Sandra Bocas and Toni Lawrence Fine Art Show (with a side of Hot Babe Hotsauce)

by Lynette Charters Serembe

Sandra Bocas has traveled extensively and lived in many different parts of the world from her country of birth, Venezuela, to Trinidad, where she moved to at the age of five and where her family lives.  She went to boarding school in Wales in the UK, moved to and worked in New York City, then Düsseldorf, Germany, before finally making the PNW her home where she paints from her downtown studio in Annie’s Artist Studos.  Bocas is a woman of many talents, she originally began her career in the fashion, modelling, and makeup-art businesses, working for Vogue (photographed by the late Sir Norman Parkinson), Yves St Laurent, Zandra Rhodes and Meiling.

Freya by Sandra Bocas | Sandra Bocas in her studio

Bocas is a much-celebrated local fine art painter. She has exhibited her artwork multiple times at South Puget Sound Community College’s Leonor R. Fuller Gallery, (winning purchase award in 2022, and Viewer’s Choice Award in 2021), and in many galleries around town during Arts Walks and studio tours, as well as exhibiting in Tenino. She is an autodidact, whose influences include Patrick Betaudier, Andy Warhol, Rafael Calzada and Boscoe Holder, with whom she shares the same beautiful color sensibilities and lyrical lines. The memories of the light and colors of Trinidad and Tobago (her mother’s birthplace) are her main influences in her play with color. Her profession as a makeup artist also plays a big part, the styles of which were often fine art-derived and theatrical. She says she looks for the person and the beauty behind the mask; her travels made her realize that beneath the surface we are all the same. She says our cultural differences are to be celebrated because they add spice and interest to life and make us richer.

You may also know her brand Hot Babe Hotsauces, she sells her sauce online as well as with various retailers all over Washington State; she is also the artistic talent behind the intriguingly soulful and colorful labels on the bottles.

She started making hot sauce in 2008 in Düsseldorf, Germany because she said she couldn’t buy anything close to the traditional sauces she missed from her native land of Trinidad where, she said every family has its own personal recipe. Missing this custom, she started making it and sharing it with friends. Very quicky it became extremely popular. When she moved to Yelm in 2011, her hot sauce was so popular that her partner Fiona Douglas-Hamilton suggested they go into production, and so the Hot Babe Hotsauce was born.  She started with ten bottles of medium heat Hot Babe Hotsauce and took them to businesses in Yelm. They now produce ten flavors and sell them throughout Washington State.  It was also Douglas-Hamilton’s idea to have Bocas’ artwork on the labels. The free and fiery brushstrokes go well with the Hot Babe spirit.

Noahs Ark, ceramics by Toni Lawrence at Sandra Bocas Studio.

Showing with Bocas will be local ceramicist Toni Lawrence. Bocas and Lawrence met at Olympia Farmers Market where Bocas sells her Hot Babe Hotsauce and Lawrence sells her ceramics.

Lawrence is also well traveled, growing up in Rome. She started her working life as an actor in California, then took a ceramics class taught by Carol Glenn in 1976. She started on the wheel but her wheel broke, this proved to be a fortunate mishap, undeterred she started to hand build her ceramics and didn’t look back. Working with ceramics was a hobby for Lawrence, until a store owner bought her entire inventory at an arts fair. From this, she gathered that her art practice must be a worthwhile avenue to pursue as a career.  She moved to Olympia in 2005 and has been selling her work at The Olympia Farmers Market ever since. Her influences are the impressionists, Chagall in particular. Her work is humorous, whimsical, and allegorical with a fairytale quality which she says is gleaned from her memories of stories she was told while growing up in Italy. Her collectors include celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg and Emma Thompson.

Lawrence and Bocas’ works both draw from impressionism with a fauvist sensibility. They share a love of bold gestures and vibrant color. The difference in media and texture keep things lively.  It proves to be a great show.

Fine Art Show with Sandra Bocas and Toni Lawrence

Friday, October 6, 4-9 p.m.,
Saturday, October 7, 12 noon to 6 p.m.,
Sunday, October 8, 11a.m. to 4 p.m.

Annie’s Artist Studios, 317 4th Ave E, Olympia

Free admission

Sandra Bocas Hot Babe Hotsauce
Toni Lawrence

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