The Ventura County Arts Collective Gallery at the Pacific View Mall

by Susan Zannos
zanoss34@gmail.com

The Ventura County Arts Council and the Pacific View Mall are collaborating on an experiment designed to make the arts more available to the general public and to give the work of local artists wider exposure. Tucked up in a quiet corner next to the Sears second-floor entrance, the Arts Collective is a work in progress.

Resident artists exhibit their work in the gallery space while staffing the studio and store (open Thursday to Sunday). During their residency, the artists may paint, sculpt, weave or work on other art projects. A large work table in the center of the gallery space, usually covered with art tools and materials, is the central focus, giving spectators a glimpse of art in the making.

Julieanne Case is one of the current residents. Her brilliantly colored paintings tend toward hard-edged realism. In one piece, a blue wooden deck chair lies against orange walls with an orange flowerpot in the foreground. The bright green leaves of the plant relieve the shock of the complementary colors. Her flower paintings also are explosions of color, clearly influenced by the Impressionists. More recent canvases are abstract, with swirls of color freed from recognizable forms. Case is also the administrator of The Collective, arranging schedules for residents and classes.

Resident Shelley Rogers Johnson works in a variety of media. She is a ceramicist: Her pristine white porcelain vases and ewers combine classical forms with handles depicting hands or heads. One large vase titled “Wave” features several hands that seem to be reaching out from inside the vase, waving. In addition to porcelain, Johnson creates kumihimo, a Japanese style of beaded and woven jewelry.

The resident artists stimulate and inspire each other. Ahzriel Addams, whose origami constructions are displayed, is using the technique she learned from Johnson to create a kumihimo necklace. Case tried her hand at vase painting — a softly pink rose on one of Johnson’s porcelain vases.

Addams has created a coloring book featuring magical small creatures. The Collective will be sponsoring adult coloring sessions for employees at the mall who want a relaxing activity with their lunches. Coloring book pages and colored pencils will be provided, and the work tables in the classrooms behind the gallery are a quiet place to concentrate on staying inside the lines.

The Collective offers demonstrations and classes for the general public as well. “Drawing with the full brain,” taught by Christine Martin, is an eight-week course that began in early March. Coming up will be classes in watercolor, rock painting, origami and kumihimo. Oil painting instruction is available by appointment. Tish Brennan will be giving demonstrations on painting using a computer. Instruction won’t be limited to the visual arts. Also in the works are classes in a cappella singing, ukulele and mandolin, and fiction and poetry writing. Classes take place in large, well-lit rooms behind the front gallery.

When Alice Love, senior marketing manager of the Pacific View Mall, approached Margaret Travers, executive director of the Ventura County Arts Council, with the notion of providing gallery, studio and classroom space at the mall, she didn’t see their collaboration as being limited to that space. The Collective will also present musical events, such as barber shop quartets and ensemble groups from local high schools and junior high schools, on the Center Court Stage. This weekend will feature a sculpture demonstration by local artist Delesprie. Student art exhibits in the spring, too large for the Collective’s gallery space, will be given special viewing space elsewhere in the mall.

This work in progress is being created by a dynamic partnership. But it needs a third partner: an appreciative participating public.

For more information, call 676-1540 or e-mail vcartscollective@gmail.com.