La Jolla Festival of the Arts will use art and entertainment to benefit the disabled
If you go
■ What: 27th annual La Jolla Festival of the Arts
■ When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 22-23
■ Where: UC San Diego Warren Field, Voigt Drive (west of Gilman Drive)
■ Tickets: $12 online to June 21: $14 at the door (free for active duty military and children under age 12)
■ Contact: lajollaartfestival.org or (760) 753-1670
By Pat Sherman
Since its inception, the Torrey Pines Kiwanis Club’s annual La Jolla Festival of the Arts has raised more than $1.7 million for San Diegans with disabilities. In its 27th year, organizers hope to keep that money flowing to support adaptive sports and recreation programs — and this year they’ve gathered some of the finest artists in the region to make that happen.
The 2013 juried art festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 22- 23 at UC San Diego’s Warren Field, will include painting, photos, glass design, jewelry and mixed-media art. There will also be an array of food trucks and live music, including a 20-piece orchestra that will perform everything from big band and swing to rock and salsa sounds.
The Kiwanis Club hopes to attract as many as 8,000 visitors.
“It’s not a craft show, that’s for sure; we don’t have kettle corn,” promised festival organizer Ted Peña, noting the event’s tantalizing food offerings, from gourmet hot dogs and cupcakes to wood-fired pizza, barbecue, Greek food and grass-fed beef burgers.
Featured artists include Fallbrook-based husband and wife team Jeremy and Gabriela Firehammer, who use cut and polished onyx, marble, Travertine and other stones in their geometric wall hangings. Escondido-based impressionist painter Robert Ferguson will display his plein air landscapes, while photographer Dave Ness will exhibit his wildlife, landscape and abstract prints. San Diego’s Amos Robinson will feature kinetic steel sculptures.
In addition, performance artist Chris Hutcherson (aka “Hutch Bronzon, the Human Statue”) will enliven the event, while members of the San Diego chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers will offer guidance on how to best display a fine art purchase in a home or office.
Founded by photographer and Kiwanis member Dallas Clites, the festival was originally held at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in 1987. As the number of artists grew from about
60 to 200, the event was moved to the La Jolla Country Day School football field, where it remained for 15 years. This is its third year at Warren Field.
The 2013 event was funded in part through a $24,000 grant from the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. Last year the festival raised more than $70,000 for its beneficiaries.
Kiwanis’ members were inspired to make adaptive and recreational sports programs their primary beneficiary after one of their members’ wives, Sue Ehrhardt, lost her leg in a boating accident off Coronado in 1977. Five years later, after watching a man with one leg ski in Durango, Color. Ehrhardt learned to ski and convinced the Kiwanis Club to help pay for disabled people to have similar life-changing experiences. Each year, the club sends 20 disabled San Diegans to Colorado to ski through the Adaptive Sports Association, one of the festival’s beneficiaries.
Another beneficiary is the Cal-Diego Paralyzed Veterans Association, which uses money from the festival to send San Diegans to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, to be held July 13-18 in Tampa, Fla.
Kiwanis member and Paralyzed Veterans Association National Senior Vice-president Al Kovach said it has been tough raising money in the down economy, and the Kiwanis’ efforts are greatly appreciated.
“The festival is very labor intensive, but it makes me feel good that I know where the money is going,” said Kovach, a Navy SEAL who broke his neck during a skydiving accident and is now paralyzed from the chest down.
“Sports was the vehicle I used to overcome my own disability,” he said. “Most of the guys are younger when they get hurt and that’s one of the things that they want to do is to get right back into sports.”
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