April 2017: Spring Forth

Springtime is here, and everything is alive and thriving. The earth bursts with fields of color-- the sky opens up to a brighter blue, the flowers blossom wide in brilliant hue, and the hills sprout the green carpet where flora and fauna will root and roam. These colors illuminate our eyes, and their luster surely finds its way onto our paintings. There is a pulsating energy that arrives in the spring as the sun shines stronger, coaxing blossoms out of their bulbs and us out of our dens. We’re fueled by this time of year when every living thing feels an urgency to be born, to bloom, to resurface, and to grow. And we, the Village, have spent this lively month presenting our colors to the community.

Joe has been busy at the Heninger Village Art Studio, and seemingly busier at home. He's been studying artists’ videos and has been acquiring different techniques and new approaches for his work. This month, he came into class anxious to experiment with a few of the things he’s discovered.

Joe has discovered “drip art” and demonstrates his technique for the Villagers.

Joe shares with us his own techniques for painting clouds. 

Joe is one of the most enthusiastic, high-energy people I’ve known, and his warmth and zeal for creativity is utterly contagious. His fervor spins wildly through the community, in between the bottles of paint, nudging us all to try something new. Joe is a force of nature that is eager to share the beauty and excitement of life and art. We are an excitable group, easily inspired, and of course we jumped right into his lessons.

 Sharonda dives in to experiment with her newly learned techniques.

Sharonda dives in to experiment with her newly learned techniques.

 She was so excited about how the paint moved so organically, that she worked on another piece. Beautiful work, Sharonda! Thanks for the lesson, Joe!

She was so excited about how the paint moved so organically, that she worked on another piece. Beautiful work, Sharonda! Thanks for the lesson, Joe!

 

Fall Back: Maria roots deeper into her work

Maria is a Frida fanatic. Since class began last February, she’s been painting Frida Kahlo. This month, she excavated deeper down into her Mexican American and Orange County history. She was inspired to help tell Modesta Avila’s story, a Mexican woman activist, who was imprisoned for defying Southern Pacific (formerly known as Union Pacific Railroad) by demanding that they pay her for building their railroad through her land. Maria also brought in a photo of her grandmother’s class portrait to share with the class. We are all looking forward to seeing where this history takes her work …  

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Left: Maria working on another one of her Frida portraits. Middle: Maria’s mixed media portrait of Modesta. Here, Maria uses hand-embroidery to illustrate the clothing line that Modesta hung to obstruct Southern Pacific’s path, which led to her imprisonment as Orange County’s first convicted felon. Right: From her own family archive, her grandmother's class photo. With the face that she bequeathed unto her granddaughter, Maria's grandmother sits at center.

 

SHARING OUR WORK WITH THE COMMUNITY

 

Orange County Fair Art Exhibition

My first ever public art show took place at the Alameda County Fair in 1996. The piece I had on display was of the silhouette of a young girl, perhaps a self portrait. As the sun set, she wore an áo dài and a conical straw hat while holding a red tulip. As I write this, I am just now realizing how even my earliest works paid respect to my heritage. It had been my first attempt at graphic art, so I was happy to come home with a Third Prize Award. 

This month, I was invited to judge artwork for the adult and high school categories for Imaginology, a massive visual arts exhibition presented by the Orange County Fair. After judging, I eagerly scurried through the exhibition walls, tiled with works created by children as young as the age 6, and works by high school students, amateur, established, and professional artists. Young Parker submitted to the competition for the 4th-8th grade category, and brought home not one, but two red ribbons for both of his paintings. He was also recognized for his vibrant artwork in the OC Fair newsletter. We are so proud of our budding artist. You are amazing, Parker! 

 
 Young Parker and his buddy pikachu stand proudly with his paintings that each earned red ribbons at this year's imaginology exhibition at the orange county fairgrounds. (The cherry blossom tree on the left is his favorite painting to date.)

Young Parker and his buddy pikachu stand proudly with his paintings that each earned red ribbons at this year's imaginology exhibition at the orange county fairgrounds. (The cherry blossom tree on the left is his favorite painting to date.)

 

Parker is quite the versatile artist. He is drummer and also a bassist for his band, the Space Noodles. As a student of the School of Rock, he’s performed at multiple venues around town, including Yost Theater, The Boathouse Collective, Original Mike’s, Totally 80’s Bar and Grill, and even the House of Blues. This kid is a true creative, dipping his hands in anything that brings beauty and sound and enjoyment to the world. Keep on, Young Parker. We’re excited to see what beautiful things you’ll bring into the world during your lifetime.

 

Ribba group show at Coastline Gallery in Newport Beach

In Swedish, the word ribba means “bar”, as in:  Denna ribba maste hojas. The bar must be raised.                                                                                                                                Surely, the bar has been raised as our Villagers debut new works in beautiful Newport Beach. 

 The Heninger Villagers stand together among their works on display at the beachfront Coastline gallery in Newport Beach, CA

The Heninger Villagers stand together among their works on display at the beachfront Coastline gallery in Newport Beach, CA

We caravanned over to their beach front campus in two cars. It was an intimate experience: not just because the three of us crammed into the back seat of a Nissan Sentra, while Sharonda drove shot gun, but because this was the day that Ron shared with us stories from his childhood, his young adulthood, and his adulthood until present day. He spoke of the family and friends. His experiences as a second-generation Mexican American, born and raised in our City of Santa Ana. His childhood memories. His experiences in grade school. How he was able to steer clear of drugs, gangs, and life on the streets. His beloved mother. These stories poured out of him like a spout whose nozzle was finally unkinked, watering our curiosity. From the moment we stepped passed those Heninger poppies, the stories flowed out of him until we arrived at the gallery. Sometimes that’s all it takes for someone to share their story—some time, a small space, while sitting shoulder to shoulder with those we trust, making our way toward the ocean, on a cool spring day.

With works hung salon style in the gallery, it was interesting to see how each individual work of art conversed with the ones neighboring it. We spent hours admiring each other's works, dawdling through, investigating the myriad of works that quilted the gallery walls. We patiently took notice of the span of marks, media, images, symbols, subject matter, and inspiration that resided in the gallery. With natural light spilling into the space, we studied the handwork of each individual artist, and marveled at each one's voice and vision. 

I am so proud to stand among such genuine people, whose expanding love of art has inspired them to share their dreams and hearts with the community. They consistently remind me of the strength found in togetherness. 

 Sharonda stares out of the window of her interior landscape

Sharonda stares out of the window of her interior landscape

 young parker fancied up for the show

young parker fancied up for the show

 

Life. Drawing. Life drawing. 

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Q Art Salon is a gorgeous gallery and studio space, located in the Artist Village, right across the street from Grand Central Art Center. It’s run by artist Jose Quant and his partner Shelly, one of the warmest and gentlest women I’ve met since my arrival here in Santa Ana. In addition to their regularly rotating exhibitions, they also host life drawing sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in their two-car garage that has been transformed into a cozy little painting and drawing studio. On any given session, there are 5-8 of us that dive deep into studying the nude figure. Some artists stand at their easels with brushes oiling canvas, some straddling their drawing benches with charcoal daintily grazing board with index and thumb, and some with pencil scratching excitedly upon sketchbook.  Sometimes, intermissions commence with Jose gently strumming on his Spanish guitar. Four of us Villagers began attending the Q sessions together, squeezing our way into the studio with about half a dozen other local artists, regulars of Q’s life drawing sessions. Refreshments are offered to guests, and one some days, these include chilled beers. *clink*

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Our moSt sincere gratitude to our local arts community for keeping us inspired, and for offering us ample space to practice and to share our work. This art and the togetherness that it brings is what helps us to spring forward into life.