“Interpreting Life along the Pacific Coast” is a theme that can be expressed in numerous ways: a mosaic-crystal female form, a quilted field of dreams, a magical night on the Esplanade.
Works exploring coastal life by 112 artists from 41 cities—from Santa Barbara to San Diego—are on display as part of CA 101, a juried exhibition held in three "pop-up" (temporary) galleries in South Redondo Beach this weekend and next.
One of the local artists exhibiting, Jerry Neill, a world-traveled photographer/designer, wanted to capture the uniqueness of Redondo Beach with two views of the Esplanade at night and one of a Riviera Village carnival.
A 30-year resident of the South Bay, Neill, who graduated from the University of Southern California with an MFA in theater, fell in love with photography at age 16 after receiving a Super 8mm movie camera for Christmas.
Through his photography, he came to the conclusion that Redondo is a city like no other along the coast, he said. The realization sprung “from watching the joggers; the hundreds of hardcore bicyclists in the wee hours of the weekend; the surfers at sunrise on a school day; Sunday church worship services on the beach in the summer; the beach camps, boot camps, yoga camps, surfing camps…”
It boiled down to one thing, he said. “Redondo Beach is a city about a beach.”
Other cities have beaches, said the photographer, an avid runner who lives one block from the ocean on Avenue H. But they lack the “modern mythology” Redondo residents unconsciously create via their lifestyle.
'A voyage through Southern California'
On Thursday morning, as artists and volunteers busily hung hundreds of works in the pop-up galleries, exhibition director Sandra Liljenwall said the goal of the exhibit was “to get representation from a large selection of artists expressing their various creative interpretations of the theme (and) to promote Redondo Beach as a burgeoning center of arts and culture.”
That she was elated with the turnout is an understatement. A member of the Redondo Beach Public Arts Commission, Liljenwall said that although she has only lived in the city for a few years, “I’ve been to a lot of exhibitions, seen a lot of good things, but this is the best I’ve really ever seen.”
Exhibit curator Nina Zak Laddon was equally thrilled. She credited one of the five sponsors, Lagado Companies Redondo Beach, for donating the gallery locations and making the show possible. (Other sponsors include the , Friends of Redondo Beach Arts, Redondo Beach Art Group, and South Bay Brokers.)
Darren Embry, director of communications for Legado, the company planning to revitalize the Palos Verdes Inn and develop the surrounding area, said, “We love the theme of 'Interpreting Life along the Pacific Coast.' Such a large part of the appeal of Southern California is the quality of life and lifestyle anchored by the Pacific Coast Highway.”
Embry, whose father and grandmother were artists, said he thoroughly enjoyed working with the Redondo Beach Art Group and Friends of Redondo Beach Arts. “Nina and her group are fantastic—once I met them, she didn't have to say much,” he said.
Attendees of the exhibit will visit three pop-up galleries, including the Lobby Gallery in the lobby of the Palos Verdes Inn; the PVI Gallery in one of the hotel’s meeting rooms; and, two doors down, the 1704 Gallery in the former Book Again storefront at 1704 Pacific Coast Hwy.
“I have asked artists to work big,” Laddon said. “We live in a big state … I wanted the vastness and diversity of California to be represented in their work.”
Selecting art for what Laddon called “the biggest exhibition in the history of Redondo Beach,” was a matter of selecting “works that will create a voyage through Southern California," she said. "I especially like some of the night scenes captured by photographers, the world of freeways and bridges, large abstracts (and) local landmarks as seen with an artist's eye."
'How could one not be inspired?'
Jean Schultz, a 30-year Redondo resident and graphic designer (JS Design), sees coastal life as having it all from "the ocean to the mountains.”
When she thinks of the South Bay, she thinks of “growing cactus next to roses; succulents next to tomatoes. Colors, patterns and clean air. How could one not be inspired?”
Her two works in the CA 101 exhibit, "Coastal Adaptation" I and II, are layered watercolor, she explained. “The background is on watercolor paper and the upper layers are on yupo—a transparent plastic paper—which is woven in and out, creating layers and open spaces."
Alternating between realistic and abstract images, her work is “always influenced by what surrounds me,” Schultz said, including her family, husband, Bill, two sons and a daughter.
“My daughter, Lisa who lives in Goleta, also has a painting in the show,” the artist said. “This is a thrill for me as it is the first time we have both been in the same show.”
Although she’s been a graphic designer “forever,” she said she kept postponing painting until about 18 years ago. “I kept saying, ‘When I retire, I’ll paint …' Then I realized, waiting was wrong for me.”
Schultz treasures her memberships in the South Bay Watercolor Society, Experimental Artists of South Bay, Studio 1613 and Redondo Beach Art Group.
“The blessing of the groups is getting to spend time with other creative souls whose lives are driven by the passion to create,” she said.
Artists Joe Kelly and Kristina Christian-Kelly met in a jewelry class at El Camino College about 12 years ago. Whether it is oils, prints, ceramics, glass or silver, both are inspired by their South Redondo hometown.
“How lucky we are to live here,” Joe Kelly said. “To go to the beach whenever we want. It’s a wonderful life.” Since he works at a restaurant at the Sofitel Hotel in Los Angeles, Kelly enjoys the “calmness” of Redondo and how “great it is to always come home, which is by the beach.”
It makes sense that “Shades of Blue,” one of two abstracts Kelly is exhibiting in the 1704 Gallery, is an oil of the sea. “I really like blue,” he laughed. The other painting, “Crossroads,” is “like a street grid in the background, lines, roads, freeways, a mixture of blue, purple, green.”
Christian-Kelly primarily a jewelry-maker, produced an abstract print for the exhibit, a crystal-like pattern of pastel pinks, blues and white.
The CA 101 exhibition runs two consecutive weekends, July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5. The opening reception scheduled for Friday from 7-9 p.m. at the Palos Verdes Inn, located at 1704 Pacific Coast Hwy. in South Redondo Beach. The exhibit will be open for viewing: Fridays from 5-10 p.m., Saturdays from noon-8 p.m.; and Sundays from noon-6 p.m.
For more information and to see a list of participating artists, visit friendsredondobeacharts.org or call 310-720-4943.