The City of Ojai Arts Commission is delighted to announce the winners of Ojai’s first ever Paint Box project. From a strong field with a total of 16 proposals from 9 artists, an appointed jury (a note on which at the end) selected three artists to paint public utility boxes at three different sites in Ojai. These artists are Domonic Breaux, Carlos Grasso, and Leslie Marcus.
Breaux is an Ojai artist who works in many different media with a dizzying stylistic range and a witty visual vocabulary. He studied Fine Art and Sculpture at Pierce College before going on to attend California Institute for The Arts and The Brandes Art Institute. That laid the basis for a 30 year career in the fields of visual art and design. He is also author of the 2012 graphic novel, “Dusty Seco, Desert Drifter.” Find out more about his truly eclectic work at www.domonicbreaux.com. Breaux will be painting a pair of adjacent utility boxes in Libbey Park. From a dark background stylized Birds of Paradise flowers and Ojai oranges burst into being.
“The intoxicating aroma of orange blossoms here brings back vivid memories of my childhood in the north San Fernando Valley.” says Breaux. “Birds of paradise too have always been a familiar part of our Southern California landscape. I’ve always found them to be a flamboyantly masculine flower and has always been a reoccurring theme in my work . “Citrus Ojai” and “Ojai Paradise” designs are originally from a series of Prisma color pencil drawings on black paper. I had a strong feeling that they would speak the Ojai language and would translate well into the electric box format. What an honor and thrill to be involved in the Ojai paint box project.”
Carlos Grasso is an artist whose esthetic range in both moods and materials also defies easy summation. He studied Music, Graphic Art, and Painting in Buenos Aires, Paris, and LA and worked for a time as a professional flautist. Almost 3 decades ago, he switched whole-heartedly to the visual arts after taking a class with master representational artist, David Leffel. Some of Grasso’s pieces are minimalist and contemplative but his latest series of works is breathtakingly exuberant and wholly abstract. It involves cutting into two dimensional canvases and other materials to create something more sculptural; a controlled explosion with beguiling inner rhythms and harmonies. His work is collected widely. Grasso, says of the Libbey Park utility box near the children’s playground:
“My whole concept for this utility box was to bring a note of color to the surrounding environment of the children’s playground at the Libbey Park. My motto: “Color, color and more color!” applies exactly to my vision of what a child’s “fun place” should look like. The box will be a great colorful accent amidst the dark browns and greens base colors of the park. Color is visual energy, color is life in movement, a delicious banquet of shapes for the eye…”
Leslie Marcus is a well-known 25-year resident of Ojai, an artist and teacher who began her career in textile design where she designed textile prints for companies such as Nike, Patagonia, and Guess. She then moved into art education, and now paints, creates textiles, and teaches fine art painting in her Ojai studio. She has exhibited work all over California and sells all over the US. “My paintings have evolved into Abstract Contemporary Figurative works that primarily depict the feminine form. Love, motherhood, sensuality, relationships, and dance are my inspirations.” You can find her artwork and hand-painted scarves at Poppie’s Art and Gifts on Matilija Street. Marcus was selected to paint the Ventura St. utility box and her design centers on the warmth and radiance of the California poppy.
Ojai is a well-known haven for artists which in turn attracts lovers of great visual, musical, and performance art to our various celebrated festivals and events. In this difficult time for everyone, artists of all sorts are also very hard hit. The Arts Commission hopes to continue working to help support our local artists, enliven our public spaces with eye-catching, conversation-sparking designs, and foster feelings of community and shared space in our little town.
As stipulated by the city Public Art Ordinance, a Public Art Jury must have two public art experts, one artist, two community members, one Arts Commissioner and one Planning Commissioner. Jury membership is not intended to be static and will change from project to project. This time the members were Richard Amend, Barbara Hirsch, Wendy Barker, Kathy Nolan (Planning Commission), Cynthia Weirick, Dale Hanson, and Marcy Toscher (Chair, Arts Commission)
A grand opening of the completed art is scheduled to take place Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. masks, social distancing, and all COVID-19 requirements will be implemented. Additional information about the grand opening to follow.