Let’s Review: ‘Faraway Places and Faces’ put association on the map

By Will Bowen

A recent show at the La Jolla Art Association (LJAA) was a collection of oils, watercolor, photography and jewelry made by artists of different ethnicities who’ve come to our fair city to share in our blessings. Through it, you could view a little of the art from around the world and see just how diverse we really are.

“La Jolla Art Association is a multicultural organization committed to the celebration of the diversity of the human spirit,” said vice president JudyJudyJudy. “This show, ‘Faraway Places and Faces,’ honors our members who came here from different countries and cultures or who have chosen alternative pathways to daily living.”

Deborah Ramos is a special education teacher at Grossmont High School during the day and an artist on weekends. Prior to her teaching career, she worked in the costume department at the Old Globe Theater. She submitted a mixed-media painting with an ancient Egyptian theme. It shows a woman offering a drum and love poem to the gods. The long poem incorporated into the painting is written in hieroglyphics, which Ramos taught herself to write.

To further enhance her painting, Ramos recycled some skin that “Merg,” her five- foot python, recently shed, attaching it to her painting with painter’s gel.

“My painting actually started as a spoof of Matisse but morphed into a goddess- offering piece. I included a drum because Egyptian women played the hoop drum and I was once a member of a woman’s drum circle.”

Ramos also has a small Native American- themed piece in the show, a tribute to the horse, which Plains Indians called “Sky Dogs,” believing horses were a gift from the Great Spirit. In actuality, the wild horses that the Plains Indians domesticated were the descendants of horses that escaped from the Spanish Leatherjacket soldiers who came up from Mexico and established presidios across the Southwest in the 1700s. Because of the horse, the Plains Indians were able to establish a buffalo hunting culture of high achievement.

Artist Naren Doshi, who is of Indian ancestry, is a new LJAA member. His ancestors came from the British-named city of Bombay, which is now called Mumbai — its original Indian name.

Doshi submitted three delightfully brilliant watercolors to the show. He said he has only been painting for two years, but in that short time has made great progress because he completes at least one painting a day.

As a young man, Doshi received a western medical education and ended up an OB/GYN, practicing in Pittsburg for 35 years. Seven years ago, he retired and moved to La Jolla to be near his son who lives in Del Mar.

Doshi is a practicing Jain, a vegetarian who likes hatha yoga and meditates every day. “I just love it here. I love the people and the climate! I’ve made so many paintings since I started two years ago that I don’t know what to do with them, so, I joined the LJAA to show them, hoping someone might be interested in them.”

Photographer Ron Komen, a practitioner of Theravada Buddhism, was born in Bangkok and came to the United States to study electrical engineering at the University of Missouri at Columbia. He worked in that capacity for the City of San Diego for some 20 years and now lives on the rocky shores of Bird Rock at Hermosa Park.

Komen likes to take his camera on world photo expeditions. He submitted four images from his travels. Two are portraits of women of the Long-Necked Karen people of Northern Thailand, and two came from his travels in India.

“Photography is the most effective media for building understanding between people,” Komen said. “I like to show how people live and what they feel to facilitate our understanding of them.”

Other interesting items in the show included a painting of a young black girl by African-American artist Michelle Jackson, and a series of women from other cultures by JudyJudyJudy.

Patricia Hartmann supplied two wonderfully odd digital paintings to the exhibition. The first is of a group of wealthy young people playing croquet who seem to be straitjacketed, maybe due to their upper-class upbringing. The second is of a sailboat anchored off one of the Maldives Islands.

My show favorites were the four Gabriel Reyes paintings of world landmarks at night — the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Red Square. Reyes paints with bright neon colors and distorts his images as if seen through a carnival funhouse mirror. It is only because these images are so iconic and commodified in our consciousness that we’re able to recognize them, pointing out (quite astutely) that there is a globalization of standardized images spreading across the planet.

— La Jolla Art Association gallery, 8100 Paseo del Ocaso in La Jolla Shores, is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is free. (858) 459-1196.