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GOINGS ON : CARPINTERIA : One of a Kind : The only gallery in town is home to an eclectic blend of art, including phones and voodoo flags.

June 14, 1990|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Frances Puccinelli has made it quite clear that she wants to do business on Linden Avenue in Carpinteria. She ran The Deli House there for 10 years. Then she bought The Coffee Grinder. And about two months ago she opened her own art gallery there.

That's right. An art gallery. The only one in town.

"There was one many years ago, but that was before my time," the 39-year-old native Santa Barbaran said. "I'm not going to get rich, I did it out of my love for art."

More precisely, her love for folk and primitive art. Her second-floor gray and white studio at 888 Linden Ave. will be a regular home to African, Mexican and other more obscure art, along with the work of local artists who may be considered out of the mainstream.

"This space just fell into my lap," Puccinelli said. "The light in this room is incredible even on a foggy day. It's been an artists' studio for years. Before that it was the billiard room for the Masonic meetings."

It's doubtful that there will be many balls or cues lying around now that Puccinelli has taken over the place, but it's not out of the question. She is into some pretty unusual work.

Like the telephone art of Santa Barbara's Peggy Casey, which she will exhibit through June 23. We're talking your average, brand new, functional phones with more than a touch of decoration.

There's one covered with little plastic toys, another covered with marbles and another completely covered with rocks and moss. "It weighs a ton," Puccinelli said. "It would cut down on your long-distance calls." The asking price on the phone is $350.

The watercolor work of Evelyn Jacob Jaffe, a Carpinteria artist, will also be on exhibit through June 23. The colorful collection, titled "snip and zip obsessions," has scissors and zippers as its central theme. As with Casey, Jaffe makes artist themes out of everyday items.

Puccinelli has had great response from artists wanting to show their work. She plans to bring in a new exhibit every four weeks. She will also show some of her own collections alongside the rotating exhibits. A beautiful display that is currently showing is of brightly colored sequined voodoo flags from Haiti.

"I got them from a guy in the East. Not many people bring them in," she said. "These are very traditional flags. They use them in ceremonies."

There is also a sizable collection of items from Mexico. Among them are the Huichol Indian masks and yarn paintings that Puccinelli brought back from Guadalajara in March. The masks are made of beeswax and beads, the yarn paintings of beeswax and yarn.

"The paintings tell stories of the peyote experience. The corn is always in there. The deer is there. . . . It's spiritual. It represents the other side, wherever it is that they go."

Puccinelli has a nice collection of pottery, toys and other items used by the Tarahumara Indians of the Sierra Madre. "I've got old violins. They make them, get drunk as a skunk and play them. I've also got a pot that was used for making corn beer. They love corn beer."

* THE DETAILS: The Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call 684-6301 for information.

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