Category Archives: Art Shows

Expressionist Art Explosion at Colin Fisher Studios

Peggy Gawecki stands in front of a wall of Expressionist portraits at Colin Fisher Studios

Peggy Gawecki stands in front of a wall of Expressionist portraits at Colin Fisher Studios

Expressionist art has exploded in the latest show entitled, “Here’s Looking at You” at the Colin Fisher Studios in Cathedral City.

Each one of the 500 or so paintings is from Fisher’s collection, which means he purchased it outright, and now it’s for sale. In his gallery flyer, Fisher says that he turned down at least 10 paintings for each one he’s purchased.

Some of the paintings are from well known artists, such as Picasso, to street artists, such as Purvis Young, both with hefty price tags. Yet, prices for this remarkable art range from $400 to $40,000. Among the standout pieces is a wall-sized homage to the Mona Lisa by a Polish artist, Vladmir Prodanovich, who shows regularly at the gallery, and an oversized portrait of a woman’s head made entirely out of cardboard.

A small Expressionist portrait of Miles Davis by Marcia Gawecki at Colin Fisher Studios

A small Expressionist portrait of Miles Davis by Marcia Gawecki at Colin Fisher Studios

Among them is a small Expressionist portrait of Miles Davis by Marcia Gawecki of Idyllwild. This is her first show at the Colin Fisher studios, and a departure from her regular colorful Pop Art style.

Show runs daily from Nov. 15 to Dec. 30. Colin Fisher Studios is located at 68929 Perez Road in Cathedral City. Call (760) 324-7600.

11 Art Banners at Jazz in the Pines Idyllwild

Miles Davis by Gawecki. Whenever I hear "Kind of Blue," I know everything's going to be OK.

Miles Davis by Gawecki. Whenever I hear “Kind of Blue,” I know everything’s going to be OK.

This year at Jazz in the Pines in Idyllwild, 11 bright hand-painted banners will be decorating the French Quarter and near the main stage. Many of the jazz musicians featured on the door-sized banners are locals, including musical director Marshall Hawkins, the late crooner, Herb Jeffries who had a home here, and vocalist/pianist Yve Evans, who lives in Palm Springs.

Musical director Marshall Hawkins being painted on Gawecki's kitchen floor.

Musical director Marshall Hawkins being painted on Gawecki’s kitchen floor.

Bassist/singer Casey Abrams, who wowed on American Idol three years ago, Caleb Hensinger, a trumpet player and Graham Dechter, jazz guitar, were Idyllwild Arts Academy graduates. Abrams will appear with Hawkins on the main stage at 4:15 p.m. today (Sunday).

Jazz guitarist Graham Dechter in process. He is an Idyllwild Arts graduate.

Jazz guitarist Graham Dechter in process. He is an Idyllwild Arts graduate.

Hensinger was a scholarship student who is studying at Berklee in Boston. Jazz in the Pines is a fundraiser for student scholarships at the Idyllwild Arts Academy and Summer Program.

Jazz banner of Etta James by Gawecki who saw her perform at the Chicago Theater with BB King.

Jazz banner of Etta James by Gawecki who saw her perform at the Chicago Theater with BB King.

Other banners at the festival include jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James. All the banners were created on tab-topped cotton curtains with acrylic paint from the hardware store. Local artist Marcia Gawecki, who worked as a van driver at Idyllwild Arts for five years, likes using bright Behr mistints like seafoam green and neon pink.

This is Gawecki's fifth image of Marshall Hawkins. No. 6 is near the main stage.

This is Gawecki’s fifth image of Marshall Hawkins. No. 6 is near the main stage.

She paints on her kitchen floor in Idyllwild. It’s the only available space for the large banners. Outside on the deck, pine needles rain down and bugs meet a sudden death with the paint.

The large banner of Casey Abrams was painted during his time on American Idol.

The large banner of Casey Abrams was painted during his time on American Idol.

This is the first time Gawecki has shown all 11 banners together in an outdoor space. She hopes to showcase them all together at a gallery this year. Three of the 11 were purchased by locals, including Anne Finch, co-chair for this year’s jazz committee, and Pam Pierce, Casey Abrams’ mother. Celebrities who own Gawecki’s banners and paintings include comedian Bill Cosby, rock flutist Tim Weisberg and President Barack Obama. Gawecki sent Obama a T-shirt a few years ago, and his framed thank-you note hangs in her home.

After the jazz fest, Gawecki hopes to sell eight of the original banners which range in price from $500 to $800. For more information, call (951) 265-6755.

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.








Giants, Scoundrels & Locals at Honey Bunns

Nanci Killingsworth stands before Marcia Gawecki's Pop Art portraits

Nanci Killingsworth stands before Marcia Gawecki’s Pop Art portraits

Honey Bunns & Joe is a small-sized bakery with a big heart for art. For the past year, they’ve given away wall space in their Idyllwild business for artists to host shows .  The June show is called “Giants, Scoundrels & Locals,” a motley crew of Pop Art portraits by Idyllwild artist Marcia Gawecki.


Granted, it’s not a big space. The sign on the wall says there’s a capacity for only 10 people. But ask any artist whose shown there, and they will tell you that you can do a lot with those four walls.

“I had 25 prints and three small banners, and I managed to fill the space,” Gawecki said, with the help of her friend Nanci Killingsworth.

Gawecki’s show features $25 prints of jazz giants like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. Most of them were created for Jazz in the Pines, a two-day jazz event held on the Idyllwild Arts campus in August each year.

There’s also prints of scoundrels or celebrities who have “fallen from grace,” such as Michael Jackson and Mel Gibson. Gawecki sized up her choices in her “Artist Comment” posted on the wall:

“Many Hollywood stars that I have painted have “fallen from grace.” I don’t have to like them, only get a good likeness.”

Gawecki has had an art gallery refuse to show Mel Gibson because of his anti Semitic beliefs.

Mad Mel Gibson by Marcia Gawecki

Mad Mel Gibson by Marcia Gawecki

“For this show, I titled it ‘Mad Mel’ to give viewers an idea of my feelings towards him,” Gawecki said. “I didn’t want to offend anyone with the image, but open up a dialogue . There’s been some anti Semitism in Idyllwild, and we need to get it out in the open. I don’t think it should be tolerated.”

Besides the title, Gawecki showed a bloody red cruxifix protruding from Gibson’s eyebrows. It was painted shortly after the release of his 2004 film, “The Passion of the Christ,” which many say depicted Jews as being exceptionally brutal to Jesus Christ.

Gawecki has not been one to shy away from politicizing her views in paint. The image of Michael Jackson originally had the title, “The King of Pop is Not” to discuss his many child molestation accusations.

“If you look closely at his ears, you can see their pointed or elf like,” Gawecki said.

And the image of Ronald Reagan was reframed for the Honey Bunns show. The original one was a wooden frame with camoulflage on it. Gawecki had just come back from living two years in Chile, and had an earful of Reagan’s offenses.

“Reagan has a slight bit of red under his nose,” Gawecki said. “Its not a shadow, but blood.”

The rest of the painting was all done in green hues. The red is subtle but is more obvious when you add the camelflage frame, she said.

There’s also Idyllwild locals, including Marshall Hawkins, who heads up the jazz department at Idyllwild Arts who was just inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame. He started Jazz in the Pines which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

In addition to Marshall, there’s American Idol heartthrob Casey Abrams, the ‘Bronze Buckaroo’ Herb Jeffries, who turns 100 in August this year and Jeffrey Taylor, who owns Green Cafe Internet and has been promoting films for 15 years now.

“I like to title my shows because then it gives them a framework,” Gawecki said. “But everyone’s giant could be someone else’s scoundrel.”

Gawecki sold one painting yesterday, but other artists at Honey Bunns have had more success.

Originally, Gawecki's portrait of Ronald Reagan had a camouflage frame

Originally, Gawecki’s portrait of Ronald Reagan had a camouflage frame

Nanci, a mosiac artist from Idyllwild, had made the most of her show space last fall by adding shelves, and using her interior design know how. Before her opening, she had already sold five pieces.

“I called her with the good news, but she was up until midnight making more mosaics to replace the five that were sold,” said Dan Slattery, one of Honey Bunns & Joe’s owners.

“After he called, I was happy that people liked my work, but I also had to raise my prices,” Nanci said.

As a memento, Nanci left Honey Bunns one of her mosiac cups for their stir straws. Other artists have left paintings, prints and photos on the wall as a “thank you” for not charging for the space.

“People can’t believe that we don’t charge any commission,” Dan said. “But the way I see it, every month someone comes in here and redecorates the place. It’s really great! Not like getting bored seeing the same old painting.”

For other artists like Helen Ziler, who had her Honey Bunns show in May, sales aren’t the mark of success. The fact that her son considers her art “family heirlooms” meant more than any sale.

“My son looked around the room, and told me that he wanted to keep all of them in the family,” Helen said wistfully. “That meant a lot to me.”

This was also Ziler’s first art show, and it was comfortable enough for her to want to continue in her pursuit.

Billie Holiday is one of the giants in Gawecki's "Giants, Scoundrels & Locals" show at Honey Bunns in Idyllwild

Billie Holiday is one of the giants in Gawecki’s “Giants, Scoundrels & Locals” show at Honey Bunns in Idyllwild

Dan’s wife, Laura, is the baker who also has talent.

“I’m just creative,” Laura Slattery said, when someone called her an artist. Some of her confectionary creations include lavendar-almond scones, snickerdoodles and of course, sticky honey buns.

“She likes to mix it up by combining different ingredients and not featuring the same thing all the time,” Dan added.

On the wall above the door features one of Laura’s photos. It’s a close-up of her hands kneading dough. The reflected light makes the pose more intimate. It was a collaboration with a photographer friend over the internet, she said.

“Giants, Scoundrels & Locals,” a collection of Pop Art portraits by Idyllwild artist Marcia Gawecki, will remain at Honey Bunns & Joe through June. The bakery is located at 54385 N. Circle Drive in Idyllwild, and is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Call (951)659-8606.

Copyright 2013 Marcia Gawecki. All rights reserved.