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Plein air is fresh and personal at new Bird Rock art gallery

Bird Rock may not yet be a match for downtown La Jolla in terms of fine art galleries, but it’s a little closer now that Concetta Antico opened her new gallery on La Jolla Boulevard.

A renowned artist and long-time painting instructor, Antico has converted her teaching studio into a personal art gallery, the Antico Fine Art Gallery at 5544 La Jolla Blvd.

A native of Sydney, Australia, Antico specializes in the plein-air style of oil painting. This approach involves the artist finding themselves in the environment that will become their subject.

“My subjects find me,” Antico said. “Their beauty speaks to me and moves me profoundly. It is this conversation of the heart that remains on my canvas forever.”

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Antico said viewing life and its environment as a collection of fleeting moments give an urgency and sharpness to her work. At times, she said she feels as if she is fighting time to preserve the beautiful images placed before her in nature.

“Luminous beauty is fleeting,” she said. “My enemy is time.”

Watching the sun set over La Jolla Cove on a warm, mellow afternoon, one’s vision of the world can change, Antico said.

“The sky can open and close,” Antico said. “It is only through my painting that I can transcend transient beauty in nature.”

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Antico’s approach to the canvas is to focus on the whole, emphasizing the simplicity that comes from the essence of the subject rather than the complex details. Dissolving forms interplay with edgy compositions, creating a feeling of movement and urgency. She explores the possibilities offered to her with color and expands them further. She counts impressionist-era masters like Singer-Sargent and Morisot among her influences.

The style requires an attention to technique, detail and precision in each stroke on the canvas. This plein air style of painting requires a “wet on wet” technique that is a challenging style to master and requires years of training, Antico said.

Antico began painting as a child and went on to receive many fine art awards through grade school. She excelled at the Sydney Institute of Advanced Education, graduating with honors. She has lived in San Diego for 20 years, creating two successful art service companies in the process, The Salon of Art and Art Tours.

The Salon of Art Studio is an extension of her talent and love of art, where she inspires and trains students in the style of plein-air and oil painting. Additionally, Antico gives workshops locally and abroad on these subjects. She has taught thousands of students, ranging from companies enjoying plein-air seminars to after-school programs with the YMCA.

She teaches mor than 70 students a week, including group classes and private instruction.

“They come from all backgrounds and levels,"she said, “ranging from fine artists wanting to brush up on new techniques to those who have never even touched a paintbrush.”

The artist is a philanthropist at heart, willing to use her art to help others in need. Antico has announced that she will donate an oil painting for a drawing, with proceeds to support the Trinitarians of Mary, an order of Catholic nuns who live in Tecate, Mexico. The Trinitarians of Mary serve the poor through a number of outreach programs, including ministry to the mentally ill, a medical clinic and a girls orphanage.

The Antico Gallery can be reached at (858) 454-4441.

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