Monday, May 16, 2011

Art & Soul Tour - A unique and inspiring art tour that will unfold into an exciting documentary.

Ashley Bennett Stoddard has a vision; she sees people learning and experiencing art in a nurturing environment and having the confidence in their opinion of art – she believes that everybody is an expert when it comes to art.

This documentary will follow artist Ashley Bennett-Stoddard and her friend, Mickell Smith, as she tours across America’s small and high-end artists’ communities. While touring her own work, Ashley will be stopping along the way to visit up and coming artists, small town co-ops, galleries that feature only the masters, galleries that feature fine art, installments, street art, sand carvings in beach walls, and cornfields. While traveling, Ashley will be asking the questions; how and why does art talk to each person? and What makes art, art?
Ashley Bennett-Stoddard has been deeply involved with art her entire life. She is the daughter of the late, world renowned sculptor Bob Bennett. Growing up in the Placerville home of her father, Ashley Bennett-Stoddard was exposed to art throughout her childhood and inherited her father's artistic talent and strong feel for lines and design. She has combined this with an incredible sense of color and shape to create her own unique, unmistakable style. Ashley lives and works out of her home in Eden, Utah and is currently involved in Placerville's Bennett Gallery with other members of her family. In addition to the Bennett Gallery, her work is exhibited in galleries and private collections throughout the country.
If you would like more information regarding the Art & Soul Tour, please e-mail the artist at or visit us at

Saturday, May 14, 2011

April 19, 2011
Hello Friends!
I have been working hard on my “Art and Soul Tour 2011”. I’ve been busy planning shows, having meetings with great new charities and projects that I’ve been working on across the country. I’ve also been working on the idea to shoot a documentary while I travel this summer the Project is called Art Expert: Everyone is an expert when it comes to art.
I am attaching the treatment and would love for you to have a look. I have been thinking about this idea for years; my history and passion for art and traveling keep bringing me back to this idea. This summer is the perfect time for me to do this project! I have the perfect traveling buddy, Mickell Smith, who has knowledge of the film industry. I have abandoned my fears of creating such a project and replaced those fears with the confidence and good humor of my own personal history of art. Creating it, creating spaces for others to create it and selling it.
So, I have come up with a budget of $28,000 for this film. The budget covers gas leaving Utah and traveling South then East, then back West and on up the West Coast. This covers the filming in 23 different cities, film equipment, lodging and food.
Never having raised money for a project like this has been a little intimidating to me until the past few weeks. Last week, when I was with my cousin and my step mom, I was reminded of my past art shows and that I have found the encouragement, support and interest in my artwork before. That’s when I thought of this website, Kickstarter, where projects like mine are funded all the time. Feeling less intimidated, I then came up with the idea that it is not impossible for me to do this myself. I, like the artists on Kickstarter, would love to give out art goodies for any donations made to this project and I am attaching the goodie list! You can donate as little as $25 to as much as you would like … and lucky for you I work in many different mediums. Each donation will be honored with a generous piece, or several pieces of art relating to this project depending on how much you would like to donate. This project is like a month long virtual art show. My fund raising cut off date is May 20th, this is 3 weeks before my first show in Sedona AZ . If you are interested in being a part of this project I will just need a return e-mail with the dollar amount you would like to donate or a phone call if you want to talk about it further. I will not need the donation from you until after May 20th. If I am not close to my goal by that time then I will have to make some changes, like cutting out some locations, not eating, sleeping in parking lots and then seeing if I can make it work. On the 20th, if I am close to my goal, I will send out a letter regarding how the trip is shaping up and the different payment options.
If you would like to make a business donation I will create for you some amazing business art, link your business to my website as a sponsor and maybe even paint your name on my car, or tattoo it on my arm … But that will cost you!
All in all, this project will be educational, provide incredible market research for the art world and good humor for all!
If you are not interested in this project, but you know someone that might be, please pass it on. You just never know until you try!
Lot’s of LOVE! Ashley
Project: Art Expert – Everyone is an expert when it comes to Art ©

This project follows artist Ashley Bennett-Stoddard as she tours across America’s small and high-end artists’ communities. While touring her own work, Ashley will be stopping along the way to visit up and coming artists, small town co-ops, galleries that feature only the masters, galleries that feature installments, street art, sand carvings in beach walls, and cornfields. While traveling, Ashley will be asking the questions; how and why does art talk to each person? and What makes art, art?

There is energy between the artist and the viewer; art has its own language that speaks to people on a level so deep that not even the viewer can explain why they feel the way they do. What is hoped for is that these impromptu interviews may spark a dialogue that will encourage the average person to become less intimidated by the art that surrounds them. Furthermore, there is an additional dynamic in the art world that consists of the gallery, the art, and the sales people; the energy of which can kill or magnify the energy of the artwork. To demonstrate this, Ashley and company will be visiting towns where she will show her work, and while prepping for the show, Ashley will travel to random and willing galleries to invite individuals off the street into a gallery to candidly give their opinion of the work on display. On top of this, Ashley will talk with the gallery owner or director regarding the sales and marketing side of the art world, and, if possible, talk with the artists showing their work to complete the circle of creation. Ultimately, the beauty is in creating and the love of the creative.

Often, the word art is used in lofty terms and people feel uncomfortable broaching the subject, claiming that they don’t know anything about art or that they are not artists. However, everyone feels something about the art that they see. This project is about the education of art in a very unintimidating way, to bring exposure of great art across the states in a very spontaneous and giving way. This filming project is meant to be organic, unscripted, and spontaneous. The dialog with participants is honest and real, and the message given is that there is no bad art. Each person’s feelings toward art is right, and a fun dialogue about the art world will be had. Gallery gems that may have been overlooked before will be given the opportunity to be seen: a voice other than the cliché of the tortured artist and the arrogant art dealer will be heard even though a few of the cliché will probably be ran into along the way!

In order to understand the project it’s important to understand the artist behind it. Ashley Bennett Stoddard does not have a piece of paper to prove that she is an expert in art, what she has is experience. Ashley grew up in the art world and will never leave it. She is the daughter of the world famous sculptor, Bob Bennett, and the niece of his twin brother who is also world renowned. Ashley was raised surrounded by her father’s artwork. He had a bronze foundry in their basement in Tahoe City during the 70’s, providing work to Sunnyside in Tahoe City, CA, the Hiatt Regency in San Francisco and a gallery outside of Carmel. During her youth her father’s small business grew into 12 galleries across the country – the family would travel to check on each gallery. Each gallery sold only Bennett Sculptures. Bob Bennett also took his daughter to private collector shows and art festivals across the U.S. that showed his art. The journeys installed in Ashley a sense of adventure along with an idea that artists can step out of their comfort zone and increase their creative force. Bob Bennett also raised Ashley with a strong work ethic, she worked in the foundry starting at a young age and was taught all aspects of the business. Ashley’s father was magic to her. He taught her to draw every day, to observe and take in her environment and that there is beauty and inspiration everywhere.

When Ashley was old enough to go out into the world on her own, she went to San Francisco to attend the Academy of Art. She found that a formal education was surrounded by arrogance, and ego. Art was supposed to be a challenge, enriching and enjoyed. Ashley had already learned so much, that she found the drama and tortured artist idea to be a waste of her time and energy. At this point Ashley left school and headed to Carmel to run the family gallery. She was then surrounded by her contemporaries and learning the art of sales. Her evenings were spent in the courtyard painting with artists from neighboring galleries and her mornings were spent at the beach being inspired by her surroundings. The community was quiet, rich with color, great people and great food. This was the perfect place to nurture the creative.

At the age of twenty-three Ashley opened her own gallery in Placerville, CA. She renovated the upstairs of an old theatre into twenty-three working studios and a gallery. Ashley started the 3rd Saturday Art Walk and hosted a new show every month, with a new theme. The artists taught classes and consisted of every type of medium. Although Ashley gave the gallery to the artists and moved on, she is happy to be able to say that the gallery is still running and going strong!

After Ashley’s father passed away she once again became a part of the family gallery. She has organized shows and run the gallery in the past, but at this time helps from a distance as she lives in Utah. Since her move to Utah, Ashley has taught herself to design and create jewelry and continues to sculpt and paint. Her creations have been produced for different charities and she has had showings in Park City, UT, Eden, UT, Ogden, UT and Salt Lake City, UT. Last summer, however, Ashley packed up a trailer and hit the road with her family. She created her own tour by having 10 shows in 11 weeks and the proceeds of the shows were donated to chosen charities. Ashley is hoping to put this documentary together with the tour that she has planned for this summer, so that she is able to share what she loves so much about Art, Artists, and this beautiful country that we live in.

Ashley plans on bringing a traveling companion with her- what’s a road trip without a friend? Her companion for this trip is Mickell Smith. Mickell was not raised in the rich art world that Ashley was, but still found art surrounded her. Her grandfather, Neil Mellor, is a painter and wood carver. His artwork is his hobby and he has won many awards for his work. Mickell was also inundated with the performing arts – an aunt, Julie Maughan, was a professional ice skater that traveled the world, then a costume designer and now a fashion designer. Mickell spent many nights drawing her own fashion designs with her aunt and learning how the pieces were put together.

The moments she spent behind the stage and under the bright lights with her aunt were the ones that stuck with her the most. Mickell spent most of her childhood on the stage (albeit a small one), either dancing or acting. She was accepted in the SF Academy of Art for Film and AMDA in NY for acting. However, life had different plans for her. Mickell ended up traveling and living in multiple National Parks. She then moved to the same town of Eden, that Ashley now lives in. Mickell became an Event Director for a Ski Resort - organizing small and large events, hiring bands and eventually working with the film industry. She then left the ski resort to work primarily on a large motion picture, write her own movie script and is still working in the film industry as a location representative. Mickell’s creativity comes out in multiple mediums and finds that she is drawn to the artist circle; friends with painters, wood carvers, dancers, photographers and musicians. Mickell brings her camera and location savvy, her ability to organize and coordinate a multiple state tour and general good sense of humor to the project. Mickell is excited to help her amazingly talented friend on this endeavor.