Culver City stages its third downtown arts festival

By Michael Aushenker

See “Grateful,” a painting by Del Rey artist Outi Harma, at the Affair for the Arts festival

See “Grateful,” a painting by Del Rey artist Outi Harma, at the Affair for the Arts festival

A weekend dedicated to envisioning world peace comes accompanied by nourishment for the soul through fine arts, food and music.

On Saturday and Sunday, downtown Culver City hosts its third Affair for the Arts festival at the crossing of Culver Boulevard and Main Street, where 60 Southern California painters, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists, wood workers, glass blowers and jewelry artists take part in a festival celebrating the United Nations’ International Day of Peace (Sunday).

Downtown Culver City restaurants are offering food and beverage specials in conjunction with the event, from which festival producers The Whole 9 & The Peace Project will earmark a portion of proceeds to fund 200 homes for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Participating artists are also donating a percentage of sales to their chosen charity.

Among the diverse palette of participating artists: Santa Monica’s Keri Frankenstein, who does fish-eye lens photography of exotic locales such as Spain; Culver City-based ceramicist Jeffrey Greathouse; and Del Rey fantasy painter Outi Harma.

When Greathouse is not teaching ceramics for the Culver City Parks and Recreation Dept.— instructing students how to make more formal, functional pieces — he creates such whimsical items as his “Hatchlings” series, featuring various baby animals struggling to burst out of eggs; or his “Fairy Doorways,” foot-tall Hobbit-like portals inspired by a friend’s garden gnomes.

“I kept thinking, ‘How did they get in and out of the house?’” said Greathouse, who will also bring a few new pieces out of the kiln at this weekend’s fair.

Harma’s portraits of spritely women sport some Middle Eastern and Indian influences but also evince touches of Chagall and Klimt and even some cartoony pin-up playfulness in the vein of contemporary Southern California artist Mimi Yoon.

“They’re very whimsical, mythological and feminine and they represent my own growth as a woman,” said Harma, who will have originals, prints, ceramics and plates on wood for sale.

“Affair of the Arts” kicked off last September, and Greathouse made his “Affair” debut at the follow-up June show.

“There was a decent turn-out; a good variety of people coming through. I picked up some students as well,” he said.

Greathouse loves any chance to be among the artists from his neighborhood.

“There’s quite a bit of interesting artists in the area. They’re open, friendly, helpful and not standoffish,” he said.

Harma, who has done all three “Affair” festivals, is currently working on some abstract paintings as well as 36 new images that will be part of a card deck, in collaboration with Bonnie Solomon, based on mythology related to Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey.” Expect this set, titled “The Art of Awakening,” to arrive in 2015.

Greathouse, who also does group shows such as Mar Vista’s Peach Tree Pottery and the Beverly Hills art fair, relies on events like this one for getting his personal work out there.

“For me, it’s my only way of selling what I do,” he said. “The shows allow me to get my art out there and see what people like. It’s a really good feedback having people come in and discuss them.”

Online sales are great, Harma added, however, “there’s nothing like having a relationship with the customers and meeting them in person.”

Affair of the Arts takes place from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at 9300 Culver Blvd., Culver City. Visit