Artists and poets celebrate love at La Jolla Art Association soiree for ‘La Vie En Rose’ exhibit

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By Will Bowen

“To love, to love, and to love” was the advice Edith Piaf, the romantic French singer, liked to give out to all who sought her counsel. In honor of Piaf and Valentine’s Day (and dedicated to lovers everywhere still brave enough to open their hearts to love even after suffering the pangs of hurt and disappointment) La Jolla Art Association (LJAA) presented on a special art show titled, “La Vie En Rose,” Feb. 12-24, 2013 at its gallery in La Jolla Shores.

The highlight was the reception and awards ceremony held Feb. 17, at which local writers and poets read from their works against the backdrop of art dedicated to the timeless power of love to heal and transform.

Babette Mann, who teaches French at UCSD and is also an arts therapist, judged the show. Mann awarded first place to Judy Judy Judy for her beguiling painting of a young woman putting on lipstick.

Second place went to Gail Oyer for a large close-up painting of a red rose, titled “Red Rose 2.” Jim Bates won third place for a nostalgic, fun-loving painting of a couple observing the Seine River in France.

Mann said she based her evaluations on “the possibilities that love can bring into your life and the opening to transformation that it may provide.”

The show also featured a People’s Choice Award, which attendees voted to Francesca Filanc, a former model and the inspiration for the 1967 Mattel Toy Company’s “Francie” doll. She submitted a painting of Marilyn Monroe, whom she said was her idol.

Though he missed out on an award, Kim Wilkins had several paintings on display worthy of mention. Mann said she almost awarded him first place for his nude titled, “Desire.” Cindy Klong also showed a very good painting of a young woman in a garden, titled “Le Jardin.”

Outside of the awards, the highlight of the evening was the prose and poetry readings. Ed Coonce, who studied at the Coronado School for the Arts, earned a BA in anthropology from San Diego State University, and is currently the co-editor of “Nomos Review,” read a piece about the fantasy of dancing with Nureyev’s ballet troupe, which he said was inspired by a dream he had.

“When I wake up in the morning, I often have an image in my mind and I write it down and turn it into a story,” Coonce said. His wife, Lucy, was there to support him. Her family owned Adelaide’s Flower Shop for more than 40 years, she said.

Amin Nash, who works as a security guard at the Hard Rock Cafe in the Gaslamp District downtown, read his poem based on observations of how men and women interact with each other in the notorious “meat market.”

Mann recited a poem by the German poet Rilke, while Deborah Ramos read a poem describing the virtues of her lover. Chris Vannoy impressed everyone with two rousing poems delivered in an animated San Francisco beatnik-style. Vannoy later remarked, “It was very different to read in an art gallery where there is quiet and you are not drowned out by the constant whirring of the espresso machine, like in a coffee house poetry reading!”

Julia Hanweck, who writes technical manuals for the U.S. Government when she is not reciting poetry, coordinated all of the readings.