It was an unlikely setting for an art show. The two dozen bronze sculptures and paintings in the Officers' Club at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station seemed rather out of place.
The art, with its dramatic and fluid lines primarily depicting western and wildlife scenes, contrasted sharply with the simple formality of the dimly lit banquet room. The uniformed Marines who stood watch over the $350,000 worth of treasures looked odd next to the rumpled figures of cowboys and their horses.
Brig. Gen. William A. Bloomer, El Toro base commander, explained that a Newport Beach art marketing firm, Art Registry Title Inc., donated the works to the Marine Corps for an auction to benefit the Navy Relief Society.
The merging of the artistic and the military is not as strange as it may appear. The Art Registry's chairman, Clark R. Powell, and president, Robert Alan James, are both Marine Corps veterans. Powell was a sergeant in Korea, and James was a captain in Vietnam. Their interests in art and the Marine Corps led the two men to organize the auction, to be conducted in conjunction with the 1985 Bob Hope Marine Air Golf Invitational, April 27 and 28.
The Marines hope to raise more than $400,000 from the sales for the Navy Relief Society, which makes interest-free loans and grants to Navy and Marine Corps personnel and their families.
Bids on the artworks will be accepted at several parties in Newport Beach and Irvine, where the sculptures and watercolors will be displayed. Two sculptures, Stan Johnson's "Eagle Boy" and Jesse Corsaut's "Cavalry Officer," will not be sold, however. Johnson has donated his silicon bronze "Eagle Boy," valued at $25,000, to be given as a door prize at a banquet following the Golf Invitational. Powell is giving the $30,000 "Cavalry Officer," a bronze likeness of actor John Wayne in one of his most famous roles, as a raffle prize for the 35th Annual Navy Relief Air Show in April.
"Each piece takes about 12 to 13 weeks to complete," said artist Jerry Anderson, who has four sculptures in the show. "First you work in clay, make a mold of it and then comes the foundry process. It takes up to six weeks after that to produce each statue."
All the art pieces are originals or limited-edition works. Minimum bids for each piece range from $1,500 to $30,000. Those interested in viewing or bidding on the art should contact the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station for the locations of the presale exhibits.