Volume 15, Issue 45  | June 6, 2023Subscribe

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“Mixing it Up” in latest FOA show – art by new and established artists in many media


Mixed-media artist Jill Maytorena offers a unique perspective not only in her art, but also in her thoughts about being selected to display at this year’s Festival of the Arts.

“It’s sort of like stepping off a cliff – but in the most exhilarating way!” she quickly added. “It’s very exciting.”

While her sentiment may not be shared by the other artists who will be showing for the first time at the summer’s Festival, there is certainly excitement among – and for – them.

“I’m really honored to be a part of this,” said photographer Dominic Petruzzi. “I tried submitting before and got rejected, and so this year will be incredible.”

While more than 100 artists are displayed at the summer show, only 17 new artists will be in this year’s juried exhibition.

Mixing it Up JM studio

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Courtesy of Jill Maytorena 

Artist Jill Maytorena is spending plenty of time in her Dana Point studio preparing for her exhibition at the Festival of Arts, with her companion Lana del May happily at her side

“I’m very excited for the summer and the commitment (to be on site),” said Colleen Kennedy Premer. “I can’t wait to talk with everyone. I’ve been making art for a lot of years, so I’m excited to share it with the people at the Festival.”

Long considered one of the country’s premier-juried shows, the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show includes painters, sculptors, photographers and jewelers as well as artists who specialize in ceramics, glass, textile and printmaking. Each selected artist receives a permanent display location for the season (July 5- September 1), with booths winding throughout the Festival grounds, offering attendees a surprise with each turn. Artists often stay on site whenever the Festival is open, which includes all day on weekends and late afternoon through after the Pageant show midweek. It is time consuming, yet the opportunity to interact with the public – and meet other artists – is often as exciting as the show itself.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting people who are there to appreciate art, as well as being around a community of artists,” said Kennedy Premer.

In anticipation of the season, FOA is currently showing Fresh Faces at the foaSOUTH gallery, featuring a piece of work by 10 of the 17 new artists. The intimate setting allows viewers a sneak peek of what the summer, with larger display options, could offer.

Mixing it Up Maytorena

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Art images courtesy of Festival of Arts

The mixed-media piece “Persimmon” by Jill Maytorena is on display at foaSOUTH through June 1

Maytorena’s piece Persimmon is a bold, colorful mixed-media piece featuring a woman staring out from the canvas, her hair and background adorned with lace, fabric and assorted materials. She started the mixed-media/portrait approach about four years ago, after receiving a box of dress patterns from her grandmother-in-law.

“I always worked on a patterned ground, or a toned ground,” the Dana Point resident explained. But the mixed-media approach allows her to interlace patterns with portraits, which then meshes with the painted figures in areas where she allows the overlaps to come through.

“There’s a blurring of subject and the background,” she said. “Who is the subject? I leave room open in my work for the viewer to create their own narrative and take what they see from it.” But the signature portraits that emerge from her work are mesmerizing. “The eyes are my favorite things to draw,” said Maytorena. “They’re like beautiful little puzzles to put together.”

Mixing it Up leather knob jar

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The beautiful detail of the work by ceramicist Eri Sugimoto, such as this “Leather Knob Jar,” will be at this year’s Festival of Arts exhibition

The detail of work by ceramicist Eri Sugimoto is also inspiring. Using a paper-resist technique in her work, she creates beautiful detailed bowls and jars.

“I was an industrial designer in Japan, working with shape and function,” she said. Now using the paper relief and a slip casting method in her studio in Trabuco Canyon, her work is entering new territories. “I so wanted to get in (to the FOA show) it’s been three or four years I’ve tried and I finally got in the year. I’m so excited.”

Kennedy Premer was shocked when her exhibition application for 2023 was accepted – it was her first time applying but certainly not her first exposure to the Festival. As a child, her own mother would exhibit at the Sawdust and the family would venture up the road to “the fancy place” at the Festival of the Arts. In fact, it was her mother who had sent her on a weekend printmaking program that left Kennedy Premer hooked on the medium.

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“I just kind of fell in love with the process,” she said. “Printmaking may be the bastard stepchild of a lot of art programs, but I love carving the wood and all the tendrils of wood, and the excitement of pulling a print.” Her detailed black and white print at the foaSOUTH gallery, Truck Tattoo came about just as most of her pieces do – with random encounters, colorful exposures, inspiration and creativity melding together.

Mixing it Up Premer

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The piece “Truck Tattoo” by printmaker Colleen Kennedy Premer is on exhibit at foaSouth and will be part of her display at this summer’s Festival of Arts

In this piece, Kennedy Premer had driven past a warehouse with the truck, but that image alone wasn’t enough for her. So, in the relief she added the tattoo image on one side, and then, since she was reading a book about Japan, a sunburst flag was also added to the final print. The Newport Beach artist practices with a variety of colors, and while there can be multiple prints, the monoprints have only one run.

“The printmaking community is so small, but we’re a very generous group,” she said. The fact their demanding work is all done in reverse – even letters and numbers need to be carved in backward on plates – the field artists are very cooperative with each other. “We’re always willing to share tips and ideas,” said Kennedy Premer. “There are some amazing printmakers that show their work at the Festival, and I feel lucky to be in their company.”

But while her biggest fan is no longer alive, Kennedy Premer is sure her mom is jumping up and down with joy, knowing her daughter has the opportunity to carry on where she left off. “It’s really an honor that I can carry on that tradition,” she said.

Mixing it Up Petruzzi

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The surreal travel photographs of Dominic Petruzzi includes monks running in Burma

Photographer Dominic Petruzzi is thrilled at the opportunity to display his surreal travel photographs at the Festival.

“I’ll be displaying images of monks, mixed in with other things too,” he said. “You always need a certain demographic to sell your art, and I can’t think of a better platform than the Festival of Arts.”

For more information about all the artists participating in this year’s Festival of Arts, click here.

The Fresh Faces show will run through June 1 at foaSOUTH, located in Active Culture, 1006 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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