Student’s Work at Artisans Gallery

Robert Towne Portrait by CaleighIdyllwild Arts student Caleigh Thompson Birrell is going to New York University for art next year, but before she goes, she’ll be getting a real life gallery experience.

Her work was recommended by Kirsten Cunio, a staff nurse at Idyllwild Arts, who knew Amanda and Steve Taylor from Artisans Gallery in Oakwood Village.

“I liked Amanda right away, and I’m thrilled that she’s willing to give me a show of my work in April,” Caleigh said.

“Her work is great, very strong, and we’re happy to have her in our gallery,” Amanda said. Artisans Gallery features paintings, pottery, fiber art, sculptures, photography, and jewelry of mostly local artists. Both Amanda and her husband, Steve, are artists. Amanda creates jewelry, while Steve carves from Manzanita wood.

After Kristian’s recommendations, Caleigh brought in her portfolio to show the variety of her work over the years at Idyllwild Arts. Yet, it wasn’t until she brought in the two acrylic and mixed media paintings that Amanda could see the depth of her work.

Immediately, she placed the portrait of “Robert Towne” on the fireplace mantle, a place of honor.

“It’s the first thing that people see when they enter the gallery,” Amanda said. “Besides, when it’s cold, they want to get warm by the fire.”

The 20 x 30 inch portrait of “Robert Towne” is a mixed media painting that appears to have writing mixed into the paint.

“See how she blends the oranges and reds into the painting,” Amanda pointed out. “That’s technique that adds a lot of warmth to an otherwise black and white painting.”

Untitled PortraitThe other portrait, which is untitled, depicts a man looking down in a somber mood.

“Caleigh said that she did that one from out of her head,” Amanda explained. “It’s not of any particular person, while Robert Towne was a writer, I think she said.”

Caleigh said that she liked the work in Artisans Gallery. It’s the first gallery she’s shown in besides the Parks Exhibition Center on campus.

Artisans will give her a one-woman show in April. The date has yet to be determined, but Caleigh said that she has enough pieces to show (generally 10-15 pieces). She’s not sure if the series is going to be all male portraits, or if her boyfriend, Nate Levonson, an Idyllwild Arts music student, is going to be one of the subjects of a painting.

“People’s reaction to Caleigh’s work has been positive,” Amanda added. “They really like her work.”

Visit Artisans Gallery in the Oakwood Village at 54425 North Circle Drive, call (951) 659-9091, or visit

the attachments to this post:

Untitled Portrait

Robert Towne Portrait by Caleigh



2 Comments to “Student’s Work at Artisans Gallery”

  1. LAURA BIRRELL says:

    Brava Brava Caleigh!! I have not seen your work for a very long time. These are very very very powerful faces. I really really like them…

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