Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Sep 03rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Renaissance Redux

aeLocal couple opens new classical figurative arts school at The Tannery

When viewing the work of artists Lisa Silas and Jonathan Ernest Chorn, it’s rather difficult to imagine possessing the ability to produce such work, or even that such work is being produced in the present day. Yet these are precisely the preconceptions the couple is looking to dispel with their ambitious new endeavor: a classical figurative arts school at The Tannery Arts Center.

“Our mission is to demystify realism,” explains Silas. “And show people that it’s available,” adds her husband Chorn. “That anybody can learn to do this,” says Silas, continuing the train of thought, “because it’s academic,” finishes Chorn.

The Neoteric Renaissance School of Art will have its grand opening on April 5. Founded upon technical instruction that dates back to the Renaissance, the school will offer a weekly figure drawing class with a model, as well as figure sculpture or drawing workshops with master-level artists from the Florence Academy of Art, among other opportunities.

“We do classical academic study of the figure, in drawing and sculpture, and many ateliers across the country and other countries have been doing this for several hundred years,” explains Silas. “Starting with the Reae1Jonathan Ernest Chorn (right) and Lisa Silas (middle), the founders of The Neoteric Renaissance School of Art, pose with a student and fellow sculptor, Roland Law (left).naissance, it kept building and building and building, but after World War II it was really hard for these ateliers to stay functional, and they all dispersed. And there was a big abstract expressionist movement, and this type of art wasn’t studied as much; it kind of went on the backburner, and went to the bottom of the museum and gallery basements,” she continues. “Now there’s a resurgence of this because people have realized, ‘Oh, that’s really valuable,’ and so people have gone back to the traditional way of studying drawing.”

Interestingly, the process of learning these skills is not unlike other fields of study—practice and the will to succeed are more essential than innate artistic ability. “It’s the study of nature’s forms, and we’re doing it through the form of the human body,” explains Chorn. “The three things to understand academically are the proportions—in other words, where you stand in relation to the model—the structure and the rhythms.”

In something of a mini-lesson, Chorn breaks down a complex process into easy-to-understand—though admittedly challenging-to-master—steps. “There’s less information in a straight line than there is in a curve, and by keeping lines straight you simplify the information, and allow yourself to make a faceted geometrical shape of the human form in front of you, simplifying it, and in doing so you lock in the structure, which is fundamental,” he says. “And from there, those simple angular lines get broken into more angular lines becoming curves, so you start from simplicity and you progress toward complexity.”

The respective stories of Silas and Chorn have different but equally formative beginnings—she’s California-born but spent her teenage years in the southern United States, whereas he came of age in apartheid South Africa—but they converged at the aforementioned Florence Academy of Art, where they not only met, but also gathered the knowledge that now serves as the foundation for The Neoteric Renaissance School of Art. “It’s a tradition, and it’s a historic way of studying—it’s not us making it up,” says Silas. “We’ve taken all these things from other people who have paved the road before us; we’re just standing on the shoulders of the masters, being able to tell you what to do.”

Along with their young son—who has his own workspace in their studio at The Tannery—Silas and Chorn have settled down comfortably in Santa Cruz. And while the local culture makes the town a natural fit for their school, Chorn notes its value regardless of location. “It can only benefit your work, wherever you take your artistic career,” he says. “Most of the great artists—even if they’re abstract artists—they have a good foundation of studying nature’s forms.”

ae2Their belief in the school’s value and desire to share their knowledge with anyone eager to receive it extends to the inclusion of a scholarship program, designed for youth who are unable to afford the cost.

“I think everybody is creative, and I think everybody is an artist, but people denounce that and they deny their creativity,” says Chorn. “People should own it and take it; there isn’t this division between artists and the rest of people. By owning your creativity, you empower yourself to be able to move in the direction of what you really want to do, and what will really help benefit humanity.” 


The Neoteric Renaissance School of Art is located at The Tannery Arts Center, 1050 River St., Studio 126, Santa Cruz. For more information, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit lisasilas.com and jonathanchorn.com.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Great Work and Inspiration
written by Jo Beth Kavanaugh, March 29, 2013
This is a wonderful article and very exciting opportunity for so many. I wish I were closer to take advantage of the classes!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Girl Gone Wild

’70s SF recalled in raw, poignant ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs