In January, more than 30 South Bay artists took part in a creative challenge fashioned by journalist Bondo Wyszpolski with painters Deborah Giese, Karen Wharton and dozens of others.
The result of those meetings are two events to showcase the eclectic talents of the participating artists. “Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?” includes a two-seating Art Reveal and Brunch at the La Venta Inn on March 15 and an Art Reception, Awards and Presentation at the Malaga Cove Library on March 28.
The intent of the brainstorming was to find new ways to challenge already-established South Bay painters to step away from their respective specialties and create a panoply of whimsical paintings.
Wyszpolski, a longtime writer for the Easy Reader newspaper and Peninsula People, said he’s been harvesting clever titles for decades.
“The titles are “Chapter Headings” in waiting—for some future novel I may never write,” Wyszpolski said. “I have hundreds of them, jotted down over the past 40 years.”
To that end, Wyszpolski and enthusiastic artist friends came up with the idea to assign these titles as the subjects of paintings by spinning a homemade Wheel of Fortune.
But the committee took the challenge a step further.
“To make it more interesting, we put titles inside fortune cookies and attached them to the Wheel of Fortune Cookie,” Wyszpolski said.
“And if the art invites discussion and even disagreement, so much the better," Wyszpolski said. "As Courbet said, ‘When I am no longer controversial, I will no longer be important.’ ”
The idea snowballed as word got out.
The community tapped in on the fun to help create a pair of artsy, kicky events. Sponsors in the mix are the Palos Verdes Library District, Peninsula Friends of the Library, New York Food Company, and the historic LaVenta Inn will open its doors to the public for this event.
Organizer and artist Karen Wharton said she is wearing a lot of hats in molding the event. She and her husband own the New York Food Company headquartered in El Segundo which partners with LaVenta Inn.
In addition to providing the catering, Wharton is participating in the art challenge.
She said she and others ended up doing a lot of research on their respective titles.
“My title is 'Seeing Through Stars,'" said Wharton, who is usually paints wildlife. “I went in a lot of directions, but ended up integrating both Hollywood stars and the constellations.”
Wharton said she created a 20” x 20” black and white Hollywood star with the reflections of the current and old Hollywood signs in her eyes and managed to add a dash of Ursa Major (a bear) and Lynx constellations.
Artist Deborah Giese said she too, fell in love with Wyszpolski’s concept of getting people out of their comfort zones.
“Journalists help a lot of people, but never get any fanfare for things they do as writers, and Bondo wanted to challenge painters he knew to do something different,” Giese said.
“Most of the artists are well known in the South Bay. Several are from the hill including Margaret Moore, Katrina Vanderlip and Steve Shriver, plus many others. We were fortunate to have well known people sign up for this.”
The title of Giese’s painting is called “On Being Taught Ballet by Peter Pan.”
“I had to look up the author and do research,” Giese said. “I made Peter Pan’s shadow as the “Black Swan, and Wendy’s is an old lady.”
Alongside the paintings will be a 150-word interpretation about how the artists came up with their ideas. Giese said the explanations were just as much fun to write as it was to paint their artworks.
In the meantime, Wyszpolski said he is happy his deep thinking conduits to culture and fancy are playing out in reality.
“When people come to La Venta Inn next week, they will see some intriguing work," said Wyszpolski. "In short, art is a landing strip for the imagination.”
Want to go?
“Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking” Art Reveal and Brunch at the La Venta Inn
796 Via Del Monte, Palos Verdes Estates
Sunday, March 15
First Seating from 10 a.m. to noon
Second Seating from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Cost is $89. For tickets go to http://laventabrunch.eventbrite.com
Art reception, awards and presentation at the Malaga Cove Library
Saturday, March 28, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Music, appetizers and wine provide by Peninsula Friends of the Library
No cost, but RSVP is preferred.