Monday, January 11, 2016

Benicia artists earn residency at prestigious art center

(Originally published in the 1/10/16 edition)

   Local artists Bodil and Larnie Fox have been accepted as resident artists at the prestigious Montalvo Arts Center, located in Saratoga. 
   Larnie served as Arts Benicia director from 2010 to 2015 and was looking for additional artistic opportunities.
   “After having directed Arts Benicia for nearly five years, I was really looking for a chance to focus on my own work and collaborating with Bodil,” he said. 
   Larnie happened to know Montalvo’s current director, Angela McConnell, when she was development director of the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View in the early ‘90s.
   “I was coordinating children’s programs there,” he said. “After I retired from Arts Benicia, we came down here and visited, and she said ‘You should do a residency here,’ and I said ‘We’d be delighted to.”
   In early 2016, Larnie and Bodil began moving into Studio 61 at Montalvo. Daughter Liv will be staying behind in Benicia to take care of their cat, Mango. 
   The Santa Clara County arts center has a long history. It was built by California Sen. James D. Phelan in 1912. Before his death in 1930, he bestowed his estate upon the San Francisco Art Association to become a haven for artists in the fields of art, music, literature and architecture. Through the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Residency Program, selected artists are offered a 1 to 3 month fellowship.
   Larnie and Bodil’s studio sits atop a hill near a nature trail, which the couple describe as a beautiful setting.
   “We have deer walking through here, and we hear owls at night,” Larnie said. “It’s very quiet and peaceful, except in pouring rain.”
   “Because of the rain, we have a creek that’s finally running again after years of not,” Bodil said. 
   The interior is also very attractive. One space has a loft, living room and kitchen, and another houses the studio with a very high ceiling.
   “They have 10 residencies this year, and each of them was deigned by architects throughout the world,” Bodil said. “It’s kind of interesting because they’re all different.” 
   The center also has art discussions and a culinary residency where artists can sit at long tables and dine on meals like lamb shanks and steelhead trout. Larnie describes living at the space “a real privilege.”
   “There’s artists here from different parts of the world,” he said. “Right now, there’s a composer and some dancers from Mexico City working on a requiem for those 43 college students killed in Mexico (in 2014).”
   The residency also provides an opportunity for the Foxes to collaborate on projects, something they were unable to do at Arts Benicia.
   “It’s a good chance for my wife and I to collaborate,” Larnie said. “We’ve always wanted to do that, and we’ve never had the kind of space to do that.”
   As of now, Larnie is working on creating a wind harp, where the wind blows through strings and creates music. Bodil also has a few projects lined up.
   “I’ve been out collecting branches from dead trees in the neighborhood and forest, and I am weaving them together and testing out how strong they are,” she said.
   Bodil is also working on mesh pieces and experimenting with the notion of home.
   “What do you bring to create a home?” she asks. “People who come here as immigrants, what do they bring? I’m looking at making two big panels related to that.”
   Larnie and Bodil are both happy with their new environment and the opportunities they believe it will bring.
   “It’s kind of a dream come true,” Larnie said. “I’ve always wanted to do a residency.”
   “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that happened, and we were able to say yes to it,” Bodil said. “Last year, we both made changes in our lives to try and accommodate more art, and we didn’t know exactly how this year would shape up because of that. We were trying to keep ourselves open, and we were thrilled with the handout describing the residency.”

   For more information on the Montalvo Art Center, visit To see Larnie and Bodil’s work, visit their Facebook page at

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