Tag Archives: Idyllwild

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.

8-Month Trek Across the U.S. for Wounded Veterans

(From L) Bryan and Austin rest at the Mountain Center P.O. before camping at Lake Hemet

(From L) Bryan and Austin rest at the Mountain Center P.O. before camping at Lake Hemet

From a distance, they looked like a displaced couple pushing a baby carriage along Hwy. 243. But as you neared, you could see that they were two hikers pushing a dog cart. What were they doing hiking along a busy roadway?

“Chasing the Sun” was an 8-month personal journey across the United States started on Oct. 9, 2013, by Austin Bain Shirley, and his dog, Archer. Joining him a couple of months later was his friend, Brian Cochrain. The two former Navy men helped raise $50,000 for Wounded Service Men and Women.

They were headed towards Mountain Center (bypassing Idyllwild) on their way to San Diego, their final destination.

“Today was the hardest day so far because of the steep elevation,” says Austin, as he sits on the bench outside the Mountain Center Post Office, with his husky, Archer, by his side. “But you can’t beat the scenery.”

They camped out in Valle Vista last night, just off the road, and pitched their tent. They started early, around sunrise, and got to Mountain Center around 3 p.m. They’re averaging about a 20-minute mile, pushing a lightweight cart that carries their food, tent, gear, and today, Archer.

“He’s got a bad blister on his front paw, so we’re making him rest,” Austin says. “But he’s got so much pent-up energy.” Their plans are to camp overnight at Lake Hemet, and go to San Diego via Anza and Aguanga.

Austin says his dog, Archer, has been a real trooper.

Austin says his dog, Archer, has been a real trooper.

On June 26, they’ll head into San Diego, where their charity will be planning a big party for them. “Both of our moms are coming too, and some friends are flying out,” Austin adds.

They regularly take photographs and update their blog site about three times a week. “You should check it out. We have some awesome photographs,” Austin says.

Austin’s brother has been out along their 100,000-mile trip several times to videotape them. “We haven’t videotaped ourselves because it’s too hard to keep a camcorder charged, and then download the files,” he explains.

They say they can’t wait to make it to Lake Hemet and dive in. But when they found out that it was a reservoir, their spirits dampened a bit. “You mean that we cannot go for a swim?” he asked.

It hasn’t all been fun times.

“Texas was the hardest to cross,” adds Bryan. “We kept asking, ‘Are we ever going to get to the border?’”

At the northern route, Texas stretches 1,000 miles. They started in Florida in October, and were in Texas by December. They spent Christmas with their families, and took a few weeks off to recharge. But they hit cold weather crossing Texas.

“It got to about six degrees at night,” Austin says. “We just never got out of our sleeping bags because then you’re cold.” Before Bryan joined Austin in Texas, he started out alone in Florida with Archer. Their business card shows a lone hiker with a dog following the sun.

One day, when Austin was camping out, he got an email from a woman who offered him the run of her beach house for four days.

“I couldn’t believe it when she said that she had a house about a mile down the road from where I was camping,” Austin says. “She gave me the key code and I felt kind of sketch because her house was in a really nice neighborhood.”

Others along the way have offered them homemade meals, showers and overnight stays.

“Everyone we’ve met has been really great,” Austin says. However, in Arizona, they got a warning ticket from an officer who objected to them hiking on the highway.

“They have rules, and we understand that,” he says. “The officer said there’s a lot of smugglers on the road and they didn’t want us to be mixed up with that.”

The two take turns pushing the dog cart that also holds their gear.

The two take turns pushing the dog cart that also holds their gear.

Up until a few days ago, they’ve had to hike mostly at night because the heat of the day was too much.

“It’s nice and quiet at night, and there’s not much traffic,” Austin says. “But you get tired and want to rest and there’s no taking an hour-long nap because you just don’t get up.”

From Hemet to Idyllwild, the sun was shining, but there was a nice breeze. The two talk, sing, and tell jokes to pass the time away. It’s also a time for quiet contemplation, Austin says.

“You spend a lot of time soul searching, and thinking about your life,” he says. They’ve got lots of ideas on what to do next. They’d like to write a book or put together a video. They’ve mapped out their trip, and it’s subject to change over the next 10 days.

Weather, not animals, has been their biggest hurdle. The cold, snow, and sun were the hardest. They’ve seen snakes, and asked what animals lurked about.

“Are there any bears?” Bryan asks. They were happy to hear that Lake Hemet had a nesting pair of bald eagles. They also wanted to see California Condors. Both say that their military training helped most when they were camping out. Their military stints focused on disaster relief, such as Hurricane Katrina.

The next 10 days will be full of anticipation. They’ve averaged 20-30 miles a day, but today, the 6.9 miles they hiked from 2,000 to 4,900 feet was enough. They planned on parking themselves on the bench next to the post office for a couple of hours.

To follow their journey, visit: www.crowdrise.com/chasingthesun2013/fundraiser/bainarcher.

Copyright Marcia Gawecki Art 2014-2024. All rights reserved.

Mirror Image Art Banners May Appeal to Designers

Ella Fitzgerald small banner forward image

A 17 x 20-inch banner of Ella Fitzgerad, front image in process

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Banners were my way of getting around the expensive framing racket. I started with door-sized tab-topped curtains but lately, I have been working my way down to smaller sizes. to fit the market.

I was inspired by a shy and attractive Ella in an early black-and-white photograph that I found online. I worked on the banner on New Year’s Eve (not wanting to go out on “Amateur Night”).

After a few hours of painting, I turned the banner over to add some tick marks. The marks help me keep track of my hours. Generally, it takes me 20-25 hours to finish a small portrait. If I go longer than that, there’s something awry!

I was surprised to see such a clear mirror image of Ella smiling back at me!

The reverse image of Ella Fitzgerald by Marcia Gawecki was sweet too!

The reverse image of Ella Fitzgerald by Marcia Gawecki was sweet too!

The reverse or mirror image looked better than the original that I had been diligently working on. It seemed a shame to paint over it, so I added some colors to the background.

All the while, I was thinking, “What would be the advantage of having two images on a banner? It would take double the amount of time, but would the effort be worth it?”

Then it hit me! The double image banner could be used as a curtain on a door with a window!

The mirror image of a large Obama banner is also "peeking" through!

The mirror image of a large Obama banner is also “peeking” through!

On my front door, there’s a portrait of President Obama that I did in 2008. However, there’s peach paint covering the back of it. Yet, next to the door, is a larger banner of another Obama banner that I did in 2012. When the sun shines, the reverse image peeks through!

Sitting in my living room, I’ve often wondered if I should paint the Obama reverse. Yet, with that large format, it would take hundreds of hours to complete. After the second election, people were more angry about the economy less interested in buying Obama images. So I don’t show that banner much, but I display it outside my Idyllwild home to show my continued commitment to the president.

After painting awhile on the Ella reverse, I decided to take a picture of the two sides and send it to an interior designer I had just met. It was an impulsive email, but I figured that I was onto something really cool for the right market.

If wouldn’t have to be images of jazz legends, but of anyone! I could create double-sided portrait banners of friends or family that people could display on their own front, back or side doors of their home or business.

These double banners could even spruce up a guest house or shed!

I might try it on the next few small banners that I do to see if there’s any interest! It would be double the amount of work, so I may have to charge more for the finished project. It might have a bigger appeal to designers who appreciate artwork that does something more than just hang on a wall!

To see the finished double-sided Ella Fitzgerald, visit the Acorn Gallery at 54750 North Circle Drive (next to Cafe Aroma) in Idyllwild. Call (951) 659-5950.

Copyright 2013-2024 Marcia Gawecki Art. All rights reserved.

Getting Over Painting in Public

Marcia Gawecki at Idyllwild Art & Wine Walk. Photo by Peter Zabadi.

Marcia Gawecki at Idyllwild Art & Wine Walk. Photo by Peter Zabadi.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Ever since I was young, I’ve always hated painting in public. My dad was stationed in the Phillippine Islands, and my sister and I took watercolor lessons from an old Filapino painter. He didn’t saymuch, but with his paintings, he spoke volumes.

During our lessons, it was customary for students to paint along the walkway into the gallery and shop. People would often stop and watch awhile. My sister, Beth, was definitely a better painter, and found a way to block out any distractions, including visitors.

For me, however, I would suddenly become self-conscious, and fumble with my paint, taking on too much paint or water, and creating an instant mess. Visitors would leave in embarassment, knowing that they caused the commotion.

It got to the point that I would rush through a painting in the early part of our lesson so it would be nearly done by the time that the nosy customers would walk by. Or worse yet, stop and watch.

Because of this, I almost stopped painting. But then I realized that most artists paint in private.

Over the years, when I lived in Omaha, Chicago, and now Idyllwild, gallery owners have encouraged me to paint in public. I would immediately refuse, saying I was too shy, or my canvas was too big for it to work.

Then I’d secretly watch the other artists that agreed to paint outside. One painter working outside the former Artisans Gallery in Oakwood Village, had them captivated. People were drinking wine and milling about, and occasionally would ask her questions, about where she lived, what medium she used, and how long she had been painting.

Louis Armstrong outside Acorn Gallery Idyllwild. 38 x 50 1/2 inches.

Louis Armstrong outside Acorn Gallery Idyllwild.
38 x 50 1/2 inches.

She responded with patience and grace. Then she noticed a squirrel digging and running up a nearby tree, and included it in her painting! Needless to say, I was amazed! She ended up selling a couple of paintings. I think it had something to do with the outdoor connection.

But that still didn’t convince me to paint in public. My palms still get sweaty at the thought of it. Then I managed to get my portraits in the Acorn Gallery, next to Cafe Aroma. I started watching the gallery two days a week.

Kirsten Ingbretsen, the owner who is also a mixed-media artist, would encourage me to paint inside or outside the gallery. She was very casual about it.

Billie Holiday is on display at the Acorn Gallery in Idyllwild

Billie Holiday is on display at the Acorn Gallery in Idyllwild

Then the Idyllwild Art and Wine Walk arrived, and two of the Acorn artists had agreed to paint outside on the deck. They set up their easels and table, and made it inviting. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to participate, but I set up my banner of Tim Weisberg next to a chair in the parking lot. My back was to everyone who were busy drinking wine, so it was easy to handle.

I decided to get over it.

It was OK until people started getting rowdy and nearly spilled their wine on my back. However, I met some interesting people, and maybe got a commission out of one encounter.

The next week, when I would set out the easels and sculptures on Acorn’s deck, I could see traces o red paint left over from Kirsten’s art projects. At first, I tried to scrape the paint away, but it was stubborn. Scrubbing it was like scraping up frosting left over from a birthday party.

One day, I decided to paint outside under the umbrella, hoping to attract more visitors to the gallery. I was working on a sign that I needed for an art booth. However, I noticed that the longer I painted outside, the less people came into the gallery. They seemed to go the long way around the steps to Cafe Aroma.

I felt like an art troll guarding the door of the gallery. No one would dare cross me, unless they could comment about my painting. Little did they know, it was the last thing I wanted!

So I moved inside. Believe it or not, Kirsten did not object to painting on her glass desk, next to the counter. It was tucked away in the far corner, so visitors didn’t really see me working there until later.

I’m not sure when I started painting there regularly, but it was a matter of necessity. I had some commissions to finish before Christmas and was running out of time. At first, I would just paint the backs of the banners, something that I’d always leave for last. Then I kept adding colors to the back, and pretty soon it looked like an abstract!

When I started working on the front. At the time, I was working on a portrait of baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax. When people would come in, I’d immediately stop painting. I’d even cover it with a towel or a nearby folder, and go help them.

Then people started asking about the paintings.

“Oh, you do those bright portraits?” they’d ask. “What are you working on?” “Hey, that looks exactly like him!”

Sometimes, I’d go into detail about what kind of paint I used, or why I decided to paint on tab-topped curtains. Then I’d point out the other prints in the gallery, and the conversation would go into another direction.

These encounters were innocent enough, and really didn’t produce any sales. People were just curious about what you were doing. Kind of like if I were to see a woodworker whittling away at a piece of wood. I would stop and watch too.

But inside, I still was the young girl who was afraid of messing up.

Then yesterday, I had an encounter with a young artist. Her name was Gabriela, and she and her parents were looking around the gallery. They were from a rural town in Northern California.

Gabby was asking pointed questions about Kirsten’s work that was on display on an easel. This particular one was intense and theraputic. I explained that Kirsten paints about her experiences, and in this case, about a fight she had with her friend.

“She painted this painting a few years ago right after an argument, and then put it away,” I told Gabby, who was looking at the Buddah and sailboats at the top of the painting. “Then she painted this part later. You can do that, you know, finish a painting years later.”

Gabby’s mother saw my paints on the desk, and mentioned that Gabby got an easel and several canvases for Christmas.

“What kind of paint do you use?” she asked.

“I use Behr acrylic paint from Home Depot,” I explained. “I have them mix the $3 samples in bright colors. They have screw on lids, so I don’t spill the paint while I’m painting on my kitchen floor.”

People are always amazed that artists will just paint in the middle of a room. That’s nothing! I know of a sculptor who built a clay pot in the middle of his living room while his wife was away! However, she threatened to leave him if he did it again!

Then Gabby’s dad showed me one of Gabby’s recent paintings on his cell phone. It was an incredible painting of a sunset. There were reds, yellows and blues, with lots of movement. My heart was full!

“How old is Gabby?” I asked.

“Six years old,” her mother replied.

Then I understood why they were a little apprehensive. At that young age, Gabby had real talent. She could even be great, if she kept it up. I tried not to jump up and down and shout that they had the next van Gogh on their hands! Instead, I took their lead and remained calm.

“You should frame it,” I suggested. “It’s really good!”

Gabby beamed.

Her mother said she had put the sunset up in her room. I could tell that they probably didn’ t have much money, and were overwhelmed with what they were going to do with her. I wanted to suggest private lessons, but in the rural area where they lived, there probably was limited resources.

So I suggested that they get large canvases from thrift stores, and paint over those ugly paintings.

“You can use white or any color to cover it, and sometimes there’s texture from the previous painting that you can use in your own landscapes,” I suggested.

Gabby liked the idea, and I asked her if she painted from nature, or out of her head.

“For the sunset, I painted what I saw. My parents like to look at sunsets,” she said. “But other times, I paint from out of my head.”

Artists who can paint from imagination or memory are a different breed.

Then I handed her a poster that I had done of Casey Abrams that showed all the bright colors, explaining that it was OK to give him a green face and purple hair.

I’m not sure how much of what I said sunk in with Gabby. My guess is that she would be light years ahead of me in no time. But she seemed like a well-adjusted young girl, curious about the world.

After they left for Humber Park searching for the last traces of snow, I looked back at Kirsten’s desk. My paint tubs were lined up like little soldiers, while the brushes were resting in the small water cup. The portrait was half hidden, but it was a definite mess.

Then I realized then that I would never have had that art conversation with Gabby had I not been painting in public. I would have said hi to her, and talked about the holiday or the weather, and that would’ve been it.

I would have missed Gabby’s sunset.

Copyright 2013 Marcia Gawecki Art. All rights reserved.

Mistints and a Messy Kitchen

Jazz guitarist Graham Dechter in process on my kitchen floor in Idyllwild.

Jazz guitarist Graham Dechter in process on my kitchen floor in Idyllwild.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

During the holidays, most people will admit they have messy kitchens. There’s dishes in the sink, pans left on the stove, and tabletops not wiped down. There might even be a rolling pin or food processor left out from baking pies or pesto. As an artist, I have them all beat.

My kitchen is a mine field.

There’s a large canvas tarp spread across the 15 x 15-foot floor. It’s just a formality because paint is splattered everywhere. There’s not one defining color, and it’s not pretty.

Paint cans, brushes, rags and spaghetti jars filled with water and brushes line my path from the computer to the kitchen sink. At least once a week, I trip over the water jar, sending brushes and water all over the floor. My cats scurry out of the way as I sop it up with rags, towels, bras or anything handy, cursing all the while.

In the mountains above Palm Springs where I live, things don’t dry easily. So I have to wait on my door-sized canvases to dry.

It’s actually gotten better from the days when I would knock over entire cans of paint secured with tippy metal lids. I’ve ruined many favorite clothes trying to get out of the way.

I like mistints from Home Depot, you know, the kind of paint that’s been marked down to $8 a gallon because it wasn’t the right shade of pink, blue or green, and the buyer probably had a snit.

I’ve always wanted to ask the paint clerk about the backstory of why the person refused an entire gallon of paint. Such a waste! But I’m just so happy to have these great finds, that I don’t want to get anyone mad again.

I’d buy up all of the mistints I could afford, but then there were days there was only odd grays and creams left. I’d be like a junkie returning to Home Depot every few days looking to score a green or maybe a bright orange.

Then I discovered paint samples. Those are the small plastic cannisters of paint that look like butter tubs. Most people buy them to try out on their living room, bedroom or kitchen walls. If the sample color looks good, then they’ll go ahead buy a couple of gallons of the same shade. It’s a no-stress way of buying paint because Behr (brand) samples cost less than $3.

When the weather is nice, I paint on my back deck, like this one of Ella Fitzgerald.

When the weather is nice, I paint on my back deck, like this one of Ella Fitzgerald.

I prefer Behr paint because it is Made in the USA, in Santa Ana, California. It makes me feel good knowing that my small paint purchases are helping to save American jobs. I also like Behr paint because it’s top quality, and usually comes with primer built in. So you don’t have to spend so much of it covering your canvases.

The only downside to buying Behr paint samples is that Home Depot may be on to me. When I show up at the counter with five color swatches, and ask for five samples, it must register that I’m not painting all the walls in my house a different color. So far, they haven’t grumbled because it’s work. They have to go to the same trouble as mixing a gallon of paint– for a fraction of the cost.

And they know that I’m not coming back tomorrow to buy a couple of gallons.

Some friends of mine think that buying acrylic house paint is cheap, or less quality. Yep, it probably is. But I figured if it’s good enough to put on the outside or inside of your house and last several years, then it’s good enough to put on my paintings.

Besides, I need large quantities of acrylic paint to cover my door-sized banners. And Jackson Pollock used common house paint in his splatter-paint masterpieces.

Mainly, it’s a matter of economics. You may recall that I am the artist without a studio who sacrificed my kitchen floor. Do you think I have enough money to pay for acrylic paint at $30 a jar?

I’m just trying to find a way to continue painting without having to give it up and just be another bill-paying slob.

Banner of Barnaby Finch in process. The bigger the banner, the bigger the mess.

Banner of Barnaby Finch in process. The bigger the banner, the bigger the mess.

The only people who I allow over these days are my friends. I just can’t stand to see the horror on their faces. One time, a friend came over for a walk, but brought another friend. I mentioned in the walk that I had “sacrificed” my kitchen floor to paint. After the walk, she wanted to see it. I was giddy from all that exercise, so I said OK.

I won’t mention her name because she didn’t have a good reaction. She just stared like I had spread chicken guts all over the floor and left.

It made me feel weird and judged for my lack of tidiness. If I could manage to paint somewhere else in my house, believe me, I would. But for now, it’s all I’ve got.

The only ones who probably wouldn’t judge me would be LA graffiti or street artists. I met a few of them when I wrote an article about them showing at a gallery in Palm Springs. They had videos on their web sites that showed them wading through paper and canvases in their living rooms. They would use spray paint paint that would go everywhere!

It was so wonderful! I felt like I found my long lost brothers!

In the midst of the mess, they’d tack inspirational messages to the wall from other well-known artists like Picasso.

“While other people are talking, I’m doing art,” was the Picasso quote.

LA graffiti artists are probably the only ones who wouldn't judge me. Frankenstein's monster by Marcia Gawecki

LA graffiti artists are probably the only ones who wouldn’t judge me. Frankenstein’s monster by Marcia Gawecki

These guys are amazing artists who can paint anywhere, on a building, a wall or on a grand piano. They create beauty and precision with spray cans of paint. The ones I met have clothing designers and international beer brands courting them.

But there was a time when they couldn’t pay their rent. However, they probably never worried about what others thought of their work space where they also happened to live.

So really it’s a matter of perspective. I could tell people that I have a studio space, that also doubles as a kitchen.

Copyright 2013-2024 Marcia Gawecki Art. All rights reserved.

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.

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 (www.cac.ca.gov). 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.








Channeling Sinatra in Idyllwild

Poster for "Frank Sinatra & Friends" event Oct. 18

Poster for “Frank Sinatra & Friends” event Oct. 18

By Marcia E. Gawecki

In his 40s, Scott Foster looks like a young Frank Sinatra. He’s got the same steel blue eyes, similar facial features, a slight build and naturally, he was wearing a fedora. We were talking outside Cafe Aroma during the 18th Annual “Art & Wine Walk” in Idyllwild on Saturday, Oct. 12.

“I don’t really look like him,” Foster said with a big smile. “It must be the hat.”

Like Sinatra, Foster grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey, and used to sing at a piano bar, while attending art school.

“There was an old piano player there, who would let you sing a few songs,” Fisher recalled. “As long as you had some chops.”

Then Foster sang a few bars of “Send me to the Moon,” in pitch-perfect Sinatra.

Foster will be performing from 7-9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 at Cafe Aroma. The show, “Sinatra & Friends” refers to some of Sinatra-era singers like Neil Diamond.

Foster used to get in trouble in art school for impersonating singers like Sinatra and Diamond.

“My teachers would tell me not to sing exactly like them,” Foster said. “They wanted to hear my voice.”

Although Foster sings with other contemporary bands, he likes impersonating Sinatra’s voice.

“I sing like the older Frank,” Foster explains. “He wouldn’t always hit every note, but would go back and hit it and be right on!”

Foster admits to “channeling” Sinatra when he sings.

“When I’m in a tuxedo and singing from Frank’s songbook, I don’t feel right unless I have a glass of whiskey in my hand,” Foster said.

Foster is not a fanatic who knows every detail of the crooner’s life. But he’s studied his voice enough and knows a little bit about his history, namely that he died in Palm Springs.

“It’s just an hour away, but I haven’t been there yet,” he admits. He hasn’t performed his “Sinatra and Friends” gig in Palm Springs, but isn’t ruling it out.

He’s just taking it one step at a time.

Foster gets great enjoyment when people come up to him afterwards and say, “You sing better than Sinatra!”

Then I showed him my Frank Sinatra banner hanging outside the Acorn Gallery, and he mugged for pictures.

Frank Sinatra & Friends event with Gawecki art banner

Frank Sinatra & Friends event with Gawecki art banner

Tickets to “Sinatra and Friends” for the Oct. 18 show are still available. Call Cafe Aroma at (951) 659-5212. The restaurant is located at 54750 N. Circle Drive in Idyllwild.

Copyright Marcia Gawecki Art 2013. All rights reserved.