Art School Confidential

Posted on September 8, 2011 – 5:56 AM | by Admin
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By Becky Grunewald and Liv Moe Photos by Scott Duncan

“Arty” people have the best style. Many of them have a sort of uniform that they accessorize with bold glasses and unusual shoes. We picked a few of our favorite arty types around town for these style profiles, and once the answers started rolling in we realized that these people really  put a lot of thought into their style. It shows.


Local art enthusiast and realtor Moka Davis is one of those fellows who makes one think, ‘I should be taking a lot more chances with my look.’ Davis always looks crisp and sharp in his signature bowtie, whether it’s paired with a bright purple tuxedo shirt or a classic seersucker suit.

How would you describe your personal style?

Classic-eclectic. I like incorporating a variety of clothes from different eras.

How has your personal style evolved?

I started boarding school in the 3rd grade. The boys were required to wear a suit & tie every day.  I don’t remember owning a pair of jeans until high school. So my style has gone from very conservative and safe, to anything goes.  I also have very personal signature items that I’m known for wearing. Cuff links, bow ties and pocket squares.

Is style important?

Style is very important. My style is what sets me apart from everyone else. Fashion comes and goes and most will usually wear what is currently fashionable. Style is very personal and is often timeless. Anyone can go buy a suit and tie, but to wear it with style and flair is not always easy to do.


Crocker Art Museum Marketing and Communications Director Robin Koltenuk possesses a quiet grace. Koltenuk  piqued our interest when we noticed the beautiful vintage Nehru jacket she was wearing complemented by a pair of perfectly worn-in vintage boots. Her look is simple and clean with subtle, unique details.

How would you describe your personal style?

My sense of style comes from knowing what colors work for me and what mood I happen to be in.  I like to surprise myself, so I keep a range of accessories that make me smile and go with which ever catches me off guard.  Bottom line, I must feel comfortable and ready for anything, be it a meeting with staff, a media or community partner, or simply a solitary editing or planning session.

How has your personal style evolved over the years?

Sometime around 1992 I figured out what works for me.  My style has more or less been in a state of arrested development since then.

Do you think style is important?

I love to people watch, so I definitely appreciate when someone has taken the time to express something beautiful or colorful.  It’s simply more interesting than seeing someone wearing an outfit that basically says “I have no further comment at this time.”

That said, real style is an extension of character.  At the end of the day what’s really enduring and appealing are things like intelligence, humility, humor, and kindness.

Which artists’ style do you admire?

Wayne Thiebaud.


As a working artist, instructor, and one half of the creative team that operates Tangent, an alternative art space in Oak Park, Gioia Fonda is a true force of nature. A graduate of both the School of Visual Arts in New York and the California College of Art in Oakland, Fonda’s delicate pattern-heavy works reflect her personal style.

I’ve heard you make some of your own clothes, is that true?

I do sometimes make my own clothes, but it would probably be more accurate to say I modify my clothes.  I often take scissors and the sewing machine to clothes I own that aren’t working for me… I do make a lot of my own jewelry. (I studied jewelry/metal arts in college.)  I also sometimes modify shoes with paint if I don’t like their color. 

How does your style relate to your art?

Well, my artwork is often very colorful and incorporates pattern.  I’d say the same is true of my clothing.  I love bright colors and putting together different combinations that I haven’t tried before with the same old things.  The process that I go through when getting dressed is a lot like how I make a collage, involves a lot of experimentation before I get a result I like.  I guess my recent work involving drawings and paintings of garbage piles sort of loosely relates to my style since so much of my wardrobe is made up of second-hand clothes that someone else didn’t want…I’m inspired by so many different things when creating my work, I guess we call that eclectic.  My outfits are also that way, I pair expensive with cheap, old with new, exotic with pedestrian.


Photographer and Bows Collective Gallery Exhibition Manager Jesse Vasquez cuts a dashing figure with his corkscrew salt-and-pepper hair and his signature chunky, tinted glasses.  His ‘70s-era brown leather jacket and wild hair give him a retro vibe, but the man can be fashion forward at times: he’s not afraid to rock a deep V neck or a jaunty scarf. 

How would you sum up your style?

Utilitarian, simple and multi-functional.  I often need to be able to go from a photo lab, to a wood shop, and then to an opening or other public function. If I can wear something that will transition nicely between those environments and not make me look terribly out of place, that is a great ‘fit. I often look out of place in the wood shop.

How important do you think personal style is?

Personal style is paramount. People form their first impression based on how you look. Nobody ever comes up to me and starts talking about the weather or sports, which is fortunate because I don’t care about either of those things.

Your glasses are very distinctive, how did you decide on that shape?

At first it was because they are so big I can’t see the edges of the frame. Then it became apparent that people found them very amusing, and I will always do what I can to increase the joy. I don’t care if people are laughing at or with me – there needs to be as much laughter as possible in this life. Now it’s just kind of a trademark, and I don’t even recognize myself with little frames on. They just get lost on my giant face.


Paulette Trainor turns heads. She’s known for complementing simple sheath-like dresses with bold accessories; it’s clear that fashion, style and design are her daily obsessions. In her professional life heading up Paulette Trainor Design, Paulette has overseen projects in such locales as New York, Florida, Colorado, and the central valley.

How would you describe your personal style?

Minimalist, Modern, Contemporary with bold accessories—like my interiors.

How has your personal style evolved over the years?

 Through a process of trial and error and growing into me.  By editing, observing, studying and figuring out the consistency in the items and look that I love the most. Also, it has evolved through creating my business and creating me at the same time.

Do you think style is important?

Yes, absolutely. It is an expression of who we are.  Great style is not about what is new and trendy; it is about being timeless…with an edge.

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