Hesse Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, usually the weekend domain of picnickers and sports enthusiasts, will become an outdoor arts center this Saturday and Sunday with the annual "Art for Fun(d)s Sake," now in its 26th year as a benefit for the Palos Verdes Art Center.
Artists will decorate their own booths, and browsers and art buyers alike will be able to stroll amid displays of ceramics, paintings, sculpture, crafts, jewelry, woodwork and photography. Prices will range as low as $5 for a ceramic piece to hundreds of dollars for a fine painting.
Rancho Palos Verdes artist Pat Hinz, who helps select artists for the show, said organizers strive to create a festive community feeling with quality art as the centerpiece. "A lot of people come with the idea of buying for Christmas, and we don't want them to be disappointed," she said.
This year, about 200 artists--many local but others from as far away as New Mexico--will show off their imaginations and talk to passers-by about art. Some will demonstrate their techniques by creating works during the weekend.
A special attraction will be a creativity area where children can do art projects and take them home.
"Most (art show activities) are related to adults, so we provide this so the kids will have something," said Joan Lewis of Palos Verdes Estates, who is in charge of the children's area. Children will have seven crafts activities with a Halloween theme to choose from, including making creatures out of socks--they're called sockosauruses--making spiders out of yarn and face painting.
A quarter of a century ago, the show that started "Art for Fun(d)s Sake" involved only five artists and was held to begin raising money for the art center complex in Rancho Palos Verdes, which was built in stages beginning in the mid-1960s.
A community-based arts education and exhibition facility that also takes art out to public schools, the center dates back to a single room in 1931 at the Malaga Cove Library in Palos Verdes Estates. It is funded through private donations and revenue from activities and now has an annual budget in excess of $300,000.
Over the years, the show has been held at such places as the Royal Palms State Beach in San Pedro, a ranch in Portuguese Bend, the Northrop Corp. research center in Rolling Hills Estates and the South Coast Botanic Garden in county territory near Rolling Hills Estates.
It also has grown in size and stature, requiring a couple of hundred art center volunteers to put it on and attracting about 7,000 visitors last year, when some $20,000 was raised.
For the first time, the city of Rancho Palos Verdes is joining as a sponsor, and part of the money raised will help pay for a program for developmentally disabled young people that the city runs for the four peninsula cities.
All the proceeds from the sale of art goes to the artists. The center and the city profit through renting space to artists, the sale of beer and wine and nominal fees for crafts in the children's play area. Under the arrangement this year, the city will get 15% of the proceeds from rentals and 50% from beer and wine sales. The art center receives the rest.
"It makes it possible for us to do community outreach, the exhibition program, and pays for operating costs of the center," said Executive Director Maudette Ball, "all those things that aren't sexy but we can't do business without them."
Of the 200 show participants, 144 are independent artists chosen by a jury headed by Hinz, and the remainder are from arts groups and classes associated with the center.
"We look for quality, ingenuity, something that's different and will not be at every show," said Hinz, adding that this year's show has an abundance of jewelry, hand-painted clothing, black-and-white photos of Asian landscapes and Cambodian needlework with a 200-year tradition behind it.
Said Ball: "We try to get a cross section so we don't have all potters, all jewelers or all painters. The primary consideration is that it be an excellent example of whatever the person is submitting."
Some leading artists this year include Pat Dispensiere, who does watercolors of historic South Bay locales; Lois Stratton, who paints folk art on wood and has been in the show for 18 years, and jewelry maker Vicki Taylor.
"We try to make this high quality so we can bring the (best) artists back," said Hinz. But with more and more shows opening up, the competition is getting hotter, she said. "We've lost some of the best to other festivals."
What: Art for Fund(s) Sake.
When: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Hesse Park, 29301 Hawthorne Blvd., Rancho Palos Verdes.
Admission: Free with street parking and free shuttles from parking lots at Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall, Hughes Market at 30019 Hawthorne Blvd., and Golden Cove Shopping Center at the Hawthorne Boulevard Palos Verdes Drive South.)