Festival of Arts Reveals Newest Addition to Permanent Art Collection

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Festival Commissions “Emprise,” a Large-Scale, Bronze Sculpture by 2023 Artist of the Year Gerard Basil Stripling Now Located on Festival Grounds

Stripling stands with “Emprise,” the newest addition to the Festival of Arts Permanent Collection. Clara Beard/LB Indy

The Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach proudly unveiled “Emprise,” a magnificent, large-scale, bronze sculpture created by renowned Laguna Beach artist Gerard Basil Stripling, on Wednesday, June 21. The unveiling ceremony marked a significant milestone for the Festival as the artwork made its debut on the Festival Grounds, becoming the latest addition to its Permanent Art Collection.

The event began with speeches from Festival Board Member and Chair of the Permanent Art Collection Committee Tom Lamb and Exhibits Director Christine Georgantas, emphasizing the Festival’s commitment to promoting and supporting exceptional artistic endeavors. A documentary, The Making of Emprise, created by long-time Festival Exhibitor Rick Graves was then shown. It provided insight on Stripling’s artistic process and the inspiration behind “Emprise.” Following the documentary, the audience gathered to hear from Stripling and Board President David Perry before raising their glasses in a celebratory toast to mark the grand reveal of the sculpture.

Nestled into the Festival’s hillside, the sculpture features curved arcs that symbolize individuals embarking on their unique creative paths, reaching upward, outward, and in various directions to represent diverse aspirations. At the connection points, the cast bronze texture resembles a leather bound wrap, emphasizing the importance of protecting and valuing these relationships. The sculpture’s kinetic energy portrays movement, while the implied continuation of the arcs beyond the sculpture signifies a trajectory they would somehow come back together.

“We approached Gerard last fall and he presented us with a series of sketches and designs. The Board was very excited about this statement piece and its profound significance,” Georgantas said at the reception. “It became evident right away that Gerard was the perfect artist to create a sculpture for the grounds.”

Former Festival of Arts exhibitor, 2022 Festival Juror, and recently named the 2023 Laguna Beach Arts Alliance Artist of the Year, Stripling is a successful large-scale sculptor with many public art pieces on display throughout the city of Laguna Beach and elsewhere. Stripling first exhibited his work at the Festival of Arts in 2003 and has had great success in forming a clientele that recognizes the beauty and strength in his work.

“Getting into the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show was one of my first true accomplishments as a fine artist,” Stripling said. “I was elated when I got the call that I had been chosen to show. I found the gathering of people around the creative passion of showing and creating art very exciting. Visitors come to see new and exciting pieces, and through talking with exhibitors, they themselves come away with an experience that they will take with them into their lives.”

“We are thrilled to have ‘Emprise’ join our distinguished Permanent Art Collection,” Lamb said. “Gerard’s creation embodies the spirit of our Festival and adds another remarkable piece to the tapestry of artistic excellence we are known for.”

Housing over one thousand diverse pieces, the Festival’s Permanent Art Collection is a tangible window into the Festival, Laguna Beach, and the region’s rich art and cultural history. The collection is valued by the organization for its cultural and historical significance in relation to the art, culture, and its ability to tell the story of the birth of the Festival and its influence in the art scene.

Visitors can see “Emprise” during the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show, which starts July 5 and runs through Sept. 1. More information about the Festival can be found at  www.foapom.com. The Emprise documentary can be viewed at www.foapom.com/the-making-of-emprise.

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