Laguna Beach art community hosts monthly art walk

David S. Palmer displays with his artwork. (Eric Gorman)

Eric Gorman and Melanie Roberts

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls,” Pablo Picasso said, so dust off the stress of essays, speeches and high textbook costs at the first Thursday Art Walk, happening every month in Laguna Beach.

From local to international artists, the 39 different galleries showcase most any art that you can imagine, and it won’t cost you a dime. The walk spans about 1.5 miles along the Pacific Coast Highway in downtown Laguna Beach, and includes a toll free shuttle from 6-9 p.m. during the event.

The Laguna Art Museum has the most to offer for students. The Museum offers free year-round membership to full-time students, which includes unlimited free admission, invitation to museum galas, interactive lectures on the works and much more.

“At any one time, a very small percentage of our permanent collection is on view,” said Marinta Skupin, the museum’s curator of education. Most of their collection is stored offsite and rotates consistently to maintain an ever-changing historical display of “Californian art.”

The majority of the museum is dedicated to exhibitions that are on loan from various artists.

One such artist is George Hurrell, who “was basically the inventor of the Hollywood Glamour shot,” according to Skupin.

Skupin said Hurrel got his start in the art world when followed Edgar Payne to Laguna Beach. Payne is attributed to creating Laguna’s first art association in 1918.

His photography will be on display until late April, and features photographs “of the early artists and other prominent people of Laguna Beach, as well as a portfolio of ten portraits of Hollywood stars,” according to the museum’s literature. Hurrell’s portfolio includes early shots of Bette Davis and Clark Gable.

Other exhibitions currently at the Laguna Art Museum include sculptor John Mason’s Blue Walland artworks by Allison Schulnik, as part of the museum’s expose program. Expose is designed for new/under-recognized artists to showcase their works.

Another gallery showcasing the work of up-and-coming artists is Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow (AR4T), a quaint showcase owned and operated by Torrey Cook and Mark Weiner.

As a member of the art gallery committee and gallery owner, Cook was able to recommend many art galleries to stop at along the art walk route.

The Ruth Mayer Gallery is one of the longest standing galleries in Laguna Beach, and exclusively hosts the art of its owner, Ruth Mayer.

“She has been painting for about 50 years, but has been in Laguna Beach for about 38,” Sam Mayer, her grandson said. As director of the gallery, he was enthusiastic about giving us a tour.

Pointing out a painting entitled “I Love New York,” Sam explained, “This is by far her most renowned and recognized piece.” Completed in March of 2000, 1.5 years before 9/11, the painting shows an angel in the clouds looking over the Twin Towers in the famous New York skyline.

It’s “the only piece in the gallery that’s not for sale, because there are plans in the works with the governor of New York City to have it hung in the lobby of the new Freedom Tower,” Sam said.

Many of the artists are available at their galleries, during the art walk, to speak to the public about their craft and specific pieces.

Esterio Segura, an artist from Havana, Cuba, was spiritedly doing just that at the Saltfineart Gallery.

“My work is about philosophy, about history, about politics and about the development of the culture in my country and around the world,” Segura said. “There are some ideas about immigration and some well known symbols like Pinocchio.”

Segura went on to discuss some of his specific artworks in the exhibit.

“I decided to really make the selections of some of the most important pieces that I’ve been working on,” Segura said.There’s “a 1950’s Plymouth Chrysler that has been repurposed into a combat submarine; long distance tension bridges whose cables are made of elongated strands of human hair; Killer whales with jet engine wings and technical specs with annotated poems,” as described by Saltfineart.com.

Cove Gallery consists of 15 artists, who run the gallery and display their own work. Several of the proprietors were there to speak with the public, including Andrea Dale and Michael Barron, who we spoke with extensively.

“It’s nice to be in a family of artists in the galleries,” Dale said, “because artists relate to artists and commiserate with each other.”

Dale explained that, art students who are serious about their craft should visit the art walk, because “part of being an artist is selling your art.”

“It’s the part that most artists don’t want to have to deal with, but it’s part of it. There’s a creative part that I love and there’s the selling part, which I don’t love so much,” Dale said.

The creative aspect is what drew Barron to art as a hobby while he was a football coach.

Barron is now a full time artist, and feels that student artists should “go to as many galleries as possible, confer and talk with the artists about how they started.”

Denae Thrasher, Saddleback College alum, was enjoying the art at Covewhen we bumped into her. She expressed how much she loved the art walk.

A few exhibits that stood out to her, were the pencil drawings that looked like “black and white photographs,” and the ‘Bullet Proof Art, by David S. Palmer,’ at Lu Martin Galleries.

Palmer’s art is made primarily of thousands of bullet casings. Those casings are used to develop the shape of the subjects and painted to detail their likeness.

“The origin of this work was my desire to do a tribute piece honoring John Lennon for the 30th anniversary of his senseless slaying,” Palmer said. “I felt that taking a blatant and emotionally charged tool of violence to make art would be something that he would appreciate.”

“After doing the Lennon piece, I was inspired to do a series called ‘Fallen Heroes,’ which included Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, John Lennon and Gandhi,” Palmer said. “In their effort to unite people, they all paid the ‘ultimate price.'”

The unsung heroes of the art walk are the singers themselves. Around and in-between the galleries there are musicians, who add to the ambiance of the evening. Suzanne Walsh, the director of Saltfineart, invited Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks, Will Morrisson and Move,to play outside of the gallery.

“We’re all just really happy to play,” Joy Shannon said. “It’s really great to support visual artists and inspiring to be involved in the experience.”

For more information on the galleries go to:

Salt Fine Art

Ruth Mayer

AR4T

Cove Gallery

For info on the Laguna Beach Art Museum go to:

http://lagunaartmuseum.org/

For information about the art walk go to:

http://firstthursdaysartwalk.com/

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