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Camarillo Refreshes Its Palette

Culture: An influx of artists and affluent buyers is creating a burgeoning market. The city introduces its first ArtWalk today in the Old Town area.

July 27, 2002|KARIN GRENNAN

Camarillo is hardly a hot spot in Ventura County's art scene, but things are definitely heating up.

Motivated by what they see as the city's untapped potential, artists and collectors are opening two galleries this summer.

Successful shows at the 3-year-old gallery at Cal State Channel Islands have pumped life into the art community.

And today, the Old Town Assn. and Chamber of Commerce are holding the city's first ArtWalk from 3 to 8 p.m. While Camarillo has not yet achieved the notoriety of such art communities as Ventura and Ojai, the activity shows promise for the city's artists.

"The art community in Camarillo is small, but it is growing and getting better," said Phyllis J. Doyon, a Camarillo watercolor artist. "I'm very excited about the future." Doyon painted and taught students at her studio on the north end of town for 15 years before opening a 2,600-square-foot multi-artist studio and gallery in an industrial area two years ago.

For 27 years, the tiny Camarillo Art Center was the city's main exhibit space.

The Ponderosa Drive building has hosted many demonstrations, classes and exhibits, including a Ventura County Pastel Artists Assn. show opening today. But not enough people know it exists, said Anita McDermott, the association's president.

Roxie Ray-Bordelon, an expressionist painter living in Camarillo since 1986, said a growing local market for art has prompted the city's artists to organize and push their work.

Ray-Bordelon and Doyon attribute the growing market, in part, to an influx of affluent people with disposable income to spend on art.

Camarillo's biggest artistic coup came when Studio Channel Islands Art Center opened in a 22,000-square-foot space at the budding university.

Response to the gallery's shows, which have featured artists from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo, has been incredible, said Ray-Bordelon, a board member and one of the founding artists.

Last weekend, more than 600 people came to see the paintings of Michael Dvortcsak of Ojai and Laura Rasey Miller of Camarillo.

Ray-Bordelon said the studio has become a hub for county artists, providing them with mentors and referrals.

The studio also has reached out to city groups, arranging for its resident artists to display their works at the Camarillo Art Center and the Chamber of Commerce.

James Waterbury opened a gallery on Ventura Boulevard two years ago. His success there, as well as that of Studio Channel Islands, prompted him to move to a 3,200-square-foot building, four times the size of his old space.

The grand opening of the James Waterbury Gallery will be held today in conjunction with the ArtWalk.

Waterbury of Camarillo said the upscale renovations in progress in Old Town and the full-fledged opening next month of Cal State Channel Islands, with its art-buying college professors and parents, should provide more customers.

A group of 30 artists, including painter Ray Ayers of Camarillo, plans to open another gallery near Waterbury's shop next month.

One of the organizers, Janice Wong, said it will likely be called Artists' Gallery off the Boulevard. In a preview of what is to come, many of the artists will display their works at Advantage Graphics & Printing during the ArtWalk.

Kathlean Butcher, chairwoman of the Old Town Assn., said ArtWalk organizers were overwhelmed by how many artists jumped at the chance to participate. More than 50 artists will exhibit their work at 18 businesses.

One of the eager artists was Teri Peterson of Camarillo.

"I thought it was a wonderful idea," said Peterson, who will display her floral watercolors at Citron Garden, a home decorating store. "I was excited that art had come to that level here that an organization would get people together to have this happen."

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