Up Close: Josh Corbin's 'Estate of Mind'

Another in an occasional look at artworks on display around Laguna Beach.

Josh Corbin has made plenty of shots on the golf course, but he's never realized one dream: to hit the ball over a bridge en route to the hole. In fact, he's not sure that any course in the world offers such a challenge.

Except, that is, in "Estate of Mind," an oil painting that now hangs in Corbin's booth at the Festival of Arts. The San Clemente resident, who is exhibiting in the Laguna Beach summer festival for the third year, started with his idea for an idiosyncratic green and expanded it into an even more surreal concept: namely, a family home that exists on a golf course and may be the property of an eccentric, intellectual owner.

"When I was golfing, I always looked at homes off to the side of the golf course, and I thought, 'Oh, that's nice,'" Corbin said. "But wouldn't it be nicer to have the estate physically on the golf course, not on the side of it? And that was my main inspiration."

Monday at the Festival of Arts, Corbin talked further about his inspiration for the 30-by-48-inch canvas. Here's a look at the work up close:

1. The estate

Corbin conceived the several buildings that occupy "Estate" as part of the same dwelling — the large castle-like building toward the left housing the family, the smaller ones on the right providing lodging for gardeners and maids. As for the family, he envisioned a group akin to the Von Trapps in "The Sound of Music," with golf replacing music as their overriding passion. The building to the right of the flag might be the father's study, and the layout of the buildings could still permit a hole-in-one.

"I imagine he probably hits a few off that balcony of the castle there — just for fun, because he can," Corbin said.

2. Speaking of that family ...

... where is it? For all the artist's musings about the residents in "Estate," he opted not to paint a human subject in the work. That was a conscious decision by Corbin, who wanted viewers to feel "that they own it, that it's their estate, and they can create whatever kind of story they want."

3. The architecture

For the building design, Corbin delved into what he calls Old World style but also added modern — or even futuristic — elements, such as the thin wings of the main residence and the unexplained spire at the top. When and where does the scene take place? That's part of the mystery.

4. The cropping

On both sides, the scene ends in mid-building, meaning that viewers don't know how vast the residence is. For Corbin, that decision was a matter of framing: "I felt that it just held people in the frame really well. Ending the estate on both sides kind of brings the viewer's eye back to the green."

5. As for green ...

... that color dominates "Estate," from the grass to the shrubbery to the rooftops, which Corbin imagined as oxidised copper. The matching colors, he said, provide a sense of harmony in the composition — and also make a natural pair with the blue sky and water.

If You Go

What: "Estate of Mind"

Where: Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

When: 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. through Aug. 30 (closing time is 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 23)

Price: $4,900

Information: (949) 494-1145 or http://www.foapom.com

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