Moraga show truly ‘Divine’

Brendan Cross

Barbara Cella may be the marketing director here at LMC, but she also has a strong passion for painting, which has landed her as being the featured artist of a new art show entitled “Divine Inspiration” at the Moraga Art Gallery. The show features Cella’s paintings of Saint Mary’s College. As a little kid, she colored all the time and jumped at the opportunity to excel at any sort of art project that came her way. She dabbled in different forms of art mediums that her schools had, such as ceramics and oil painting, things that were not available at home.

Cella was downsized at LMC about two years ago and is no longer working Mondays or Fridays, which was unfortunate, but a bit of a blessing in disguise as it allowed her to follow her passion of painting. She, since the downsizing, has been taking painting classes through Mount Diablo Unified Adult Education and has been painting intensively.

Cella said, “A year ago I got into the Moraga Art Gallery, which required me to paint a lot as I needed new paintings for every show. What I didn’t know about painting was that there are training wheels. You have them on, and then all of a sudden you get to this point and the training wheels come off and you can paint so much better.” She added, “In the past year, having an audience seeing my work at the gallery, as well as doing more fairs and having more venues to show my work, my painting has improved tenfold.”

The “Divine Inspiration” show came about because of her background in being a park ranger and painting landscapes. As a ranger, she was around nature a lot and, by virtue, painted landscapes of mountains, pine trees, lakes and rivers. One of her gallery cohorts encouraged her to paint local scenes such as St. Mary’s College, as she is a resident of Moraga. Cella realized that one of the iconic images of that college is the chapel and the road that leads up to it. “One day, I was driving by and these trees were in bloom towards the chapel entry. There was bright pink flowers, with the sun shining through the trees, and just beautiful colors everywhere. I had my pastels and camera so I started my drawing there, and went home to do a painting. It ended up being quite a hit.”

A woman’s group at the college loved her painting and wanted to buy it, or at least get prints of it. She did not want to sell it, but, because of the group’s interest, she chose to make giclees (fine art digital print) of the painting. Cella ended up selling about six to the woman’s guild at the school, as well as creating note cards of the painting that are being sold at two department stores, the art gallery at the college, and the Moraga Art Gallery. When she knew she was to be a featured artist at the gallery, she logically chose the St. Mary’s College theme. In preparation, she spent many hours at the college doing sketches and taking photographs during different types of days and seasons, as well as other places on campus that were special and iconic to the students and faculty there.

The main guest artist at the gallery alongside Cella is Mona Bourell, who worked with Cella at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Bourell worked in the botany section and Cella managed the adult education program. They worked together for about 11 years and both ventured in art related side-work. Mona mainly did bead work, like she now has at the gallery, and Cella did pins and earrings. The galleries like to match a two-dimensional artist, such as a painter or photographer, with a three-dimensional artist, such as a potter, or someone that works with glass, or, in this case, a bead work artisan and a painter. Cella said, “I decided, with Mother’s Day coming up, that I wanted some type of jewelry in the gallery. I love her work. What she does is exquisite while also being affordable.”

Cella also has had her paintings featured in the Moraga Public Library and well as a few local restaurants in the area. She recently got one painting into the Valley Art Gallery in Walnut Creek. Since she is a newer artist, she only got one in for the time being, but as the next shows come up she hopes to get multiple works into that gallery. She also attends community fairs, along with other artists from the Moraga gallery, where they can buy a booth and show their art.

Cella, despite being disappointed by the downsizing, was glad she could take advantage of her extra time off. “It has really allowed me to make lemons into lemonade and pursue this passion. I want to encourage people to take time to follow their passion because it is so fulfilling.”

“Divine Inspiration” runs through June 1 at the Moraga Art Gallery. The gallery is located at 522 Center Street in Moraga and is open noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, visit moragaartgallery.com and barbaracella.com.