Explore the Bay with Canvas + Clay

by Jasmin Segura, Bay Tours Coordinator

Humboldt Baykeeper logo

For several years, we have partnered with various groups to provide safe and educational tours of Humboldt Bay via kayak or on the historic Madaket through an Explore the Coast grant from the California Coastal Conservancy. One such partnership is with Canvas and Clay, an inclusive studio and gallery for artists of varying abilities to foster authentic art practice and professional growth within an inviting art community. 

From left to right: Jasmin Segura, Nicole Kita, Tania Fonseca and Chris Johnson on Coastal Cleanup Day, 2019. Photo by Nicole Kita.

In 2019, full-time Canvas and Clay artist Chris Johnson joined Humboldt Baykeeper for Coastal Cleanup Day to document the event and gather inspiration. In his artist statement from a show in 2017 he states, “Well Humboldt, it’s just fresh and doesn’t have a lot of pollution. It’s very good for privacy – you can’t see the outside cities because we have all the parks and trees. I like living here as an artist because we have a lot of the art world. I like it ‘cause you can see new stuff. There’s a lot of stuff and there’s a lot of information if you want to find it.” I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Chris about his process and his love for Humboldt Bay. 


How long have you been an artist at Canvas and Clay? 

Since 2013. I moved from San Jose and was looking for employment. This was the closest I could find. It keeps me busy.


What kind of art do you do?

I paint with acrylic, pastels and watercolor.  I also dabble with ink and want to work with stained glass, ceramics and mosaics.  


What subjects are you drawn to?

I’m kind of picky. I do some abstract. Right now, I’m working on the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland that’s from Lewis Carroll. I also did a Humboldt show. I’m interested in doing the Bay. I really like the museums, buildings and train tracks. Some of the boats are pretty darn nice. This is the first time I’ve taken pictures out on the Bay. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I’m glad it did. When I bought the camera, I thought it might be defective, but I’m glad it worked.

Canvas and Clay artist Chris Johnson and teacher Tania Fonseca with Chris’s paintings
of Humboldt Bay. Photo by Jasmin Segura.

Why did you want to go out on Humboldt Bay for Coastal Cleanup Day?

 I was interested in the Island. All the nesting birds and little crabs, it was different. I wanted to see the Wiyot Island, maybe see some artifacts.


Why is a healthy bay important to you? 

Because of the wildlife living in it. The fish and birds. For clean water to swim in and maybe to drink. 


Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I just want to say that being on the boat and the island was really neat. I had a lot of fun. Thank you for providing the opportunity. 


For further information on Chris’s work and other artists at Canvas and Clay check out canvasandclaystudio.org and follow them on Instagram@canvas.and.clay.