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Rancho Santa Fe residents shine at La Jolla Art Association show

Dale Steffen holding sculpture of northern mockingbird in lemon tree. Photos/Will Bowen
Dale Steffen holding sculpture of northern mockingbird in lemon tree. Photos/Will Bowen

By Will Bowen

Let’s Review

La Jolla Art Association just closed a sizzlin’ hot exhibition curated by Judy Judy Judy at its galleries on Paseo Del Ocaso, in La Jolla Shores. The curator explained that her professional name originated in the movies, when Cary Grant, in his infamous nasal tone, uttered “Judy, Judy, Judy” in the 1939 film, “Only Angels Have Wings,” also starring Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess and Rita Hayworth.

“I like old movies,” Judy Judy Judy said. “I like the style, the fashion, the ambience of past eras — especially the 1940s.”

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That’s why many of Judy’s ideas for LJAA shows — she has done eight in recent months — come from famous movies or famous songs. There’s been “Night of the Iguana,” “Bring in the Clowns,” “La Vie en Rose,” “Nothing But the Blues,” “Femme Fatales,” “Summertime and the Living is Easy,” and “A Season for Giving.”

For the fall, she’s planning “Its a Mod, Mod, Mod World,” which will feature modern and abstract art, and after that, comes a show titled “Masquerade.”

Judy’s recent show, which ran July 14-28, was called “Some Like it Hot,” and as she explained, “I wanted a show that was hot because it’s summer, but I also wanted something sexy; I wanted a show that was sizzling hot and sexy!

“The LJAA has been going strong for almost 100 years. I want to keep it going. That’s the reason I try and come up with new and differently themed art shows that keep the tradition going. Sometimes I just like the way something sounds, so I will build an art show around the ring of the words.”

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In addition to the numerous paintings of beautiful nude women in “Some Like It Hot,” there was some hot haute couture — hand painted clothing — plus jewelry and photography.

And although it may not seem sexy to all but those with a passion for our feathered friends, the show also had incredible bird sculptures by RSF’s Dale Steffen.

‘La Femme’ by Cindi Klong
‘La Femme’ by Cindi Klong

By sheer coincidence, one of the paintings in the show was called, “Some Like It Hot.” It was an impressionistic painting of ladies playing pool on a pool table that just swirled with a sea of colors, by Ukrainian artist Larisa Gorikh.

“ ’Some Like It Hot’ is my favorite American movie,” said Gorikh. “I saw it in Russia when I was young. After that, I knew I wanted to come to America.”

Gorikh said she was born in Vladivostok but went to art school in Irkutsk on Lake Baykal in Siberia. After graduation, she hoped to head to Moscow to pursue her career, but the Soviet Union fell apart and there was such chaos that she returned to Vladivostok for six more years of art schooling at yet another art college.

“I spent a total of 10 years in art school in Russia,” said Gorikh, who teaches at the U.S. Art Education Center in Rancho Penasquitos. “I came to America to find a good husband because all the Russian men were just drinking their lives away with vodka!

“I like to paint young people, who are filled with energy, as in bars, restaurants or playing pool … and I love to work with complimentary colors.”

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Joo Yeon Lee, a Korean artist, who attended art school in Seoul, South Korea where she earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art and a master’s in fashion design, also had work in the show.

Lee is married to a third-generation Brazilian racehorse trainer. She and her husband recently founded a horse training company in Del Mar. When she is not acting as its CEO, she teaches art at Joann Art Studio in Claremont.

“I like to paint wildlife,” Lee said. “I try to put human emotions in my animals. The leopard I painted for the show — that’s me!” Lee also had a striking nude painting in the show, called “Girl on a Merry-go-round.”

Software engineer Kim Wilkins, who works in the space and rocket program at General Atomics, had four nude paintings in the show, including one of Marilyn Monroe. Wilkins drove up to the July 21 artists reception in his new 2014 pearl blue Porsche Cayman. He revved the engine for admirers at the door.

“I got the Porsche because I didn’t want to be late for work,” Wilkins joked. “I paint nudes because the female body is beautiful and complex. You know what the hardest thing about the human body is to paint? It’s the hands. Now Rembrandt, he could paint hands, but most artists struggle with them.”

Mike Morse, the new president of LJAA, had two intriguing, cutting-edge pieces in the show that he worked up using his computer.

“I am experimenting with textures and with the uncontrollable palette created by the computer from an intersection of fractals and photography,” Morse, explained. For one of his pieces, he inverted a photograph of a seagull, than superimposed a fractal program on top of it.

Bird sculptor Dale Steffen might have seemed the odd man out in this show, but his work was magnificent. He exhibited a bronze roadrunner, a wooden Harris hawk, and a wooden northern mockingbird, each incredibly detailed and just about perfect.

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“I love birds,” Steffen said. “They are my passion. I’ve been doing birds for 30 years.”

Steffen has won top prizes in the “California Open,” an exclusive bird art show at the San Diego County Fair. He carves with an expensive Japanese dremel-like rotary drill, called a Brassler, using wood from the Louisiana Tupelo tree, the Malaysian Jeltong tree and the American Midwest Basswood tree.


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