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Pie in Your Eye

West Sonoma County's Pie Eyed Studio makes art, pie and friends

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GET IT WHILE IT LASTS  After four years, this Sebastopol art studio and pie shop is taking a break at the end of the year. - RALPH THOMPSON
  • Ralph Thompson
  • GET IT WHILE IT LASTS After four years, this Sebastopol art studio and pie shop is taking a break at the end of the year.

Pie Eyed Studio is not your typical art space. Run by artist Lauri Luck on Gravenstein Highway just south of Sebastopol, it has become a haven for both art and food lovers over the last four years with a monthly open studio event where visiting artists and complimentary homemade pies intermingle.

After 45 shows featuring 65 artists, Luck recently decided to take a sabbatical from hosting the Pie Eyed events to focus on her own work, though she's hosting two more weekends in November before taking a break.

On Nov. 12–13, Pie Eyed has a special pop-up show for artists Mardi Storm and Kimberly McCartney. The exhibit is a fundraiser for Storm, who is going to grad school, and Luck will have 40 pies for sale in addition to her usual free offerings. Then on Nov. 26–27 Pie Eyed presents a printmakers and jewelers weekend with artists Holly Jordan and Karen Kelly, jeweler Pattie Reilly and an array of cranberry-pear, lemon chess and pecan pies.

Pie Eyed started when Luck was looking for a bigger working studio in 2012. She called friend and fellow West County artist Patrick Amiot, best known as a "junk artist" whose brightly colored, fantastically fun sculptures, made from recycled materials, dot Sebastopol and the West County. Amiot welcomed Luck to join him at his large workspace on Gravenstein Highway.

"He's a pretty energetic figure," says Luck. "It was nice to be tapped into that space and we agreed that was a go."

Thing is, it was a pricey situation, so Luck opened her studio to the public on weekends to sell her work out of her space. "I tell you, nobody came," she says, laughing.

After one or two lonely weekends, a light bulb went off while making a slew of Thanksgiving pies. "I had this idea that I could offer pie, which sounds kind of crazy, but I love pie and I love to make it, and I thought that would be quirky enough to get people's interest," says Luck.

She was right, and not long after she put out a roadside sign for "Art + Pie," people started showing up. Luck quickly found that the surest way to an art lover's heart is via the stomach.

Soon, artists started asking if they could show at Luck's Pie Eyed events. "When an artist comes to me about doing a show, a lot of the times I've never met them or seen their work," Luck says. "For me, it's a thrill, because I'm discovering them too."

Pie Eyed has welcomed a Wyoming cowboy artist, the dean of art, architecture and design from Cornell University, goat herders and even hitchhikers from Wilmington, N.C., where much of Luck's family lives.

"It's exciting for folks to see what's being done in their community, this amazing range of creativity," she says.

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