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June 1, 2023

New art exhibit to open July 6 at Studio Judy G

A new exhibit will soon open at Studio Judy G in downtown Watsonville, featuring artwork by gallery owner Judy Gittelsohn, her mother, and two of her friends from the late 1970s punk rock scene in San Francisco.

“Three Punk Painters and My Mom” is, in Gittelsohn’s own words, a show about “my favorite place on earth, and one of my favorite times on earth.” Work by her mother, Shirley Gittelsohn, depicts scenes of Cannon Beach, Oregon, where her family spent time when she was growing up.

Other artwork is by Debora Iyall and Penelope Houston, two musicians whom Judy Gittelsohn met at the San Francisco Art Institute and who later joined her in the Bay Area punk scene.

Lastly, a large piece by Gittelsohn entitled “Memoir” will also be displayed.

“I wanted to bring together all these important pieces of my life,” Gittelsohn said. “Cannon Beach … it’s my favorite beach on earth. We went there all the time. It has the most magnificent nature. And my punk phase was so brief, two years, but it had a big impact.”

Gittelsohn performed in various bands in San Francisco, including Pink Section, The Inflatable Boy Clams and the Longshoremen. Houston is known for her punk band the Avengers, which will be touring the U.S. and Europe this summer. And Iyall’s chart-topping band Romeo Void is known for hits such as “Never Say Never” and “A Girl in Trouble.”

Houston will display a series of diptych paintings entitled “Muzzlers,” which were created from mug shots from the 1920s. Each mug comes in a pair, painted from the side and the front, with the suspect’s name and crime emblazoned on the side.

FACE OFF This painting, based on a prison mug shot from the 1920s, was painted by Penelope Houston. —artwork by Penelope Houston

“What [Houston] said that I thought was really cool was that in the front shot the subjects look kind of guarded, with more attitude,” Gittelsohn said, “but the profile shot is very vulnerable. It’s an interesting contrast.”

Emily Reynolds, Studio Judy G’s sales director, described Iyall’s work as “full of symbolism.”

“She’s Native American, and combines her culture with her story,” Reynolds said. “They’re very folky, and colorful.”

Gittelsohn said that “Memoir” is representative of her life. The piece is made up of 12 smaller paintings combined to create a large mural across one wall of the studio. 

“It’s basically my life, in three parts,” she said. “From clamoring out of Cannon Beach to being ‘hip’ in [San Francisco], to falling on my hands and knees when living in Palo Alto. I finished this piece right before moving to Watsonville. It led me to where I am now.”

“Three Punk Painters and My Mom” opens July 6 and will run through August, with an opening reception on July 10 from 2-5pm. Iyall’s newest band will broadcast a performance during the event—coincidently, the same day that a documentary featuring her and other women in rock music will be released.

The exhibit is the second to be held at Studio Judy G, which opened last year. The gallery hosted a show entitled “Welcome Aboard” earlier this year, which featured art and photographs by local artists and contributions from local historical organizations. 

“‘Welcome Aboard’ was an introduction, welcoming people to the gallery and celebrating the Pajaro Valley,” Gittelsohn said. “But this one is deeply personal for me.”

Follow Studio Judy G on Facebook and Instagram.

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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