The Woolsey Fire swept through Malibu and, soon afterward, the COVID-19 pandemic put another halt on our daily lives, but for many Malibu artists, creativity never stops. And when life throws curveballs, often inspiration blossoms into new forms of expression exhibited through paint, watercolor, sculpture or other media.

Earlier this month, the Malibu Art Association (MAA) held an exhibit at Legacy Park on Aug. 8. It was the first event for the group in a couple of years. 

The MAA had tried to get an exhibit together in 2018 until the Woolsey Fire upended life in Malibu. Then, “COVID canceled the following year’s attempts,” according to Barbara Freund, member and treasurer of the association. Since the long-running Malibu Arts Festival ended its annual July run a few years ago, Malibu seems to be yearning for outdoor art exhibits. So, when the group applied to show at Legacy Park, the response was “what we were hoping for,” Freund said. 

“We all thought the community was in need of having that creative spirit shared,” Freund continued. “Just because of a pandemic didn’t mean the artists were going to stop—and, in fact, probably painted more.”

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The MAA not only includes painters, but also photographers, sculptors, water colorists, mixed and multimedia artists, and ceramicists.

The Aug. 8 show was so well attended that the artists’ group is applying to return in September and perhaps October if permitted, but with unpredictable weather after that it may not be possible until next year. In addition, Legacy Park only permits a limited number of events yearly.

This month’s show included 14 artists. Their location directly across from the Malibu Farmers Market made the group easy to find. Freund rejoiced in “hearing that question you always want to hear: ‘Are you going to be here again next week?’ ‘Are you coming every week?’ People were very enthusiastic about it.”

The positive community response was welcoming news to Pamela LeGrand, MAA president. “It has been a difficult last two years. We’ve had several shows that were canceled.” That puts a damper on one of MAA’s goals. “We are artists with a mission to give back to Malibu.” MAA not only promotes art appreciation and awareness, it donates a portion of its proceeds to the Malibu High School scholarship fund. Awards are given to MHS seniors who are pursuing visual and performing arts in college. MAA also buys books for the Malibu Library. 

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“We want to raise awareness of our association. We’re big believers in giving back to the community,” said LeGrand. 

Freund, who is a painter, pointed out that it isn’t just the community who is treated to the art. The artists benefit as well. 

“Artists just love to talk to people about their art and what inspired them and how they do certain things and share stories that resonate with the people looking. We’d like nothing more than to see the park used for shows like this.” The organization is shooting for a Sept. 19 showing again at Legacy Park.

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