By Linda Hutchison
Traffic may have slowed down in Bird Rock thanks to traffic circles, but a budding, bustling artistic community is very much on the move. Now home to several art galleries — with three opening in just the last few months — Bird Rock is cultivating and enjoying a new reputation as a mini art hub.
This comes as no surprise to local artist Jane Wheeler, founder of the Bird Rock Artist Guild.
“Bird Rock has an artistic vibe that is starting to grow. It is a very creative, entrepreneurial, grass-roots and tight-knit community. It has a lot of soul and I feel embraces the artistic spirit,” she said. Wheeler, who created the mosaic benches lining La Jolla Boulevard, added that one of her favorite quotes is “Art reflects the soul of the community,” from the Naples, Florida Museum of Art.
Already a part of the community since 1996 with an event and wedding planning business, Anseth Richards opened the Art Nest two months ago. Just as she offers event planners a convenient meeting space, she wanted to give artists a place to meet and space to hang their work.
“There are many creative artists without their own studios or galleries and this offers them a creative home, a nest,” she said. “We are eclectic and have something for everyone, all kinds of mediums, ceramics, paper art, oil painting, watercolor, photography, jewelry, mosaics.”
Richards runs the gallery with her husband Keith and daughter Sienna Feerrar. She enjoys hosting a show for each new artist and also rents out the gallery for private events. The Richards do not take commission for any sales, but encourage artists to contribute to their non-profit, women’s health organization,CHEERS
Bird Rock Arts Gallery
Also providing a gathering place for artists is Bird Rock Arts Gallery, which opened last spring. Owner Maria Parenteau offers gallery and studio space for a variety of artists including painters, sculptors and even shoe designers. One of her favorite artists is Iranian-born Jinah Abood, who uses coffee as a media for her paintings.
Parenteau also teaches creativity workshops for artists based on The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. “Many artists who first came for the workshops are now giving back by teaching here,” she said. Two of her regular contributing artists and consultants include Sherilyn Clayes (
) and Fernando Pinon (
Parenteau, who is originally from Brazil, is also enthusiastic about bringing people together. “I’d like to see this become another SoHo,” she said. She said she plans to spearhead a monthly art fair in the parking lot adjacent to her building.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters
Chuck Patton, chief coffee roaster and owner of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is converting one side of his cafe into an arts cooperative for art and music. Already a popular music venue on weekend mornings, the space will now feature artwork, with the help of Jane Wheeler. Currently on display is the work of Michelle Anise Mackey, who paints acrylic abstracts, and Ryder Mackey, her husband, who sculpts with wood and paper.
“This is a way of supporting the local art and music scene,” said Patton. A portion of any proceeds from sales benefits Art Reach, which brings art into local schools.
Another new art venue is GALERIe, which opened in September. The gallery features artwork, jewelry and clothing, all with ecologically and socially conscious themes and materials. Owner Sejla Holland is passionate about her commitment to supporting artists and designers who are recognized in the “green” world.
For example, photographer Kimberlee Curyl photographs wild horses and supports Return to Freedom, a horse sanctuary. Designer Kao Pao Shu creates beautiful dresses, jackets and purses out of recycled ribbons and seat belts. “Even though these are made of organic or recycled materials, there’s no compromise with style,” said Holland. Other artists she features include Praire Underground, SunLight Paris, Cop Copine and skunkfunk.
Originally from Bosnia, Holland has helped organize exhibits to benefit Bosnian orphans. Holland calls her model “buying with purpose, so customers understand what we support.” Her original store in Laguna Beach was successful, but with a full- time director’s job at CareFusion and a daughter at Bird Rock Elementary, Holland needed to be closer to home. She hopes to promote the community support and spirit here. “I want this to be for the community, the people,” she said.
Prodigy School of the Arts
Filling the gap in school arts education is Prodigy School of the Arts. The school was founded in 2007 by musician and singer Erin Roberts Hall. With six teachers, it offers classes in art and music for children of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers, and regular art shows featuring the work of teachers and students.
General Manager Alex Dausch oversees the art shows, the day-to-day running of the school and teaches guitar. “I enjoy coming in every day knowing I’m doing something good,” he said. “The children grow by leaps and bounds. In just a year you can see the difference. It’s a great thing in a community like this, to see the support.”
Wheeler said the movement should continue to grow. “The galleries offer another layer of art encounters. Art helps keep things fresh and exciting, as well as adds balance to a fast-paced, technologically driven lifestyle. I think Bird Rock enjoys art in all forms and will continue to creatively percolate.”
If you go
■ Art Nest, 5648 La Jolla Blvd. (858) 361-2551. Facebook:
, Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, by appointment Sunday, Monday
■ Bird Rock Artist Guild, (619) 822-1220,
■ Bird Rock Arts Gallery, 5785 La Jolla Blvd. Suite B, (858) 999-0500.
, Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, other hours for workshops
■ Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, 5627 La Jolla Blvd. (858) 551-1707.
, Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday
■ GALERIe, 56281⁄2 La Jolla Blvd. (858) 412-6200.
, Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday- Saturday
■ Prodigy School of the Arts, 5725 La Jolla Blvd. (858) 456-2753.
, Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, by appointment for lessons Saturday