Hope Frazier Prize Winner Announced.

Hope Frazier Prize Winner Announced.

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.

City of Ojai Arts Commission Chair, Michael Addison, presents Nigel Chisholm with the Hope Frazier Award at City Hall.
City of Ojai Grants Recipients 2019

City of Ojai Grants Recipients 2019


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

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.

What Do These Photos Have In Common?

What Do These Photos Have In Common?

They are both musical instruments!

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.

Ojai by Design – Fine Architecture of the Ojai Valley Now Available for Purchase!

Ojai by Design – Fine Architecture of the Ojai Valley Now Available for Purchase!


Ojai by Design

The Ojai Valley is known nationally for its stunning visual landscape—the majestic mountains surrounding the little Valley, the magnificent Pink Moments, the cozy little town feel.  And all that “provides a splendid showcase for the Valley’s rich architectural heritage of Southern California”, says historian Craig Walker, author of a new book called “OJAI by DESIGN: Fine Architecture of the Ojai Valley.”

The book is available for purchase directly from Ojai City Hall (walk to the front reception area and they can take your order), Bart’s Books and Ojai Valley Museum. The cost is $29.95. More locations coming soon!


The brainchild of Arts Commission Chair Michael Addison and managed by artist and Commissioner Bobbi Balderman, the book of photographs and essays documents 23 historic buildings designed by such renowned architects as Greene and Greene, Richard Neutra, Paul Revere Williams, Julia Morgan and George Washington Smith. Many of the buildings are private residences so the public has not been able to realize much of the visual wealth of the Ojai Valley.  Until now.

Working with Walker and Balderman on the project, sanctioned by the City of Ojai’s Arts Commission, were local journalist Mark Lewis who edited the book and Ojai artist Carlos Grasso, who designed it. There were many photographers contributing to this book, the primary photographer being Dawn Rosa of Ojai.

Addison commented “Ojai is blessed with artists of high caliber, not the least of which are the architects whose work is illuminated in this book. Bobbi Balderman brought her artistic vision into play as she drew together the images that are at the core of the book.

Our hope is that this is the first of an Ojai Arts Commission series of books about art and our community, celebrating the creative energies that so enrich our lives.”

Arts Commission Accepting Mentor Applications – 2018

Arts Commission Accepting Mentor Applications – 2018

ojai mentor program 2014Applications Due on March 23.

The City of Ojai Arts Commission is accepting applications for artists who wish to participate in the 2018 Artists Mentor Program. This is the fourth year for the successful program, which pairs working artists with students for a summer internship.

“Although this is for a summer internship, we are starting the process earlier this year. This will allow students more time to qualify without interfering with their year-end school activities,” said Ojai Arts Commissioner Michael Addison. “We are currently looking for four Ojai artists for the mentoring program. We are trying to make the process as easy as possible and they can complete their application online.”

Please fill out application below.