Opinion: Village Matters

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Can We Keep Our Artist Colony?

ann christoph

Are we a “former artist colony” or a real functioning one? It’s up to us, not just the artists.

Artists are driven by inner insight to produce their work. Their insight, sensitivity, and unique view of our world enriches our lives and experiences. Their enthusiasm to tell us what they see comes across in their work and in the festivals.

We bemoan the increased cost of housing that has limited where artists can find a place to live and work, but guess what? If we support their efforts by buying their work, they wouldn’t have to scrape by. Even with the tight economy, the artists are still here. When South Laguna Community Garden Park (SLCGP) sent out an invitation to paint in the Garden last spring as our country was shutting down for the virus, 18 of them showed up over a six-week period—masks and all. One artist wrote, “Thank you again for having such an amazing opportunity for artists to enjoy the beautiful garden. I’m truly honored.”

The artists have produced a series of works, impressions of the Garden—so many views, some zoomed in and some depicting landscape and ocean background  There is even an abstract collage. The paintings are on display at 31709 Coast Hwy. Now it’s our turn—to show our appreciation and buy their paintings. To view them, visit artafairfoundation.org/garden-park-auction.

Matilija Poppy IV by Elizabeth McGhee, a 5” x 7” colored pencil drawing, is the first-place winner of the South Laguna Community Garden’s art contest. It will be auctioned to support the Garden’s operation. Courtesy of Ann Christoph
“A Thousand Beautiful Things” by Fernando Micheli 9″ x 12” oil on linen panel. Courtesy of Ann Christoph
“Sunset Garden” by Mai Igarashi 8” x 10” Gouache on paper. Courtesy of Ann Christoph

The auction coincides with an SLCGP Victory Garden Harvest dinner on Oct. 3. The dinner is sold out, but the auction is a wonderful way to participate. The artists have donated either a 100% or 50% of the sale price to benefit the Garden Park. We wanted to give them an opportunity to have some income in this difficult time. So sweet, one artist wrote, “I’m hoping someone will connect with one (of my paintings) and bring in funds for the Garden. At the beginning of Stay at Home I lost all my classes and I’m not able to do them online so I’m asking for 50%. If I am lucky to sell more than one I will definitely consider donating more to the Garden.” The starting bids are as low as $50! Think how much we spend every week for things that wear out or get used up. A work of art is a joy forever.

The Art-a-Fair Foundation and its president, Ron McWhorter, support artists and art outreach, and generously assisted in preparing the auction site for SLCGP.  Other arts organizations are also keeping the Laguna Beach art culture alive. The Festival of Arts has a virtual gallery experience: foapom.com/foavirtual. Laguna Plein Air Painters Association will have its Invitational Art Show and Plein Air Festival from Oct. 3 to 10 with a gala being held virtually on Oct. 10.

lpapa.org. Laguna Outreach Community Arts is having a “Grateful Leaves Arts Challenge. For more information, see locaarts.org.

The Sawdust Art Festival is having a weekend Outdoor Marketplace from Oct. 3 to 25 and the Laguna Art Museum continues access to its exhibits under a ticket-based system.

All are trying ways to keep our art life going. There is still plenty of inspiration to go around and we need it now more than ever. Fortunately, as a real artist colony we have the opportunity right here, every day.

Ann is a landscape architect and former Laguna Beach mayor.

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