Encinitas artist thrives in multiple roles


As an artist, Sholeh Ashtiani displays great versatility.

The Encinitas resident, a mother of three who emigrated to the U.S. from Iran in 1979 to attend college, is a singer, actress, sculptor, painter and photographer.

Many of her talents will be on display in a new reality television show about dating, called “The Romance,” which airs at 10 p.m. on Friday nights on Time Warner and Cox Channel 4. The first of the show’s 12 episodes aired on Jan. 15 and the series will conclude in April.

The show is set in San Diego, and features 10 local men and 14 local women as they date and pursue romance. Its creators have said that it is intended to give a more realistic portrayal of dating than some of the network reality shows such as “The Bachelor.”

Rather than living in a mansion and traveling to exotic destinations such as Bora Bora or Tahiti, participants on The Romance have real-life responsibilities such as work and children, according to the show’s web site. The episodes were taped in San Diego at restaurants, a gym, a winery and Black’s Beach, among other locations.

One episode is taped at a gallery during a reception. Ashtiani sings in the background and her paintings and sculpture are on display. In another episode, she said, her art will also be on display.

Ashtiani’s sculptures are in bronze, and they feature realistic subjects, such as mothers and their children, and dancers. She herself has been fascinated with dancers and their craft throughout her life, and her first job out of college, in Columbus, Ohio, was photographing performers at a local theater.

She paints in oil, and also pursues realistic themes.

She has shown her work at galleries and in public spaces both in California and Arizona. Currently, several of her sculptures can be seen at a gallery at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.

She works in a studio at her family’s home in Encinitas. She begins her sculptures in clay, attaching the moldable substance to a metal armature, or skeleton. Once the model is completed, she brings it to a foundry, where it is cast in bronze.

As a singer, Ashtiani said, she prefers to sing rock and pop songs along the lines of such artists as Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Kelly Clarkson.

One early influence was the Iranian pop singer Faegheh Atashin, also known as “Googoosh.”

“She was a big influence, I love all her songs,” said Ashtiani, who sings in both Farsi and English.

While Ashtiani said her art is not closely linked to her Persian culture, her moniker as an artist, “Flame,” comes from the translation of her name, Sholeh.

After graduating from the Columbus College of Art and Design with a degree in illustration and photography, Ashtiani continued to live in Ohio until the early 2000s. Her family then moved to California — Encinitas specifically — in search of a warmer climate.

She has three sons. The oldest studies filmmaking at Santa Monica College, while her two younger sons are students at San Dieguito Academy.

Recently, she has exhibited her sculptures at Encinitas City Hall, and she also entered paintings and sculptures in competitions at the San Diego County Fair, where she won three awards.

She hopes exposure from The Romance will boost her career as both a performer and artist.

For more information about Ashtiani and her work, visit her web site at