A showcase of 73 artists rolled into town on Saturday and Sunday for the 48th annual 'Celebrate the Arts' festival at .
“It’s been going on since the early sixties. We always have a decent turnout and a lot of happy people. The park makes our art show look so beautiful,” said Rachel Quimayousie, co-owner of .
MAFA President Bill Beebe said the main purpose of the event was to promote the art and the artists and to raise funds to provide educational programs, such as after school programs coordinated by MAFA member Betsy Thurman-Matz, and art activities at “Friday Night Live” in Library Park with MAFA member and art teacher Rouzanna Berberian.
Beebe said that volunteers from throughout the community, including local students and members of the Monrovia Youth Commissioners, also helped with the event.
“They are just really phenomenal kids,” Beebe said.
The day began Saturday with opening ceremonies hosted by Mayor Mary Ann Lutz and Councilwoman Becky Shevlin. MAFA member sang the National Anthem, and members of a local ROTC Color guard also performed in the ceremony.
“This is the first time I’m showing my art anywhere. It’s always been a dream of mine to do this, so I figured I’d start now,” said long-time Monrovia resident Jennifer Neuner, a pastor at the Bible Mission Church in Cerritos, who works in charcoal, pencil and acrylic paints.
“All the princesses are based on real people,” she said, showing several paintings that she modeled on her mother, niece, and cousin.
Laura Barnes of Rancho Cucamonga said that she’s been coming to the event since 2006. Her booth featured original block prints, acrylic paintings, and giclee prints, many of which featured animals or people set against a still life backdrop.
“I’m kind of an animal person. Everything has something alive in it,” she said.
Bicycle the Donation Dog from was also another featured artist at the fair. Bicycle and owner Jen Havens made 11 x 14 paintings to raise awareness and funds for MAFA and the Emma Zen Foundation by dipping Bicycle’s paws into non-toxic finger paints. The effect of the paw prints was similar to hibiscus flowers, Havens said.
Betsy Laban and her pooch, Bodhi, also manned their booth. Laban and Bodhi created faux Batik textiles in a four-day process, in which Laban specially prepared the cloth, and then Bodhi painted it by walking in acrylic paint.
“We’ve been coming to the MAFA fair for over 30 years,” said John Riccio, a ceramics instructor from . Riccio performed pot-throwing demonstrations at the fair. He said that there are about 160 students at the adult school’s ceramic classes, which welcomes all levels of students.
“It’s a very creative environment. I love the variety of artists over there,” said Marianne Galleon, one of Riccio’s students.
Galleon said this was the first time she’d had her own MAFA fair booth, which she was working with the help of her daughter and granddaughter. She became interested in pottery when she inherited her sister’s tools, and found that it was a way to be closer to her sister after she passed away.
“My main focus is functional pottery. All my stuff is high-fire. It serves a purpose; you can use it,” she said.
Artist Diane Arellano said that she’d participated in MAFA events over the summer. Her booth featured watercolors modeled off tarot cards which also corresponded to signs in the zodiac. She cited Alphonse Mucha as one of her artistic influences.
“I’m very inspired by him. I like the sort of pin-up style,” she said.
Sulmaz Rahimpour of Arcadia also said she’s been to summer art walk events, but this was her first time at the annual fair.
“I get trashed skateboards, clean them up, and put designs on them. The crazier the better,” she said. “I got tired of painting on canvas and wanted to do something different.”
“I tend to wander a lot into the impressionist zone in my work,” said MAFA Vice President . Zgonc is a photographer who also scans and hand paints black and white negatives. His booth was adjacent to the booth of MAFA’s web master, Doug Gordon, a photographer who specializes in large format panoramas.
The fair’s featured artist, Carol Curtis, is a Monrovia resident who teaches English at Pasadena City College. She holds a degree in photography from UC Riverside, and her photography is a combination of digital and traditional film techniques.
Curtis favors photographs that are up close and cropped, with an emphasis on shape and color. Her recent photographic subjects have included Riverside’s Mission Inn, her horse, and the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.
“The balloons I would like to do more of because they’re so fun and colorful,” she said.
Heather Shaw, MAFA’s membership coordinator, said she was planning to shop for holiday gifts at the fair before it was over. Shaw was also volunteering with on Saturday.
“We all work together. All the causes are holding hands for the weekend,” Shaw said.