Jordan Dimitrov made his first replica of a ship at age 8 and remains fascinated with maritime history and sailing vessels plowing the seven seas to this day.
Thirty-two years later, three of his meticulously life-like model ships can be seen at this year’s Festival of Arts, where 140 artists of diverse media are once again showing their best work in an array of traditional media and label-defying hybrids.
A second year exhibitor, Dimitrov became intrigued with boats watching an Australian television show in his native Bulgaria. Thus started his study of sailing ships.
“All my ships are made completely true to life and from natural materials,” he explained. Rigging and sails are made from cotton and wooden pins, rather than nails, hold the ship’s parts together. “You can’t see it here, but I pay equal attention to the inside as I do to the outside of the ships,” he said.
Even though he is not a sailor, he eschews pre-sketches or any pictorial guidance. He said that he builds his creations from keel to masts, bow to stern, even ship’s figureheads, strictly from images in his head. “I visualize them in three dimensions in my mind,” he explained. The pirate vessel “Twilight” can be acquired for $20,000, and Dimitrov accepts commissions.
Painting, both acrylic and oil is well represented again this year, with many artists such as Carla Bosch, April Raber and Gerald Schwartz relying on the plein-air style of painting on location to capture bucolic or urban environments.
Ellen Rose’s stylized pooches cross lines between representation and abstraction with fetching result. On hiatus for four years, she’s back with “Charlie,” a humorously dour bulldog and other painted four-legged denizens. “I took time out since my art is not always what the public and festival want, technical quality and commercial viability. This time I hit that intersection with the dogs,” she said. Besides, the shaggy crew garners commissions, she said. Charlie, who also embellishes gift shop t-shirts, hoodies and coffee mugs, put her in the black, she said.
Elizabeth McGhee, an exhibitor since 2010 and then barely out of the Laguna College of Art and Design, uses elements of representation, ancient written lore and her own storytelling to give depth to meticulously crafted paintings. McGhee was recruited as a juror this year. “Being a juror let me step aside from my own biases. Instead I judged according to concept, creativity and craftsmanship as a balance of all three,” she said.
Among three-dimensional works, Brian Giberson’s totems invite close scrutiny. Made from recycled objects including musical instruments, masks, elements of furniture and small metal embellishments, they have an abstract spiritual quality that imbues a space with meaning, said Giberson. “Currently I am finding new methods to add different shading and texture to the pieces through build-up of material and use of color,” he said.
Then again, who would expect pieces of a flattened colander in a stained glass window? Barbara B. Bond has put new twists on an art form dating to the 14th century by connecting stained glass pieces with lead and metal, not copper foil, into independent hanging panels or freestanding sculpture. “I am hoping for a stained glass revival, but meanwhile I take the art form up a notch,” she said.
These are a few examples in the visual arts that prove intriguing:
Festival veteran Tom Lamb’s aerial photographs transform into head-turning abstracts. Robert Hansen’s images of the Yucatan Peninsula and elsewhere in Mexico are endless in their variety. As are works by glass artist Kent Kahlen and jewelry pieces by Karin Worden, who appears to have successfully transited from gallerist to solo studio artist.
On the entertainment front, festival events director Susan Davis has come up with new fare: Tuesday nights feature The Rising Stars Music Series, concerts by emerging musicians introduced by established stars. For example, on Aug. 2, Warren Hill will introduce Olivia Rox.
Also new is “Books and Brunch,” that introduce popular authors to visitors over brunch. Aug. 21 brings Michelle Gable, author of “I’ll See You in Paris,” featured on the New York Times bestseller list. Tickets cost $75.
“It’s a festival of arts, after all, so we want to introduce visitors to visual arts, theater, music and now writing,” said Davis.
So far, the festival is enjoying a sprightly 84th summer. Last Sunday, a celebratory mood arose among lawn picnickers when the harmonious voices and acoustic guitar of Justine Bennet and Jamie Drake, known as the Pendleton Sisters, broke into “Happy Birthday.” Heads swiveled toward its intended recipient, a small woman seated at a table with an attentive mien. Laguna Woods resident Bibi Griffin chose to spend her 100th birthday at the place that she has frequented every summer Sunday for decades. “I’m not quite sure how long I’ve been coming here; it’s at least 50 years by now,” she said.
The festival, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, runs through. Aug. 27. www.LagunaFestivalofArts.org
‘Ice Cream Man’ Paints Olympians
Years ago, Laguna Beach artist Scott Moore painted “Ice Cream Man.” Now, Moore wouldn’t be wrong to change the title of his oil painting to “Ice Cream Man and two Olympians.”
Moore, 66, used his neighbors’ daughters as the models for the painting. Now grown up, the girls are members of the U.S. women’s Olympic water polo team getting ready to play in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Aria and Makenzie Fischer also played on the Laguna Beach High School team. Makenzie graduated in 2015 and Aria starts her senior year in September.
In “Ice Cream Man,” Moore depicts that iconic childhood memory of the ice cream man’s visit, heralded by music coming from the truck.
“I love telling stories of my childhood through my paintings,” Moore said in a statement. ” ‘Ice Cream Man’ brings me back to summertime, where the music from the ice cream truck stopped us in our tracks. We’d beg mom for money and chase the truck down on our bicycles!”
Moore uses a unique style in his works. “Painting images with two scales gives me the freedom to enlarge some of the often forgotten objects that make up the details of a great memory,” he said.
Moore is one of the featured artists in Laguna Beach’s annual Festival of Arts, underway through Aug. 31.