For the past few summers, Vintage Grocers and Trancas Country Market have jointly held a summer concert series on the green every Friday night for about eight weeks. The free series, which draws hundreds of people each Friday, has always featured live music by local bands. But this year, something new was added—an art wall along one side of the green where members of the Malibu Art Association (MAA) could display, sell and speak about their work.
The 40 local artists who are currently members of the MAA were thrilled to be invited; members of the community seemed just as thrilled to be able to view the works of local artists while attending the concert series and having their picnics on the lawn. In fact, Vintage Market has already invited the art group to come back again next summer during the concert series.
MAA is a visual arts group, with paint including oils, pastels, watercolors and other media, including sculpture art. Some of the members are artists of renown who make a living creating art, while others are just getting creative after years spent in some other profession, or sometimes after a life crisis. The subjects are everything from abstracts to beach scenes to pet portraits and nature.
“I think art and music go together,” Pamela LeGrand, president of the group for the past three years, said during an interview during last Friday’s concert. “Overall, sales have been very good. There were four sales earlier today; and I sold four paintings the first day of the concert series. Someone bought a whole collection from [artist] Carla Bates. We enjoy being out here in the community.”
“We show in the Palisades and Cross Creek, we do plein air paintings and exhibits at the [Malibu] Farmers Market, and we may do an ArtWalk show in the fall,” LeGrand continued. The group also participates in the “Art in Public Places” program and does paint-outs at local scenic areas.
Artist and MAA PR person Lori Mills explained that a percentage of the proceeds from art exhibit sales go back into an annual visual arts scholarship for a Malibu High School student. This year’s scholarship went to MHS senior Declan Bates, who took first place in the PTSA Reflections arts competition and will attend Santa Monica College as an art major in the fall. MAA also donates two art books each year to the Malibu Public Library.
“I don’t know if it’s due to the fire or to Phoenix rising, but some kind of voodoo is happening with the increasing local interest in art,” Mills observed. “Maybe it’s because of social media. On the other hand, what’s more inspiring than where we live?”
Another MAA member, Barbara “Bonnie” Freund, said she had been looking for an art group to join. “I’m a member of Allied Artists of the Santa Monica Mountains, and they called my attention to this group, so I sent in my application and started exhibiting with them. I love that the organization gives back to the community.
“Art is cheaper than psychiatry,” she joked. “And you get to hang out with all these great women (MAA membership is open to men and women, but currently, only a handful of men have joined). I paint a lot of local scenes, and people recognize them, and I get to connect with the people that way.”
Another exhibiting artist, Martha Meade, said she had first gotten into art about 20 years ago during a midlife crisis, and that her talent and interest in art came as “a total surprise.”
Artist Helen Campanella began creating her art after the death of a child a few years back. She creates works out of old string bikinis as well as acrylics and spray paint; she uses a number of techniques, like paints of different thicknesses and layers, and even blow torches, to get the effect she wants.
“I want to make beautiful things and create in a world that has so much controversy and negativity—politically, emotionally and environmentally,” Campanella said. “This is the driven passion we should all have in creating.”
The Malibu Art Association is a nonprofit group of visual artists founded in 1963 by local Malibu artist Marjorie Knowles to “inspire and develop the art spirit in all of us.” For an application to join, or to see more about members and examples of their art, go to malibuartassociation.com.