It was all quiet on the outside, but a pressure cooker on the inside, the afternoon of Sept. 23, 2017 at the La Jolla Art Association (LJAA) gallery, 8100 Paseo del Ocaso in La Jolla Shores.
Inside, 58-plus art patrons, each of whom paid $200 for a raffle ticket, were nervously fidgeting and wringing their hands hoping their raffle number would soon be called so that they could select one of 74 member-donated paintings — some worth over $2,000 — hanging on the gallery walls.
"This is our annual, major fundraising event for the Association, which is 99 years old this year," explained LJAA president Mike Morse. "This year's show is much more diverse in terms of the kinds of work and the styles of art displayed. There is everything from classic plein air landscapes to computer-generated geometric designs."
Added volunteer Ingrid Wolters: "It is a labor of love, for all of us involved, to put on this event and keep the gallery going. Hopefully, we will turn 100 next year!"
Photographer, volunteer and gallery-sitter Lisa Ross, who's been making improvements to the showroom layouts, remarked, "We are very pleased with all the community support we're getting. This event makes everyone happy: We get the support we need to continue and the patrons get a really good deal on quality art."
Longtime La Jolla resident Littleton Waller's raffle ticket was No. 24. He chose a plein air landscape, "Warm Wind in San Pasqual," by Stan Sowinsky, because "it reminded me of my grandfather, John K. Patterson. He was an artist and member of the LJAA in the 1940s," Waller explained.
He added that as a youth he attended La Jolla High School and worked at the old snack bar at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). "I used to swim out to the end of Scripps Pier with oceanographer Walter Munk's daughter, who was my friend. We would climb up the metal ladder at the end of the pier and jump off the railing. I wasn't worried about getting in trouble because, after all, I was with the great Walter Munk's daughter!"
The youngest person to purchase an auction ticket and claim a painting was Emma Welzel, 9, a fourth-grader at Vista Del Mar Elementary School in San Clemente. She came to the gallery with her mother, Sharon Welzel.
A budding artist herself, Emma picked the painting, "Pink Water Lilies," by Margaret Keyser, because, "pink water lilies are my favorite flower!" She added that she will have work in her school show, titled "Within Reach."
She said, "I'm going to make a drawing with colored pencils and markers about saving the planet Earth, which is still within our reach."
An art patron, who wished to be known as, "The Sunday Coffee Shop Guy," said for the last two years, after getting coffee at the nearby Brick & Bell on Sundays, he stops by LJAA gallery to see the exhibited works. "From this auction, I chose a very nice plein air landscape, 'Wilderness Path,' by Jim Nix," he said. "I don't enjoy the high-pressure sales found at some galleries in The Village, so I come here. Everyone I've met at LJAA is really nice and has a positive attitude. They just want to help you find a painting you really want."
Back again this year were Mary and Mathew Cantonis, who live down the street from the gallery. This year, they bought three raffle tickets and selected three paintings. "I chose one as a gift for my mom, "Italian Village," by Hugh Constant, and a silver leaf painting called 'Shadow,' by Catherine MacDonald McKechnie, for myself," said Mary. Mathew chose the painting, "Tina's Lighthouse."
Blake Lawless, a retired engineer and executive from Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) was at the gallery with his wife, Bo. He chose a computer-generated painting by LJAA president Morse, "Pseudo Concentric Rings of Light," because he said he liked all the detail. "I have one painting I've studied everyday for two years. I'm still finding new detail in it."
One woman, who did not buy a raffle ticket, saved her $200 donation for the end of the auction, when she bought two of the 16 paintings left for more than $100 each.
LJAA secretary Rae Anne Marks said the remaining 14 paintings are priced at $100 each. To view them, contact Marks at rmarksart@gmail or (619) 252-9564.
ON THE WEB: lajollaartassociation.org