I was in my early twenties, still working as a fashion writer at the San Jose Mercury News, when I lived with a couple talented art students by Ocean Beach. Cassie was studying illustration and teaching ballet on the side. Mary was majoring in graphic design and moonlighting in marketing and PR for a local magazine.
It was the typical twenty-something roommate pad–a cute but ever so rickety San Francisco house a little too cramped for our mishmash of stuff. Our dining room doubled as Cassie’s bedroom, and she had a feisty Shiba Inu named Kiva that we dubbed our unofficial mascot. We were all carefree single girls, living it up in the city, constantly inspired by each other’s creativity.
I was amazed whenever I’d poke my head into our basement-turned-art-studio to see Cassie hard at work, music blasting, on her art projects. She’d photograph something, sketch it, and then spend days or weeks turning it into a beautiful painting.
As roomies, we pooled our collective talents. Sort of. She’d ask for frantic advice on what shoes to wear for her date-night outfit. I’d ask her to please try not to laugh at a stick figure I had drawn on a friend’s makeshift birthday card.
Cassie went on to work as a professional artist, whose fashion sense clearly surpassed my drawing abilities. This Saturday, she’ll have her red dress series for sale, among other nature-inspired artwork, at the Pro Arts’ East Bay Open Studios event in Jack London Square, which features 36 other local artists.
Inspired by one of her dresses hanging in her bedroom at our place in the Sunset, Cassie says she wanted to explore a sense of mystery for the series. “I wanted viewers to be intrigued to stop and wonder what occasion it was worn for, who the woman was who wore it and whether it was about to be worn, or had already served its purpose,” she says.
“The red dress is iconic,” Cassie says. “Unlike the black dress that every woman has in her closet, not every woman has a little red dress. A woman who wears a red dress is not afraid to be noticed. In fact, the boldness of the color speaks to the personality of the woman in it. She is confident, sexy and alluring, and knows it.”
My suggestion for a great Saturday itinerary this weekend? Go for a brisk walk or run around Lake Merritt (about a 3.5 mile loop) in the morning, followed by lunch and a little produce shopping at the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market on Grand and Lake Park avenues, and then end up at the East Bay Open Studios (in the space formerly occupied by Barnes and Noble) for an inspirational afternoon soaking in the local art scene!