Hidden in the Hills celebrates its Silver Anniversary on the last two weekends of November with free self-guided tours featuring 191 artists at 45 private studios in Desert Foothills communities.
Coordinated by the non-profit Sonoran Arts League, the event will take place from Friday November 19 to Sunday November 21, as well as from Friday November 26 to Sunday November 28.
by desert landscape
Michele Corsini has always loved to create. She was born in London and was influenced, in part, by her Italian father, who was a skilled mosaicist. She “ran away” from the School of Fine Arts in 1983 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts, Painting, from St. Martin’s School of Art in London in 1987.
Then, in 1988, she joined her high school friend, Mark De Simone, in a real adventure. They moved to the United States.
“I ran away again, this time to Phoenix,” she said. “And arriving with Mark, my first thought was, ‘What was this land? I was captivated by the rugged beauty of the desert landscape. I was only 20 years old and I was here in this wonderland of majestic landscapes, harsh vegetation and resilient animals. It was truly an adventure like no other.
She and Mark spent much of their first year in the United States exploring the Southwest and Mexico. They bought an old Volkswagen bus and traveled to remote areas for hiking and mountain biking.
“In those early years, we were brewing our own dark beer and making our own whole grain bread because we couldn’t find it in Phoenix,” Corsini recalls.
Eventually, the two good friends fell in love, got married and had three children. Early in their marriage, they purchased 18 acres near Lake Pleasant and began to learn about sustainable living systems. They built a straw bale house at the west end of Cave Creek. It has been their home for 21 years.
“America has been very good to us,” she said. “It has been a liberating experience, and we have learned that there are huge opportunities if you can prove yourself.”
Corsini’s career has evolved since she moved to America. She had a thriving faux finishes business in the 1990s and she engaged in elaborate projects including Byzantine mosaic murals, large-scale commissioned oils, and sophisticated wall finishes.
She downsized her business when she had her children, but her passion for painting was rekindled when she started working on small outdoor pieces in 2011.
“I had volunteered at school, but wanted to get back to painting,” she said. “I set a schedule where I would drop my kids off at school, go paint outside, and then pick them up. I like the immediacy of the format, and during that time I honed my skills. I settle wherever a scene draws me – on the side of the road, balancing on rocks, in a washhouse or on a roof.
The Sonoran Desert and central Mexico inspired Corsini. Years ago, she and her husband bought a second home in Guanajuato, a city known for its colonial architecture.
“We fell in love with it because it reminds us of Europe,” she said. “We spend our summers there because it’s a higher elevation and a lot cooler. Our yard is full of giant agaves and other beautiful plants and trees that I love to paint.
Corsini’s work ranges from large-scale oil paintings and charcoal drawings to small outdoor pastel paintings and mixed media abstract pieces.
“I see my work a lot, over the years, as a return to familiar themes, but each time with a new outlook and expertise. The wonder of coming to this desert land of a very tamed and conquered landscape has never escaped me. That our trees and plants can survive this harsh environment and still sing with color every spring is a wonder. I love to celebrate this and I probably always will, ”she said.
During Hidden in the Hills, Corsini will be exhibiting her new work at Judy Paxton Bruce’s Studio No. 4 in Cave Creek. And her daughter, Anna Lucia De Simone, will be exhibiting watercolors at the event at Youth Art Studio No. 1, Sonoran Arts League Center for the Arts in Stagecoach Village.
Switching to pasting paper while
Mimi Damrauer returns to Hidden in the Hills for her fifth year, energized by her stay in her studio. The talented mixed media collage artist creates large, bold and colorful wall paintings from small pieces of hand-painted wallpaper that she paints and sews together in a whimsical or abstract pattern. His vibrant pieces often resemble primitive folk art.
Damrauer grew up in Ohio surrounded by creativity. She thanks her mother for teaching her, and her sisters, art and cooking. At 9, she was learning to sew at home and taking art classes at the Toledo Museum of Art.
“The beginnings of a business have been planted,” recalls Damrauer, a resident of North Phoenix. “This led to my whimsical style of hand-cut painting, sewing, drawing and wobbly patterns. “
The self-taught artist moved to Arizona in 2016 and draws inspiration from its surroundings, from cracks in sidewalks to landscapes of road trips.
Recently, she felt the need to go back to basics and simplicity.
“As I go through my life, I appreciate how to edit and make my life less complicated. I see objects in their simplest forms and my style is to edit what I see into recognizable images, ”she said. “I just strive to have a good design. In a world that can be so busy and overwhelming, I hope my works are pleasant and joyful to watch.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and positive effect on her work, as it has forced her to spend more time in her studio.
“I was ready for a change, and during the lockdown I tried to make the most of the situation by taking online classes, exploring new techniques and just playing,” she said. .
“I had so much fun that I developed a whole new technique for making my own sewing backing, which I call paper fabric. “
Damrauer experimented with acrylic painting on sturdy construction paper and created a sewing fabric on a sewing machine.
She cleaned up her workshop, which was packed with fabrics from all over the world, and spent time learning about the tools she had accumulated over the years. She even took the time to create her own homemade tools and stamps.
“My hand-crafted papers are painted, stamped and toughened to achieve a wide variety of colors and patterns,” she explains. “Each piece of paper has at least two to four layers of color.”
She adds that she uses stamps to remove color and shapes or to put back lines and squiggles.
She then cuts the paper into 3-inch squares to create her background.
“I like the magnitude of it, and I find it funny because it always changes. There is always something interesting to look at in every square, ”she said.
With dozens of hand-painted squares to choose from, she then begins to sew.
“I am able to control the color and shading as I build my final design,” she said. “The end result is a simple design which is more complicated when you look at the composition. “
When her creations are finished, she mounts them on wooden panels and applies a varnish with sun protection.
Her obsession is “Arizona Barnyard”, which includes animals and the landscapes she is surrounded by – horses, chickens, cacti and mountains. She has also recently added shapes inspired by Matisse to create abstract pieces.
During Hidden in the Hills, Damrauer will be exhibiting his new work at Sandy Pendleton’s Studio No. 21 in Cave Creek.
“I believe my work resonates with others because it is cheerful, bright and simplistic. I have so much fun creating my designs, ”she said.
“I just want to share this joy with others.”
Hidden in the hills
WHEN: from Friday November 19 to Sunday November 21; and from Friday November 26 to Sunday November 28
OR: Desert foothills communities
COST: Free entry