Bondo Wyszpolski

The Redondo Beach Art Group’s annual show isn’t just painting a pretty picture

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Karen Baughman, Tasha Garfield, Kevin Holladay, and Bernard Fallon. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

“This year we’ve downsized, and it’s not the Power of Art,” says Tasha Garfield.

“We’re focused on the art; we’ve made it about the art and the artists,” adds Karen Baughman. “We’re not doing the musical performances and the dance performances. We’ve really scaled back.”

In years past, the Redondo Beach Art Group (RBAG) has commandeered a restaurant, a park, a performing arts center, and, of course, a power plant, to showcase the art of their members and invited guests. The two-weekend events have also highlighted readings and concerts, art workshops and demonstrations, as well as dance. They were festive events, and well attended.

“Imagine,” Baughman points out, referring to the title of the new exhibition, opening this weekend, is a quiet show compared to the Power of Art. For all that, there’s no reason to assume that the quality of the work will be any less inviting than what we’ve seen before.

However, what can be assumed is that RBAG has scored another coup by convincing the owners of two adjacent galleries – Richard Stephens of Cannery Row and Kevin Holladay of 608 North – to simultaneously host this year’s show.

“It’s a dichotomy of spaces,” Garfield explains. Although the overarching title for both groups of work is “Imagine,” 608 North is highlighting “Imagine Art” while Cannery Row shines a spotlight of a different color on “Imagine No Boundaries.”

“Morning Leaf,” by Cie Gumucio, on view in “Imagine.”

So, what does this mean?

It means that the RBAG member artists are displaying works at 608 North along the lines of what they usually create. If the artist has been painting giraffes for twenty years then you may expect to see yet another giraffe portrait and probably not a ground squirrel.

“At Cannery Row,” says Garfield, “you had to think outside your box.”

Ground squirrel, get your tail back in here.

In other words, Baughman says, “Stepping outside of your comfort zone and experimenting with things that maybe you hadn’t experimented with before. I think you grow as an artist when you do that.”

Whether one grows, or shrinks in stature, it’s a creative challenge.

“The question will be,” says Bernard Fallon, “how far have [the artists] pushed their own self or their own envelope?”

Fallon, known somewhat exclusively for his paintings and his photographs, says he’s done something with assemblage, something involving cameras and guns. I just hope he remembers that old saying, that women, like firearms, can wound you from a distance.

By way of contrast, Baughman, who usually paints landscapes (think florals and pastorals), created a set of three pictures that depict “how a woman changes as she grows, as represented by what she carries in her purse.”

The contents of the first purse, spread out as if on a table, belong to a girl of five, with all of her prized possessions rather than necessities. The next purse (this one not in the show) reveals the contents carried by a young mother, while the items in the third purse are more practical and reflect the needs of a mature woman.

Altogether, about 118 artworks will be on view, everything curated by Peggy Zask, who has yet another show of her own – “Departures” – coming up on Oct. 26 at her gallery in Rolling Hills Estates.

To Kevin Holladay, who runs 608 North: How did they talk you into this?

“Big promises,” he says with a grin. “Nah, they smiled and they were very friendly.”

Garfield clarifies this: “We made promises, they made promises.”

“Backroom art deals,” Holladay replies.

The same question is later posed to Richard Stephens, who points out that this is the fourth time he’s been corralled by the art group. With a twinkle in his eye, and a beer I his hand, he says: “They have this impossible situation…. They want to put together in a minimal amount of time with no money… so it was always a challenge for me to see if I could get it done.”

(Notice those ellipses? That’s the beer talking, folks)

And of course he comes through every time, which is one of the reasons why Cannery Row remains the preeminent art gallery in Redondo Beach and among the most highly regarded in the South Bay, if not the whole world. But more on the latter subject another time.

After Holladay opened up 608 North, Stephens says, “I realized that there was enough room to do a small show for the RBAG.” He feels that scaling back was actually good for them, although Baughman and Garfield assert that the Power of Art in its larger manifestation will return next year. Where that venue will be is part of the intrigue that has already generated more than one artful surprise. Any guesses?

Imagine opens tomorrow evening, but the big shindig that the cool people don’t want to miss is set for Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. Music, and light hors d’oeuvres served. Suggested donation, $10. Imagine Art is located in 608 North, 608 N. Francisca Ave., while Imagine No Boundaries is at 604 N. Francisca Ave., both off of Catalina Avenue in Redondo Beach. Workshops for children and adults on Saturday afternoon. Gifts for sale; items to be raffled, donated by local businesses. Hours, Thursday to Saturday from 12 noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 12 noon to 5 p.m. Closes Oct. 21. More info if you convert this newspaper into a computer and go to redondobeachartgroup.org.