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Creating a big picture, one piece at a time

Members of the Santa Clarita Artists’ Association are painting the town with original works of art

Posted: July 11, 2009 3:42 p.m.
Updated: July 12, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Laurie Morgan, president of the Santa Clarita Artists' Association, displays one of her paintings. The association's mission is to "make the visual arts visible" through displays of works by local artists throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, as well as outreach and educational programs.

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From pastels and portraits to handcrafted jewelry and sculpture, the members of the Santa Clarita Artists’ Association are painting the town with artistic expression.

With original pieces displayed in local venues and exhibits, as well as new interactive programs, the Artists’ Association hopes to encourage more members of society to support its mission of “making visual art visible.”

“Art is all around us in daily life,” said 2009-10 Artists’ Association President, Laurie Morgan. “There is beauty in everything. Through art, there is a way to express this beauty and share it with others.”

A Mission Made Possible
The association is a nonprofit organization formed in 1989 by a group of local artists who wanted to share their expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm for art with others in the community.

Since its inception, the association has grown in membership to include professional, amateur and novice artists alike.

“We welcome anyone with a love and appreciation for art,” said Sandy Fisher, 2007-08 association president. “Visual art is a common language that unites us across ages and ethnicities. It’s wonderful to see people coming together to enjoy it.”

The association has developed a variety of programs designed to foster and enhance artistic skills among their members.

“The diversity of the programs offered to our members are so they feel inspired,” said Fisher. “If our artists feel taken care of, then they in turn produce work that inspires the community as a whole. Having art around us is something everyone can benefit from.”

To continue with the mission to make visual art more visible, outreach projects have been developed and are designed to bring art closer to the community than ever before.

“We want people to feel more connected to art in their community,” said Morgan. “Once people are more exposed to it, our hope is they will feel that art is more a part of them every day.”

Give them 60 minutes…
One program the association has developed is “60 Minutes with an Artist,” a lecture series held from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Community Room of the Valencia Library on the last Sunday of each month during 2009.

Whether a newcomer to the world of art, or a seasoned professional looking to enhance a brushstroke, community members are invited to come and learn about art through hourlong sessions with a featured professional artist.

A different artist is selected for each monthly lecture and will display their artwork to audience members, while demonstrating the process they used to create the piece.

“This kind of program helps to open people’s eyes to the intricate process of art creation,” said Jaylene Armstrong, creator of the program, which started on Feb. 22 of this year.

The lecture series is open to the public and free-of-charge.

“There are so few chances to participate in educational and creative visual art experiences without being charged and without having to leave the city. That’s one reason why this program is so beneficial,” said Armstrong.

The association is the only nonprofit organization in the community oriented with the visual arts, which Armstrong feels makes them uniquely positioned to offer this kind of program to the public.

But audience members attending the lectures are not the only ones who will benefit from the experience of learning about art from the artists themselves.

Each Sunday lecture is recorded and edited by videographer and association member, Leland Thomas.

The association plans to distribute the footage to local schools, bringing art education to students in the community.

“Art education is important from the earliest ages,” said Armstrong, a retired art educator of 26 years. “Art is all around us in every design we see. By evoking imaginations at an early age, who knows what new art forms can be created in the future.”

As the fifth invited artist to present work at the lectures, artist Romeo Downer will be sharing his expertise with audience members on June 28.

Downer’s topic will be “My Art Journey.” He will walk the audience through his bold artistic choices, which represent his native West Indies heritage and all of the vibrant colors of the Caribbean.

Art with a heart
In addition to the many programs designed to nurture and inspire artistic growth, the Artists’ Association developed a program to give a different kind of inspiration.

“Art of Healing” is a community art program that displays artwork from local artists and elementary school students at Providence Holy Cross Health Centers.

Art is displayed at the heath centers located in the Santa Clarita Valley and Mission Hills in order to help inspire, motivate and soothe cancer patients during times of treatment and illness.

“Viewing the artwork of our local artists and children may provide an uplifting feeling to the patients while they undergo therapy,” said Fisher. “They may get swept away by looking into a beautiful painting. It provides them a chance to feel better if even for that short time.”

A short time of inspiration may leave an impression that lasts a lifetime. “I have had chemotherapy and believe me, it’s nice to have something inspirational to look at while you get treated,” said Fisher, a cancer survivor.

The displays give artists, especially the student participants, a chance to show their art to the public.

“This opportunity is very important to the children of our community,” said Morgan, of the positive reinforcement child artists receive once their artwork is exposed and enjoyed. “It gives young, budding artists the chance to feel good about themselves and helps them see the importance of art in our worlds.”

Young at art
“There is something so wonderful about being exposed to art as a child,” said Morgan, whose mother was a painter and grew up surrounded by art in her family household. “It enhanced my life in so many ways. The opportunity to explore individual creativity and reveal the artist inside is something everyone should have.”

The association hopes to continue to provide opportunities to the youth of the community through different artistic experiences.

Young, budding artists in the community are given opportunities to have their art judged by members of the association in order to compete for their place in various displays throughout the year. This experience gives the children a chance to view other works of art from artistic peers and also take pride in the progress of their own work.

“The world of art is not black or white and there is no right or wrong answer to anything,” said Fisher.

Students whose art is chosen to be displayed at Providence Holy Cross are entered into the Association’s competition.

The pieces are judged by members of the Association and a savings bond is given to the elementary school student whose artwork is awarded Artistic Achievement.

The association also holds a Street Art Festival each year, where a “youth booth” is set up for young artists to have a hands-on experience with visual art.

“The experience is meant for kids to be up close and get personal with the art,” said Morgan. “Inspiration may then be given a chance to grow.”

The Association gives a $1,000 annual art scholarship to a local college student or senior high school student from the William S. Hart Union School District.

“For some people, the pursuit of art is a passion,” said Morgan. “The Artists’ Association just wants to do our part in encouraging that in any way we can.”

An art school in Tanzanika is sponsored by the Association. Local children are provided meals and given acrylic paints.

During class time, the children unleash their colorful creativity on an array of donated bed sheets.

“Their artwork is so full of life!” said Morgan. “The diversity of one culture to another can be very inspirational.”

Where visual art is visible
From annual events, art shows and boutiques, to local business offices and town hotspots, the Association and their friends in the community are adding to a bigger picture, one piece of art at a time.

Artistic Smiles Dental Office, located on Magic Mountain Parkway, stays true to their name by having artwork from Association members displayed throughout the office, which they have done since 2006. The works are changed out on a quarterly basis, to give different members equal opportunities for exposure and to keep art fresh to the public eye.

“We hear comments all of the time and its nice to know that we can contribute to brightening people’s days,” said Dr. Jonathan Greenburg, a dentist who practices at the office.

Other places to catch displays of multiple works by local artists are at Capelli Beauty Salon on Main Street in Downtown Newhall, Providence Holy Cross Health Centers and City Hall. Single artists are highlighted each month at local venues such as Fast Frames in the Kohl’s shopping center, Canyon Theatre Guild and The Betty Ferguson Foundation.

“We are always looking for new locations to fulfill our goal of making visual art visible,” said Kaczmar.

The Association’s artwork is also highlighted in various grand openings and special events in town. Spectrum Health Club highlights multiple artists during certain special events, while Tesoro De Valle Park and Classic Adobe has art shows which change out monthly throughout the year.

The Newhall Room of the Tournament Players Club in Valencia is one of the most predominant venues to view displays of art from the Association. Works are shown in The Newhall Room every three months, with the current show on display from June through September.

“This is a big, beautiful room to have our art displayed and we are very appreciative,” said Armstrong. “Since we don’t have a gallery in town, we hope to present art in as many places as possible.”

Acquiring a gallery of their own is a dream of the Association, but until that goal is met, they have found clever ways to bring art to the community.

The 20th annual SCAA Art Classic will be held at Hart Hall in William S. Hart Park on  Oct. 18.

The Classic is an ideal way for members to exhibit their art to a large audience. The event boasts an array of colors and textures through mediums including oil, acrylic, watercolor, sculpture, and photography  through styles and subjects including impressionism, realism, abstract, plein air, figurative, landscape, wildlife and still life.

Entrants must be members to submit work for the event. Awards are given out at the end of the evening to exceptional work in each category.

Home sweet home?
To make visual art more visible to the community, members of the Association hope to obtain funding for a place they can call home.

 “A place to educate, lecture, teach,  and have running art exhibits is fundamental to ensuring that art will flourish in this town,” said Morgan.

Support from local business owners and community members is encouraged in order to promote awareness of the importance of art to the community and create funding to acquire an art gallery. A cultural arts center would also consist of classroom areas for teaching art to classes of different ages and presentations.

“Art is a human expression and has been done since the beginning of time. From ancient cave paintings to modern day marvels, art will continue to inspire and connect us to one another. To connect beyond words is something special and everlasting,” said Morgan.

Artists’ Association General Membership Meetings are held in the Community Room of the Valencia Library at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month. Full membership to the Association is $50, Senior Citizens are $40 and student membership is $20. The Association welcomes inquiries about special events, volunteering and membership. For more information on the Artists’ Association current exhibits, upcoming shows and opportunities to get involved, visit www.santaclaritaartists.org.

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