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Los Angeles

Artists Attempt to Capture a Cathedral

For members of a statewide art club, the L.A. church is a 'visual feast.' A display is planned for summer.

March 14, 2004|Erika Hayasaki | Times Staff Writer

Nearly 50 of California's top scenic artists carried their easels and oil paints to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Saturday to capture what many consider one of the most remarkable architectural and artistic structures in Los Angeles.

"The gardens, the statues, the light," said Debra J. Holladay, 46, a Temple City artist stationed in the meditation garden, near the 156-foot tall bell tower, a date palm tree, a rippling pond and a spattering of brightly colored flowers and plants.

"It's almost like a little oasis in the middle of the city," she said of the cathedral at Temple Street and Grand Avenue downtown.

The artists were members of the California Arts Club who travel throughout the state to paint landscapes and figures in plein-air style. Their work will be displayed in the cathedral from July 7 to Aug. 27, and sold to benefit the artists and the church. Prices could range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.

"We thought it was a terrific idea. The cathedral is not only the mother church of the archdiocese, but it's also a place for the entire community to feel welcome and gather," said Pamela Ludwig, executive director of development for the cathedral.

Gayle Garner Roski, 62, an artist from Hancock Park and a member of the cathedral's arts and furnishing committee, suggested holding a "paint out" on the 5 1/2-acre grounds because "this cathedral is about welcoming everybody, all religions. It's about finding sacredness and spirituality," she said.

Roski set up her easel and watercolors in the main court to capture the giant glass and concrete cross, blue sky and visitors resting on benches.

She loves the design of the cathedral, from the bronze doors and altar angels to the intricate tapestries. It is a symbol of how Los Angeles has shifted toward building and embracing magnificent structures, and bringing artists into that mix is important, she said.

"Now that we're redeveloping everything, it's a perfect time to have artists' interpretation of all these buildings," she said.

Tujunga artist Rick Rotante, 49, was drawn to the main entrance because the Madonna statue there depicted a strong and powerful woman. But by noon, Rotante was struggling to capture the softness of the image to contrast with the complex jaggedness of the building, he said.

"There are so many angles, it's almost impossible," he said.

Rancho Palos Verdes painter Daniel W. Pinkham, 52, was struck by the 17th century gilded wood shelf behind the altar that held sacred ornaments and statues. Pinkham said he appreciated the contrast of the old structure against the new marble floors and sand-colored walls.

"Artistically, this is a visual feast of different shapes, textures," he said.

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