Let’s Review: Plein-air show at La Jolla Library Art Gallery gallery is good fun

By Will Bowen

The La Jolla Library Art Gallery has finally come of age! On Sunday, Sept. 23, its Art Committee reached way down into its pockets and pulled out something extra special for what had to be its best-ever reception.

The party celebrated, “Fresh Paint: Impressions of California Plein-Air Artists,” the new exhibit that will run through Nov. 16.

Besides having the work of some of the most talented local artists on display, the library art gallery provided wonderful breezy, mellow, and nostalgia music by the Ukulele Brothers — a ukulele band with vocals, guitar, bass and Hawaiian steel guitar that played all-time favorites, like “Tiny Bubbles” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” while patrons chatted about the art.

The reception food was a delight, as well, with black-shirted waiters carrying trays of designer pizza for sampling, along with mini cupcakes, English scones, crackers, fruit and zesty sharp cheeses.

The art gallery was packed, wall-to-wall at times, and for most of the afternoon you had to squeeze through pods of rooted-in-place talkative people to get up close to the art or you had to wait in line to view your favorite piece.

The fact that were lots of artists on hand to talk to about their work made for some great conversation, which was had by all.

Patty Smith, who has owned the Art Expressions Gallery in Clairemont for the past 30 years, was one of the luminaries who commented, “The show is excellent! There is a great turnout and the artwork is going for a fair price. I bought one piece for myself!”

Cindy Klong, who recently curated a show at the La Jolla Art Association Gallery, said, “This is a really top show with exceptional artists. My favorites painters here are Tony Williams, Jeff Yeomans and Robin Hall, and I especially like Hall’s large painting called ‘Montage Beach.’”

Arlene Powers, chair of the Library Art Committee, was very excited about sales of the art, which she said will benefit library programs. “We sold our first piece in the first five minutes!” Powers exclaimed.

Patricia Jasper Clark, who is also on the Art Committee, echoed her sentiments: “We have sold several pieces, so you might even see the library open more hours a week after this. We are very grateful to all our patrons.”

Though the library never gives out awards for its shows, there were several outstanding pieces that deserve recognition.

Margerie Taylor

had a very nice painting of the Mission de Alcala in Mission Gorge, looking up from a lower parking lot that made it look like the times when San Diego was not so over developed.

Catherine Grawin

, who teaches at the Athenaeum and UC Extension, had a wonderful painting of an old country road in Escondido, called “Old Milky Way Road,” which took you back to the days when gasoline was cheap and people took leisurely Sunday drives out into the country.

George Steiger, Grawin’s boyfriend, spent much of his time fawning over the painting and explaining it to patrons, saying, “That’s the road we like to take up to Julian. There are a lot of old farmhouses along it!”

Carolyn Hesse-Low

had a fine old-style painting called, “Sonoma Grasses,” which made you think of the hey day of plein-air, when the likes of Maurice Braun and Alfred Mitchell were painting in our environs.

Pat Kelly

, a graduate of the UCSD Visual Arts Department, had the most unique paintings in the show, both of which featured a single clothespin on a clothesline against the backdrop of a blue sky filled with fluffy clouds.

■ Urban landscape painter,

Scott Prior

, who lives in Oceanside, had two of the best pieces in the show. One was a twilight view of the Balboa Island Ferry at Newport Harbor. The other was a scene of some old rusted cars at “Jim’s Place” in Santa Barbara.

Diane Ryason, who lives up the street from the library and who recently returned from a tour of the Heritage Art Gallery in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she was able to feast her eyes on more than 30 of the paintings of Rembrandt, also liked Prior best of all. “I like the way he makes the real imaginary and puts feeling into his paintings,” Ryason said.

Prior is hard at work painting some of the classic urban landscape scenes from Los Angeles, such as the Hi Voltage Tattoo Shop downtown.

Toni Williams

displayed a unique style, with a three-dimensional canvas where the oil paints stood out from the painting, versus the usual flat canvas of most artists. The cultivation of individual style is something that gallery owner Patty Smith counsels all artists need to develop to be great.

Robin Hall

, who lives in the community of Capistrano Beach, near Dana Point, had a intriguing large painting of a place called Montage Beach, seen from a high bluff. Hall confessed, “My mother was a painter, so I didn’t want to become one. However, I found myself doing it for fun and over the years it became my addiction.”

The La Jolla Library Gallery really bumped it up a notch for this show, which was at a professional level. If it can continue on track with this caliber of shows and receptions, library gallery members are certain to create an “Art Scene” in this neighborhood of La Jolla.

If you go

■ What: ‘Fresh Paint: Impressions of California Plein-Air Artists’

■ Where: La Jolla Riford Library Art Gallery, 7555 Draper Ave.

■ Admission: Free

■ When: To Nov. 16

• Sunday: 1-5 p.m.

• Monday: 12:30-5:30 p.m.

• Tuesday: 12:30-8 p.m.

• Wednesday: 12:30-8 p.m.

• Thursday: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

• Friday: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

• Saturday: 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

■ Contact: (858) 552-1657

■ Web: