La Jolla Library’s ‘Big Art Show’ reveals some sizable talent


By Will Bowen

To quote Ed Sullivan, “It’s a really big shew!” down at the La Jolla Library Art Gallery, where the Friends of the Library Art Committee have put together a mostly abstract exhibition of oversized canvases by eight area artists to create a colorful, buoyant display to help us through the long, cold winter in La Jolla! Brrrr!

“We thought we’d do an abstract show as a counterpoint to our last show, which was all about the realism of plein-aire landscapes,” said committee-member Patricia Jasper-Clark at the opening reception, Jan. 18. “We wanted something that was big and bold and bright to help us get through the dreary winter — but the hot and sunny weather we’ve had kind of beat us to the punch!”

When the event started at 3 p.m., art patron Betty Dow quietly confided, “Don’t

tell anyone, but I’m trying to like these paintings.”

At 4 p.m., she whispered, “There are some good paintings here.”

By closing time, she forthrightly stated, “There’s lots of good art work here!”

Such are the talents of the Library Art Committee whose members have a knack for putting together a fun event and turning skeptics into admirers.

Exquisite, thin-crusted pizza, waiter- served, was again donated by Amici’s and mood music, like the instrumental “Santa Lucia,” was provided by Jim Owen on guitar and Kelly Dooley on violin, both of whom teach at La Jolla Music Store. Little Cecily Jeffery, granddaughter of artist Hilary Brady, said the painting “Grasslands,” by Teresa Vandenberg Donche, was her favorite.

Brady had three mixed-media paintings in the show, two of which hang behind the circulation desk.

“I have been painting in my head since I was little, but actually painting (for real) the last 20 years,” said Brady. “My artwork just happens; it evolves by itself. I paint impulsively. I just go with it. I crank it out. My approach is totally intuitive. It ends up looking like a hallucination or a dream.

“This one, which I call, ‘And the Chair Stepped Up to the Vase,’ is a historical document. It’s for my kids. It’s all about mom’s past — all the images come from my childhood.”

Cree Scudder has two paintings in the show that she refers to as “Road Pictures.”

“My husband and I drive across the country for two-to-three weeks twice a year to visit relatives. Along the way, I use

my iPad to begin composing paintings of scenes and images that I like ... roads, junctions, trucks and rock formations.”

Scudder has a distinctive style that uses colorful shapes. She says her images are something like a totem pole where images are stacked one on top of another.

The paintings may be many layers thick as she keeps painting over things until she feels satisfied with her work.

Scudder said there is not any social commentary in her art work, just things she likes. “Was van Gogh making a social comment when he painted his wheat fields?” she asks. “You have got to paint what you feel. Get what’s on the inside out.”

Faith Fleury submitted a Jackson Pollack- style work titled “Delicious Torrent” that looks like a bomb went off in a confetti factory. She didn’t use a paint brush, instead she worked with a palette knife. “Abstract painting is very challenging. You have to first be good at regular art before you can do a good abstract work,” Fleury said. “There’s no social commentary here, just upbeat, happy, joyous celebration!”

Fleury said she worked as a corporate financial analyst before she became a painter. “When you work for some company in the business world, you often lose a big part of yourself or who you really are. Finally in my art work, I have come home to my true self.”

Elissa Lieberman has a portrait of a young woman in the show that she calls “Girl with a Flower.” There is something spiritual about the painting. It resembles a Byzantine icon. Lieberman said she felt a little nervous about how her abstract would be viewed because she is usually a portrait painter. She’s taught at University of San Diego, San Diego State and Southwestern College.

“I am always trying to paint women. I am usually the woman in the painting. It may not look like me, but it is me. There is usually tragedy and drama in my work, but no social commentary. I think the greatest paintings were just paintings — that’s all!”

The best work in the show is a pair of similar renderings of a young woman titled “The Third Bridesmaid,” by Linda Kardoff. They seem to be a psychological profile of the-one-least-likely-to-catch-the-bouquet, and are well-balanced creations that catch your eye when you enter the room and grow on you with examination. Fellow artist Lieberman said the craftsmanship involved is superior. Art committee chief Arlene Powers explained that the group is committed to growing the library gallery as a means of promoting local art and helping the library financially through the sale of the paintings exhibited.

“This is a good place to buy art because we can offer lower than normal prices and your cost can be taken as a tax deduction,” Powers said. “In the future, we hope to make these traveling shows and take them to the new main library downtown, and then bring some of their artwork back up here to show.” u

The “Big Art Show” will remain in the Community Room at the La Jolla Library, 7555 Draper Ave. through March. Admission is free during library business hours.

Call for Entries to library’s next exhibition

■ ‘The Child.’ That’s the theme of the La Jolla Library Art Gallery’s second juried One Subject Photo Show, coming in March. Interested photographers are invited to submit up to five images of their photos on a CD for consideration in the exhibition. The images can be black and white, color or digitally enhanced.

■ The entry deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20. Submission criteria and entry forms at the La Jolla Library, 7555 Draper Ave. or at