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No Accidents

Photo of LCIt’s all in the family for one pair of artists in Open Studios

Some people believe there are no accidents. Lynette Cederquist is one of them. When she was 47, Cederquist was working as a teacher for gifted children. She was on a field trip, going about life and work as usual, when wham—an accident—her head slammed into a mirror on a school bus and in that instant, Cederquist’s life was changed. The accident ended her career and in fact, at the time, it ended many things including happiness (for the time being) and her short-term memory.

“It felt like if your brain was a room with all these outlets all over the wall, with things plugged into them, and somebody took them all and threw them on the floor,” Cederquist says. “The depression was incredible. … I didn’t know how to read anymore. My handwriting went back to the fourth grade, I went back to grammar school intellectually. One of the things that helped was I started painting a lot.”

KC2At the time, she was a single mom, supporting two children, one of them being her daughter, Kristen. Neither mother nor daughter were professional artists, which is what makes their stories so compelling and the fact that they’re participating in Open Studios this year even more fascinating. Both women, who live together in the Santa Cruz area, just off Graham Hill Road, will have their combined studios open all three weekends during October. This is Lynette’s second stab at Open Studios, and Kristen’s first time participating in the Cultural Council’s artistic baby—a countywide event that takes place during the first three weekends of the month and highlights (via a submission and selection process) the work of 294 artists. For many artists, this is a significant time during the year when they make a hefty part of their income.

For the Cederquist women it’s more about evolving as new artists and letting people know they’re out there. And for the mother-daughter duo, this whole becoming an artist thing has been no accident.

While Lynette was in recovery from her brain injury, she ended up in another accident. This one was a fender-bender. “I was at a stop sign and a very nice lady rear ended me,” Lynette says. “Nobody was hurt. She was so upset and afraid that I was hurt, so I said, ‘My house is over here, have a drink with me.’ She came in and we had a glass of wine. Her husband came by when we were having wine and I had known him back in high school. He was a local silversmith. We talked about what he did and I went to his studio the next day. I could hardly stand it. I had to touch the tools.”

LC3He let her take a try at composing some jewelry and deemed her a ‘natural.’ From there, jewelry making was in her blood. Lynette went on to take classes at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts in San Francisco and soon she moved from working with silver to working with gold and precious stones. Nowadays, Lynette is a full-time jeweler who can even boast of having high-profile clients who purchase her designs. She sells her jewelry (necklaces, bracelets and the like) at trunk shows and at Dell Williams Jewelers in downtown Santa Cruz.

Like her injury and the fender bender, the opportunity to sell her work at Dell Williams was also an ‘accident.’ “I had done a pendant for a client and I needed to have a stone appraised,” she says. “A nice lady asked if she could help me and asked if I was a jeweler. I said, ‘Yes,’ and she wanted to see my work. It was the owner.”

This happened about a year ago, around the same time that she began her first year of participating in Open Studios.

Because of the value of Lynette’s artistic wares, the jewelry will only be on display during firm Open Studios hours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., upon which point all of her jewelry will then be transferred to an offsite secure vault.

Like her mom, Kristen fell into the arts pretty much by accident. About a year ago, a friend was traveling to Spain and the then 26-year-old Kristen invited herself along. She brought a basic point and shoot camera to “maybe make a book or something, a photo journal,” she says. When she returned from her vacation, her mom, already well into the jewelry arts, noticed that her daughter had a keen cinematic eye. Mom suggested to daughter to “just try” and apply for a show, “see what happens.” Things happened fast. Her work went up and since then she’s been getting favorable reviews.

The pictures are often of places; they come in black and white, and in color. She’s never had any formal training, except for growing up with an artistically inclined mother.

“She records moments that people just miss,” says Lynette of her daughter’s photography. “It’s almost like a haiku, where you describe a moment. Her photography describes a moment. Her photos actually transport you to that place.”

As for being a first time Open Studios artist, it’s a surprising new venture for the younger Cederquist. “I was completely shocked,” she says about being accepted.

She might be shocked, but her mom wasn’t, and it’s likely that Open Studios audiences won’t be, either.

Lynette and Kristen Cederquist will have their respective jewelry and photography studios open during the first three weekends of October. Their studios are at 130 Mosswood Court, Santa Cruz. For more information about their work, visit lynettecederquist.com or web.mac.com/kristencederquist .
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