Saturday, July 20

Westwood Fine Art Festival features artists from across nation

Local artist Jeni Bate shows off her collage artwork. (Owen Emerson/Daily Bruin)

Local artist Jeni Bate shows off her collage artwork. (Owen Emerson/Daily Bruin)

Tables filled with colorful merchandise line the stretch of Lindbrook Drive between Glendon Avenue and Westwood Boulevard. Jesse Nguyen, a pottery artist showcasing his wares under the shade of a canopy, picks up a delicate plate and hands it to a curious passerby.

The customer turns the plate over to inspect the colors – the top of the plate is a glazed, glassy eggshell blue, while the bottom is a matte black finish that enhances the contrast between light and dark.

“The pottery is Japanese black clay, which contains a high concentration of volcanic clay pigment,” Nguyen said. “The strongest and finest clay contains less impurities, which makes the pottery stronger and resistant to wear and tear.”

Over the weekend, artists from across the nation participated in the Westwood Village Fine Art Festival to present their work, ranging in mediums from glass to painting to ceramics. The event, hosted by West Coast Artists, featured galleries manned by the artists themselves who discussed their pieces with the passersby and negotiated prices in a casual, outdoor atmosphere.

Nguyen, who said he has been working with pottery and clay for three years, said he switched to pottery after he lost his source of income painting scenes on canvas.

“I decided to switch mediums to make more practical pieces of art that people could use,” Nguyen said. “I keep the artistic inspiration in my dinnerware by keeping my designs simple, elegant and functional.”

Across the street under another canopy, Jeni Bate, a watercolor landscape artist based in Imperial County, showcases scenes depicting fiery skylines, still waters and lush greenery. Landscapes of different sizes hang in colorful arrays across the walls and seem to move as light slants across the canvases.

A collage titled “Crimson Thread” hangs in a corner and features a sunrise scene with scarlet clouds threading through sky at dawn. Upon closer inspection, the red words of a sonnet in Shakespearean form, composed by Bate and also titled “Crimson Thread,” materialize from the clouds.

The painting inspired the words of the poem, Bate said, which describes the wonder felt at watching clouds change color at sunrise.

Bate said she paints each individual scene multiple times, cuts the paintings into different geometrical patterns and then pastes the pieces over each other, creating the effect of life in an otherwise still landscape.

“I try to align some of the patterns in the pieces of the scenes, but it’s the misalignments of the other details that create the effect of movement,” Bate said.

On the same side of the street, an uncovered table groans under the weight of piles of beverage coasters in bright pinks, greens and blues. Ceramics artist Marquis Leo, who said he is inspired by the Cubist and abstract art movements, said he creates coasters as art that users can assemble themselves.

“Most people stack their coasters, hiding the art on each coaster and resulting in people not being able to appreciate the designs,” Leo said. “My coasters are meant to be placed side by side, creating a larger piece of art that you can then leave on your coffee table.”

While Leo said his style is inspired by artists such as LeRoy Neiman and Pablo Picasso, he said the meaning behind his art is inspired by his emotions and experiences.

“I have no formal training, so I’m not very technical with my art,” Leo said. “That just means that I paint not from the brain, but mostly from the heart.”

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