Artists draw inspiration at Creekside Arts Festival

Creekside_Curtis Van Liew_for websiteGeorge Curtis Van Liew was just 10 when he started taking painting classes at Diamond Terrace retirement community, but the fact that he was the only child in the class didn’t stop the budding artist from practicing his craft.
Now Van Liew, 18, actually teaches painting in the same room he practiced in, and, after years of volunteering at the event, this year will be a featured artist at Creekside Arts 2015, the annual three-day Clayton arts festival to be held March 27, 28 and 29 in and around the Clayton Library.
Although perhaps best known as being part of the musical Clayton family, Van Liew also nursed his love of watercolor painting, and he is thrilled to be part of the arts celebration, which is part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the Clayton Library.
“We need an arts presence in Clayton, and the Creekside Arts Guild has been that,” he says, referring to the arts group that supports the festival. “It’s exciting to see it grow year after year.”
The free event has grown over the years, and includes not only painters but storytellers, musicians, writers, naturalists and more. “We have a free wonderful weekend of live animal friends, eco groups, nature speakers and tours, arts and crafts, workshops, authors book signing, music, culture and more,” says organizer Arlene Nielsen, of the Clayton Community Library.
The event, the theme this year being “the Future Belongs to Those Who Believe in the Beauty of their Dreams,” kicks off from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 27 with an opening reception. Highlights of the evening will be a sampling of art for sale, plus one of the most unusual arts events in the Bay Area. A live Eurasian Eagle Owl — which will be painted by the artists —  may actually sing along with some musical performances by Vintage, a Clayton singing group. There will also be juried arts awards.
Saturday, March 28, brings ongoing art sales, as well interactive art demonstrations, storytelling, a nature tour, face painting, crafts and a silent auction. Some of the highlights include a real “Dog and Pony Show,” called “Annie & Friends,” provided by Faith Taylor’s Snowfire Ranch, as well as “Joy’s Quilt,” a Clayton Civil War tale told by Joy Koonin, a storyteller dressed in character as a young girl living on a farm on Mt. Diablo during the Civil War period. There will also be plein air painting, Mother Goose storytelling and a Hypertufa workshop, teaching the art of plant pottery. There will also be talks by a naturalist and interactive workshops with California writers. The day concludes with a question-and-answer time with some of the exhibiting artists.
Sunday, March 29, begins again with ongoing arts sales and interactive nature walks, including one on nature and journaling with Patricia Hanlon. There will be more storytelling for the younger set, as well as a Ukulele Jam and Hula exhibition by Ehu Alidon. People are encouraged to bring their ukulele and join in. There will also be an exhibition by Diablo Taiko on this powerful form of Japanese drumming. The festival concludes with a “Last Minute” rhythm and blues performance by Azeeta Nikoui and the announcement of the coveted People’s Choice Award for favorite artist.
For more information on the Creekside Arts Festival, email, or stop by the Clayton Community Library, 6125 Clayton Rd., Clayton, or visit
Besides the Creekside Arts Festival, the Clayton Community Library will be celebrating its 20th birthday with a special display on “Women in History,” as well as a special murder mystery, “Death and Disloyalty,” to be presented on April 24 and 25.