By Sharbie Higuchi, Special to the Independent
When Molly Hutchings was a 10th grader in 1967, her art teacher at San Clemente High School submitted her first watercolor painting to be considered for exhibition at the Junior Art Exhibit at Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts. Several thousand other pieces of art by students K-12 were submitted alongside Molly’s painting; less than 300 were selected for exhibition. When she found out her painting had been chosen, it was not just a surprise to her; it was the first time she imagined that she could make a life out of pursuing art.
Years later, Hutchings was juried into the Festival of Arts as an adult, where she has been exhibiting and selling her paintings for the last 19 years. In recent years, she has acted as a juror for the Junior Art Exhibit, selecting the work of young artists, in the same process through which her painting had been selected so many years ago. Her artistic journey has come full circle.
“My inclusion in the Junior Art Exhibit gave me the self confidence to believe that I would be an artist when I grew up,” she said. “And it turned out to be true!”
The Junior Art Exhibit, established in 1947 as an opportunity to celebrate the talents of young artists from around the county, has been a favorite fixture at the Festival of Arts ever since.
“It is providing a place for confidence to blossom and dreams to take flight,” said local resident Mark Porterfield, a spokesman for the PIMCO Foundation, which sponsors the exhibit awards. This year, the award ceremony will be held on Sunday, Aug. 19 at 11 a.m. The Junior Art Exhibit will be on display, 690 Laguna Canyon Rd., through Aug. 31 and is free with Festival admission.
That was certainly true for Hutchings, who went on to study printmaking from California State University, Sonoma. Today, her painting takes its inspiration from quilting and textile patterns and textures. As a juror for the Junior Art Exhibit, she judges drawings and paintings produced by seventh-10th graders and knows first-hand how young artists will be impacted by their inclusion in the exhibit.
“I treat each piece with respect, because I know it feels,” she said.