Ojai City Gallery to Feature Gayel Childress through May 31

Ojai City Gallery to Feature Gayel Childress through May 31

“Ojai River Bottom” by Gayel Childress.

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.

Karen Lewis Exhibit: Faces, Places, and Things

Karen Lewis Exhibit: Faces, Places, and Things

Image may contain: 2 people, people sittingThe 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.

Artist Tom Hardcastle Through January 4, 2019

Artist Tom Hardcastle Through January 4, 2019

The newly hung show at Ojai City Hall Gallery features the pastel landscape work of renowned Ojai Studio Artist, Tom Hardcastle. The exhibition will run through January 4, 2019, and is available to the public to view at any time during regular City Hall hours. The City of Ojai Arts Commission and the Ojai Valley Museum have been fostering a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship this past year and Hardcastle will also have 3 large oil works on display at the museum during this period. Hardcastle is an exhibiting member of the Degas Society, the Pastel Society of the West Coast, SBAA, Oil Painters of America. He is a signature member of the Artists for Conservation and has exhibited at several international pastel shows. He says of his work, “My art has provided me with many journeys over the years and I look forward to the growth and insight that comes with it.”  One of these latest journeys was undertaken with fellow Ojai artist and celebrated landscape painter, Jennifer Moses, and this mentorship and artistic exchange has resulted in the works now on view at City Gallery. They are entitled collectively “The Quiet Places.” Working alongside Moses encouraged Hardcastle to “see Ojai through new eyes” and many of the pastels on display will intrigue viewers with fresh new angles on Ojai and views of the valley with which we might not be so familiar.  Meanwhile, over at the museum, Hardcastle presents three striking paintings which are thematically and stylistically very different to the City Gallery series. “Icons and Archetypes,” comprises three large-scale oil paintings with a strong Pop Art feel that presents the artist’s perspective of select popular cultural icons and exploitive archetypes, especially the exploitation of females in the modern world. Although his first love is pastels and the smudging, tactile nature of that medium, this exploration of oils and iconography represents another new artistic journey for Hardcastle. When asked what drives him to create he says, “because I have to. I cannot not be working. I work at least 6 days a week in my studio outside of my time in the salon.” (Hardcastle also owns and operates the Delilah Salon in downtown Ojai.)  The reception for “The Quiet Places” and “Icons and Archetypes” will be held at the City Gallery at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, November 16th at Ojai City Hall, 401 S Ventura St, Ojai, and the artist will be present to talk about his work and techniques and the very different nature of his work in each venue.  The City of Ojai Art Gallery at City Hall welcomes visitors Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., except holidays. The Ojai Valley Museum is located at 130 W. Ojai Avenue, and is open Sundays from noon – 4 p.m., and Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

“The Artist Playground: Mixed Media Visions” by Carlos Grasso

“The Artist Playground: Mixed Media Visions” by Carlos Grasso

“The Artist Playground: Mixed Media Visions” by Carlos Grasso

Carlos Grasso will have an exhibit at the Ojai City Hall Gallery from Monday, July 15 through Saturday, August 18, 2018. A reception for the artist will be held during Ojai’s Third Friday on August 17, 2018 from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. The public is invited to attend.

Carlos Grasso’s personal journey began in the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where his parents encouraged his interest in the arts, particularly music. As a young adult, while studying figure drawing in drawing workshops, he also studied both piano and flute at the National Conservatory of Music before moving to Paris, where he worked as a professional flautist for 15 years. During this period, he also trained and worked as a graphic designer. After moving to Southern California, it only took one class with artist David Leffel for Carlos to discover a new passion: painting. Over the last 25 years, not only has he transitioned from music to making art full time, he’s also shifted from representational works to abstraction and mixed media. Throughout this period, he has participated in many gallery and group exhibitions, and received several awards for his work. Most recently, his “9” series was featured in the 2017 LA Art Show.

Says Carlos: “What some might see as nothing but a thorn piece of canvas or a rusty sheet of metal to be discarded, I visualize as the perfect ingredient for my next piece of work. What others might view as worthless scraps of wood or slit fabric, I envision as works of art. They speak to me just as much as my paints and brushes, sometimes asking and sometimes flat-out demanding to be included in my art. They form the blood and bones of my current creations.”

Carlos lives and works in Ojai and is a member of Ojai Studio Artists. To find out more about Carlos, visit his website at www.CarlosGrasso.com

Ojai Studio Artists Awards $10,000 in Art Scholarships

Ojai Studio Artists Awards $10,000 in Art Scholarships

"I Feel Like Glitter" Hee Eun Chung

“I Feel Like Glitter” Hee Eun Chung

"Overcome" Ayliah Zweig

“Overcome” Ayliah Zweig

The Ojai Studio Artists will award $10,000 in scholarships to ten Ventura County high school and college art students this year.  The winning students will be honored and awarded their scholarships at a special reception at Ojai City Hall on Saturday, June 2 from 4:00 – 6:00 pm.  The quality of work continues to astound as we observe 25 years of OSA Scholarship reviews!


Everyone is invited to attend this special recognition event and student exhibition. These events take place at City Gallery at Ojai City Hall, located at 410 S. Ventura Street, Ojai. The show extends from May 30-June 29; open Monday-Friday, 9-5:00PM. The Ojai Arts Commission generously hosts the show installed throughout City Hall for the benefit of the public.


The prestigious Beatrice Wood, Horace Bristol, and Otto and Vivika Heino Awards honor the legacy of these important Ojai artists and past OSA members. The Ojai Award goes specifically to local students. As well as Ojai, award students hail from Westlake Village, Oxnard, Newbury Park, and Ventura. Gayel Childress and Richard Amend will present on the history of the Ojai Studio Artists and the value of scholarships, respectively.


Each year OSA raises money to support young artists to further their art education.

To date, the artists’ organization has funded over $233,950 in scholarships and other ArtReach programs, including books for the Library and repairs for the Ojai Art Center.  Proceeds from OSA’s Annual Studio Tour (October 13-15, 2018) together with private donations, fund these initiatives.  For further information about our artist organization, our annual tour and how to donate to the scholarship fund, please go to www.ojaistudioartists.org and click on “donate”.


About Ojai Studio Artists

The organization’s mission is to create an environment where artists thrive ― professional and student alike — and fulfill the potential of the arts to enrich lives and build community.


Artist Joanne Pavlak Finds Beauty in Nature’s Textures

Artist Joanne Pavlak Finds Beauty in Nature’s Textures

“Fields…Gatherings…Wanderings” An exhibit at Ojai City Hall Gallery featuring the work of Joanne Pavlak.

Joanne Pavlak, a resident of Ojai has an exhibit at the City Hall Gallery and the Ojai Valley Museum through May 25. The public is invited to an artist reception during Ojai’s Third Friday, April 20 from 5:30 – 7:00.

Pavlak’s work is finely detailed. Some might think it’s completely abstract, but as Pavlak explains, her work has a basis in the natural world:

As a child I was aware that the sky was big and wondered if it ever ended.  In my reachable, touchable world I looked at details, collected ‘specimens’ and played with worms.  As an adult, I worked in the Biological Sciences Department at USC and gained a basic understanding of  nature’s complex systems, and through an electron microscope, saw the secret world of organisms and plants. I still look at details, collect specimens, star gaze and imagine beyond the visible.  This is what fuels my art.

Pavlak  received  her BFA from the University of Washington.  In Seattle her work was shown at Francine Seders Gallery  in both solo and group shows.  She was also an invited participant in groups shows at Soil Art Gallery (Seattle), Gage Academy of Art (Seattle), Kirkland Arts Center (Kirkland, WA), Skagit Valley College (Mt. Vernon, WA), and  had a solo show at Pierce College Fine Arts Gallery (Lakewood, WA).  In 2010 she was nominated for and awarded a month long artist residency by the Jentel Arts Foundation in Banner, Wyoming. Pavlak is currently a member of The Ojai Studio Artists.


  • Joanne Pavlak D08-01
    Joanne Pavlak D08-01

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