Del Rey and Mar Vista artists unveil an eclectic variety of new works
By Michael Aushenker
Del Rey and Mar Vista may fly under the radar compared to neighboring communities along the shore, but they are no creative slouches.
Case in point: Sunday’s 6th annual Del Rey Art Walk and a Saturday night / Sunday morning group show at Grand View Fine Art Studios in Mar Vista.
The Del Rey Art Walk is quite literally all over the map, the event allowing self-guided visitors to drop in on the home studio environs of 16 different artists working in a variety of styles and mediums.
Two of Del Rey’s featured creators, Gonzalo Algarate and Sonia Sanders, embody two very different artistic journeys.
Born in Uruguay to a family of artists, Algarate moved to the United States in 1984 to apprentice at Robert Graham Studio, where he learned techniques such as metal fabrication, mold making, bronze casting and lost wax. He founded his own studio 13 years later.
Sanders, who is showing a variety of pastel drawings on Sunday, continues to ply the trade of portraiture at 84. From 1966 to 1986, Sanders served as official portrait artist for Universal Studios, creating countless pastel pieces now residing in collections worldwide. Universal routinely assigned Sanders to draw celebrities, visiting dignitaries and heads of state as gifts.
Grand View Fine Arts Studios’ semiannual meet-and-greet, coinciding with the Mar Vista Farmers Market on Sunday following a Saturday night mixer, takes place in one complex where more than two dozen artists rent studio space.
This weekend’s event features artists Esther Pearlman, Al Walton, Vibul Wonprasat, Mitchelito Orquiola, Lee Ann Goya, Sara Harris, Ken Marsh, Stephanie Shaw, Joseph Fitzpatrick, Kathleen Kaller and Charlotte Vanhaecke and includes a silent art auction to benefit the conversion of the old Mar Vista Fire Station 62 into a Community Center.
New to Grand View’s fold, Vanhaecke is a young and energetic French native originating from Armentieres, near Lille in France’s north, where she painted since age 8. Ten years ago, Vanhaecke arrived in the U.S., took UCLA Extension classes and quickly built up a career as a graphic artist. Living on the Palms/Mar Vista border since 2011, Vanhaecke, empowered by the example of Venice roustabout Jules Muck, decided a few years ago to chuck her day job and commit to being an artist full time.
“The last few years, my inspiration was in and out. I was doing a lot of graphic design. I got into painting the last couple of years and began doing it full time instead of doing it as a hobby,” Vanhaecke says.
After following Muck’s story in the pages of The Argonaut, she finally reached out to the muralist last year at an Abbot Kinney group show and has since met with her to glean wisdom.
For months, Vanhaecke had no clue what exactly went on in the Grand View building until one day she caught fellow artist Orquiola on a cigarette break while walking her dogs. Orquiola gave her a tour of the building, and she became a Grand View artist in January.
Vanhaecke shows an array of portraits this weekend that includes work from her “Underneath” series, recently exhibited at Venice Grind in Mar Vista, for which she painted the breasts of 20 subjects — their undressed torsos, not their faces.
“That was a social message,” Vanhaecke says. “I’m French. In my culture, the breast is not seen as something that’s sexual. [In France, nudity in print and television advertisements is commonplace.] I was really tired of that. I wanted to present women in their most natural [state].”
Vanhaecke’s colorful style engages rather than alienates, even when tackling heady subjects.
“When I look at my work in general, you can see vulnerability and strength — a lot of contrast [and contradictions],” Vanhaecke says. “It’s a little bit in-your-face, but people appreciate it.”
The 6th annual Del Rey Art Walk happens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday across 16 Del Rey locations. For a map, visit delreyart.blogspot.com.
Grand View Fine Arts Studios is open to visitors from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at 3871 Grand View Blvd., Mar Vista. Call (310) 903-2173 or visit facebook.com/GrandViewFineArts.