Visitors to the April 26 and 27 ArtWalk Festival will have a chance to view original works from hundreds of artists, including talent from La Jolla. This year’s festival is expected to attract more than 120,000 visitors.
Seven artists from La Jolla will be on hand: Jane Fletcher, Dominick Lemarie, Shirley Maier, Laurel Nation, Jim Nix, Paul Strahm and Michael Sussna.
Sussna, a digital artist, was one of last year’s 12 featured artists. This year will be his fourth year participating.
“ArtWalk is considered the biggest art event of the year in San Diego,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun and you get to meet lots and lots of people interested in art.”
Before focusing full-time on his artwork, Sussna worked as a software developer. He became interested in digital art after reading about scientists who were using computers to help them visualize mathematics. An article in a 1985 issue of Scientific American magazine demonstrated a zoom affect, like that of a microscope or telescope, which brought out the fractal property of images.
“They did this and it helped them understand their math better, but a side affect was that it (created) these really neat pictures,” Sussna said. “It’s something I’ve been doing for over 20 years. What I do is all done on the computer. It’s actually fairly unique, even as digital art goes.”
Unlike many digital artists who work from photographs, Sussna, a self-taught artist, generates his images using special software called Ultra Fractal. When he first began, there were no programs so he wrote his own.
“It’s something new under the sun,” he said. “This is a whole new way of doing things, a whole new set of tools.”
While Sussna uses cutting-edge technology to create artwork, geometric patterns are not new, they can be seen in ancient Islamic and Celtic art.
“The appeal is that it’s … beautiful, but there’s a bit more to that,” Sussna said. “I think it’s stimulating for the mind and the senses, the vision and the intellect.”
Covering 16 city blocks in Little Italy and featuring more than 400 artists, painters, sculptors and photographers from Southern California, Arizona and Mexico, ArtWalk is the largest regional open-air event of its kind. That diversity is a huge part of the festival’s appeal for visitors.
Bird Rock resident Laurel Nation blends careers as a social worker and jewelry designer. A regular vendor at the La Jolla open-air farmers market on Sundays, Nation said ArtWalk is a chance to stand in the company of highly regarded artists, as well as an opportunity to introduce her designs to a broader audience.
“When people see my jewelry, the word they use most often is beautiful,” Nation said. “I design beautiful, elegant, classic jewelry … for professional women.”
Using freshwater pearls, semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystals, glass and other embellishments, Nation blends color and creativity. She describes the beads as a palette from which she creates “wearable works of art.”
Before taking up jewelry design, Nation said she dabbled in things she was no good at. A beading class revealed a knack for design.
“I always had a desire to do something creative,” she said. “I finally found an outlet for my creativity.”
Festival visitors seeking more traditional works of art should plan a visit to the booth of oil painter and ArtWalk veteran Jane Fletcher.
“I’ve been doing artwork ever since I could hold a pencil,” she said.
In addition to plein aire, abstract and realistic paintings, Fletcher creates hand-carved doors, many of which grace homes in La Jolla, and large, architectural glass designs. She plans to exhibit a number of paintings at ArtWalk, including several from her water lily series.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Fletcher said. “It’s a good place to get contacts, and I frequently end up with commission work from people I’ve met there.”
The family-friendly event includes music and performers and interactive activities for children at KidsWalk.
A silent auction offering uniquely painted garden benches is being held to raise money for ArtReach, a non-profit program designed to bring visual arts experiences to San Diego County elementary school children.
ArtWalk will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on Aril 26 and 27 in Little Italy, from Beech Street to Fir Street. Admission is free. For information, visit
www.artwalksandiego.orgor call (619) 615-1090.