Riford Library’s latest art exhibition takes off in new directions


By Will Bowen

Arlene Powers, Chair of the La Jolla Riford Library Art Committee, has an offer for art-lovers low on cash.

“If you can’t afford thousands of dollars for contemporary art, come to the library during the ‘New Directions’ show,” she said. “Here you can acquire some high-quality work from emerging artists at very reasonable prices. And since 20 percent of the proceeds go to the library, you’ll be making a contribution to the community, as well.”

Sign me up.

This is the third show for the library’s new art gallery. The first two shows, “Our Town I” and “Our Town II,” were mostly concerned with art about La Jolla as a destination, focused on the realistic side of artistic representation. “New Directions” premieres work that transcends conventional methods.

“We wanted to do a modern show of art that breaks with tradition and showcases new directions in exploratory arts,” Powers explained. The “New Directions” show will feature more than 30 works — from painting to photography — submitted by 30 artists.

Emily Vermillion, who previously worked at the University of Iowa Art Museum, is the chief installer for the show. “This is going to be a great exhibit, representing many local artists and many different styles. You can expect it to be much more abstract than our previous shows,” Vermillion said.

Hans Butikofer’s intriguing painting of a round-faced man was selected. Butikofer has only been painting for two years, but since his wife is an art teacher, he’s gotten a great deal of special attention.

“My painting just happened,” he said. “I just started painting and it evolved by itself. I call this work, ‘Waiting,’ after Samuel Beckett’s play, ‘Waiting for Godot.’ It is an existential piece. This is the first time my art has been shown in public and I’m anxious to see how people will respond to it.”

Cree Scudder has some fascinating colorful abstract landscape paintings in the show that are based on her travels across the country with her husband. She said she paints abstractly because, “I paint what I would like to see, not what is actually there. I say that if you want a realistic rendition of a landscape, why not just take a photograph? I also like abstract painting because it allows me to combine scenes from different places.”

Theresa Vandenberg-Donche is also an abstract landscape painter. She studied at the Athenaeum and has art on display at Mixture in Little Italy and at the Coronado History Museum. Instead of painting landscape scenes from nature, like Scudder, Vandenberg-Donche paints the urban landscape, the landscape of the city.

Dana Levine’s photographs made it into the show, too. Levine usually specializes in candid photographs of people out in public. For this show she said, “I branched out and moved in a new direction, focusing on abstract images, such as those created by a close-up shot of a yucca cactus stem.”

Dwaine Best is another La Jolla photographer with work gaining notoriety. Best creates abstract works of art from the pictures he takes of the cracks and crevices in the sidewalks of La Jolla.

“I get out there with my camera and try to turn something as common place as a sidewalk into an image that is both meaningful and nuanced, taking my inspiration from abstract art and nebular clusters,” Best said.

Edith Sanchez is yet another featured photographer who has changed the usual direction of the camera lens. According to Sanchez, “I took my photographs with the camera facing straight down, while walking along Black’s Beach at low tide.”

Powers summed up the library art committee’s hopes and intentions. “The aim of the new library art gallery is to support both emerging and successful local artists and attract more people in, so they can see just how vibrant the library really is,” she said. “The funds generated by this exhibition will help the library grow better and better — even in these tough economic times.”

If you go

What: ‘New Directions in Art’ exhibition

When: March 4 to May 11, during library business hours

Where: Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave.

Public reception: 2-4 p.m. Sunday, March 4, free

Contact: Arlene Powers (858) 354-4848