About 20 years ago (gulp!) I visited Big Sur and stopped at Loma Vista, which was then only a lonely outpost. There was a gas station, a garden offering begonias and cactus and a dimly lit building with a reefer in the back, filled with coke and beer. The sign on the highway was just like the ones outside churches, plastic lettering stating “Gas Cactus Beer.” So folks were always asking for the cactus beer.
Those days are gone (big sigh.) Now we have an establishment that bursts with energy: a lovely restaurant, a garden filled with exotic statuary, a community event space, gift shop, art gallery and yes, gas, cacti and beer.
Today, petite and smiling Lorena del Campo greets me at the door of her pint-sized gallery, which you can find in a corner of the Loma Vista Gardens, in a building that once-upon-a-time was a greenhouse. With Lorena as mistress of this tiny art space it sparkles with artistic fulfillment, much like Lorena herself.
The Del Campo Gallery, which like Lorena’s surname, means “of the country” is perfectly suited to showcase a variety of paintings and sculpture. These creations by local artists reflect Big Sur, in her many forms: dramatic to gentle views of ocean, land and sky, plus the whimsical creatures and fantasy visions that her majestic presence inspires.
Granddaughter to a gifted jeweler, from the time when jewelers were tradespeople who could make anything from earrings to watches, Lorena grew up in Villa Hermosa, Tabasco, Mexico. She studied Psychology at Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, and met her husband, sculptor Hans Apelqvist of Sweden, in 1984, in Playa del Carmen.
Hans introduced Lorena to Big Sur shortly afterwards. They spent 5 days together in a fierce rainstorm on Partington Ridge, enjoying the hospitality of friends. When the sun came out, the magic happened, and they’ve been here creating art here ever since. Hans sculpts in bronze, while Lorena paints and creates beautiful jewelry.
"Big Sur Portrait" in oil by Lorena, "Catching Up" by Hans
What makes Big Sur artists different? They are inspired, Lorena says, as that old scoundrel Henry Miller so aptly explained, by the magnificence of the landscape. Since Mother Nature has outdone herself, other artists want to powerfully express themselves, too.
She adds that Big Sur artists are also motivated by loneliness. They are more isolated than the average artist, who benefits from high-speed internet, the creative cross-pollination of a larger artistic community, or even just a few cafés to hang out in down the street.
"Looking for Shade", Acrylic, by Celia Sanborn
The mission of the Del Campo Gallery is to provide a successful sales space for reclusive and talented Big Sur artists to share their art and their inspiration, with each other, the community and the world. The gallery is a collective: members pay a monthly fee to use the space, and receive a generous share of the profit from their works.
"Ocean Succulent" , Oil, by Julia Ingersoll, Bronze goats by Lygia Chappellet
Like all successful businesspeople, Lorena keeps a few cards held close to her chest, keeping me guessing, and wanting more... Support for the arts in Big Sur is on a major upswing, good news for all of us. Each of these amazing artists has a story to tell, and I hope to share them here, with you!
Lorena holds "Old Coast North" , Mixed Media, by Sarah Healey