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Beautiful works for a powerful cause

Photographer Thomas Mayberry drove to La Jolla and back five times from Morro Bay in search of an image worthy of gracing the poster for this year’s La Jolla Festival of the Arts.

Mayberry, an accomplished photographer whose work appears year-round at art festivals around the country, said he didn’t make that effort for just any old festival.

“It’s a great group of artists and the people who put it on are the nicest I deal with all year,” Mayberry said.

This year’s festival, to be held Friday, June 23, and Saturday, June 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at UCSD’s East Campus parking lots, will be the 21st edition. Out of more than 300 entries, 190 artists were selected to display works in a wide variety of media, including watercolor, oil painting, sculpture, serigraphs, fine jewelry and photography. The festival will also feature an extensive lineup of live music.

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The event is produced by the Torrey Pines Kiwanis Foundation and serves as a major fund-raiser for programs benefitting San Diegans with disabilities. Last year’s festival raised $80,000 to be donated to 25 such programs, bringing the total amount raised in the festival’s history to just below $1 million.

“For any volunteer organization, there is something to be said for creating a fund-raising event that has lasted 21 years and raised nearly $1 million,” festival chairman Jim Spievak said, “and it is the hard work and dedication of our members that continues to make the event such a success each year.”

Mayberry, who has participated in the La Jolla Festival of the Arts every year since the early 1990s, also credited the festival organizers for remaining focused on the fund-raising cause while still putting on a quality art show.

“I go to a lot of big fine art festivals in California that all have different charities they work for, and the people who put it on, as an artist they often don’t know who you are,” he said. "(The La Jolla festival organizers) are decent, honorable people when you deal with them, and they’re considerate about the artists and the people working for them.”

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Mayberry was selected as poster artist for his photograph of the tree-framed pathway leading to the stairs down to La Jolla Cove. He said the challenge in capturing a worthy photograph of La Jolla was different than in most settings.

“As a photographer, you have to take what you are given - but La Jolla has so many great things,” he said. “I was trying to find something that hadn’t been overdone. I wanted something you could recognize as La Jolla, but not the first thing people think of.”

Mayberry’s portfolio features a series of photographs of doorways in Mexico and of pathways, stairs and beaches on the East Coast.

“Everything I do has a sort of passageway that leads to something,” he said.

He made repeated trips from his Central Coast home in search of the right shot and the perfect lighting. He wanted the photograph to be sunlit from the east, early in the morning. Finding a clear morning in San Diego was tougher than he anticipated. Now he is ready to enjoy the show, which he said is made better by the appreciative crowds.

“All kinds of people come to the show, and everyone I’ve ever dealt with has been nice and very supportive of the arts,” he said.

Perhaps some of that support comes from knowing that the event benefits good causes. There are new additions this year to the list of programs for disabled San Diegans that benefit from the festival.

Among the new programs is a sports-oriented rehabilitation program for military service members returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program, which benefits patients at the Navy Medical Center San Diego, sponsors staff and equipment to improve the recovery process of young men and women who have sustained a life-altering injury.

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Another new program has developed the specialized tools and instructions to teach fencing to persons in wheelchairs. The Torrey Pines Kiwanis Club is also a founding sponsor of the Barnes Tennis Center, which features wheelchair-accessible courts and specialized instruction, and has provided seed money for a wheelchair-accessible baseball diamond in Solana Beach.

In addition to knowing they are supporting a good cause, festival patrons this year will be treated to one of the best lineups of live music in the festival’s history. Eve Selis, whose album “Long Road Home” was named best pop album at this year’s San Diego Music Awards, will perform Saturday from 3:30 to 5:15 p.m.

Scott Martin, who won a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Performance with the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band, will perform Saturday from 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The La Jolla Symphony and Chorus will perform Saturday from 2 to 3 p.m.

Other musical performers will include the Grammy-nominated ensemble Westwind Brass, Fred Benedetti and West of Memphis. For a full performance schedule, visit www.lajollaartfestival.org.

The festival will also feature a variety of cuisine and a kids area

with hands-on activities and games for school-age children.