing I consider beyond how it makes me feel is size. We don’t have unlimited wall space, so we think more carefully before purchasing massive paintings.
What local artist excites you the most right now?
I’m really excited about the photography of Jesse Vasquez. He is just one of those truly talented creatives that make me say “damn!” out loud when I see his work. He’s working on some pieces now using long exposures with only flashlights for lighting. They look like light paintings, like if you put light on the end of a paintbrush. They blow me away, and I need one on my walls.
Gourd cow skull mask, Selena Navarrete, 2014
“ I want art on my walls that I can’t stop staring at, art that makes me feel something when I look at it. I mean, why else would I buy this amazing gourd sculpture of a cow skull wearing a crown of silver flowers?”
What is your most memorable art-buying experience?
One Father’s Day, I bought Simon a piece by Micah Crandall-Bear, called “Cloudbreak.” It was the first time I bought a piece without us consulting first, because I wanted it to be a surprise. The kids and I took him to the show, and we played a game where he had to choose his favorite piece. He ended up choosing the one I had bought! We then told him that the red dot was ours, so it worked out perfectly. It would’ve been a little anticlimactic had he chosen another painting!