Members of two organizations hope to create a sense of healing and renewal through art in the aftermath of the Station fire.
ART from the Ashes, a collective of more than 40 artists from Glendale, Burbank and across the country, has formed a partnership with the Glendale Parks & Open Space Foundation, a fundraising arm of the Glendale Parks Recreation and Community Services Commission.
Their first joint venture is an art exhibition to benefit the rehabilitation of Deukmejian Wilderness Park, much of which was destroyed during the massive Station fire last year. Proceeds will go toward rebuilding park trails and renovating the historic Le Mesnager Barn. The foundation is made up of seven board members and celebrated its first year last week, said President Dottie Sharkey, who also serves on the parks commission. This is the first fundraiser.
"The board was wondering what it could do after we lost 700 acres of parkland in the Station fire last summer," she said.
Board member Stephanie Landregan had been to an ART from the Ashes event in Santa Barbara that raised funds to help after a fire swept through the city's botanical gardens there.
"Immediately we got together with them to see if something could be done here to restore our own park," Sharkey said.
Joy Feuer, Glendale resident and founder of ART from the Ashes, and her local artists met foundation board members at Deukmejian Wilderness Park and gathered up raw bits of metal and organic remnants of ash and wood that could be assembled into artworks, Sharkey said.
The results will be on display through July 24 in an art exhibition opening Saturday at the future home of the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale.
Sharkey is inspired by all the different facets of the community that have helped, she said. Those include the city of Glendale, Boy and Girl Scouts, local businesses, service clubs, historical societies, the Glendale Firefighters' Assn., Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Rep. Adam Schiff.
And the artwork, she said, has gone beyond her expectations.
"The debris has been transformed into just beautiful pieces of art," Sharkey said. "And it's pretty incredible that artists from all over the country, established artists, have donated their time to the effort and helped us heal."
Artists took scrap metal and turned it into jewelry or sculptures, while scorched wood became a canvas for painting. Ash was transformed into glaze for ceramics, Feuer said.
"Our mantra is made up of four words — support, inspire, create, renew. That's what we're about," she said.
Feuer decided she wanted to do something to help after about 30 fires broke out from Santa Barbara to San Diego in fall 2007, she said.
"I was working on a sculpture while listening to the constant interviews of firefighters, and people kept saying, 'There is nothing left,'" she said. "You could feel the heaviness."
She said she finds a cathartic avenue to life challenges through art, so the idea of ART from the Ashes seemed to fit. She contacted several artists who came on board.
"I'm pretty proud to say over 60 artists have donated 130 works of art to this show," she said. "They don't get any commission or anything. It all goes to the benefit, which is quite lovely."
Molly Enholm of Burbank has three works in the show, and all incorporate metal found at the wilderness park. In her works, she played with a few ideas.
"These multimedia paintings bring together traditional art materials with the salvaged burnt metal from the burn site," she said. "The idea behind the juxtaposition of materials was to question ideas of beauty, what is held to be beautiful and what is discarded as trash."
The other idea was one of preservation, she said.
"I painted the natural forms (leaves and branches) in gold to represent the preciousness of banal elements of nature that we ordinarily take for granted," she said.
Ceramic artist Sally Anne Stahl of Glendale collected wood, animal bone and glass at the park and incorporated them into two ceramic carved shadow boxes.
"In this project, I can do what I enjoy, and it can help something, and it's not often you have such a confluence of goodness — ART from the Ashes, the foundation, all of the artists' talent and hopefully the buying public — to help create renewal."