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Gallery shines light on four upcoming artists

La Jolla galleries often feature artists from around the world, but an upcoming exhibition showcases the talents of four artists from our own hometown.

CenterLight Gallery of La Jolla’s latest exhibit, “Local Artists Spotlight,” will feature three artists from La Jolla and one from Pacific Beach. The photographs of Annaliese Cassarino and oil paintings by Lynn Shulnik, Eliza Tolley and gallery owner Maria Repke are on display now at the gallery.

CenterLight Gallery opened in April 2006 and it is on Midway Street and La Jolla Boulevard. The location is remote compared to most of La Jolla’s galleries on Girard Avenue, and Repke said that a lot of tourists don’t visit it. But she wants CenterLight to cater to her neighbors.

She decided to feature a show with local artists because she was impressed with the quality of the art and she wanted to pay a tribute to La Jolla’s artists.

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“There is a wealth of local artists in La Jolla,” Repke said. “All of the galleries in town, they very much promote worldwide art, but the artists here come from such a beautiful place ... so it is nice showcase art that comes from here because La Jolla supplies the creative juice for these artists.”

All of the artists are female, but Repke said gender was not a determining factor when she was selecting artists for this exhibition. She chose these artists because their work celebrates beauty.

“I personally like their art,” Repke said. “There is a synergy about this group of artists. They all complement each other, and there is a certain amount of grace that comes though the art, consciously and subconsciously.”

Repke’s own art is a part of the collection. She has a series of figurative oil paintings on display at the gallery, and a lot of her work is inspired by La Jolla. Many of her pieces are floral and seascape paintings inspired by the views she has from her home in La Jolla Shores.

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“I paint on the roof of my house,” Repke said. “All of the florals are done from my house. The oceanscapes are really from my memory, from the umpteen hours I have spent of gazing at the ocean.”

Shulnik’s work also features views of La Jolla. She is a plein-air oil painter who works outside. She finishes all of her paintings in one sitting.

“I don’t work in a studio,” Shulnik said. “I paint at WindanSea beach, at the eucalyptus trees on UCSD’s campus ... all around the county.”

Repke said she wanted a plein-air painter in the show because the medium is gaining popularity and because plein-air art centers around place.

Shulnik said she thinks plein-air art is picking up steam because nature conservationists are supporting the art form.

“People are appreciating the fact that a lot of these places around the cost are special, but they are disappearing,” Shulnik said.

Cassarino is the only photographer featured in the group, but her pieces have a painting-like appearance. Her pieces are from a series of photographs she completed a couple of years ago, entitled “The Ideal Series.” The series consists of photographs taken of nude Greek statues, but in the photos Cassarino compares normal human bodies to the chiseled sculptures.

Cassarino doesn’t use a digital camera, and her photographs go through multiple exposures, which gives them a unique visual quality. She also incorporates floral imagery in the pieces.

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Although Cassarino, who lives in La Jolla Shores, has had her work displayed in galleries on the East Coast, this is the first time she has been featured in a La Jolla gallery.

“I think living in La Jolla is really nice, because I go the galleries all the time,” Cassarino said. “It is nice to be able to go in and see the real thing and not just read about the latest shows. La Jolla is also physically beautiful. It is such a small area, but it is home to so much scenic beauty.”

Tolley is the only artist in the show from Pacific Beach. She is an oil painter, but her work is vastly different from Repke’s or Shulnik’s. Tolley is an abstract artist, and her paintings are very textured.

Repke said Tolley uses a variety of materials in her work and shellacs oil paint over the materials. The colors in the paintings are deep and rich, and there are there are many layers of rectangular shapes in her art.

Repke said all of the work featured in the show celebrates the relaxed nature of the gallery. Cassarino said she was impressed with the space.

“It is a beautiful gallery,” Cassarino said. “I am really excited about the show. It is nice to be a part of such a small group of artists.”