By Khalida Sarwari
The window of time to catch it is narrow, but for the hordes of photographers who plan a visit to Yosemite National Park each February to witness the setting sun cast a dreamy golden glow on the cascading waters of Horsetail Fall, the hassle of getting there is well worth the effort.
Standing in the crowd last year were two local artists, one with a paintbrush in her hand and the other with a camera feverishly snapping away.
It wasn’t the first, second or even third time 79-year-old Saratoga resident Kay Duffy was in Yosemite. A member of a watercolor workshop held annually at the park, Duffy has been a visitor for well over 20 years. But what made this particular trip special was that she was accompanied by her daughter, Judy Duffy, a budding photographer who “went wild,” her mother said. Judy, who resides in Milpitas and holds down an engineering job at Lockheed Martin by day, has since taken her hobby to new heights, now serving as president of the Milpitas Camera Club.
“She’s buying all sorts of cameras and equipment,” Duffy said, laughing.
The mother-daughter duo set off to Yosemite last February to indulge in four days of painting for the older Duffy and photography for the younger. What they ended up with were dozens of photos and a little more than a handful of paintings that the duo have now put together as part of a joint exhibit titled “Visions of Yosemite.” The collection includes photos and paintings of waterfalls, the iconic Half Dome, the Merced River, rocky cliffs and of course, Yosemite’s historic Firefall.
“When the light just hits it, it’s really spectacular,” said Duffy. “We were lucky, because it was beautiful and (Judy) got some really nice shots of that ‘Firefall’ as they call it.”
When they weren’t working, the Duffys squeezed in a walking tour of the Ansel Adams Gallery and a visit to Mirror Lake, where Kay Duffy spent time painting with a visiting friend from Mariposa.
The exhibit runs from Feb. 28 through March 26 at the Aegis Gallery in Saratoga. All of the artwork will be available for purchase, with the watercolors ranging from $200 to $700 and the photography pieces in the $200 range. Unframed matted work will be sold at reduced prices.
Originally from New York, Kay Duffy has been a resident of Saratoga for more than 50 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Stanford University, where she met her husband, a retired physicist. The couple have three adult children and three grandchildren.
Despite realizing she “couldn’t make a living at it,” Duffy has dedicated herself to her craft for nearly five decades, sticking to traditional watercolors mostly and only recently dabbling in abstract collages. She’s currently working on a collage spread of abstract florals out of a converted studio in her home.
When she’s not there, she spends much of her time at Hakone Gardens, where she teaches a class on San Francisco cityscapes twice a month. The class takes place 9:30 a.m. to noon on Mondays and is currently open for enrollment at $20 per session.
Duffy’s art is usually displayed at two local galleries: Aegis, a co-op in Saratoga, and Gallery 24 in Los Gatos. In her free time, she sings in the Sacred Heart Church choir and serves as secretary of the Los Gatos-Saratoga chapter of the American Association of University Women and as a member of the League of Women Voters of Southwest Santa Clara Valley.
Next month, she plans to return to Yosemite, this time to chauffeur a group of painters—”mostly retired old ladies like me,” she said, jokingly—to do some more painting “even if it rains or snows.”
“It’s such a beautiful place,” Duffy said. “Yosemite and Point Lobos are my two favorite places.”
A reception for “Visions of Yosemite” is scheduled for March 4, from 4 to 7 p.m. The event is free and will include champagne and a meet-and-greet opportunity with the exhibiting artists.
Duffy will make appearances at Aegis on March 2, 2 to 6 p.m., March 8, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and March 25-26, 2 to 6 p.m.
Aegis Gallery is at 14531 Big Basin Way, Saratoga. The gallery is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed on Mondays.
For more information about her art or classes, visit Duffy’s website at kayduffywatercolors.com or email her at email@example.com.