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Art Review: Garlic, Lavender, Art, and Rainbows

Artists and craftspeople from around the Southwest gathered at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to display their creations at the Santa Monica Arts Festival. Their spirits were not dampened by occasional rain, strong winds, and, at one point, the competition from a huge rainbow that appeared in the sky above Pico Boulevard. Harpist Carol Tatum, one of several scheduled performers, played during the appearance of the rainbow, making it about as New Age a moment as one could dream of.

During the weekend of February 22-24, artisans ran the gamut from the Topanga-based One Wing Studio’s hand-dyed dresses to Jerry Berta’s miniature replicas of drive-in movie theatres, diners, and piano bars, all with appropriate neon signs.

Gretchen Shields from Laguna Niguel displayed her unique jewelry. Many of her necklaces are made from silk, using old kimono fabrics. Her “silk road” necklaces are made from silk ropes with pendants of Chinese stone. She also does pearl necklaces and silk-pearl combinations. Check out more of her work at gretchenshields.com.

Among the visual artists, Red Wolf’s work caught the eye with paintings that literally glowed with metallic acrylic colors. Red Wolf explained that he used sheets of “honeycomb aluminum,” a thin industrial material, for his canvases. One painting, a golden female reclining nude, evoked the movie Goldfinger.

Red Wolf is based in Potter Valley, California, but has done a lot of work locally, including the murals and lobby paintings for the Santa Monica Medical Building. He told the Mirror that he is currently in negotiation to paint a Santa Monica gas station. See more of his work at redwolffineart.com.

Burkhard Saur, aka Mische, a German-born artist (mische-art.com) exhibited whimsical paintings of cartoon-like people with their eyes sideways and their necks elongated. “It’s a tribute to Cubism,” he explained, pointing out a woman with a sideways eye set against a background of Montmartre in Paris.

Rock Hill Estate Lavender Products of Sonoma (rockhillestate.com) offered everything one could dream of made with lavender, from soap and silk sachets to cuddly toy animals stuffed with lavender. Proprietor Renate Burneman said that her daughter makes the animals by hand. The soap is also handmade. She also displayed a dog shampoo made from lavender, tea tree, cedar, and eucalyptus oils, all of which act as flea retardants. On the power of lavender to keep regenerating its scent, Burneman said, “If you give [lavender products] a good squeeze, it releases the oils. The fragrance will last for several years.”

That may be useful advice to keep in mind as an antidote for the excesses of indulging in the wares at the booth of Luke Salyer from the Garlic Festival of Gilroy, California. On display were jars and bottles of garlic specialties such as Pickled Garlic, Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette, Garlic Garni (a seasoning and the Festival’s best-seller), and Sweet and Spicy Garlic Mustard, which festivalgoers could taste a sample of. To order products year-round call 1.888.garlicfest.

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