DEL MAR – At least 250 artists, residents and art aficionados bustled through city hall on March 29 to witness the first city-backed art show.
“It’s bigger and better than I thought,” said Solana Beach resident Daniel Powell, who said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the turnout and enthusiasm.
“People are pushing each other over to see the art,” joked Carlsbad artist Darlene Katz, as attendees of all ages crowded the city hall’s interior, winding their way through the curated displays.
118 paintings of all sizes, styles and subjects were installed at city hall for the two-day show.
Brent Jacobs, a 20-year Del Mar resident, submitted an oil painting of his grandson and daughter-in-law. Jacobs, who first picked up a paintbrush two years ago, said the event allowed him to make connections with other artists in the area.
“Who knew there were this many artists of this quality (in Del Mar),” he said. “There’s a real community here.”
Of the 60 plus artists who participated, many were from the 92014 zip code. And local pride was on full display: paintings featured Powerhouse Park, Stratford Square, Los Penasquitos Lagoon and the region’s beloved torrey pines trees.
The evening event also featured a post-modern dance performance by a group of University of California – San Diego students.
And the show continued on the following day, during the city’s Saturday farmer’s market. As part of the show, several artists took to the sidewalk to paint en plain air just outside the civic center, relishing the good weather and ocean views.
No shortage of passion and planning went into the event, according to arts advisory committee Chairwoman Bonnie Grossman, who spearheaded the show’s planning along with about twenty volunteers.
“It’s a labor of love,” Grossman said.
The Del Mar Foundation donated wine, cheese and snacks to the show’s opening night, with City Councilwoman Sherryl Parks donating $1,000 and Councilman Dwight Worden donating $500 to ensure the show would go forward.
After the arts advisory committee approached the city council in February about funding the event, there was some concern about allocating funds before the council’s mid-year budget review. However, council went forward with approving the funds after the two donations were put forth – which covered about half of the event’s costs, according to Grossman.
From then on forward the city gathered submissions – with about half of the art coming from Del Mar residents, and the rest predominantly coming from North County Coastal residents.
The result was a bustling night of proud artists and wine-sipping residents – from Del Mar and beyond.
“By last night’s success, it’s just so obvious that people want this,” said Grossman.
In an interview with The Coast News, Councilwoman Sherryl Parks said she was “thrilled” by the event’s turnout. Parks, who is a liaison to the arts advisory committee, said she worked for about two and a half years with the committee’s other council liaisons to get the arts advisory committee together and establish the city’s Public Art Policy.
When asked why she decided to donate money to support the show, she highlighted the hard work of the committee.
“I know that the momentum of creativity and caring is important…I couldn’t just let it drop because we didn’t have money in the budget,” she said. “Sometimes you just have to capture the moment.”
At the February meeting, Grossman proposed the event as a quarterly art show that would incorporate a diversity of mediums – such as photography, pottery, and textiles. A show proposed for June would highlight artwork by students of all ages in the community, as a way “to include our youth in civic activities and bring in the younger families,” Grossman said.
Grossman said potential funding for the next art show will come to the council for consideration in mid-April. Because the first show required purchase of display materials that can be used in perpetuity, future events will contest with a smaller budget.
Grossman hopes the events will help bring people from across the county into Del Mar, to not only support the arts but local business as well.
She said the central idea behind the event is introducing Del Mar to public art. Since its inception, the committee has been working to draw attention to the potential of art in the city – crafting an interactive map on the city’s website showing possible locations for public art projects, for example.
The event is just the latest way the committee is aiming to cultivate a local art scene.
“Del Mar is getting more arty – it’s happening,” Grossman said.
Lexy Brodt covers all things Del Mar and Solana Beach for The Coast News, with a primary interest in coastal development. A North County native turned UW-Madison alumna, she has produced for Wisconsin Public Radio and reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Wisconsin State Journal.