Twenty-four new artists whose work will be showcased in the 2019 Festival of the Arts were introduced last Saturday at the “Fresh Faces” exhibit and receptionin the
upstairs gallery of the Wells Fargo building on Ocean Avenue.
This year’s artists work in myriad mediums including burnt wood, fabric and thread, and hand-forged steel, as well as oil and acrylic paint. Their inspiration comes from the ocean, wildlife, patriarchal society and the process of overcoming adversity. They are sculptors, jewelry makers, photographers and plein air painters.
For Lyn Hiner, getting her work accepted by the Festival of Arts was a bucket-list item. “It feels like you’re in a fine art gallery when you walk in,” she said. Hiner is an abstract-expressionist whose paintings aim to reveal beauty in complex and dark settings. The work is meant to encourage and inspire hope, she says.“Beauty From Ashes,” her current collection, reflects a passage in her life that demonstrates hope and beauty can be found even in the midst of confusion and chaos.
Confusion and chaos took center stage in Hiner’s life in the spring of 2012, when after a visit with her two daughters to Trestles beach at San Onofre, her clothing caught fire back at home in their kitchen. Rocks picked up on the beach sparked in her pocket and ignited.
She suffered second- and third-degree burns and endured two surgeries for skin grafts on her right leg, right hand and the inside of her left thigh. Pain and emotional trauma reigned as Hazmat teams descended, the kitchen floor was ripped out and walls were sanitized. The family’s home was uninhabitable while the kitchen was rebuilt. Chemistry experts said the rocks might have been coated with phosphorous, a substance that can spontaneously ignite when exposed to oxygen.
“Luckily I am left-handed,” Hiner said. Even so, the long and painful process of recovery required months of occupational therapy and a final surgery a year after the incident. Returning to her art “felt like a gift,” Hiner said, “it was time.” Over the past five years, she has shown her work at juried fine art shows and exhibitions throughout Southern California. She learned of her acceptance to the Festival a week before her 50th birthday. “Best present ever,” she said.
The youngest artist to be accepted into the Festival this year expressed similar elation. Bree Poort, 24, whose layered resin and acrylic works provide a bird’s eye view of ocean scenes, said, “I would say that getting into the Festival of Arts was literally a dream come true. I know that sounds cheesy, but it was an event my family has taken me to since I can remember, and I would always envision myself as one of the artists there one day.”
Alice Gamez, a 25-year-old landscape painter, said, “I’ve met people who were extremely supportive as well as others who’d question my decision to make my passion my career. Being accepted into such a prestigious festival is a huge validation that the journey I’ve taken is where I’m supposed to be.” Gamezwon first place in last year’s “Art that is Small at City Hall” contest. She received a bachelor’s degree from LCAD and is working on a masters and an art teaching credential from California State University Long Beach.
New inductees into the Festival bringing notable techniques include jewelry maker Baruch Kaufman, who crafts necklaces inspired by the flow of sheet music and lines of calligraphy. Ken Sugimoto’s hand-forged steel chairs and lamps incorporate elements of tension and balance,and Lisa Kijak uses layers of fabric and thread to mimic the peeling paint, faded patinas and scratched surfaces of old neon signs.
Art Influenced by Experience
Janine Salzman grew up in the Mediterranean seaport of Tunis, North Africa, where she was stimulated by the mingled sights, sounds and flavors of the French, Arabic and Sephardic cultures. She makes her plein air paintings that capture everyday life in the Mediterranean-like sunlight at her home in San Juan Capistrano.
American-Iranian Pegah Samaie, another LCAD graduate and oil painter, said she uses art as a tool to face the experiences she and other women have encountered in a culture dominated by patriarchal governments and households.
Monica Edwards, a plein air painter who makes over-scaled botanicals in oil, has had a varied career in the art world including medical filmstrip illustrator, courtroom graphic artist and provider of info-graphics for the OC Register. She was also a park ranger, goat wrangler at the OC Zoo and flight attendant. She began making plein air paintings in 2000. “I feel like getting into this show is like being in the Super Bowl for artists,” she said.