New art, wine festival in the works

A community activist rolled out plans for a two-day art and wine festival at the last meeting of the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation (TNT) Board, which endorsed the idea.

Sherry Ahern, creator of the successful La Jolla Open Aire Market more than 10 years ago, told board members that proceeds from the first-time event, to be held Oct. 10-11, will benefit La Jolla’s three public elementary schools - La Jolla, Bird Rock and Torrey Pines.

The item approved by the board calls for closing the street in the 7400 block of Girard from Pearl to the south driveway of La Jolla Elementary School. The Sunday farmers market would do business as usual, only expand its hours to coincide with those of the art and wine fest, which will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s going to be a very European feel about the entire event,” Ahern said. “It is going to be a unique show that we hope people will enjoy and will be something to have annually.”

Ahern said the fine art show would be juried by a panel of six judges with prizes given to winners. She added that the event would feature art and wine from Southern California and Northern Baja and would display the work of local artists. Live music on stage would be “tasteful,” she promised, with showcase singer-songwriter-type performances.

“It will be very inexpensive, $175 for street booths for an artist for two days, and a $25 jury fee,” she said.

The event would not be fenced off and would offer beer and wine sales by the glass as well as wine tastings in a covered “beer garden,” with no alcohol permitted on the street or school grounds.

TNT board members and people from the audience applauded the event, though there were a couple of concerns expressed.

Chairman Todd Lesser attached one condition for event approval.

“We’d like to see a list of those who want it or don’t,” he said.

“We’ve got all the addresses; we’re going to go to everyone,” Ahern replied.

Art gallery owner Keith Kelman pointed out promoters also need to ensure that nearby medical offices have customer access while the event is going on.

Longtime La Jollan Melinda Merryweather applauded Ahern’s efforts, noting that art has always been a big part of La Jolla’s history and that promoting it will burnish the community’s image.

Board member Deborah Marengo, former president of Promote La Jolla, which previously ran a similar art event at the Cove, said she felt the designated location for Ahern’s art and wine fest is appropriate.

“Girard and Prospect businesses were impacted (by PLJ’s art festival), especially restaurants open at night,” she said. “I know that Sherry is very active in our community and that she would be sensitive to the impacts on merchants doing business.”

“It’s a shame we lost the one on Prospect,” board member Mary Coakley said. “I know that with Sherry at the helm, she’s going turn over every stone along the way - and there are many to be turned over.”

Ahern said she coordinated dates with Promote La Jolla’s Gallery & Wine Walk and the La Jolla High School Foundation’s Taste of La Jolla. She added that the event would cost $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12. Children younger than 5 would get in free.

To volunteer or for more information on the art and wine fest, e-mail

or call (858) 454-1699.