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Art Gallery Reviews

Gallery 104 in San Clemente
An Anniversary Celebration

With art galleries struggling in these difficult economic times it is refreshing to discover Gallery 104 in downtown San Clemente. Not only is the gallery thriving and exhibiting some rather exciting original art, but they just celebrated their eighth year anniversary. When I visited on a recent Friday evening, the gallery was filled with life, art lovers from around OC had come out to enjoy some wine and conversation with some very talented artists while they strolled the gallery to view the many works of art.

One of the artists I met was Dasha Guilliam,

born in Russia, Dasha's love of art has been with her since childhood. During a trip to California when she was just 16 years old Dasha took it upon herself to enroll in an art school. She convinced her parents to let her stay and the rest, as they say, is history. Art and the business of art came naturally to Dasha. Within a few years she was directing her own art studio in Granite Bay. Now she is deeply involved with the contemporary art community in Orange County. She has developed a series of paintings that expose her love of the ocean. Highly textured, her paintings are enhanced with actual sand from the beaches where the paintings were created. This ethereal world that Dasha has created marries the twin feelings of longing and desire. From her multi-layered paintings we feel the vastness of the ocean that we can only imagine even as we stand upon the shore. We remember the feeling of the gritty sand and the way it pushes up under our feet. Unlike traditional seascape paintings, Dasha's work does not try to mimic the reality of a sunset on the beach or the whitewater as it rises, rather, her work gives life to the romantic dream of the ocean.

A resident of San Clemente since 1999, Nathan Paul Gibbs

is an avid surfer, a professional artist, and a self-described enviro-soldier. Like Dasha, his paintings depict that which he loves, the ocean and its life-giving force, but that is where the comparison ends. Nathan's work is more masculine, he creates art with acrylic paints on wood panel. His preference is for birch wood because if brings out complicated rhythms of color as the paint has a tendency to penetrate into some areas and swirl around other areas. An interesting knot in the wood may create a tide pool or a burst of light. Textured grains in the wood may create the illusion of sparking sand. In Nathan's own words, "This series focuses on the yin and yang of cognitive relationships between color and life." His wave paintings are calm, he prefers to offer the viewer a meditative look at the waves; to see the waves as they gently roll in, before the crashing whitewater. When Nathan is not painting he is surfing and while having fun out in the blue waters he is stoking the fires of inspiration for his next paint-a-thon in the studio.

I met artist Barbara van Rooyan

early in the evening when she was giving her exhibition a few last minute adjustments, she was kind enough to tell me a remarkable story about her life and how she came to paint such dynamic images. Seven years ago her son Patrick died of an accidental drug overdose. Patrick had studied art and was on the verge of a successful graphic arts career. The shock and sadness of losing her 24 year old son was overwhelming. Then one day Barbara felt a strong urge to paint and discovered a talent she never knew she had. With paint brush in hand Barbara could feel the presence of her son as she pulled the raw emotions from her soul and made them a visual reality. Her paintings are passionate and alive, they dance with joy, color and movement.

Her piece titled Moroccan Night

is a complex narrative of deep plum, gold, and burgundy with chunky brush strokes and delicate swirls. Taos Dreaming

is like an science fiction flying machine soaring through the desert sunset. Beauty can oft times be eclipsed by power, but Barbara has managed to keep the balance of her paintings in check which goes to the core of why her paintings are so seductive.

Gallery owner Shane Townley

exhibited a few of his own original works of art. Born in upstate New York and educated at Pratt, Shane has traveled the world and has chosen to bring his artistic talents to Orange County. He owns Gallery 104 in San Clemente and Townley Gallery in Laguna Beach. Shane creates semi-abstract paintings in a variety of media. His paintings cannot be described as pure landscapes, one would have to qualify them as dreamscapes. Using recognizable as well as abstract shapes, Shane creates images of southern California where the beauty of nature and manmade structures come together. Some of his work employs tone on tone sepia colors that force the viewer to recall an earlier era, while other pieces appear as visions from another world where the sky doesn't necessarily have to be sky-blue, it can be sky-golden. In Shane's own words, "I paint what I feel within a scene, hoping to bring the viewer on the journey with me."

Gallery 104 is located at 166 Avenida Del Mar in San Clemente.
Art gallery review written by Gloria Gales
Art Appraiser / Art Dealer 949-715-0308

Friday, December 4, 2009
Costa Mesa, California

Engard Arts Show at the Whittier Law School Library
3333 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Reviewed by Gloria Gales

With a wide range of styles this art show was a holiday treat. The reception was festive and enjoyable, and the attendance was better than I’ve seen in recent months. The most interesting work was created by Ingrid Marrero, a professional artist from El Paso, Texas, now making her home in Orange County.

Engard Arts chose six excellent collage works by Ingrid Marrero to exhibit through January 17th. I would highly recommend stopping by the Whittier Law School Library to have a look at them.

Ingrid Marrero’s Artist Statement:

This series of paintings is from torn paper collages with a focus on color theory which I created 3 or 4 years ago. By revisiting these collages through painting in 2008 and 2009, I have been able to understand the emotional content and stories which I embedded in these abstract works. The paintings are about events, landscapes and memory.

“Pasitos” (Steps) is from a collage I created in April of 2005 when I studying art in Chicago and thinking about moving to Miami. It is primarily about the excitement and tension which surrounds the experience of moving to a new city.

“Beach” is based on another color theory collage I created in 2005 while living in Chicago and dreaming of the beach.

“Katrina was in Miami” is based on a collage from 2005. One of my first experiences in Miami was the horror of mother nature’s power of destruction and the calm after the storm.

“Brickell Bay” is based on a color theory collage from 2006. It is a bird’s eye view of Brickell Bay, the community in which I lived while in Miami.

“Orange County” is from a collage created more recently while living in Orange County. It’s a portrait of South Orange County, the charming suburban community with a reputation for portraying a positive outlook despite some murky waters- a place full of kids and optimism.

“October” is a plein air (in the open air) painting from the view in my backyard. The first layer consists of the dark green grass and muted houses I painted in October of 2008 while dealing with a more somber time in my life. In October of 2009, I added the bright sky and pink horizon as well as the more cheerful greens to represent the brighter outlook that comes with time in a “the sun will come up tomorrow” way.

You can see more of Ingrid Marrero’s art at

Thursday, September 3, 2009
Laguna Beach, California

Reviewed by Gloria Gales

To truly enjoy Laguna's First Thursday Art Walk you need to decide North or South? Forest Avenue or PCH? Yes there is the trolley, but if you're like me and you like to immerse yourself in the art, trying to see it all in one night isn't a immersion, it's a glimpse. I'm not interested in five minutes here and three minutes there, I want to delve deep into the art, discover the way an artist creates, where they create, and why.

On this particular Thursday evening I wandered south of Forest Avenue on the east side of Pacific Coast Highway. Just south of Legion I stumbled upon a pathway leading up the cliff side. The stairs with they're irregular, but carefully made shapes were flanked on both sides with tropical growth. Under the canopy of shade trees I climbed up to a unique art studio. Like an enchanting Garden of Eden, Cydette Vikander's art studio seemed something out of a dream. She welcomed me with her big bright smile which seemed to be fighting for competition with her big blue eyes. "Hello!" she said, and offered me a glass of wine - she didn't need to twist my arm.

The little studio held a large body of work, this one hanging, that one leaning, a few unframed pieces stacked here and there. I browsed to my heart's content. As I looked around more people arrived, young and old all seemed just as enchanted as I was. The light in eyes of the fortunate few who were willing to make the little climb was unmistakable.

Cydette spoke with me and I learned that although she grew up in Southern California, she spent much of her adult life living and working on her art in Montana. She had an art gallery and studio there for many years. Here body of work reflects the two very different landscapes that she has called home.

The snow scenes are hauntingly beautiful. I bought a small original oil for a far too reasonable of a price, but Cydette said because of the poor economy she's been offering her work at prices that art collectors can celebrate - I didn't complain, I just paid the artist gladly and took possession of my new treasure. Here is an image of the little gem:

Here is another image of Montana created by Cydette. This one is a pastel on paper, very large and very dramatic, it's called Montana Warm Springs:

Most of the visitors in Cydette's studio seemed more interested in the California scenes. Here is Cydette's Hidden Cove, an original oil on canvas with lots of texture and visible brush strokes:

and here is Island Sail by Cydette, just as intense and spirited as Hidden Cove:

Siren of the Pacific, a very large work of art has been made into high quality reproductions on canvas:

Cydette has traveled much in her life and her travels often inspire paintings. Here is Lanikai Palm, from a simple yet elegant view she encountered in Hawaii:

Cydette's high spirited life has taken her to Tibet where she was an honored guest at an artist's invitational. Besides the traditional trail taken by some of the world's most prestigious artists: a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Academy and then a study program at the Sorbonne in Paris, Cydette lived and worked in Kashmir, the Tuamotu Islands, and Kenya. Her zest for life and fearless living is evident in every work of art that Cydette creates. Her art is a part of the permanent collections of major corporations in Los Angeles, Montreal, Hawaii, Scottsdale, and Beijing. Art collectors around the world have enjoyed living with Cydette's art - including one art dealer in Laguna Niguel named Gloria Gales:)

If you have any questions or comments regarding this art review, please feel free to send them to Gloria Gales at

Saturday, May 16, 2009
Costa Mesa, California

Reviewed by Gloria Gales

Tucked away at 765 Saint Clair in Costa Mesa, this little gallery is a big hit within the OC art world.

The Box is currently exhibiting Joseph Hawa's white on white originals. Curator Johnny Sampson choose several of Joseph's wildlife, nature, and abstract images. It couldn't have been easy, given that the space is so small, and the walls are pure white, but it works beautifully. The white textured works of art are simple and elegant. A few of the pieces have a bit of color here and there, Johnny Sampson used them in the just the right places to offer a break for the eye.

Left to Right: Gallery Owner Christopher Hall, Exhibit Curator Johnny Sampson, and Artist Joseph Hawa.

The word got out through a vast network of art enthusiasts who have come to expect the unexpected from a show at The Box.

The weather was perfect and DJ Oldboy kept the rhythm flowing into the wee hours. That's Oldboy on the balcony in the photo above.

I spoke with Joseph Hawa who was kind enough to give me some insight into the way he creates art - not the application, but rather the emotional substance that goes into his work. He spoke quietly, "My heart is in this painting." his clear blue eyes unblinking, "I cannot paint with just a brush, I have to feel something that goes into my work. Without feelings, the art is just canvas, and some paint, it is not art until it receives emotion."

Joseph Hawa has been painting and creating unique works of art for longer than most artists have been alive. He is an inspiration to young artists, he generously offers advice and answers their questions.

The art of Joseph Hawa will be exhibited at The Box for a few more weeks. Hours: Tuesday - Sunday noon to 8:00 P.M. Contact Christopher Hall 714-724-4633

If you have any questions or comments regarding this art review, please feel free to send them to Gloria Gales at

Thursday, May 7, 2009
Laguna Beach, California

Reviewed by Gloria Gales

The Art Walk in Laguna Beach seemed every bit as busy as it was during the height of the economy. The weather was Orange County Perfect, and a full moon lit up the night sky. Everyone was in good spirits, the sidewalks were teaming with people and the galleries were abuzz with activity. I saw several art dealers ringing up sales and people carrying paintings to their cars.

I concentrated on North Pacific Coast Highway; my first stop was the Laguna Art Museum. The current show is a collection of work by Roger Kuntz (1926 – 1975) The paintings exhibited are representational, but not entirely realistic. Kuntz once said it was a “middle ground." I think the best description I could use for this type of work is Abstracted Realism.

The piece shown here is entitled Concrete Canyon, painted in 1962. You can see the chalky roughness, the dreary dreamlike quality of highway construction. The paintings look lonely, and they made me feel lonely, but then I thought about the many people it takes to build a concrete landscape. These large images gave me the same feeling I get driving down the long gray corridors of our highway system. The images put me in mind of traveling, and workday appointments; me in my car, they in theirs, the feeling of being at once alone and yet surrounded by hundreds of other people.

Roger Kuntz showing at the Laguna Art Museum
307 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA

One of the highlights of the Art Walk was Sue Greenwood’s gallery where Gary Ruddell was exhibiting. Gary’s images are captivating, he has taken realistic images of people and dropped them into surreal landscapes. The people have a sort of halo around them, an aura if you will, jumping around, playing, watching, doing; like a silent story. I spoke with Gary that night, he said he creates images of people taking chances, learning to trust their instincts. The large oil painting seen here with Gary is aptly entitled Learning to Trust.

Gary Ruddell showing at Sue Greenwood Fine Art
330 N. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

Marion Meyer had a beautiful exhibit of abstract expressionists. Joseph Hawa had some of his elegant white on white textured canvases hanging. Each one captured the essence of cool understatement. Joseph studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and Northwestern University in Illinois. He has lived in California since 1975. His latest inspiration comes from the sea, the piece shown here is entitled The Wave.

Dick Marconi had an exciting collection of art on the second floor. His swirling colors seem as if they are baked onto porcelain sheets rather than painted on canvas. The richness of the colors drew me in, while the movement of the colors kept me interested. Dick Marconi was present and although he would not reveal how he gets the paintings to look so glass-like, he did say that he uses a heavy layer of glaze as the finishing touch to his work.

On the main floor John Szabo was showing his vibrant creations. Large wood panels of shapes and colors. His exhibit, entitled Galaxy & Selected Works, could have as easily been entitled, Under the Microscope. Here is John with Milky Way II, and below it, my personal favorite, Waterfall in Space.

Joseph Hawa, Dick Marconi, and John Szabo showing at Marion Meyer
354 N. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

April Raber, a long time member of the prestigious California Art Club, and resident of Laguna Beach was showing at the Laguna North Gallery. This painting of boats in a harbor is a lovely take on the true spirit of seaside living. Because April is a master of subtle color and impressionist style her work has a remarkable dream-like quality. April captured the sheer beauty of luminous waters on a cool misty day in the piece shown below. April will be exhibiting at the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach this summer.

April Raber showing at Laguna North Gallery
376 N. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

The Marc Whitney Gallery is one of Laguna Beach's finest galleries, and the reason for that is Marc Whitney himself. His use of light in his unmade bed pieces is exquisite. A true artist, Marc Whitney takes the ordinary and creates the extraordinary. I just spoke with Marc on the phone, he said he’s moving to Forest Avenue in June. In the meantime Marc Whitney Gallery is still open on PCH where he’s been for eleven years. Marc’s original oil entitled White Sheets & Slippers is shown here.

Also showing at Marc Whitney Gallery are a few pieces by Eve Plumb. Eve’s cafe' images are a perfect compliment to Marc's bedroom images. Both artists remind us that there is beauty in our everyday lives. Eve takes a look at traditional American café scenes. Her paintings are generous with light and warmth. The cafe's, like Marc Whitney's bedrooms, are bereft of people, making the viewer feel as if they are the person in the room. In Eve's piece shown here entitled Table for Two, the chair is pulled slightly out - waiting for us as morning light streams in through the window.

Mark Whitney, and Eve Plumb showing at Marc Whitney Gallery
350 N. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

Kroll Roberts Gallery is also moving, although we don’t have information about a new location yet. The current space has already be leased to Diana Ferrone, who is moving from South Pacific Coast Highway. Peggi Kroll Roberts had several colorful originals on exhibit during Art Walk. Whether on separate small canvases, like the delightful birds, or one large canvas, like the fun circles, Peggi's art is often comprised of small images grouped together to make a whole. Not shown here were three more pieces of painted squares which were also very appealing.

Kroll Roberts Gallery
305 N. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

It was good to see a few artists actually working on their art during the Art Walk. Toni Danchik was getting a lot of attention from admiring art collectors. She managed to maintain her focus even while people peered over her shoulder. Toni moved to the United States in 1994 from South Africa. Besides being a talented artist Toni and her husband Paul are involved with Acres of Love ( an organization established to help children in Africa who have been made orphans because of HIV/AIDS. Here are a few words from Toni’s artist’s statement: “What drives me to paint is an inner desire to bring expression to the wonderful qualities that I find in the world …”

Toni Danchik showing at Studio 7 Gallery
384-B N. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

While taking in the sights at the Art Walk I ran into world renowned artist Ron Burkhardt, I've been a fan of Ron's work since the first time I saw his innovative Notism pieces.

You can discover more about Ron Burkhardt and his unique art here:

If you have any questions or comments regarding this art review, please feel free to send them to Gloria Gales