Festival’s Fresh Faces: New artists bring excitement and a variety of styles to this summer’s Festival of Arts

By THERESA KEEGAN

New faces and new artwork will be exhibited during one of Laguna’s favorite summer traditions – the Festival of Arts. As always, the juried work, created by more than 100 artists from throughout Orange County, offers a variety of mediums and appeals to a diverse crowd.

There are 20 new artists this year, including two glass artists, a sculptor, a graphic creator and numerous artists who pursue painting using oils, acrylics and multi-media. A fabric artist will also be on display. And while they represent varied media, and various career routes, they all share one thing in common – they’re thrilled to be part of this show, which is often cited as one of the top art festivals in the nation.

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Courtesy of Alla Bartsoschchuk

The work of oil painter Alla Bartoshchuk will be on display at the Festival of Arts this summer

“I’m truly honored to be part of the show this year,” said Alla Bartsoshchuk, an oil painter who began her artistic endeavors as a child in Ukraine. She’ll be alongside another first-time artist she knows very well – her husband, graphic illustrator Gary Musgrave. “It was a delightful surprise for us both to be accepted,” she said.

Figurative artist Kelley Mogilka has gained notoriety in the Laguna community since moving to the area during COVID. “To be a part of it (the Festival) really feels like I have become a more permanent part of this amazing artistic community,” she said. “I’m very grateful.”

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Courtesy of Siân Poeschl

Artist Siân Poeschl is seen with one of her glass pieces which, through multiple firings, demonstrates fluidity and motion

Meanwhile, Siân Poeschl, a long-time glass artist at the Sawdust Festival, said displaying at the Festival of Arts elevates her work from craft to a fine art form.

“I appreciate both shows and the opportunities, but when I showed this new body of work at the Sawdust, the feedback I received gave me the confidence that it could go to a fine art venue.”

Poeschl has taken her glass into a true three-dimensional format, building upon the lessons she learned while pursuing a master’s degree in dance and choreography decades earlier.

“I hope people see the energy and fluidity in it,” she said of her woven glass pieces. “I create my palette and go from there.” While technically her process involves creating individual elements and putting in details, the reality is more complex.

For each piece there are five separate kiln firings, which ultimately take between 18-20 hours. The process starts with slipping one-inch strips of glass over ceramic forms to create waves. “Taking that structure and giving it liquidity and movement is just wonderful,” said Poeschl. “All the pieces are made separately and then brought together. You see all these individual elements come together for a final piece.”

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Photo by Theresa Keegan

Glass artist Siân Poeschl’s piece “Forest Clearing” is currently on display at the FOASouth gallery

Her Forest Clearing piece features variations of green, brown, white and black glass pieces woven together with stripes, dots and intricate details throughout.

Although her kiln limits dimensions of her art, a more pragmatic aspect also affects her work.

“I only make a piece I can carry myself,” she said. “So I’m working out at the gym.” Although there are fleeting moments she enviously sees the benefits of producing something light, such as silk scarves, glass is always her medium of choice.

“It’s a very unforgiving medium,” she said. Upon opening her kiln after each firing, it’s immediately evident if the process is successful.

“If it’s a loss, it’s a total loss,” she explained. “You’re always aware of the fragility of it, and that’s what makes it exciting for me.”

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Courtesy of Kelley Mogilka

Kelley Mogilka will be displaying her figurative artwork this summer at the Festival of Arts

Mogilka, who teaches figurative drawing at LCAD, has been preparing for the festival by creating some smaller pieces to supplement her larger work.

“I’m really looking forward to building a booth that is kind of like an artistic statement in itself, rather than a one-day pop-up tent,” she said, referencing her other exhibition experiences which have been of a more temporary nature.

She expects to paint at the Festival grounds rather than in her studio in the canyon. Since she prefers using smooth panels, rather than canvas so each brushstroke is accented, she doesn’t think the transition will be too challenging.

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Courtesy of Kelley Mogilka

The figurative art created by Kelley Mogilka captures the glances and in-between moments of life, rather than static poses

“My work is somewhat realist but with an Impressionistic touch,” she said, “I really like how loose brushwork can convey energy and emotion in the figure. Oil is just such a great way to express feeling with color and texture.”

In addition, she believes being on site could expand career opportunities.

“While sales are an obvious goal, I also hope to make some connections that lead to new exciting opportunities…It would be great to find new gallery representation or teaching/workshop opportunities.”

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Photo by Theresa Keegan

Artist Gary Musgrave was thrilled his graphic work was selected to be exhibited as part of the Festival of Arts this summer

Musgrave, who teaches at Cal State University Long Beach, is excited to present his two-color “resist paintings” on paper, encaustic prints, and interactive encaustic prints with embedded electronics at the Festival.

“My own work didn’t line up with the work that I’m accustomed to seeing at FOA, so I was very surprised to discover that I had been accepted,” he said. “I know commercial illustration, but fine art is another beast altogether…I think that the FOA will be a great opportunity to see what kind of interest exists for the visual topics I like to explore and create.”

Mogilka believes there is plenty to be learned at the Festival and is hoping her students at LCAD will visit the Festival grounds to see how she, and the other artists participate in a long-term showing.

“I try to tell my students what I’m doing all the time, what it’s like to be a working artist,” she said. “I try to merge both worlds as much as I can.”

They will also get to see first-hand how artists like all working people have to juggle their time. In addition to showing at the Festival, Mogilka is getting married this summer and will be on a honeymoon in Bora Bora.

“It will be a busy summer,” she said. “And an exciting one.”

The Festival of Arts will open on July 3, however work by the new Festival artists is currently on display through June 10 at the FOASouth Gallery. For information, click here.

The gallery is located at 1006 S. Coast Highway, within Active Culture.


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