Scores of Malibu locals flocked to City Hall last week to witness the opening of the city’s newest public gallery exhibition—Radical Beauty, Malibu Rising: Reflections on the Woolsey Fire.

The gallery opening, featuring artwork from local visual artists, poets, filmmakers and others, was an emotional experience for those who gathered, a little more than six months after the devastating fire.

Radical Beauty

Malibu Poet Laureate Ellen Reich

The art was described by the city as “a collaborative community art exhibit which will feature artists who specialize in all art mediums including photography, paint, poetry, film making, written stories and more,” with the opening reception including live presentations in the civic theater by local writers. 

Carla Marlenée Bates, a longtime local artist and art teacher, lost her Malibu Park home in the fire. Bates, also a graphic designer for The Malibu Times, said the idea for her painting came to her on the day of the fire.

Radical Beauty

Visitors admire Woolsey Fire-inspired paintings, incluing “Trouble in Paradise” (far right) by local artist Carla Marlenée Bates.

“The painting I submitted for the show is the first I have completed since the fire took my home, studio and art collection,” Bates wrote in a message to the Times. ”With all the business of rebuilding at hand, I have not been in the frame of mind to create again, but it was important to me to try and be a part of this show. The painting comes from an idea that’s been knocking around my imagination since the day of the fire.  It’s been my observation that many children in Malibu had their idyllic sense of youth taken away on Nov. 9.  

“In the foreground sits my son on his surfboard,” she continued. “From the safety of the water, he is looking back at the inferno devouring his home and neighborhood. I call it, ‘Trouble in Paradise.’”

Radical Beauty

“True Malibu Heroes!” by Nino Rakichevich

This was the latest in an ongoing art series presented by the city’s cultural arts commission, which in the past has featured everything from far-out painted surfboards and brightly colored handmade kites to the Face of Malibu gallery, featuring portraits by local artist Johanna Spinks—from a portrait and interview series featured in The Malibu Times.

The gallery is free and open to the public. It will be on display through the end of the summer and can be seen at any time when City Hall is open: Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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