Edible Monterey Bay

Find your creative voice, pie included


Imagine. You are the maker of artisan cheese. It’s smooth, rather creamy. Despite its success, you want to brainstorm about how to make the cheese experience more meaningful, memorable, even better. You could convene a gathering of dairy farmers and other cheese mavens. Or you could bring in people involved in other aspects of the dining business, who have the same goals but do not compete with your cheese—say, a lighting company, dining table designer, ceramic plate maker, vintner, chef—just to see what they might contribute to the aesthetic.

This is just the sort of interdisciplinary creative activity that Carmel’s Center for Photographic Art (CfPA) hopes to inspire with its PIE Labs, a creativity retreat to be held for the second year November 6–8 at the Sunset Center in Carmel.

Jerry Takigawa, president of the Center for Photographic Art

For CfPA and its wildly creative president, Jerry Takigawa, the “PIE” in the retreat’s name is an acronym referring to their aim to focus on photography, ideas and experience. PIE is also a reference to the copious numbers of actual pies, baked with local fruit by famed Gizdich Ranch of Watsonville, which they’ll serve to retreat participants. Surely there’s nothing like a slice of ollalieberry pie to get the creative juices flowing; last year, attendees consumed 22 pies over their three days at PIE Labs.

The “Labs” in the retreat’s name refers to the interdisciplinary, interactive series of 3.5-hour workshops at the core of the experience. The labs will be led variously by a painter, teacher, photographer, publisher, psychologist, writer and others, each with the intent of helping to inspire and explore creativity.

The weekend will kick off with an address by keynote speaker Brooks Jensen, publisher of LensWork, one of the most respected magazines in fine art photography. This will be paired with an 8×10” photography fundraising exhibition of some 100 works in the gallery. Saturday evening, PIE Labs participants will present their own work in a public photography exhibit, giving them a chance to put their work out there and interact with their audience.

Also among the Lab’s 2015 faculty will be Edible Monterey Bay contributor Patrice Vecchione, a local author and artist.

“After incubating for a year and a half, a fairly long process in terms of education,” says Takigawa, who cofounded the PIE Labs, “we hatched a fresh idea about how to teach or inspire creativity through different approaches—lecture in which they listen; participation, in which they engage; and group interaction, in which they teach themselves. Plus, they are exposed to a wide variety of people to facilitate creativity.”

Immersing people in that kind of diverse experience, says Takigawa, awakens something in them, making them realize more clearly why they got into making art in the first place. This enables them to reset their creative thinking and come out with clearer intentions.

“Although CfPA is a photographic organization, only a few among our world-class instructors are photographers,” says Artistic Director Brian Taylor. “By creating a faculty with such diversity, we can address the issues of anybody in any creative medium through a workshop that goes way beyond photography.”

PIE Labs, says Taylor, are super-innovative workshops, gathering kindred spirits in a room to talk about the challenges any creative person faces, from writing to painting to photography.

“Following the belief that art really comes from the artist, not his tools,” says Takigawa, “we came up with a formula that that pairs creative expression with personal growth. Honestly, the reason I do art is to learn more about myself. This is an artistic development retreat, but it’s so personal, opening up that channel and giving people an inside glimpse to where their actual motivation comes from.”

Those who participated in the PIE Labs last year are still talking about it, says Takigawa, particularly in terms of their depth of experience. Because participants complete a little homework in advance of the weekend, they get the basics out of the way, so they can focus on deeper concepts right away. Then they engage in two intensive workshops each day, with a lunch break, plus pie, in between.

“Last year,” says Takigawa, “one of our facilitators did a lab about being able to present and talk about your own artwork. This exhibit gives people the real-life opportunity to try it out. Our PIE Labs are a fun experience through which we endeavor to create a spark that sets off a chain reaction of inspiration. We welcome all ages and abilities, and find that everyone enjoys it, equally.”


2014.11.02-26What: PIE Labs
Where: Sunset Center, San Carlos Street, Carmel
When: November 6, 7, 8
Cost: Members $395 (Early Registration ends October 2nd)
Non-Members $495 (Early Registration ends October 2nd)
Members:  $595 (Register by October 23rd)
Non-members: $695  (Register by October 23rd)
Availability: Very limited; registration is recommended ASAP at www.photography.org.

About the author

+ posts

A fifth-generation Northern Californian, Lisa Crawford Watson has enjoyed a diverse career in business, education and writing. She lives with her family on the Monterey Peninsula, where her grandmother once lived and wrote. An adjunct writing instructor for CSU Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula College, Lisa is also a free-lance writer, who specializes in the genres of art & architecture, health & lifestyle, food & wine. She has published various books and thousands of feature articles and columns in local and national newspapers and magazines.