By Emily DeRuy
Founder and chairwoman Sherry Ahern, a longtime resident, says she developed the festival with an eye toward returning art to La Jolla.
“When I moved here, there were artists painting on easels all over the place,” she said. “It’s time to bring art back to La Jolla.”
Ahern is adept at seeing a need, formulating an idea and successfully carrying out a plan to fill the void. She founded the La Jolla Open Aire Market 12 years ago to benefit local schools and it is now the largest farmer’s market in San Diego.
Ahern, who no longer has children in the local school system, and a committee of 50 volunteers have been working year-round to ensure that the festival is a success. Proceeds will go toward under-funded art, music, science, physical education and technology programs, as well as to providing on-site medical care by school nurses.
“We want to help kids,” said Ahern.
The weekend of the festival, Upper Girard Avenue — between Pearl and Genter — and the La Jolla Elementary School playground will play host to 300 booths offering art, food and beverages. Guests can park in local lots or take advantage of free shuttle service to and from parking at Muirlands Middle School and La Jolla High School. Valet parking will also be available on the south side of Genter Street.
Artsts from all over California and a dozen other states — 150 of them — have been selected by a jury from among more than 250 applicants to exhibit at the festival, showcasing everything from sculpture to photography across a wide range of prices.
Local metalsmith, jeweler and teacher Lisa Slovis will be displaying and selling handcrafted objects at the festival. From vases to teapots, earrings to salt and pepper shakers, Slovis says she aims to combine athletics and art in her work. She wants people to touch her pieces, to interact with them and manipulate them. Ultimately, she thinks art should be fun and playful.
“The utilitarian function in my pieces draws the viewer in and not only allows them, but often forces them to interact…” Slovis wrote.
Entertainment, produced by Mitch Feingold Presents, will showcase local artists like Lisa Sanders and Gregory Page on a bigger stage than last year. From singer-songwriters and dance groups, to doo-wop a cappella and jazz, there will be something to suit every taste.
The festival will also feature an expanded food court and grassy seating, with a dozen local restaurants, including Lemongrass Asian Barbecue and Rubio’s. Farmer’s market favorite Belinda will have a booth at the event. A wine and beer garden will entice visitors to take a breather and enjoy their surroundings while sampling some of the region’s award-winning wines and beers.
A family art center will appeal to children, and youngsters will have the opportunity to become artists themselves as they take advantage of a fully equipped arts and crafts table. Student artwork from La Jolla schools will also be on display. Storytellers will regale children with tales of fun and adventure, and authors will be on-site to sign their books for young guests.