3 months ago

Peninsula People Feb 2018

Clothing items worn by a

Clothing items worn by a female eskimo, sketched by Albert Operti. Courtesy of the Explorers Club of New York Sketch of Villa Narcissa by Daniel Pinkham of the Portuguese Bend Artist Colony. The Birth of an Idea, or, From Spark to Sparkle Portuguese Bend artists to show sketches and finished work at the Palos Verdes Art Center by Bondo Wyszpolski Until roughly the mid-19th century, when cameras emerged to do the job for them, painters and other visual artists carried sketchbooks and an assortment of pens, pencils, and pieces of chalk. Some artists worked quickly and some took their time, but the ultimate goal was to preserve the idea or the inspiration and then to rework it under usually more favorable conditions (and, yes, many artists work this way today). There are exceptions to the above. One, what were formerly deemed working sketches later were elevated as artistic masterpieces in their own right. John Constable is a good example of this, with J.M.W Turner being yet another. Two, when we get to the waning years of the 19th century and the vogue for plein air painting (Impressionism by another name, perhaps), the “sketch” and the finished work were often one and the same. For several years, Katrina Vanderlip has been hosting a painting week at Villa Narcissa, high on the hillside in Portuguese Bend. Villa Narcissa is a 11.5-acre estate and also the remainder of Frank Vanderlip’s personal holdings in the area. Lest we forget, in 1913 Vanderlip acquired 16,000 acres on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. In layman’s terms, that’s a lot of Dodger Stadiums (the latter, with parking, encompassing a mere 352 acres). The painting weeks that Katrina oversees attract numerous participants. These often occur in the spring, and the one last year had some involvement by members of the Portuguese Bend Artist Colony, in particular Daniel Pinkham. The next painting week is scheduled for April 2-7. (In connection with this event, high teas are scheduled for three Sundays in March at Villa Narcissa: a Mad Hatter Tea Party on March 11; an Opera High Tea on March 18, with UCLA opera students performing arias; and a classic Parent-Child High Tea on Palm Sunday, March 25. Please email A sketch is a diamond in the rough And so we come to “Capturing a Vision,” an exhibition opening on March 16 at the Palos Verdes Art Center, which was conceived by Katrina as a means not only to highlight the annual painting week at the Villa, but to focus attention on the Portuguese Bend Artist Colony and specifically their preparatory designs in advance of their completed canvases. Or, as Katrina herself explains it, “A sketch allows you to capture a vision, an idea, or an impression that you can use to create a final artwork.” And, she adds, “A good sketch becomes a powerful tool and stands on its own as art.” The artists in the Portuguese Bend Artist Colony include Rick Humphrey, Steve Mirich, Kevin Prince, Tom Redfield, and Amy Sidrane, plus Daniel and Vicki Pinkham. One gallery will contain and pair preliminary sketches alongside finished oil paintings. A second gallery will exhibit preparatory sketches for jewelry, wood carving, costume designs for UCLA opera productions, and a sketchbook never before displayed by Albert Operti who, among other accomplishments, served as the official artist for Robert E. Peary during his Arctic expeditions in 1896 and 1897. Operti’s sketchbook is being loaned by the Explorers Club of New York. (“The Explorers Club connection,” Katrina says, “is that I have been accepted as a member this year [and] can go as an artist to record expedition sketchings. My grandfather Frank Vanderlip helped raise funds for Perry's last expedition to reach the North Pole and was given a polar bear rug on their return.”) Another highlight of the show is Operti’s wall-sized sketch on cloth called “The Last Meal,” depicting George W. De Long and his officers prior to their departure for Siberia from the Arctic in three small boats after their ship became trapped in ice. Some survived, many did not. Katrina Vanderlip, as an artist and art scholar, inherited the sketchbooks of her great aunt, Clover Cox, the elder sister of Narcissa Cox Vanderlip, Sketch exhibit cont. on page 24 22 PeninsulaFebruary 2018

Small, subtle, and gently magnificent Angel wings and peacock feathers: Sketches for jewelry by Marianne Hunter A Portuguese Bend jeweler crafts works of art and beauty by Bondo Wyszpolski The first sketchbook Marianne Hunter shows me dates back to 1977, but she’s been making jewelry for half a century so perhaps there’s an earlier sketchbook or two lying close by. The word “exquisite” is often overused, same with the word “sensibility,” but if there are better ways to describe the work and the person I’m sitting down with I don’t know what they are. Married to the equally talented and skillful woodcarver William Hunter, Marianne may be described or defined in some circles as an artisan or craftsperson, but what she creates is never mere handiwork. The finished pieces, mostly pendants or brooches, are thoughtfully designed, almost storyboarded in some cases, visual and non-visual poetry with many of them bearing poetic titles. Elaborate praise goes only so far. The jewelry needs to make an appearance, the preliminary drawings as well. Her influences are many, some not so surprising, such as the Viennese Secessionist and the French-Belgian Symbolist styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, along with Art Nouveau and in particular René Lalique. “Lalique is my jewelry hero,” Marianne says, “because his artwork was so finely wrought and so exquisitely detailed. And also incredibly inventive. He used materials that nobody used before him in fine art jewelry – tortoise shell and bone and wood. Materials that weren’t considered valuable and, therefore, ‘No, this can’t be a part of a fine piece of jewelry.’” But the naysayers were proved wrong, weren’t they? In her earliest days, Marianne Hunter worked primarily in grisaille, that is to say, in black and white, and her subject matter was curtailed in the realms of fantasy and myth. Her husband, thankfully, nudged her out of that self-confined way of thinking, and into new territory. “So, now I’m all over the map,” Marianne says, “but I feel that’s the reflection of a curious mind.” It’s a curious mind that we are funneled into by way of her sketches. Items were numbered, what metals were used were dutifully noted. “When you look through these,” Marianne says, “you can start to see different areas of development where I’ve got themes going.” In the early years she was making about 50 pieces a year. They were small and the smithing was relatively easy. “And then as I went on I came into contact with so many more materials.” More choices, then, requiring more deliberation. And where does she find her ideas? “The way I draw is partly whatever it is I’m thinking about at the moment. So that comes into my work. And I’m interested in anthropology and I’m interested in dance and I’m interested in other art forms. I really like other cultures; and I love fantasy, all kinds of fantasy and mythology.” There are stories with fairy tale themes as well as pendants and brooches with African or Australian undercurrents. One prominent design that occurs in numerous permutations are her Kabuki Kachinas, as she calls them. “They ended up being my signature work. I can tell any kind of story in these figures. I can go anywhere I want with them reflecting how I feel about that. They’re everything from, really, art nouveau to very stylized and modern.” It took her, Marianne says, 50 years to get to Japan. “And it was everything I imagined and more. Walking into some of the older buildings that had been maintained, or down the street in the older towns, was like walking into a woodcut.” The appeal is understandable. Peter Quennell called Japan “a universe of half-tones and subtle hints.” They speak, she listens Sometimes a gem will remind her of something, Marianne says. In that Hunter cont. on page 25 February 2018Peninsula 23