Sara Balough had an idea for an art show, one that would impress viewers and at the same time serve to benefit not one good cause but two. Better still, she had the drive to make it happen, and the opening reception takes place Wednesday at the Malaga Cove Library in Palos Verdes Estates.
So, how did all this come about?
“It came about as the result of two things,” Balough replies. “One is that I’m an interior designer and I noticed that many of my clients were hesitant to purchase original works of art – and I really believe original artwork elevates an interior and makes it a more elegant, substantial interior. So I wanted to give my clients an opportunity to look at and be exposed to good quality, original art, and at a price that they would find accessible.
“I thought to have an art show of small works so that they would be a good value, but also (to demonstrate) you wouldn’t have to redecorate a whole room around the small work; you could just add that in lots of places. I thought that was something my clients would enjoy.
“At the same time,” Balough adds, “my son had just been deployed to Afghanistan. He’s in the army, and I wanted to dedicate some effort on my part while he was gone, (to) something that would benefit the military. So I decided to do this art show as a benefit for a veterans group, and the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association) agreed to be the beneficiary.
“They are one of the beneficiaries. Of course the public library is the other beneficiary because we’re so fortunate to have this incredible historic building with a beautiful gallery. So that is how it came about.”
An art show, however, needs artists, and a few years earlier Sara Balough had met Thomas Redfield, a vital member of the Portuguese Bend Art Colony.
“I called him and asked if he would be interested and if he could help me,” Balough says, “and he was so gracious and wonderful. He just opened all kinds of doors to all these wonderful artists.”
As it turned out, quite a few people came forward in hopes of being able to display their work.
“We have almost 40 artists who are participating,” Balough says, “and they range from new, emerging artists to very serious, well respected, established artists.”
About half of them are members of the prestigious California Art Club, but the call for submissions went far beyond the California state line.
“I have artists who have submitted from Hawaii and Colorado and New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” Balough says, “which is pretty exciting. But there’s lots of local people and local scenes, too, that people will recognize.”
You mentioned about 40 artists. Does that mean there’ll be 40 pieces or are there more than that in the show?
“There’s more than that,” Balough replies. “Each artist was allowed to submit three pieces, and the jurors then chose [from among those]. So some artists have three pieces, some artists only have one piece in the show. But we have about 90 works. It’s a sizeable show.”
The work will be for sale, and prices range between $200 and $7,000.
Monet today; Pissarro tomorrow
The art on view is more likely to have a calming rather than a distancing effect.
“It’s predominantly plein air art,” Balough says, “which is painting done outdoors, usually at one sitting, and so [it’s mainly that] classic sort of California Impressionist approach to art.”
Readers may remember that when the PalosVerdesArtCenter reopened at their renovated location the very first show highlighted California Impressionism.
“That was in fact a plein air show,” Balough replies, “and Jean Stern (who was heavily involved in that exhibition) is the executive director of the Irvine Museum. He’s one of the judges of the show. The show is not only juried – which means you have to pass some judgment just to be accepted into the show – but it is also judged, which means that once it’s all hung judges will determine who gets the first place and second place prize, and then there’s a people’s choice prize, too.
“So,” she continues, “Jean Stern is one of the judges as is Randy Higbee, who is a gallery owner in Costa Mesa, and myself; and the jurors were Thomas Redfield, Randy Higbee, and myself.”
Will these prizes just be for recognition, or is there some cash value attached to them?
“Yes,” Balough replies, “there’s cash prizes.” Also, one or more of the award-winners will be receiving an autographed copy of Jean Stern’s book and, from Randy Higbee, various framing certificates. “In addition,” Balough says, “there’ll be a small silent auction happening on the night of the opening, which is Wednesday, December 4, from 5 until 8 p.m.”
The Malaga Cove Library is located at 2400 Via Campesina, Palos Verdes Estates. The art show is up through Dec. 27 and is viewable during library hours, which are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. To learn more, call Sara Balough at (310) 251-1968 or go to beautifulartonline.com. ER