Gallery Q celebrates Beach Cities this spring at the Susi Q Senior Center

By MARRIE STONE

This spring, Gallery Q at the Susi Q Community Center is making it possible to bring a bit of the beach home with you. Their latest show, Beach Cities, is on display through May 2. The exhibition features 44 artists showing 72 works across a variety of mediums including oils, watercolors, collages, photographs and even two porcelain sculptures and an intricate mosaic. Each piece pays homage to our bluebelt and the ever-changing ocean in our backyard. And most are offered at reasonably affordable price points.

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Photo by Bill Atkins

“Beach Cities” is currently on display at Gallery Q, located inside the Susi Q Community Center. “Laguna at Night” by acrylic artist Al Esquerra appears center above.

Now entering its 15th year, Gallery Q has welcomed thousands of artists in the five gallery shows it hosts each year. “The arts have become an integral part of our programs where seniors’ emotional, mental and spiritual health, and vitality are achieved through creative artistic expressions,” said Executive Director Nadia Babayi.

Longtime Gallery Q exhibitor Ellen Rose proved the point. Her latest acrylic painting, Ophelia (inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet), emerged from her brush as a fully formed allegory. “It was a metaphor for a period of my life when things were out of my control,” Rose said. “I did feel as if I were drowning. Painting my feelings has always been a great stress reducer for me.”

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Photo by Jo Ann Ekblad

“Ophelia” by Ellen Rose became a metaphor for a difficult time in Rose’s own life

For other artists, their work reflects various aspects of their identities. Porcelain sculptor Bobby Jaber brings both his Arabic heritage and his mathematical mind to his creations. Jaber spent a long career teaching high school chemistry. When he retired more than 30 years ago, he brought all those scientific principles to bear on his sculptures.

View Porcelainia, the 2013 video by David Altizer about artist/scientist Bobby Jaber, below.

“Porcelainia,” a 2013 video created by David Altizer, describes Bobby Jaber’s inspiration and process

“My favorite shape is called a truncated icosahedron,” Jaber said. “It’s a spherical molecule, supposedly the most beautiful molecule in existence.” The 32-faced structure is made up of both pentagons and hexagons with 60 vertices and 90 edges, making it a complex problem to solve when working with clay.

Jaber models the shapes of his porcelain vessels after structures found in the natural world. He then uses mathematical patterns inspired by Islamic art to adorn the work. Historically, Islamic artists applied mathematics to their designs because artistic works could contain no graven images. Jaber’s pieces – Coral Oceania and Asteroidia – reflect those 30 years of controlled craftsmanship and the decades of scientific knowledge Jaber acquired before that. “Clay is chemistry,” Jaber said.

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Photo by Marrie Stone

(L-R) “Coral Oceania” and “Asteroidia” by Bobby Jaber

Despite R. Scott Elgram’s parents owning several one-hour photo shops around South Orange County throughout his childhood, it took Elgram’s girlfriend to introduce him to photography about seven years ago. Once she placed a camera in his hand, he was hooked. “The shutter lifted – pun intended – and I saw everything differently after that,” he said.

Raised as an Eagle Scout, Elgram gravitates toward nature and the outdoors. His photography reflects his obsessions, as much of his work centers around national parks. He makes a point of doing at least one photography trip a month.

His two pieces on display at Gallery Q each reflect the different moods of our ever-evolving ocean. “That Woods Cove piece was taken during a very high tide. It’s a rough ocean,” he said.

Contrast that with his long exposure shot of the San Clemente pier, taken early in Elgram’s photographic career. “I got hooked on long exposures. I like the way it softens the water and adds emotion to the clouds,” he said. “This one is a personal favorite of mine.”

More works by Elgram can be found on his website by clicking here and on Instagram by clicking here.

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Photo by ©2024 R. Scott Elgram

Untitled photograph of the San Clemente Pier by R. Scott Elgram

Local oil painter Carole Boller, who regularly shows her work at both the annual Sawdust Festival and Festival of Arts, is a Signature Member of the Pastel Society of America, as well as an active member of LPAPA and LOCA in Laguna Beach. Her murals and banners have also appeared around town.

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“Color is what created the inspiration for both pieces,” she said of her two works in the current show. “Both started as plein air and were finished in my studio.”

Of Beach Tribe Boller said, “I was intrigued by the way the umbrella people found serenity amidst the joyful noise of children, similar to a tribe of like people.” For Palm, Boller chose to simplify the composition so the “kinetic story of the swaying palm could be told.”

Learn more about Boller and her work by clicking here.

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Photo by Marrie Stone

“Beach Tribe” by Carole Boller

“Although I’ve experimented with many mediums over the years, my current focus is assemblage,” said Claudia Olsen, who has two pieces in the current show. “I love to recycle canvas, wood, corks and other materials to create whimsical art pieces. Playing around with various objects, painting a small canvas, and assembling these items in a cigar box is great fun.”

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Photo by Marrie Stone

“Ashore” by Claudia Olsen

In addition to Gallery Q, Olsen has work at City Hall and has previously shown in various art galleries in town. “Over the years, I’ve taken classes at Orange Coast College and Long Beach State, as well as from other artists. That always brings a new element to my work. My intent is to pass on these ideas and to make people smile,” she said.

Other notable works include Sally Lombardo’s intricate mosaic, High Noon at Heisler and two works by acrylic artist Al Esquerra, Solace and Laguna at Night. And don’t miss Brenda Bredvik’s Beach Day located in Susi Q’s Great Room. Bredvik’s work is owned by collectors and celebrities around the world. She’s had many solo shows, group shows and juried exhibitions. She’s also exhibited at the Laguna Art Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s galleries.

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Photo by Marrie Stone

“High Noon at Heisler,” a mosaic by Sally Lombardo

“I love hearing the stories of how people made this work and what it took,” said Arts Coordinator Judy Baker. “We’re always surprised.”

In addition to offering the public an opportunity to purchase quality artwork at affordable prices, Gallery Q provides a boon for local artists. “We’re a nonprofit so we don’t charge for wall space like a gallery. It’s a minimal $25 fee that pays for installation and for the art reception. We don’t take 30-50% of their sales like other galleries might. Nor do we require volunteer hours. It’s affordable, the artists get a lot of exposure and they’re able to say they’ve shown their work in Laguna Beach,” Baker said.

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Photo by Jo Ann Ekblad

(L-R) Artist Brian Jones, Gallery Q Arts Coordinator Judy Baker and Sergio Prince

Artists also benefit from the quality of the curation. Art Director Bill Atkins, a renowned local graphic artist, hangs each show. Paying special attention to the relationships between works, Atkins has an expert eye at understanding which pieces feel in conversation with each other. He considered color, balance, subject matter and medium when hanging the show, creating a cohesive and thoughtful flow.

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Photo by Jo Ann Ekblad

(L-R) Harry Huggins with artists Tina Haines, Carole Zavala and Brenda Bredvik

As Bobby Jager once said of his work, and which seems true of the whole exhibition: “Each piece approaches but never reaches the perfection defined by the artist, but is an expression unique unto itself and is a step in the never-ending journey toward the elusive ideal.”

Beach Cities is on display at Gallery Q now through May 2 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the Susi Q Community Center, 380 Third St., Laguna Beach. Admission is free. For more information and hours, visit the Gallery Q website by clicking here.


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