We had the good fortune of connecting with Beth Shields and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Beth, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I knew from my first remembered thought that I wanted to draw/paint/create something. I started as soon as I could hold a crayon! I have no idea where this desire came from; it was just always there and continues to be there every day at my present age of 73. My whole life has been arranged around this urge and need. If I can’t work for some reason for more than a few weeks, I get depressed and feel disconnected from my life force. So, literally, I pursued my life as a artist because there did not seem to be any other path for me to have a satisfying life. As to the business end, I have made a living as a fine artist for most of my life. This has required that I function as an entrepreneur in many ways. I own and run Gallery 125 at the Tannery Creative Art Center in Santa Cruz, so I always have a place to show my work and don’t depend on giving other galleries what they want to show/what sells. This gives me freedom to risk and create in a way that is authentic to me. I have participated in Open Studios here in Santa Cruz annually for over 25 years. I also participate in gallery shows and events related to my work and participate in our local art community in other ways. I sold work for years through professional art consultants, mostly in my hometown of Los Angeles. Making art for a living has required that I be somewhat of a business person!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I seek in the creative process the answer to some question that I don’t really understand; I simply know that the quest I am on in making art is a seeking, every day, to find meaning in this very confusing human condition. Art is the way and means of my quest. The answer to the quest perhaps lies simply in the doing of the work; don’t know if it is true, but I love the idea! Since I am an abstract artist, risk is an ongoing part of my work and as such, lends adventure and possible new territories for me every day. This is what excites me! If I don’t risk failure, I can’t keep the art alive. Getting to where I am today required that I persist always. That has not been incredibly hard, as there is nothing I would rather be doing! The lesson I have learned is that the only way to make art is to just keep making art!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Always the ocean, which is everywhere here. The wharf, the Boardwalk, driving up the coast to Davenport to eat at the Roadhouse and hear live music there. Michaels on Main in Soquel for ongoing great musical shows. First Friday every month: all of Santa Cruz opens its art venues to the public. It is a big party! The Tannery Art Center for everything from live theater presentations of all kinds at the Culligan Theater, art galleries and artist’s studios, to the Tannery World Dance Center for performances. Open Studios in October all over Santa County; over 300 artists open their working studios to the public for a big tour that lasts 3 weekends.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mother and father for never dissuading me from the work and giving me art lessons from an early age. UCLA Art Department for having great instructors when I was there in the 70’s. My friends and family, especially Stilson Snow, a great Northern California photographer who has been one of my best friends for 40 years and has always supported and encouraged me in my creative life. My wife Lynne Todaro, a wonderfully creative artist, who gives me so much good feedback, love and encouragement every day, and contributes so much support to Gallery 125 at The Tannery. Santa Cruz, CA for being such a beautiful place and having the best community in which to have a creative life!

Website: bethshields.com

Instagram: bethshields7903

Image Credits
Photos by Lynne Todaro and Beth Shields

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