Hillcrest Arts Festival Features Italian Painter

The Hillcrest Festival of Fine Arts, which began as a neighborhood art show and grew into a full-blown exhibition featuring artists from half a dozen Western states, will celebrate its 25th anniversary this week when the 1985 festival opens.

In recent years, the annual show at the Hillcrest Congregational Church in La Habra Heights, nestled in the Puente Hills, has attracted up to 20,000 people for the three-day event. This year's festival, featuring more than 200 artists, opens Feb. 22 and runs through Feb. 24. Admission is free.

The festival's featured artist this year is Marco Sassone, an Italian painter who was born in a village near Florence and now lives and works in his studios in Laguna Beach and San Francisco.

Sassone was honored as an Official Knight of the Italian Republic in 1982 for his work. He creates serigraphs with a painting process using silk-screen stencils. For some works, Sassone uses as many as 100 stencils to capture colorful Italian street scenes or the canals of Venice, one of his favorite subjects.

The festival's wide range of artwork--including oil, watercolor and acrylic paintings, sculpture, ceramics, photography, lost-wax casting, jewelry, weaving and woodcarving--will be shown in 17 galleries set up around the church yard. Besides exhibiting their work, some artists will demonstrate their skills.

Most of the artwork will be on sale.

The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 22; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 23, and 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 24.

Several musical groups will perform and food will be available.

The Guildo-Mahones Jazz Quintet will play from 8 to 9 p.m. Feb. 22 and the Southern California Early Music Consort will present afternoon concerts Feb. 23.

At 10 a.m. on the festival's final day, the combined choirs of the Hillcrest Congregational Church and the East Whittier United Methodist Church will perform the "150th Psalm" by Heinrich Schutz and "Gloria" by John Rutter.

Free parking is available on three levels at the church, 2000 West Road, and at the rear of Stats Decorative Supply, near Whittier Boulevard and Santa Gertrudes Avenue. Additional parking will be available on Saturday and Sunday at the adjacent American Savings lot on Whittier Boulevard. A free shuttle bus to and from the festival will leave every 10 minutes from two lots.

Because this is the festival's 25th anniversary, organizers are trying to find the 16 artists who participated in the first exhibition in 1961. Anyone who was in the first festival or has information about any of the artists can call Allene Gilbert at 697-1606.

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