Los Altos resident Cathy Zander developed a love of art at an early age. She grew up in Ohio and as a child would regularly visit the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Now an accomplished painter, Zander is set to participate in the annual Silicon Valley Open Studios tours, held during the first three weekends in May. The tours feature hundreds of artists opening their homes and studios to the public to view their artwork.
Deeply influenced by Impressionist Claude Monet’s original painting of a stream strewn with water lilies, Zander began sketching from oil paintings as an 8-year-old.
“This picture and other Impressionists influenced me,” she said. “Art has always been a passion for me.”
While in high school, she took classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art.
“I did every kind of art – copper enamel jewelry, silk screen and paintings,” she recalled of her formative years.
Zander also organized free art camps for friends and neighbors at her house.
“We painted in the garden and if it rained, we went down to the basement and continued,” she said. “At the local YMCA, I taught crafts, puppetry and copper enamel jewelry-making. For that, I brought my small kiln.”
A graduate of Albion College majoring in arts education, Zander earned a master’s degree in art from Purdue University. She has taught art through community programs in Los Altos, Mountain View and Palo Alto, as well as in private schools. She has been teaching at the Pacific Art League for more than 20 years, and her students range from teenagers to seniors, including veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“When I teach, I talk to people about the elements of art,” Zander said. “It is important to pay attention to line, shape, color, contrast and perspective. It is also critical to throw in emotion. What I like about teaching is inspiring people.”
A tireless volunteer, she has been a committee chairwoman for fairs and shows organized by the Los Altos Art Club over the years. A Junior Leaguer for nearly 50 years, she helps out at its resale store in Menlo Park.
Last year, the Los Altos History Museum combined art and local history in its “Paint the Town: Echoes of Our Past” exhibition. The effort – a tribute to the first such show organized in 1999 by Town Crier publishers Paul and Liz Nyberg – invited local artists to capture on canvas the buildings and shops of Los Altos. Zander served on the exhibition’s planning committee and donated her watercolor to the show.
For more information on Silicon Valley Open Studios as well as Zander’s scheduled showings, visit svos.org.