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Artists to show, strut their stuff at Rancho P.V. festival.

Puppeteer Jay Reed was performing a “Punch and Judy” show at an art festival in Santa Monica last weekend when a woman scolded him for being there.

“This is an arts festival,” she told him. “Those puppets are not art.”

Reed, who came to the United States from England four months ago, begs to differ. “This kind of art is performance art,” he says.

Reed expects a much better reception this weekend when he will perform at Art for Fun(d)s Sake, a festival in Rancho Palos Verdes, where more than 150 artists will display and sell works. Event organizers have not limited the fair to sculpture and paintings. They invited Reed, along with a glass blower, bagpiper and kick-boxers, to perform their own arts.

Organizers hope that leaving the event open to a wide array of art will help draw up to 10,000 people. Last year, about 7,000 people attended, said Bob Howard, chairman of the event.

The event started 27 years ago to raise money to support art in the South Bay area. In its first year, the event was held at Palm Park in San Pedro. With five artists displaying their work, the festival grossed $3,000. By last year, the event had grown to gross $25,000.

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Proceeds will go to the Rancho Palos Verdes Department of Recreation and Parks and the Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Road. The art center provides classes in ceramics, art history, painting, drawing, design and crafts, photography, sculpture and printmaking as well as special exhibitions and classic film series. About 15 artists from the center will sell their work at the fair, Howard said.

Money will be raised through food sales and booth rentals. Artists will keep the earnings from the sales of their works, which also will include ceramics, jewelry, woodworking and weaving.

“The artists get to keep what they make,” Howard said. “It’s not for us. It’s for the artist.”

Organizers have promoted the event by distributing poster and post card prints of a painting that depicts Hesse Park, the site of the fair, and other landmarks in Rancho Palos Verdes. Artist Rita Schroeder, noted for her paintings of metropolitan areas and community celebrations, created the painting.

Schroeder uses bright, oil-based paints to create her works, which depict festive atmospheres amid a city’s historical landmarks.

Schroeder, who said that former presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan have collected her work, has done similar paintings for posters of San Francisco, Catalina Island, San Diego and the City of Hope. She will sign event posters at a booth at the fair.

At another booth, editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad of the Los Angeles Times will display and sell cartoon prints and bronzes of political figures. One of his sculptures, Ronald Reagan as “The Gipper,” will be sold in a silent auction.

Other activities will include a children’s area for face, finger and pumpkin painting.

Reed predicts that his puppet show will be a new experience to most of his audience. Although “Punch and Judy” has been around for nearly 400 years, many Americans are unfamiliar with the puppet show’s satirical humor and violence, Reed said. The play depicts the mischievous antics of a puppet, Punch, who clubs his wife, his baby and a policeman.

Although Reed has tamed the show, performances still are controversial because American children are used to cute, cuddly puppets, he said.

“It’s now a powerful, knock-about comedy show,” he said. “But again people say ‘Should you be making fun of violence? Violence isn’t funny.’ ”

Reed uses about 10 puppets in each show, which can run up to 45 minutes depending upon audience reaction.

Punch, Reed said, can be the most difficult puppet to operate, for he must use a swazzle, a reed-like device to create the puppet’s high-pitched squeak. Because of this, just one “Punch and Judy” performance is enough to wear Reed out, he said. Reed plans to offer three or four performances Saturday.

“People come up to me and ask, ‘Is that all you do?’ ” Reed said. “I say that’s enough. It’s a very wearing occupation. Half an hour of ‘Punch’ is equivalent to four in a coal mine.”

WHAT: Art for Fun(d)s Sake.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

WHERE: Hesse Park, 29301 Hawthorne Blvd., Rancho Palos Verdes.

Admission and parking are free.


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