Ventura Music Festival presents Treasure Chests

This year, the Ventura Music Festival presents “Treasure Chests,” the fifth annual visual arts exhibition presented in partnership with selected local artists. Handcrafted chests (30" x 20" x 20") were the canvases upon which these accomplished artists rendered richly diverse and three dimensional compositions. This exciting show is produced in conjunction with the Festival’s 2010 concert season.

Painted and adorned by 15 accomplished artists, each used the chest as a blank canvas to highlight this year’s festival theme, Romanze–A Musical Journey from Vienna to Ventura. Hailing from Camarillo, Oak View, Ojai, Santa Paula and Ventura, artists include: Janet Black, Karen Brown, Susan Cook, Judy Gibbs, Jack Farquhar Halbert, Dorothy Hunter, Norman Kirk, Christine Leong, Leslie Marcus, Gail Pidduck, Leslie Plimpton, Len Poteshman, Betsy Quinn, Roxie Ray and Sylvia Torres.

The chests were auctioned on March 6, 2010 at the Ventura Music Festival’s “Evening of Note” annual fundraiser dinner at the Four Points Sheraton Ventura Harbor.

2010 Festival Artists

Janet Black, Ventura

A painter at heart, Janet Black’s collages are unique in their depth, complexity and subject matter. Recent work shows her desire to use collage in a painted manner, rendering strokes of color with a variety of papers, generating form and value by tearing and layering instead of brushing.

Specializing in portraiture of people and animals, she often incorporates passages from poetry and other inspirational writings, sometimes in ancient languages.

Artist Website:

About the art - “Queen of the Night”
“I used a musical work from the Classical Period for my inspiration for the Festival Chest,” Janet says. “I chose Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” for its fanciful imagery, story and characters, some of whom have graciously agreed to appear on my piece.”

Karen L. Brown, Ventura

While growing up in Ventura, Karen L. Brown, PhD, sparked an interest in art that has continued in various ways throughout her life. As a professor at CSU Northridge, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Texas Women’s University and retired from Ventura Community College, she found pathways to engage in and incorporate artistic expression in to both her professional and personal life. Specializing in printmaking, encaustics, digital fine art and mixed media, she often uses alternative ways of working with materials with a tendency towards organic materials.

Artist Website:

About the art - “Hei Suite”
Karen’s contribution to the Ventura Music Festival is Hei (peace) Suite, a design that she says mirrors her eternal optimism and reflects her upbringing on the California coast with its cooling ocean breeze.

“Hei is inspired by both my childhood and the Chinese symbol for peace,” she says. “It is my hope that its combination of serene colors and symbol of peace will resonate with those who view it.”

Susan Cook, Ventura

Susan Cook found her true passion in painting under the tutelage of Hiroko Yoshimoto, Carlisle Cooper and Robert Moskowitz at Ventura College, transferring to California State University, Channel Islands where she earned a Bachelors Degree in Art in 2003.

Cook is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Barney Dietz Purchase Award and Award of Excellence from the Ventura College Fine Art Department, and the Presidential Award from Ventura College Foundation.

Artist Website:

About the art - “Beyond Bastille and Berlin”
Susan’s chest, “Beyond Bastille and Berlin,” was created in response to Beethoven’s dedication to social justice. It is composed of intersecting planes and heightened perspective in deference to diversity of viewpoint. The use of iconic structure symbolizes our age-old quest to understand measure, balance and weight and how they apply timelessly not only to art but also culture.

Judy Gibbs, Ventura

Judy Gibbs has a passion for learning. She has studied piano, court reporting, interior design, real estate, business, and computer science. She took her first formal drawing class in 1998 and followed a classical program of study at Ventura College.

Judy currently works primarily in encaustics, is a resident artist at Sea Breeze Art Studios with the Inkspots of San Buenaventura, is a board member of the Buenaventura Art Association Gallery, and an artist member and docent at SCIART.

About the art - “Moonlight Sonata”
The Classical Period and Beethoven were Judy’s inspiration for choosing “Moonlight Sonata” as the theme for her box.

“The first movement of “Moonlight Light” was the last piece I was learning before I quit piano at age 13,” Judy says. “The scene is a moonlit lake incorporating the moon, music from the ‘Moonlight Sonata’, and a portrait of Beethoven as an evening garden in the foreground, silhouetted in black and white.”

Jack Farquhar Halbert, Ventura

Jack was president of his family-owned sign and graphic display company, Argyle Co., in Detroit, as well as art director of Halbert Advertising in Birmingham, Michigan. His paintings explore color and form through unique design and brush stroke.

Jack is current president of the Buenaventura Art Association (2009-2010). He has received numerous awards and commissions, and is represented in many private and public collections.

About the art - “The Four Seasons Chest”
“After careful cogitating on the chest, I see four sides, and a top,” Jack says. “Four tops? Four Seasons? Four of a kind? I went with the second singing sensation from the 60’s. Everybody loves the seasons, everyone has a favorite too. When I started drawing it, the swirling sky top just happened!”

Dorothy Hunter, Ventura

Dorothy Hunter’s inspiration stems from travels in many areas of the country, including Washington, D.C., California, Tennessee, Oklahoma and the Far East.

Her work is displayed in public collections at Bristol Myers Corporation, National Public Radio, Sperry-Univac Corporation, American Trucking Association, Sheraton Inns, Environmental Space Agency, Ramada Inns, Museum of Ventura County, Southern California Gas Company, and other locations.

About the art
Dorothy’s inspiration for her chest was the City of Ventura with themes including the ocean, two trees, the Channel Islands, and the jetties.

Norman Kirk, Santa Paula

A resident of Santa Paula, artist Norman Kirk is best known for his watercolor paintings. He has had 16 one-man shows and is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, Watercolor West and the gold Coast Watercolor Society.

His paintings are included in the collections of Jonathan Winters, Maj and Larry Hagman, Barry Berkus, Technicolor Corp., the National Park Service, the Los Angeles Public Library, Dept. of Defense, U.S. Air Force Academy, Ventura County Museum of History & Art, Rockwell International, the Saticoy Country Club, and many other private collections in the U.S. and abroad.

Artist Website:

About the art
Lined with sheet music, this chest decorated by Santa Paula artist Norman Kirk features a portrait of violinist Itzhak Perlman on the lid and Austrian landscapes on the sides.

Christine Leong, Camarillo

A resident of Camarillo since 2002, Christine Leong is a native of Hong Kong, with a passion for Chinese watercolors. Leong’s paintings have earned numerous prizes and she has exhibited extensively around the world. In 2008 she was invited to display her artwork ‘Nine Koi's’ at Beijing Art Museum, China. The art exhibition, Salute Beijing Olympics and Display Chinese Civilization, was a featured event of 2008 Olympic Culture Festival which assembled 100 emerging Chinese artists worldwide to showcase the Chinese culture and visual art.

Artist Website:

About the art - “Symphony of Wings”
The delicate wings of the butterflies rise to join the poised cranes in flight.
Whispers of air gently guide both to their abode for a night’s rest.
The dawn is coming and a new day awaits.

Leslie Marcus, Ojai

Marcus studied watercolor painting at The Arts Students League. With a B.F.A from California College of Arts & Crafts and Academy of Art College in San Francisco, then immersed herself in the fashion world of Los Angeles. There, she created exclusive, original textile designs for apparel and home furnishings now can found in her contemporary paintings of female figures.

Artist Website:

About the art - “Joy”
Leslie’s creation is an Asian trunk with opulent Japanese chrysanthemums, symbolizing optimism and joy. The interior is lined with an exotic black and gold calligraphy-inscribed diamond pattern.

“The Japanese consider the orderly unfolding of a chrysanthemum’s petals to signify excellence,” Leslie says. “It is said that a single petal of this celebrated flower placed at the bottom of a wine glass will encourage a long and healthy life.”

Gail Pidduck, Santa Paula

For Gail Pidduck, painting is a process, both of seeing and applying paint to the board or canvas. “Sometimes the process is smooth and almost effortless,” she says, “but more often I find myself involved in a series of adjustments both of mind and materials. Painting is so much like life that I wonder how people who don’t paint work through life’s events and issues.”

Her collections can be found in the Ventura County Museum of History and Art, City of Ventura Municipal Art Collection, City of Santa Paula, City of Thousand Oaks, numerous corporate and private collections in California, and private collections in Alaska, Florida, Maine, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin.

About the art - “While the Composer’s Sleep”
Two small grandsons served as perfect inspiration for Gail to design her chest, she affectionately calls “While the Composer’s Sleep.”

“When I first saw the unpainted chest, I immediately thought of toys and decided to decorate the chest with instruments from the Classical Period and creatures playing with them after dark,” she says. “Inspiration often seems to come when we first awaken, but perhaps the seeds of good ideas and beautiful music are planted as we sleep. While the mice, birds, and cat are busy, the notes are filling the composers’ minds.”

Leslie Plimpton, Oak View

Leslie Plimpton attended Columbia University where she studied motion picture and video production and worked in the industry for many years. In 2007, she graduated with a B.A. in Fine Art from California State University, Channel Islands, where her fascination with fashion led her to painting figures in oil enabling her to explore the idea of adding collage to her portraits to reveal how fashion is linked to social identity.

She collages fabric or real clothing to recreate the outfits she wants to depict, also commenting on current or past fashion trends and the designer fashion world, exploring this subject in sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, and video art.

Artist Website:

About the art
The theme of Leslie’s work relates to the world of fashion in our daily lives, choosing Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” to illustrate how clothing changes with the seasons and time of day.

“My chest is adorned with antique glass pulls and is painted in acrylic,” Leslie says. “I added a Queen Anne-style leg to complement the feminine fashions that are illustrated.”

Len Poteshman, Ventura

A self-described non-conceptual artist, Ventura resident Len Poteshman attended the Chicago Art Institute, the American Academy of the Arts, the Los Angeles Art Center, and the Chouinard Institute, graduating from the University of Guadalajara with a Master of Arts degree.

His multi-faceted background bridges illusion and reality and includes a career as a law enforcement officer in art crimes, forgery detection, composite drawings of suspects, and theft investigation.

His work has been exhibited in the Los Angeles County Museum and the Riverside Museum as well as in galleries in Spain, Washington, and California.

About the art
“The inspiration for this chest was born from a fairly recent visit to Vienna, an elegant city with an extremely artistic history, and in particular music,” Len says.

Decorated using a rococo design and portrait of Ludwig Von Beethoven as the centerpiece, the chest was finished with a crackle varnish to provide the illusion of age, forged brass handles and hinges, and lined with a fabric interior to complement the exterior.

Betsy Quinn, Ventura

Growing up on the East Coast and studying in the Midwest, Betsy Quinn’s focus was writing and literature. It was not until the end of her career as a teacher in 1993 that she was irresistibly drawn to painting.

A student of art at Ventura College, Betsy expresses her creativity through watercolor, oil, acrylic, encaustic, and printmaking. Her work can be seen at Sea Breeze Art Gallery in Ventura, where she is a member of the Inkspots. Betsy also has shown at Art Walk, Buenaventura Gallery, Artist’s Union, Ventura County Government Center, Ojai Art Center, and at the Reynolds Gallery at Westmont College.

About the art - “Africa Symphony”
“This chest pays homage to the beauty of the African landscape itself,” Betsy says. “The top of the chest portrays variations of three of the themes.”

Betsy further describes her chest as having four “movements.” The first on the front of the box reflects giant papyrus; the second celebrates the coming of rain after a long, dry season; reeds peacefully reflecting in a stream are movement three; and the fourth is in remembrance of those moments in time of sundown in Africa that is never to be forgotten.

Roxie Ray, Ventura

A founding member of Studio Channel Islands Art Center, Roxie Ray is an award-winning artist whose paintings capture the dignity and passion of the human spirit in its interaction with the environment. A California native, she was influenced early in life growing up in the undeveloped hills and fields of Southern California.

Her migrant worker series employs expressionistic techniques and bold colors to emphasize the quiet power and dignity of this often ignored and exploited segment of society while another series of water paintings explores the human figure and its relationship with the multi-layered sense of water.

Artist Website:

About the art - “Sanctuary”
Roxie explains the creative process is the integration of many things and experienced on several different levels. It is the glue that sustains harmony and balance and gives meaning to self-discipline.

To try and articulate this process is not simple. Roxie says, “the ocean, to her, is music...its heartbeat of waves just the beginning of its concert.”

Sylvia Torres, Camarillo

Sylvia Torres is a native Californian and full-time contemporary artist working in mixed media as well as the ancient medium of Encaustic. She is an Artist-in-residence and board member at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo, and one of a very few instructors in the medium of encaustic on the West Coast.

Sylvia is active in the Master Art Workshop Program at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Oxnard, where her work is part of their permanent collection.

Artist Website:

About the art - “Beethoven’s Trunk of Secrets”
“My inspiration was Beethoven, with research leading me to astonishing discoveries,” Sylvia says. “The letters Beethoven wrote to an unidentified woman he called Immortal Beloved. Who was she? Did he actually send them? The tale is of a secreted lock of Beethoven’s hair and its travel through time from Vienna in 1857 to the Sotheby’s auction in 1995. The testing of the hair and the startling results reveal the cause of his deafness and his death.”

These stories are incorporated into the art on the panels of her trunk, including Sylvia’s interpretation of a portrait of Beethoven by Joseph Stieler, handwritten music from printed materials of Beethoven’s originals, and a lock of hair.