Edible East Bay readers should be well-acquainted with this issue’s cover artist, Margo Rivera-Weiss, and for good reason: Margo’s work has graced three past covers, and her fantastic illustrations have made many of our articles dance and sing during the seven years she has been contributing.
An Oakland-based artist originally from Miami, Florida, Rivera-Weiss previously worked as a cook, baker, food service manager, and caterer for over a decade, and currently works at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Oakland.
Art making has been a longtime pursuit for Margo, but on May 13, 2014, she made a significant change in her relationship with her main creative interest. That was the day she began a daily sketching practice, which she says has been rejuvenating and meditative.
“Now that I create art daily, I make sure that I always carry at least one sketchbook and a few pens with me at all times. I may sketch before breakfast, but more often it is 20 minutes on my lunch hour sketching the items on the table at Miss Ollie’s [for example] or the bar stools at Abesha. Now, it isn’t a matter of if I’ll make art today, it is when. I have noticed the great sense of peace that drawing brings me, and I have noticed my drawing skills improve and my style become more distinctly mine. I’m thoroughly enjoying the process and—most of the time—the results.”
In support of her daily practice, Margo co-founded a sketch meet-up group on Facebook called East Bay Sketchers. One time someone suggested meeting for their monthly sketch date at Garin Regional Park, a historic farm park in the Hayward hills where old farm equipment is part of the ambience. “What I drew was a rusted-out tractor skeleton that I started embellishing with extra parts. When it came to adding color, I imagined what it may have looked like many years ago,” Rivera-Weiss says of the image on this issue’s cover.
The daily practice has also changed the way Margo interacts with her environment. “After I draw something, I have created a relationship with it. There is a house a block away from my job: Spanish style, with arches and curved terra-cotta roof tiles and a whimsical round chimney. I spent an hour recording all the details in my sketchbook with a thin-nibbed fountain pen. I have fallen madly in love with this house and now, the several times a week I walk my dog past it, I unconsciously break into a big smile because I intimately know this house.”
Margo also draws while traveling. On a recent trip to New Orleans, for instance, she drew cemeteries, houses, birds, and produce at the farmers’ market. “I remember these things so vividly. It’s a deeper connection than taking a photo. It is almost as if these sights are now part of me.”
Margo has decided to share her daily sketching process in a series of free classes in Oakland. She says that anyone interested can register by going to wcrc.org.
Margo Rivera-Weiss will be participating in Pro Art’s Open Studios, which is scheduled for the first two weekends in June. Plan to stop at Uptown Body and Fender in Uptown Oakland, where she’ll be showing along with 20 other artists.
Find Margo Rivera-Weiss on Facebook. To subscribe to her quarterly newsletters, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.