Chateau d’Art

Residency in France inspires Folsom artist

By Jessica Laskey
March 2020

Imagine a stunning chateau on 40 acres three hours east of Paris. Now imagine long walks along miles of nature trails through undisturbed pastoral land, followed by hours of uninterrupted time for artistic expression. Cassie Berube doesn’t have to imagine it—she’s lived it.

Berube recently returned from an artist residency at Chateau d’Orquevaux in Champagne-Ardenne, France, after receiving the prestigious Denis Diderot Grant, which helps offset the cost of room and board. (Residency fees go toward restoring the historic chateau, which traces its artistic roots back to Denis Diderot, an art critic and philosopher in the 1700s.)

Berube is no stranger to feedback, being quite active (and quite popular) on Instagram—where, in fact, she first discovered the Chateau d’Orquevaux residency. Her work has also been featured in British GQ, House & Garden Britain and Folsom’s Style Magazine, as well as on the walls of The Urban Hive and Studio 10 in Sacramento, Blue Line Arts in Roseville and the now-defunct DaDa gallery.

With her creative spirit renewed after her stint in France, Berube has embraced a new focus on the figurative, as well as a new business venture—art tourism. Since she studied hospitality in college and spent years as a tour manager before dedicating herself to art full-time, Berube is eager to get back to one of her first loves—travel—and combine it with her other love—art.

“As an artist, you’re always thinking about other avenues to make income,” says Berube, who credits her husband’s immense support as a crucial part of her success. “I’ve gone to several retreats and each time I’ve thought, ‘I could do this.’ I want to expose people to different cultural experiences—especially women.”

Because women often feel nervous traveling alone, Berube’s goal is to create a women’s travel group that offers small tours (so as not to require a tour bus) to locations off the beaten path where she’ll arrange cultural classes with local artists. She plans to start with San Miguel, Mexico, and add destinations in Europe, with tours available as soon as 2021. She and her husband are even starting to scout locations in France for a possible artist residency of their own, though the plans are in the very early stages.

Selected from 400 international applicants, Folsom resident Berube spent one month roaming the grounds of the splendid chateau and nearby village, painting in a private studio and communing with 15 other artists.

“It was the most magical thing that’s ever happened to me,” says Berube, whose artistry spans painting, photography and jewelry. “When I first arrived, I thought, ‘No one’s going to believe this is real.’ My mind was blown.”

Berube has always found inspiration in nature, thanks in part to a childhood spent in Montana. Her work features botanical prints, effervescent bubbles and bright colors using monoprinting, acrylic and resin. Her immersion in the picturesque French countryside provided a welcome visual palette from which to paint—and consider her next creative move.

“I’d been wanting to experiment with more figurative work,” Berube explains, citing Native American lore (she’s part Cherokee) as a big inspiration. “I’m not super-cemented in my style—I’m still finding my voice—but I was way out of my comfort zone with all of these accomplished artists. You want to show them what you can do, not show them these wonky things you’re working on. But then I realized, if not here, where? Having uninterrupted time is such a gift. I decided to take a risk and experiment. My biggest take away was the feedback I received from the other artists.”

“It feels like everything is coming full circle,” Berube says. “Combining my love of travel and art, sistership and nature just feels like the right thing to do.”

No doubt it will be magical.

For more information, visit cassieberubeart.com or check out @cassieberubeart on Instagram.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Previous profiles can be found and shared at the all-new InsideSacramento.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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