REGION — San Diego is a mecca for artistic geniuses. Fairs, shows, expos, galleries and gift shops are scattered throughout the county, boasting the mega talents of its artisans.
Among the many outdoor art galas, the Mission Federal ArtWalk, held in Little Italy, is among the most prestigious.
This year’s 35th annual event, April 27 and April 28, will once again feature an extraordinary collection of paintings, sculptures, photography, jewelry, metal and wood work from 350 local, regional and international artisans.
“ArtWalk is an open environment that breeds creativity,” said Sandi Cottrell, director of ArtWalk San Diego. “Artists and attendees are energized by its live music, dance and interactive art activities — all held in beautiful Little Italy.”
North County residents Elisabeth Sullivan and father and son duo Justin and Trevor Coopersmith will be among those showcasing their masterpieces.
Known for her “surrealist” dreamscapes, Sullivan, a resident of Encinitas, is excited to participate in a “great show that treats artists well.”
“ArtWalk is the art show of San Diego,” she said. “ArtWalk is packed with people. I love sharing my art with so many people from all over the county.”
Inspired by sky and water, Sullivan’s paintings — acrylics on canvas — are replete with blue, her favorite color.
Her love of the ocean, animals — particularly birds — and Arizona’s clouds and sunsets, translates into vibrant pieces she describes as happy, peaceful, and calming.
“I want my art to make people happy,” she said. “My booth is a space where people visit and leave remembering what it feels like to be in their favorite place.”
Sullivan couples an imagination that’s “always with me” with her love of nature.
“I’m enthralled by the forces of nature and moved by the magnificent creatures that inhabit this beautiful planet,” she said. “I see clouds floating in the water just by watching sand churning in the surf. Inspiration is all around me and my imagination is always with me.”
While admitting that life as a full-time artist can be financially tenuous, Sullivan is convinced that artistry remains her destiny.
“I was born an artist,” she said. “I drew eyelashes on stick figures when I was 2 years old.”
Through the bumps and bruises Sullivan continues to “paint what I love,” she said. “And when others connect with a vision that becomes life on canvas, it’s pretty amazing.”
Touting a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Design Illustration from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, Sullivan serves as a member of the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the World Parrot Trust and the Surfrider Foundation. The artiste extraordinaire donates her work for these causes that she holds close to her heart.
“The work of these organizations is very important,” she said. “Through my art, I hope to raise awareness and promote the desire to protect and conserve the beauty and diversity of nature.”
Sullivan’s paintings and murals are widely collected and can be found in private residences, corporate collections, hospitals, and medical, therapeutic and dental facilities across the country.
The Coopersmiths share a gifted DNA. The elder, a graduate of San Diego State University, began his career with a successful airbrush and screen-printing clothing company in Hawaii. The Big Apple followed suit.
While working in New York City, he was “discovered,” by a publisher who printed 200 of his photo realism paintings as posters that were marketed worldwide along with top-selling licensed products.
Upon returning “home” to Carlsbad, he followed his passion — inspired by Picasso — into abstract expressionism and mixed media art.
Metal, stone, copper, glass and ceramics are among the many sculptural elements added to layers of paints, oil pastels, and metallic finishes. Finished pieces are bordered in custom-embellished frames.
While Trevor Coopersmith jokes that “talent skips a generation,” there’s nothing untalented about either Coopersmith.
Sporting a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Southern California at Santa Barbara, the young protégé is on his way to Goldsmiths, University of London, to complete a graduate degree in art.
Despite dad working as a professional artist, Trevor Coopersmith stepped up to the plate later in the game.
“My interest in art remained dormant until a visit to Ensenada, Mexico,” he said. “A local was creating surrealistic outer space paintings using spray paint and regular household items. This aerosol grafia is a spray paint art movement. I was hooked.”
Admitting that his first spray paint/common household item painting was “rather dreadful,” he dedicated the next seven years to “persistence and personal techniques until a keen sensation for aesthetically pleasing work arose.”
Today, he uses spray paints, acrylics, oils, Sharpies, graphic designs, collages, pastels, paint pens and “any relevant combination of multi-media” on surfboards, skateboards, mailboxes, guitars, wakeboards, RC cars, canvas materials, wood and gloss poster paper.
Surfing, skateboarding, hiking, and camping — passions passed down from father to son — serve to inspire Trevor Coopersmith to shake the viewer into “awe, admiration and a phantasmal gaze.”
“Can this really happen?” and “Is this really out there?” are questions he’s determined to have his viewers ask.
“My art’s spiritual, ethereal, and transcendent,” he said. “I want to transport you to another dimension with surrealist, happy art. I love to repurpose what was once considered garbage and create art that’s hung in homes.”
Both work in a garage turned magnificent studio, creating side-by-side as two great masters, in conflict and cohesion.
ArtWalk will also showcase Rerip art boards. Rerip, a nonprofit organization that repurposes surfboards, donated 35 upcycled surfboards that were transformed into art pieces.
Boards may be purchased through a silent auction. Bids can be made online and during ArtWalk. Proceeds will be awarded to San Diego ArtReach, ArtWalk’s nonprofit partner that provides free art classes to over 20,000 San Diego students who lack the access to art programs.
Sullivan, Justin and Trevor Coopersmith have all donated an artistic, upcycled surfboard for the ArtReach Silent Auction.
Guests will also enjoy dance, music, and spoken word performances as well as family-friendly interactive art projects on the ever-popular KidsWalk.
The number of visitors perusing the aisles of this art and cultural event is expected to exceed six figures.
Dedicated to encouraging “everyone to express and uncover the inner artist that exists within all of us,” Cottrell described this time-honored tradition as a community staple designed to “bring all walks of life together to enjoy art, the purest form of expression.”
Mission Federal ArtWalk crisscrosses Ash and Grape Street between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28.
Visit www.artwalksandiego.orgfor more details. Attendance is free.
Lucia Viti is a seasoned journalist, photojournalist and published author who covers all regions in feature and news reporting. Sporting a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the University of West Virginia, she spent 20 years in New York in the fields of Public Relations, Advertising and Medical Communications. Her love for outdoor sports landed her in Carlsbad in 1999 where she segued into news and feature reporting. Her photographs are sold locally in artisan shops throughout the County.