Gayel Childress, one of the primary artistic forces behind Ojai Studio Artists, will be the featured artist at The Ojai City Gallery and with a companion show at The Ojai Valley Museum March 18 through May 31.
In this exhibit, “Ojai Landscape Through the Eye of the Artist,” Childress showcases her expressive and innovative use of color while combining several media to capture the spirit of Ojai. Her substantial body of work ranges widely from landscape to figurative and from still life to abstract, but always includes a touch of whimsy that gives her work a sense of the mythical.
“I’m not interested in photo realism or an exact reproduction as the public might see the landscape,” said Childress. “I like to think I use my heart to see when painting. I feel shapes, colors, textures, and design. And oftentimes my brush leaves a touch of whimsy when finished.”
Born in Los Angeles, Childress moved to Ojai in 1976. She taught art in the local schools and was later appointed to the City’s Arts Advisory Board, now the City of Ojai Arts Commission. As one of Ojai’s first art activists she co-created the City Gallery, began the acquisition of local art for the City of Ojai’s Municipal Art Collection, and co-initiated an annual Ojai City Art Grant Program that continues to allocate funds for the Arts in Ojai today.
Childress is also a founding member of the Ojai Studio Artists Tour, an annual event spanning over 30 years; and co-founded the Gold Coast Watercolor Society. She received a commendation from the Ventura County Board of Supervisors for “Outstanding Contribution in the Arts in Ventura County” in 1997 and was awarded the Ojai’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. Childress has received numerous purchase awards from the City of Ventura and Ojai as part of their permanent collections.
The City of Ojai Arts Commission invites the public to join at a reception for the artist March 21, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Ojai City Hall Chambers, 401 S. Ventura Street. The exhibit will be open to public viewing during normal City Hall hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and at the Museum Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Childress will also be doing hands on demonstrations at The Ojai Valley Museum, 130 W. Ojai Ave. Call the Museum for scheduled dates at 805-640-1390.
Now in its 6th year, this popular, growing, and enriching program returns! 5 artists are selected to mentor 5 students over the summer in a program that, time and time again, proves enormously rewarding, and even life-changing for both artist and student. Upon completion of the program, The students work will be on display in City Hall for at least a month. Artists’ work will also be displayed for the same amount of time in the Wilson Gallery at the Ojai Valley Museum.
Details may be found on our website, here. Or click the Ojai Grants and Awards Programs tab above, and select “Mentor Program” from the drop-down list.
Please send any questions you have about the program to firstname.lastname@example.org
To check out what last year’s program was like, here is an article about the ceremony which was the culmination of the highly successful and much-applied-for 2018 program.
By Sami Zahringer and Linda Harmon. 2018
It is always gratifying to see young adults who are genuinely enthused about their growth and accomplishments waxing eloquent about their work, and infectiously excited to progress in their chosen field. This was the vibrant and inspiring scene on Friday evening at City Hall where four young artists were honored at a reception to mark the opening of an exhibition of their art in the City Gallery.
These students, from public and private valley schools, each spent 50 hours during the summer working with one of four professional local artists participating in Ojai’s annual Student-Artist Mentor Program. Each gave a fascinating account of their learning experience, and their challenges and triumphs. Just as striking as the students’ enthusiasm, was the zest with which the mentors described their overwhelmingly positive involvement with their mentees.
The program, run by The City of Ojai Arts Commission in partnership with the Ojai Educational Fund, is now in its 5th year and growing in popularity. Chair of the Arts Commission, Michael Addison, reported that this year 18 students applied to work with 4 artists and that, given the clear appetite for the program and the resoundingly positive student responses to it, the Arts Commission is working to increase the number of participating professional artists in 2019 and beyond.
The Friday reception marked the end of 50 hours instruction and collaboration. Each student presented their work, received a $500 scholarship for future studies, and their work will be on display to the public at City Gallery until October 20th. The mentors receive $750 for their time and expertise, and an exhibition of their work runs in the Wilson Gallery at the Ojai Museum, also through October 20th.
These are merely the tangible benefits, though, of a remarkable program that is expanding both the possibilities and realities of motivated young Ojai artists. Apart from the hands-on experience, each student emphasized the value they had gleaned from simply just talking to their mentors. To see real people actually making a living through their art was one of the things each student described as being enormously encouraging and inspiring. For the mentors, just talking to their students was also one of the best aspects of the program.
Printmaker, Gail Hercher, one of the artists chosen to be a 2018 mentor, explained how she tried to introduce her student, Occidental University-bound Villanova student, Liz Spiller, to ideas for different careers in printmaking, such as fabric or wallpaper design. She also spoke about the value to her own art of working with “a fresh and un-jaded” student. Hercher, an M.F.A. who has taught art extensively in public colleges and museums, privately and in local Ojai schools, introduced Spiller to techniques such as ink-stenciling, gelatin-printing and silk-screening, culminating, with impressive results, in actual book and card-design.
Internationally-renowned sculptor and glass artist, Stephen Dee Edwards, worked with Madison Parnell to create some stunning pieces involving many different techniques. Parnell was justifiably proud to show the beautiful fusions and laminations she had made using glass, goldstone, and other stones, and described the extensive moulding processes with clay and wax involved in the making of a series of anatomically-correct glass hearts. Edwards, a career educator, and second-time mentor in the program, described eagerly how rewarding it was to work with “Maddie,” and detailed with enthusiasm the ways in which collaborating together was just as important as the resulting art.
Jocelyn Gonzalez, a sophomore from Ojai Valley School, gave a lively and engaging presentation on how her “fun” summer with pastel artist Jannene Behl had progressed and how the new techniques she had learnt using both alcohol and watercolor underpainting had brought fresh ideas and vibrancy to her own already accomplished pastel work. Behl studied with legendary pastel-artist Bert Collins, also an Ojai resident famous for her fine, realistic landscapes on sandpaper. Through Behl’s mentorship, therefore, Gonzalez was lucky enough to work in Collins’ studio too in the company of adult students and was able to experience a community of artists.
To provide a really detailed account of the inner-workings of the student-mentor experience, artist Patricia Anders kept a comprehensive blog (www.artpropensity.com) of her time with budding artist Joshua Jacober, a young man of great promise eager to learn everything he could from his summer. Anders, whose specialty is drawing, especially in symbolic imagery, also works in mixed media, both traditional and alternative. Jacober, at the start of the summer, primarily worked in charcoal but was looking to elevate his own design and learn the “really tough fundamentals” of drawing. Under Anders’ influence, Jacober moved into pen and ink drawing – a more stringent medium with no ability to erase mistakes! – and discovered a whole new level of detail was now available to him. The introduction of color enlivened his art and delighted Anders, who declared early on in her blog,“I like his thinking!”
The glowing testimony of the participants in the Ojai Student-Artist Mentor program is proving, year after year, what a meaningful and rewarding experience it is for all involved. “It’s thrilling to hear the mentors talk about how exciting it’s been to see the students’ creativity expand in the course of the summer,” said Addison. “It’s clear that the Mentors and Students have poured their hearts into their work together.”
Application forms for 2019 will be available soon and artists and students interested in applying should contact The City of Ojai Arts Commission. For the latest news on when and how to apply, check out their website at www.ojaiarts.org, which will show that information as soon as it is available; to keep up-to-date with the arts in Ojai. To participate, students must attend one of the Ojai Valley high schools, either public or private, and their parents must reside in the Valley.
To see the 2018 student art, visit he City Gallery (located in Ojai City Hall at 401 S. Ventura St.) which welcomes visitors Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except holidays. To experience the art of the mentors in the program, visit the Ojai Valley Museum,130 W. Ojai Avenue, which is open Sundays 12 noon -4 pm., and Tues-Sat 10am – 4pm. Both highly creative shows run through October 20th and are well worth the visits.
The City of Ojai Arts Commission is pleased to announce that the winner of the Hope Frazier Prize this time around is Nigel Chisholm. The Hope Frazier award is an occasional award not given out each year, but at the discretion of the Arts Commission, in order to recognize an outstanding contributor to the artistic life of Ojai.
Nigel Chisholm is best known for turning his two local bar businesses into lively venues for music and arts of all sorts. They have become community hubs for fundraising, incubators of local talent, and beloved local establishments where art truly fosters community and breaks down social barriers.
On the walls of The Jester and the Vine he has offered space to local artists and photographers to display their work, and he hosts their receptions, often collaborating with the artists to show the work off to best advantage.
Chisholm has opened his business to a Youth Music Night each Monday where young singers and musicians can gain invaluable performance experience, and build confidence in themselves and their art. Through this opportunity some young musicians have built mentorship relationships with older, professional musicians that could never otherwise have happened.
On the adult scene, many local musicians have found their footing and grown loyal audiences thanks to Nigel’s faith in their work and his commitment to them in both time and money. He understands that building such audiences doesn’t happen overnight and has the patience and trust in the artists it takes to do so. Serendipitous new musical collaborations have arisen as artists meet at Nigel’s bars, and well-known session musicians from LA often travel up to play at The Vine, not for the money but for the vibe and the warm reception they know they’ll get from the Vine scene.
In recent months, Chisholm has opened the Vine up to popular monthly salons led by New York Times best-selling author, Nomi Prins. Prins’ books deal with global finance and the history of how the federal reserve operates, as well as giving advice on personal money management.
A small sample of the artistic events Nigel has personally organized over the years includes:
* A fundraiser for Japan after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, “From The Valley of The Moon to The Land of The Rising Sun.” That event, still remembered fondly by everybody who attended, brought together an extraordinary array of local musical talent with a who’s who of the Ojai music scene singing separately and, finally, all together in an exhilarating and moving massive display of solidarity and support for the victims thousands of miles away.
* A multi-event fundraiser to support a beloved local woman going through cancer and in need of financial help. The fundraiser comprised several musical events and a wildly successful Mystery Science Theater show with local actors giving of their time and talents to raise money. Many silent auction items were donated by local visual artists of all types through their personal relationships with Chisholm.
* A musical benefit for the local homeless shelter which drew upon the audiences already established for the various participating musicians and which raised an astonishing $7000 in one night, surpassing in bounds the projected sum of $1000. In these endeavors, Chisholm has involved himself at every level to support both the artists and the cause.
An actor himself, Chisholm also employs actors. parents of young actors, and a director of local youth theater company OYES, and understands their need to make significant schedule changes in order to pursue their art. He has accommodated his staff in this in a way that few other employers would.
Nigel Chisholm’s work in supporting, promoting, and collaborating in the musical, theater, and visual arts has enlivened downtown Ojai for many years, creating a “scene” that continues to grow in scope and richness. He believes in art as a breaker of barriers, a much-needed social and emotional release in our times, and a soul-enhancing experience that benefits every one of us. He has lived his life and run his businesses in support of these ideals and by dint of them has changed the cultural landscape of Ojai indelibly for the good.
The Hope Frazier Prize will be awarded to Nigel Chisholm at City Hall Chambers, 401 S. Ventura St. at 6:30pm Thursday 21st during the regular Arts Commission meeting. It is open to the public and the Commission welcomes anyone who would like to attend. Photos of this occasion will be published here after the event.
We are pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of City of Ojai Grant Recipients.
8 applicants requested funding which totaled $43,010. The Arts Commission had a budget of $27,500 which it disbursed to 7 different valley organizations. The grants, which are awarded each year at the December Ojai City Council meeting, help to ensure the vitality of the arts in the Ojai Valley, and the City of Ojai is proud to be able to offer Art Grants each year as the budget allows.
The process of determining the amounts awarded is multi-layered and rigorous and the Commission would like to recognize the excellence of all the applications and the worthiness of their projects. It was a very difficult task but the break down is as follows.
Focus on The Masters – $2,500
Ojai Art Center Theater – $6,000
Ojai Film Society – $3,000
Ojai Independence Day Committee – $2,500
Ojai Music Festival – $3,250
Ojai Youth Opera – $7,000
The Townies. Inc. – $4,000
The City of Ojai Arts Comission is pleased to announce an exhibition of the work of artist Karen Lewis in our the Ojai City Hall Gallery,401 S. Ventura St,. and a concurrent exhibit at the Ojai Valley Museum,130 W. Ojai Ave., from January 7 to March 15. The exhibit is called “Faces, Places, and Things” and is a retrospective of the former Ojai Arts Commissioner and respected Ojai artist. Lewis will be on hand for a public reception at the Museum on January 18th from 5:30-7:30 p.m. as part of downtown Ojai’s Third Friday events.
Lewis, whose works are large scale oils on canvas, received her BA from UCLA and her MFA from Lehman College in the Bronx. During her time in New York she exhibited in the SoHO district at the Pindar Gallery in New York City and taught high school art for 15 years. She was also an adjunct instructor for arts education at the College of New Rochelle. Lewis returned to California in 1990 settling in Ojai. She continued her educational journey with cutting-edge printmaking workshops in Santa Fe New Mexico; in Lucca and Florence, Italy; and in nearby Santa Barbara.
“It was after landing in Ojai that I really fell in love with the landscape and joined a throng of local plein air painters,” said Lewis, who now divides her time between landscape painting, studio painting and printmaking.”My progress with plein air painting had a slow start because while living in NY I fell in love with painting ‘portraits’ of chairs, which I collected on weekly trash nights. My N.Y. loft and home were filled with my scavenged beauties and their large scaled portraits. I left many behind when we moved to Ojai and when I started plein air painting here, I was immediately drawn to the beach, deck, and patio chairs that populated the California scene. A few are included in this current show. I’ve gradually weaned myself from those California natives and am deeply in love again with the California sky, sea and mountains.”
Lewis, a vital part of the Ojai arts community, has had innumerable solo exhibitions, including “Please be Seated” an exhibit of her large scale paintings of California chairs at the Ventura County Government Center and annually exhibits with the Ojai Studio Artists. She was honored in 2012 as a documented artist in the Focus on the Masters archival project.One of her larger pieces, inspired by a London garden scene, was purchased by Bank of A. Levy and is in the Ventura County Museum of History and Art’s collection.
“Faces,Places, and Things” can be viewed at City Hall from 9 a.m,- 5 p.m. Monday- Friday and at the Ojai Valley Museum, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 12-4 p.m. Sunday. Her work can also be viewed online at her website, www.karenklewis.com, and at ojaistudioartists.org, and by appointment at her Ojai studio.
WHAT DO THESE PHOTOS HAVE IN COMMON?
They are both musical instruments!
TRIMPIN SOUND ARCH REDUX
SUNDAY, JUNE 10
9:00 AM LIBBEY PARK
The instrument on the left can be found in the Accademia Museum in Florence. The instrument on the right can be found right here in Ojai’s backyard. It’s the Trimpin Sound Arch, located at the entrance to the Libbey Park Bowl. You might know that the Sound Arch is triggered by motion, but did you know it also has an interactive IPhone app?
Few of Ojai’s citizens or visitors realize that the Arch they walk under in and out of Libbey Bowl is a musical instrument that is not only triggered by motion, but also can be played on an IPhone! To demonstrate what the Sound Arch can do, the Ojai Music Festival’s Sunday line-up will feature a free 15 minute demonstration that includes local composer Raymond Powers playing the Sound Arch live on a midi interface. The “Trimpin Sound Arch Redux” will take place at 9:00 AM and is free to the public.
In 2011, the Arts Commission’s Public Art Jury selected the internationally known artist and composer, Trimpin, to contribute a musical element to the walkway into Libbey Bowl. Trimpin took care to design the curve of the Sound Arch to reflect the curve of the Libbey Bowl’s newly designed open-air dome. The Sound Arch was unveiled at the 65th Ojai Music Festival, a premier venue for the introduction of new compositions. Former Ojai Music festival Executive Director, Jeff Hayden, wrote at the time, “The symmetry of the Arch, the colors, the placement, the artist, and the fact that it is also musical in a space for music is all perfect.”
Trimpin intended that the Sound Arch serve as a living piece of auditory sculpture and toward that end composed some original compositions for the Arch. Last fall, the Trimpin Sound Arch Committee was formed to follow up on Hayden’s suggestions including that the Ojai Music Festival invite one of its visiting composers each year to compose a short piece for the Arch. This year, as part of the demonstration, one of Ojai’s talented composers, Raymond Powers, will perform a piece on a midi interface.
The Sound Arch’s crown is an automated xylophone made up of 24 tuned metal rods operated by mechanical mallets. Each of the two steel sections weighs 550 pounds. An electronic eye senses when someone walks beneath, triggering a computer to play a xylophonic precomposition creating a unique percussive experience. Trimpin built an interactive IPhone app into the Sound Arch’s computer driven programming. Anyone with an iPhone can download the app and choose a song from the available playlist. In addition Redux attendees will learn a little about Trimpin, a 1997 MacArthur “Genius Award” winner.
It has been said that Trimpin blurs the lines between sound, sculpture, and musical instrument design making it difficult to classify. In describing his artworks, Trimpin offered the following, “A blind person can hear the movement and a deaf person can see it. You don’t have to understand the science of sine waves, pitches, and timbres, to feel the impact of melodic percussive sounds.”
Please join us on Sunday, June 10, at 9:00 AM, at Libbey Bowl in front of the Sound Arch for a free public demonstration. Don’t be late! The demonstration is but 15 minutes long! You will be amazed at what one of Ojai’s iconic public artworks has to offer.