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'City of the Arts' celebrates new art gallery at City Hall

'City of the Arts' celebrates new art gallery at City Hall
Artist Ben Brough, right, greets a friend who came to see his installation for the Art on the Fifth gallery on the top floor of Costa Mesa City Hall. (Don Leach | Daily Pilot)

Costa Mesa's halls of power have some additional ornamentation these days, thanks to a recently launched gallery showcasing the work of local artists on the top floor of City Hall.

Art on the Fifth, a collaborative effort of Mayor Katrina Foley and the city's Cultural Arts Committee, seeks to make City Hall's fifth level more warm and welcoming.

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Before the gallery was established in April, the fifth floor had always "been this kind of drab, not very inviting space," Foley said Wednesday.

"I wanted to open up the space, invite the community in and let the community be part of the city and showcase our arts," she said.

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The Cultural Arts Committee is always "looking for unique places around the city where we can put more art," said Chairwoman Andrea Marr, so a City Hall exhibit was a natural fit.

On Tuesday, the city hosted a reception celebrating the gallery's opening. Among those present was the man whose works now line the walls: Mesa Verde resident Ben Brough.

For Brough, art has been a lifelong pursuit — "I've been doing it since I was a kid and never stopped," he said. Never did he dream, though, that he'd one day be able to showcase his passion at City Hall.

"This is pretty awesome," he said.

Ben Brough's "Feast of Burdon" is on display for the first installation of Art on the Fifth, a gallery at Costa Mesa City Hall intended to feature works from a rotating assortment of local artists.
Ben Brough's "Feast of Burdon" is on display for the first installation of Art on the Fifth, a gallery at Costa Mesa City Hall intended to feature works from a rotating assortment of local artists. (Don Leach | Daily Pilot)

Brough said he dabbles in a variety of techniques and materials but that many of his works use acrylic paint and have an abstract feel.

"I like the looseness of cartoonish colors and balance," he said. "I always kind of drew like this. It's just more fun than trying to draw a perfect rendition of something."

Foley and Marr said the energy and colorfulness of Brough's work were an ideal way to kick off the exhibit.

"I loved how it was just bright and vivid with lots of dynamic images to get caught up in," Foley said. "You can sit and look at one of his paintings and find a lot of stories within the one painting."

Guests arrive to see the works of Costa Mesa artist Ben Brough at a reception Tuesday at the Art on the Fifth gallery at City Hall.
Guests arrive to see the works of Costa Mesa artist Ben Brough at a reception Tuesday at the Art on the Fifth gallery at City Hall. (Don Leach | Daily Pilot)

Foley said one of her top priorities as mayor is supporting local arts and culture. Costa Mesa's official motto is "City of the Arts."

Those who wish to visit Art on the Fifth can check in during normal business hours at the first-floor concierge desk at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

Brough's work will be up through the end of June. Marr said the goal is to have a new exhibit ready by July 3 and to rotate artists quarterly.

For more information, visit costamesaca.gov/artonthefifth.

Twitter @LukeMMoney

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