Monthly Archives: November 2013

Painting Dorati Passionate Pink

Dorati cover image.

Dorati cover image by Marcia Gawecki.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Sometimes, you just have to make things pretty.

My friend, Charles Schlacks, was lamenting one day that he published these well-written art and music journals, but no one was buying them.

“I could retire, if I could sell enough subscriptions,” Charles said, now 83.

I looked at him. He was a publisher his entire life. All the printing equipment was housed in his garage in Idyllwild. Every month, he’d work with editors from all over the world to compile the articles. Then he’d edit, print and send them out to libraries.

The best part is that these editors would sen the articles to him for free.

“There’s a saying in academia, ‘Publish or perish,'” he said.

So if the writing wasn’t bad, it had to be the covers.

“Let’s take a look at your journals,” I said.

He agreed to bring a handful to me the next morning. The covers caught me by surprise. They were printed in bright colors, including reds, yellows and oranges, but with only text. There was no illustrations — no photos, no drawings, no paintings.

Furthermore, the title of his journal was called, “Music and Society in Eastern Europe.”

It reminded me of a college text book.

Here had worked tirelessly to develop music and culture. And even got professors to write articles for free, but no one was reading them because frankly, the covers were boring.

“Maybe I could illustrate your next cover,” I suggested.

Knowing Charles, he wouldn’t want to pay much for it. Normally, a book cover illustration would be at least $100, but since I’ve never illustrated an international journal before, I wasn’t going to quibble.

Dorati book image

Dorati book image

We agreed on $20 because that’s what I owed him for driving me to Victorville. (That’s another story.) Anyway, he gave me one month to create an illustration of composer Antal Dorati.

He gave me a black-and-white photo from the internet of Dorati with his hand up.

“It has to be a vertical illustration,” he warned.

“Can we drop the hand and just do Dorati’s face?” I asked.

“He’s a composer, so we need the hand,” Charles said.

Over the next several weeks, I worked on Dorati’s image a few hours at a time. I checked out his credentials online. I found out that he was a Hungarian conductor who later became an American citizen.

Doráti became well known for his recordings of Tchaikovsky’s music. He was the first conductor to record all three of Tchaikovsky’s ballets – Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. The albums were recorded in mono in 1954, for Mercury Records, with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, as part of their famous “Living Presence” series.

The best part was my name listed on the inside cover as artist

The best part was my name listed on the inside cover as artist

The research inspired me to make a better painting.

Then one day, a photographer friend came into the Acorn Gallery where I work. She was interested in the portrait, but was appalled that I was painting it “as is.”

“You can’t just copy the photograph,” she said. “You have to change something! Turn his head or move his hand. It can’t be exactly like the photograph.”

But I didn’t want to change it. Dorati was a conductor who wouldn’t be turning his head while he was conducting! And to move the hand seemed equally as ridiculous.

I assumed that adding  bright colors and sharp lines of my modern, expressionistic style would be enough of a change from the photograph.

“What do other people do when they want to paint someone famous?” I asked.

“They get permission from the relatives,” she said.

So I spoke with Charles the next night about getting permission to use Dorati’s image. I warned him that the family may refuse, or worse yet, ask for money.

“If it’s going to be a problem, then let’s just forget it!” he said, waving his hand.

“Oh no!” I exclaimed. “I’ve invested about 15 hours in this painting already, and I don’t want to give it up!”

So I got the contact information from Dorati’s official web site, and sent it to Charles.

A few days later, Charles emailed me back and said that he had gotten permission from Dorati’s widow in Switzerland.

I was impressed.

Now, my $20 portrait of Dorati had taken on a new importance. His widow was waiting on the image, so it had to be good!

I struggled. I got the eyes right, but the colors wouldn’t gel. For weeks, Dorati had a green shadow on the side of his face that looked garrish, alien, and not becoming to a conductor. But no other colors worked.

In the end, I ran out of time. I didn’t like the green, so I opted for bright pink. I was franticly finishing the painting on my washing machine in the kitchen. I was waiting for the paint to dry so I could take a picture, while cats cried for food under my feet.

“I wonder if all artists live like this!” I shouted, as my cats ran for cover.

“Dorati’s widow isn’t going to like the bright pink,” the voice in my head said.

“But the green looked worse,” I countered.

“You need more time to make the image look dignified,” the voice suggested.

By this point, I had put more than 25 hours into the $20 painting. But I was  also keenly aware that maybe some people in Europe would see the illustration, and want to hire me to paint their friends. I fretted, and thought of asking Charles for one more day to finish it.

But his recent email demanded the JPEG as soon as possible. We were out of time! He had to get to the printers!

So conductor Antal Dorati had a bright pink face on the cover of “Music and Society in Eastern Europe,” Volume 8. Whether Dorati’s widow approved, I’d rather not know.

When I saw the cover tonight, I was just happy to be done with it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely bright. Dorati was painted in passionate pink. Would it be enough for someone in Eastern Europe to pick up, read and subscribe for $20?

Alas, $20 seems to be the magic number!

Copyright Marcia Gawecki Art. All rights reserved.

47th Annual Idyllwild Harvest Festival

Art like this heart mosiac by Idyllwild artist Nanci Killingsworth will be at the Harvest Festival.

Art like this heart mosiac by Idyllwild artist Nanci Killingsworth will be at the Harvest Festival.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Not many small towns in America can boast that they’ve hosted an annual festival for nearly five decades. Yet, the Idyllwild Harvest Festival, sponsored by the Idyllwild Rotary Club, is hosting it’s 47th event on Nov. 29-30, the weekend after Thanksgiving.

“It’s a tradition to have it at Town Hall after Thanksgiving. A lot of people come up to Idyllwild just for this event,” says Dawn Miller, the former Idyllwild Postmaster, who is in charge of the vendors.

The Harvest Festival coincides with Idyllwild’s annual Santa’s Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday at 4:20 p.m. in the center of town.

This year, Miller says they’re expecting about 800 visitors a day.

“We give every visitor a numbered ticket which they show to every vendor and if the number on their ticket matches the number on the vendor’s ticket the visitor receives a free gift,” Miller explains. “Last year we printed 800 tickets and ran out on the first day.”

Idyllwild is considered one of the 'Top 100 Best Art Towns in America'

Idyllwild is considered one of the ‘Top 100 Best Art Towns in America’

Idyllwild, known as one of the “100 Best Art Towns in America,” has many unique artists who will be showcasing their work at the festival. Some of the 33 vendors include alpaca wool wear, painted gourds, quilts, photography, paintings, mosiacs, pottery, books and more.

Besides Idyllwild, vendors come from the surrounding communities, including Mountain Center, Anza, Hemet, Temecula, and Indio.

Miller says she limited the number of vendors to show unique, homemade wares.

“We don’t want anything that’s mass produced or resold,” she says. “Most people are here to buy homemade gifts for the holidays.”

Artist Nanci Killingsworth with Michael portrait by Marcia Gawecki.

Artist Nanci Killingsworth with Michael portrait by Marcia Gawecki.

Local artist Nanci Killingsworth has been showing her unique “Mountain Girl Mosiacs” at the Idyllwild Harvest Festival for the past several years. For weeks, she’s been making lots of items for the 2-day event, including plates, bowls, cups and ornaments.

Killingsworth takes great care to set up her space, with shelves and table display mounts.

“This is the biggest event of the year for me,” she says.

Thoughout the year, Killingsworh collects broken glass and pieces of clay pots to make her mosiacs.

“Friends and strangers leave bags of broken glass and pots at my front gate,” Killingsworth says with a laugh. “It makes for a nice mix of materials for my mosiacs.”

Besides arts and crafts, the Harvest Festival will feature live music by Local Color and have about a dozen homemade gift baskets that will be raffled off. Raffle tickets will be sold for $1 each. Several vendors have donated gift baskets, including the Idyllwild Jazz Festival, In the Bag from Palm Springs, and local merchants for a weekend getaway in Idyllwild.

Sculptor David Roy also created the monument in the center of town.

Sculptor David Roy also created the monument in the center of town.

The Rotary is also raffling off a homemade quilt and a carved wooden bear created by local sculptor David Roy.

“It’s really a great festival because the proceeds go to a good cause,” Miller adds.

Gina Genis at an art talk in Laguna Beach. Gina's book, 'Everyone and their Mother' will be sold at the Harvest Festival.

Gina Genis at an art talk in Laguna Beach. Gina’s book, ‘Everyone and their Mother’ will be sold at the Harvest Festival.

The event raises about $5,000, Miller says, which is given out mostly for scholarships, including students from Hemet High School and Idyllwild Arts who are going to college. Some is given to the Idyllwild Help Center Food Pantry, and the new Community Center.

The 47th Annual Idyllwild Harvest Festival will be held on Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 30, starting at 9 a.m. The event is free and open to the public. It’s located at the Town Hall at 25925 Cedar Street in Idyllwild (down the street from Hidden Gardens Chinese Restaurant).

For more information, call Dawn Miller at (951) 659-0444 or visit

Copyright Marcia Gawecki Art. All rights reserved.

Is Public Art ‘Going to the Cats?’

Miles Davis Banner w/cat

Miles Davis Banner w/cat

By Marcia E. Gawecki

You’ve heard the expression, “Going to the dogs?” Which means whatever it is is going to hell, but they didn’t want to say it.

Well, art submissions in California are pretty close. They’re “Going to the cats!”

The California Arts Council has a web site dedicated to artist call for entries ( It’s open to any group that wants to post a job for artists. Generally, entries are split into northern and southern California. But it’s a nice bag of goodies for artists to pick from, including online magazines, murals, and a variety of shows from miniatures, to all nudes to landscapes.

When I first came upon it, I thought it was an artist’s gold mine! Here, I could apply for juried art shows. My Pop Art Portraits would win a monetary prize and I’d be famous! Well, not so fast!

Wwhen you sign up, you realize there’s always a submission fee. Generally, it’s $35 for 3-5 JPEGs.

Art commissions generally don't include travel time, gas, hotels and meals.

Art commissions generally don’t include travel time, gas, hotels and meals.

When I entered a juried art show in Chicago, I thought the $35 fee was a little steep, but doable, if I could  win. But then I realized there would be shipping costs to and from Chicago, and then the gas, hotels and meals for Opening Night (a mandatory requirement).

And then all artwork had to be for sale, and the gallery would get half.

Then I got the rejection email. “Thank you for your interest, but we had as many as 400 entries, and it was a tough decision. We hope that you will still come to the show.”

I did the math. At $35 a pop, that institution made $14,000 on all of us hopefuls.

“Don’t you know that’s how these places make their money?” said a photographer friend of mine. “I wouldn’t enter any more juried shows unless the juror is someone who can help your career.”

I was dumbstruck. No wonder the Chicago gallery could afford to give out $1,000 worth of prizes. They just made a bunch on us!

Every now and then, on the CAC web site, there’s a listing that doesn’t charge an entry fee. In fact, the one I applied for in September at the New Mexico State University art gallery was also willing to pay for shipping–both ways!

It was a show that I really wanted to be part of because it had to do with race relations. Ever since the Trayvon Martin case, I’ve been disgusted with our legal process. How can a black teenager who was minding his own business end up dead? And the shooter goes free!

To add insult to injury, there were a few Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman pairs on Facebook during Halloween. And several dumb white people got caught with “Blackface.”

It’s really never OK.

Jazz banner of Etta James by Marcia Gawecki

Jazz banner of Etta James by Marcia Gawecki

Anyway, I have several large banners of jazz greats, including Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday. I also have a smaller banner of President Barack Obama that I made after one of his speeches in 2008. It still hangs on the back of my front door in Idyllwild.

I’m not sure what I submitted, but I was so happy to be part of the juried show.

Well, I never heard back from the art gallery at New Mexico State University, so I don’t think that my banners made the cut. But that art submission stands out like a beacon.

It seems like all of them require submission fees. I can understand the cost of doing business, but do they really need to make $14,000 on one show?

After all, the artwork that artists submit are the meat and potatoes of their show. Without their art, there would be no show! Furthermore, there would be no online magazine without art. And no public mural or festival.

So why try and gouge the artists who are making the show possible?

I don’t bother with online magazines. They aren’t even giving you a real, walk in the door and look at the paintings and sculptures show. It’s all online, and has to do with the number of hits they’re bragging that they get. They talk about making your art famous somewhere in the stratosphere, but they want your money first.

The Los Gatos Art Project sounded great to a cat lover like me!

The Los Gatos Art Project sounded great to a cat lover like me!

The one that really took the cake this week was the town of Los Gatos, near Santa Cruz. I am a big cat lover. I have five cats at home that consume about $20 in canned cat food and treats each week. But you can’t put a price on my sanity! They keep me grounded and make me laugh every day!

Anyway, Los Gatos is hosting a Cat Walk art project. Artists are encouraged to submit 10-15 drawings of sculptured cats that would be displayed in trees downtown.

“The proposed project would celebrate the town’s namesake through a creative and integrated display of 3-dimensional cats in downtown trees,” it states. Sounds really great until you read the fine print.

The cats can’t be made of wood, but of metal or fiberglass to withstand the elements. The town is willing to pay $533 to $800 apiece for the 15 cat sculptures. The total budget is $8,000.

And there’s a possibility that they’ll split the commission among two artists, who will get $4,000 each.

Wow, it sounds like a lot of money until you break it down. The artist has to make the 15 glass or metal sculpture, and then make it big enough for passersby to see. It has to be 10-15 inches tall, and only weigh about 10 pounds.

I don’t know much about making sculptures, but if you cast or create a cat with metal, it’s going to cost a lot and weigh a lot.

I’ll bet there’s no metal sculptors on the reviewing committee. Otherwise, they’d be screaming, “Foul!”

The guidelines state that the artist also has to pay to have it mounted to the trees, so there’s no theft, vandalism and damage. (There’s also a part about making sure that the mount doesn’t damage the trees. How is that possible? Is an arborist going to test the tree for stress?)

OK, so the artist gets a great commission to make some metal cat sculptures of several different designs, and then pay to have it mounted. But then there’s travel costs.

The Los Gatos commission didn't include travel expenses.

The Los Gatos commission didn’t include travel expenses.

As a matter of perspective, Los Gatos is closer to San Jose than Santa Cruz, and is about 450 miles from Idyllwild. That would be a two-day trip that includes gas, meals, and hotels. Not to mention you have to bring along a helper (if you’re not married), and all of their expenses. You also have to spend a couple of days in Los Gatos mounting those 15 cats to the trees.

Gotta make sure that they look good from all angles.

For the Los Gatos project, there’s less and less for the poor sculptor (who may not even break even) and more for the town. That might even be OK if the sculptor became famous, or got some side work out of the deal.

More than likely, it’ll just be an article and a couple of photos in the paper during the installation.

And maybe another one down the road when one of the cats gets “tagged” or stolen by some punk kids.

Public art projects need to focus more on the artist’s needs, and fully compensate them for their time, talent and efforts.

Gallery artists who are loaning their artwork to make a show, should not have to pay to be considered. They should not have to pay to ship their artwork back and forth.

Starving artists are often taken advantage of in the name of art.

Starving artists are often taken advantage of in the name of art.

I’m convinced that “starving artists,” who are looked upon in our society as those who can’t manage their money or career well, are taken advantage of in the name of art. All you have to do is look closely on the CAC web site.

It’s time to waive the entry fees and give fine artists the respect they deserve. Because without art, all the art shows, festivals, online magazines, and public art projects would just be empty rooms and  parks.

Whomever submits the winning entry for the Los Gatos Art Project should also mount a tip jar.

Copyright 2013 Marcia Gawecki Art. All rights reserved.




Gwen Novak Reveals New Garner Valley Pastels

Gwen Novak release 6 new images of Garner Valley

Gwen Novak release 6 new images of Garner Valley

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Gwen Novak likes to paint with light.

On her resume, she says she chases light all over the state, often getting up very early.

Recently, she submitted six new pastels about Garner Valley for The Acorn Gallery next to Café Aroma in Idyllwild.

Even though the award-winning artist lives in La Qunita, she adores Garner Valley.

“It’s a vista that changes with the seasons,” she says.

Garner Valley floods

Garner Valley floods

Oftentimes, Novak would pass by Garner Valley on her way to Idyllwild for plein air art shows. Although she hasn’t entered them recently, she has hundreds of photographs of Garner Valley, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning.

Some are created with pink or yellow flowers in the spring. Other times, it’s red grasses in the fall.

Novak works mostly from hundreds of photographs that she’s taken over the years.

She and her husband, Art, are retired, but Novak draws every day.

She uses pure pigments that are expensive, and are used to make paints.

“Some pigments are mixed with charcoal or chalk, but they’re expensive like $16 each,” Novak says. Some are hard as a pencil, while others are soft, and crumble away in her hands as she uses them.

The new pastels range in sizes from 8 x 10 inches, 11 x 14 inches and 16 x 20 inches.

Most of what Novak makes from sales is reinvested into gold-leaf frames and museum-quality glass.

She’s a true artist, who doesn’t have a web site with photos of her latest works, or even a business card.

Garner Valley with red grasses

Garner Valley with red grasses

“All I want to do is draw,” Novak says.

And she draws in her La Quinta studio every day. She draws desert scenes of the area, and sometimes draws pictures of the neighbor’s dogs.

Sometimes, one pastel drawing only takes a day to make.  Four to five hours.

She sells about one pastel a month at the Acorn Gallery (next to Café Aroma) in Idyllwild. She doesn’t show her work at any other gallery because there’s no need.

“Gwen is on fire right now,” says Kirsten Ingbretsen, owner of The Acorn Gallery in Idyllwild. “We’ve sold a lot of her works recently.”

Novak showcases Garner Valley in a variety of seasons

Novak showcases Garner Valley in a variety of seasons

Sales range from two Garner Valley pink flowers to a Carlsbad seascape.

Customers who have lived in Garner Valley and the area appreciate Novak’s ability to capture the uniqueness of the terrain in different seasons. The pink and yellow flowers are abundant in the spring, while the red grasses are more prevalent in the fall.

“Garner Valley floods a lot,” says Novak. “Sometimes, the water takes on a pink look because of the algae in it.”

One woman in Idyllwild who bought “Yellow Winter,” which features snow in Garner Valley bathed in yellow light, liked it so much that she kept it for herself. She had originally planned on giving it to her daughter as a present.

Now she is eager to look at Novak’s new works, to see which one she’ll purchase for her daughter. Garner Valley is special to her because it’s where she boards and rides her horse.

Although Novak creates her pastels from photographs that’s she’s take over the years, she welcomes commissioned pieces.  She’ll work from anyone’s submitted photograph, without obligation.

“If someone comes to me with a photograph of their favorite spot in Garner Valley,” Novak says. “I’ll create a piece or two from it, and there’s no obligation. If they like it, they can buy it.”

New works by Gwen Novak can be seen at The Acorn Gallery, next to Café Aroma in Idyllwild. For more information, call the gallery at (951) 659-5950 Prices range from $220 to $1,100 for larger, gold-leaf frames.

Copyright 2013 Marcia Gawecki Art. All rights reserved.