Girl Pack Invades a Men’s Art Club

In a departure from previous years, Laguna gallerists, from left, Sue Greenwood, Joanne Artman, Carla Arzente and Sanja Simidzija are bringing an all-female artist line-up to a Pacific Club fundraiser.

Art-buying members of the Pacific Art Foundation, usually treated to get-togethers with artists represented by a single gallery owner, this year can expect a broader perspective, literally and figuratively.

After 17 years spotlighting a single gallery, the foundation’s “Meet the Artists” event Oct. 26 at Newport Beach’s Pacific Club, 4110 MacArthur Blvd., will feature four Laguna Beach galleries, all owned and run by women who, in turn, will introduce an all-woman line-up of artists they represent.

El Salvador-born Carla Tesak-Arzente owns Salt Fine Art, which features art from Central and South America. Joanne Artman relocated her gallery of the same name from Santa Ana to Laguna Beach and shows a mix of artists from North and South America. Sue Greenwood Fine Art focuses on an ethnically diverse group of San Francisco Bay area talent. Sanja Simidzija, born in the former Yugoslavia, owns Art Cube and represents women and men of varied ethnicities.

The event’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek title, “Broad Topics: A Woman’s Take on the Industry of Art,” will for the first time feature a keynote speaker, art critic and curator Peter Frank.

While Frank’s selection may spoil the theme, he considers himself a bona-fide advocate of women in art. “Women have long been leaders as commercial advocates and patrons,” he said, adding that there has been more discrimination against women artists than against women dealers.

Art Cube Gallery artist Cheryl Ekstrom’s Journeymen bronze sculpture.

Frank met the approval of Geoffrey LePlastrier, the foundation’s chair, since many of the professor’s students at the Laguna College of Art and Design received foundation scholarships in the last five years.

Other recipients include the Los Angeles-based Ryman Foundation, which conducts drawing workshops with inner city students, and Self-Help Graphics, a visual arts center that promotes Chicano artists. For the last four years, the foundation also provided prize money to winners of LCAD’s “Best of the Best” competition. As a rule, PAF awards scholarships to organizations rather than individuals.

“The event is designed to get people to support our scholarship programs by buying art,” said LePlastrier.

Gallerists donate 30 percent of sales proceeds to the scholarship fund. Last year’s “Meet the Artists” event netted roughly $13,000, about half as much as previous year’s events, LePlastrier said. Board members also supplement the scholarship fund, he said.


Sue Greenwood Fine Art artist Mary-Austin Klein’s “Owlshead Mountains”

PAF members pay yearly dues of $500 that support a foundation art collection, housed in the Pacific Club building and open to the public.

Meanwhile, each gallerist offers her own take on prevailing in business:

Tesak-Arzente, a new mother, said the most successful artists and dealers remain men because women continue to juggle home and business responsibilities.

Artman scoffed at gender distinctions, emphasizing that hard work and a positive attitude will lead to success.

Greenwood agreed. She opened her own gallery after first cutting her teeth as a gallery director and added that a nurturing touch makes for successful interactions between gallerist and artist and collector.

Simidzija, a mother of two, credits intuition, a keen eye and perseverance, the latter acquired on the basketball courts of her native Serbia.

Joanne Artman Gallery’s artist America Martin, “Woman In Yellow” drawing.

The differing perspectives “promises to be unpredictable, educational and fun for all involved,” Greenwood predicted.

Tickets of $100 (VIP) and $75 general are available by calling 949-955-1123, and participating galleries.














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