“Every year, whatever the latest and greatest is in art, wine and entertainment, that’s what we have,” said La Jolla Art and Wine Festival (LJAWF) founder Sherry Ahern, in reflecting how the Festival has evolved over the last nine years. With the milestone 10th annual LJAWF coming to Girard Avenue Oct. 6-7, the Festival is continuing to grow.
“We are really on a roll this year,” Ahern said, noting the Festival has increased its offerings and size. “The atmosphere gets better and better. It gets very crowded which is cool, I see more and more people from more and more areas, and it’s a great group of people.”
In the beginning, the Festival was contained to upper Girard Avenue (south of Pearl Street), with 90 artists and 20,000 people that attended. Now, LJAWF uses more than three blocks of Girard Avenue down into The Village, with more than 150 artists displaying their wares and 45,000 people that attend. The silent auction area has also doubled, and, over the last nine years, the event has raised almost $1 million for La Jolla’s public elementary and middle school, and programs such as art, music, science, physical education, technology and on-site medical care.
And the namesake art scene has changed with the times, and this year is no exception.
Artist Peggy Hinaekian has shown for eight of the last nine years. “The first year at (LJAWF) I was scared. I didn’t know how I would do but … it was great the first year. I was unknown, but it was a great experience. So I did it every year.”
Hinaekian said she has been able to expand her offerings as the interest and flexible definition of art has expanded. This year, she will display sketches, abstract photographs, etchings, lithographs, works on canvas, works on paper and maybe some ceramics, starting at $10. “I think people used to have a misconception that art has to be a certain way or that there were certain things that count as ‘art’ or be expensive. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be all the time,” she said.
On this occasion she will donate the proceeds of 50 etchings and sketches to the ARK Antiques animal charity.
“Everything is going to get bigger and better, my goal would be to have some of the best up-and-coming artists show here, we have fabulous art from established artists and it gets better each year but new artists are special to us too. We have people that have never shown, so it’s a good change for people to come to events and see new art every time they come,” Ahern said.
Further, she said the type of art will reflect the interests of the time.
“Interactive art is the latest thing right now, so we have a muralist coming with a mural on wheels and the people on the street get to draw on it. We have chalk artists on either side of (Girard Avenue) and they create art on eight-by-eight-foot boards. They work on it for days and it is really cool to watch them,” Ahern said.
Even the signature Geppetto’s Family Art Center has expanded to include a Lab component (but yes, the car on which children paint will return). In the children’s area, robotics teams will be on hand from various schools, visual artist and La Jolla Elementary third grader at Liv Kyle will create a piece on site and leading a sketch activity, and the festival will offer collaborative canvas murals, and art-making activities. The Family Art Center & Lab will also feature 10 pieces of student artwork and 10 time capsule items from each recipient school that will be stored in the La Jolla Riford Library for the next 10 years.
The other piece of the LJAWF title, the wine and beer garden, has also expanded with the times.
“The wine garden has been a part from the very beginning, but the craft beer scene was just starting back then, so because that movement is growing, its presence is growing here too,” Ahern said. In addition to wines from regions such as France, Oregon’s Willametter Valley, Portugal, Italy, Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe; internationally renowned and local San Diego craft breweries such as Mikkeller San Diego, Modern Times Beer, Karl Strauss, The Bell Marker, Stone Brewing, Four Peaks Brewing, La Jolla’s own Absolution Brewing Company and more are represented.
New this year are tastes from distilleries Boochcraft, Sespe Creek Distillery and Cutwater Spirits. “Distilleries are really big and so many are popping up, so we wanted to add that too,” Ahern said.
Although not in the title, there is also gourmet food garden, musical performances from established and youth bands, opportunities for animal adoptions that started last year (during its inaugural run, 55 cats and dogs were adopted from local shelters).
“It’s just a great community weekend, with a great vibe. We want more of that,” Ahern said.
IF YOU GO: The 10th annual La Jolla Art & Wine Festival is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 and Sunday Oct. 7, on Girard Avenue between Torrey Pines Road and Prospect Street. Free admission. Valet parking and shuttle service available. (619) 233-5008. ljawf.com