Art aficionados spent their Thursday night gazing at unique pieces at the Laguna Beach First Thursdays Art Walk.
Since its inception in 1998, this free monthly event hosts over 30 member galleries promoting art appreciation and education through demonstrations, artist receptions and live music.
Visitors can peruse through a collection of pieces that offer a refreshing perspective of contemporary and traditional art. From street signs, bullet art and mixed media, to cosmic-inspired abstract art, impressionistic oil paintings and antique Chinese embroidery, each gallery has its own piece of magic to offer.
The oldest exhibit on Gallery Row in North Laguna is Sandstone Gallery. It was founded by Marge Chapman in 1981, and is devoted to displaying contemporary pieces by artists of all levels of experience.
The Sandstone Gallery contrasts its original exterior from the 1940s with modern works that may come as a surprise to appreciators of abstract art. One of the featured artists at the gallery is Hyatt Moore, who painted as the public strolled in.
Moore picked up painting when he was in his 50s after working with art for decades, and has dedicated his time to creating, so much that he and his wife have transformed their home into a gallery itself. The subjects of his work are primarily figures.
“It sort of came over me. Here’s the story: I was just driving to Laguna Beach on my way home from work one night, and I looked into a gallery window, and I saw a great painting, whatever it was, and I thought, ‘I could do that. I’m gonna do that. I’m gonna be a painter,’” Moore said.
Moore has been a full-time painter since 2004, and his work is featured in multiple locations throughout California and Oregon.
Cello notes echoed throughout the Lu Martin Galleries, drawing those in the vicinity to satisfy their curiosity. Once inside, guests were greeted with cellist Hitoshi Suzuki’s dreamy performance along with a painting demonstration by artist Alfredo Gomez.
The Lu Martin Galleries is family-owned and was established in 1988. The pieces consist of classic realism, impressionism, still life, California scene, European scene and abstract.
“I’m always looking for my next artist, like another category that I feel like I’m kind of missing because I do like to cover different bases and different styles,” Martin said.
Dasha Guilliam, a featured artist at Lu Martin Galleries, displayed a number of distinctive and visually striking pieces. Guilliam studied art in Russia and moved to California when she was 16; since then she’s been deeply involved in creating and teaching art.
Her piece, “Fleur de Ladies,” is a triptych, a piece of art divided into three sections side by side, and was made using acrylic, sand and resin.
“The reason for that (painting) was to symbolize femininity and represent it and celebrate it as strength,” Guilliam said.
Guilliam conducted an experiment where she separated men and women and told the men to go find their “woman” in the room.
“They ran towards a certain flower and they said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is my wife’ or ‘This is my woman,’” Guilliam said.
The crafted lace and pearls, along with the metal stems of the flowers represented the beauty in women; “it was my metaphor to celebrate us,” she said.
Her dimensional pieces are influenced by nature and particularly the beach. The titles of these works: “Happiness Comes in Waves,” “Golden Moment,” “Shimmering Sea” and “Seaside Tranquility,” reflect the coastal California locations where she gathers her inspiration.
The muse doesn’t visit you every day, but it’s your trade, it’s your job, and you have to create your environment and sometimes manifest it, and beautiful things happen Dasha Guilliam
The Laguna Beach Art Walk takes place the first Thursday of every month and the next event will take place on April 4.