Woodworkers, quilters, painters, graphic artists, jewelry makers, ceramists, anyone who can use a crochet or knitting needle, and even an author, gathered at Clubhouse 2 in early June for the eighth annual Laguna Woods Village Art Affair.
On the patio outside, guests danced to the jazzy tunes of The Woods Combo, with vocalist Moqui Lund’s exquisite renditions of hits like “Summertime.”
Inside, artists displayed and sold their wares and talked about their art and the joy it brings them.
Christine Kelly began working with wood after taking furniture making classes at Orange Coast College. She came to the Village from Orange a year ago and fell in love with the woodworking studio in Clubhouse 4. She says she is the only woman who works with wood in the Clubhouse, making various boxes and hearts, and hopes more will join her will.
“I always learn new things there,” she says.
Ami Gilad, who came to the village about six years ago, is an engineer who took up woodworking after retiring. A miniature guitar he created and a tiny replica golf cart impressed with their attention to detail.
Village artist Frank Irving’s mid-century modern style rocking chairs were inspired by the work of the late furniture maker Sam Maloof.
“I started making small pieces of furniture as a kid and also taught pottery,” Irving said. He also ran a psychiatric hospital for young adults in the 1960s, he added.
Georgie “Gigi” Hackford has taken painting to another level by abandoning flat surfaces such as canvas: she paints delicate women’s faces on clay flower pots.
“Hard edge, soft edge and now no edge,” Hackford said, adding that the pots are a perfect outlet for someone without a studio.
Jim Breck, a pastel artist, takes his medium to a higher level using a novel technique that eliminates the clutter and hassle often associated with soft pastels. Rather than first pressing large amounts of pigment onto paper, he makes light color bases and spreads the medium out with a shaper, a brush-like tool with a plastic head instead of bristles.
The result is works that to the untrained eye initially perceive as photographs rather than paintings. The secret also lies in the paper, which has a sanded surface.
“My process allows for more control and eliminates the need for fixatives,” explained Breck.
Judy Redner, a 16-year-old villager, displayed her oil paintings accompanied by Cloe, who was dozing peacefully in her dog buggy.
“I paint whenever I feel like it, whatever I want,” she said.
At her table were seascapes and a painting of an impressive sailing ship, along with depictions of delicate flowers.
Tim Hahne, a watercolor artist, moved to the Village with his wife in 2020 after living in Romania for 25 years.
“We’ve been on missions for maybe a few years and just fell in love with this place,” he said.
An artist since eighth grade, Hahne paints trees, giving them a slightly surreal look, and sea creatures.
“I want to show the beauty of God’s creation,” he said.
Eva Altmann creates colorful, sharp-edged collages that have become a trademark of the native of Munich. Lately she has been experimenting with paintings with softer edges, but anyone with an artist eye like Piet Mondrian will appreciate the works of this former art teacher.
Donna Karbach showed off the stunning quilts by the Crazy Quilters of Laguna Woods. The group lends their art to several charities and organizations. One such creation is Chemo Quilts for the City of Hope in Duarte. Quilts for veterans and firefighters are in the works.
“We want to make quilts for them because they help so many of us here,” she said.
Among the jewelry makers at the show, Margo Flynn channels Iris Apfel with her dramatic pieces featuring large beads and vintage flourishes. Flynn has been a jewelry maker for 20 years and says she likes to wear larger pieces herself.
“I’m short, but I like dramatic accents,” she said.
Their daughter, Gillian, had come from San Diego to help Flynn with sales and modeling. Gillian is not a piece of the old pearl, so to speak, and likes to sell vintage items.
“I rolled her through flea markets in a pram – in London,” Flynn said.
Finally, painter/writer Jim Gibson was the featured artist at Art Affair and occupied a separate space for the exhibition of his new book Not Paid Eleven Cents an Hour to Think, a commemoration of his service in Vietnam.
Gibson is known in the Village for his stunning portraits of the Equestrian Center’s horses, Blaze, and the late Rascal, which were featured in a previous art exhibit at the Community Center. Gibson has turned some of his experiences as a paramedic in Vietnam into paintings.
Overall, the Saturday afternoon gathering once again demonstrated the diversity of the village’s artistic acumen and the joy it brings to all.