In the Works: Art, wine festival to benefit elementary schools

Organizers of the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival, debuting Saturday and Sunday, say it’s all about the art, but community members know it’s about so much more.

Friends of La Jolla Elementary and the Open Aire Farmers Market staff will bring back to the Village a two-day juried show featuring the work of established and emerging Southern California artists in homage to La Jolla’s artist-colony roots.

It will be a win-win festival for all concerned in this tough economy, said festival creator Sherry Ahern, who is backed by a committee of 200-plus.

Ahern said the event has tradition and five lofty goals: to attract artists and art lovers to the city for a high-caliber show; to provide a venue for artists to reach new customers; to present the community with quality weekend entertainment; to bring recognition to nearby shops, restaurants and hotels; and to raise money for the three elementary schools whose budgets have been hard-hit.

The plan is for some 5,000 visitors to come out to the festival to raise $100,000 for the schools via corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, artist exhibition fees, a silent auction, and food and beverage sales.

Sculptor Gregory Reade of La Jolla, who will exhibit a dozen of his pieces at the festival, has high hopes for the event.

“I was happy to learn that an art festival is back in the Village. In these times, I look forward to meeting new collectors and showing my art in a beautiful setting.”

Reade said he expects that the juried show will attract clients who aren’t at other San Diego shows.

Karen Decais DePodesta, a graduate of La Jolla High and now a painter of large canvasses with a son at Torrey Pines Elementary, said she is thrilled to be a part of the new art festival.

“Every artist needs exposure, and I’m hoping this will attract a lot of people and go on to become an established tradition,” she said. “I’m bringing 10 to 15 works, and I have some in reserve. Hopefully, the whole town will attend, since it’s such a win-win event.”

Also hoping to benefit from exposure at the art festival is emerging artist Mark Claycomb, who has lost most of his sight to severe diabetic retinopathy. Claycomb has survived numerous eye surgeries in addition to open-heart bypass surgery with complications.

As part of his recovery, Claycomb began attending the Braille Institute in La Jolla. He took art classes and credits his teacher, John, with rekindling his lifelong passion for art. Health problems have kept Claycomb from further classes, but he continues to paint at home.

A panel of six artist-judges juried the all-media fine art show. Prizes will be given to winners.