Strings attached to fundraiser

Celebrities such as Britney, Paris, Celine and even the Donald may be luring you to buy their signature perfumes. But for a more enduring kind of art, why not a specially decorated violin? Eleven of them -- painted, beaded, brocaded or otherwise embellished -- are up for auction to help raise funds for the Ventura Music Festival, April 28 to May 8.

“We really like the idea of tying together various arts,” says festival music director Nuvi Mehta.

“What better way to create a living advertisement for the festival than to invite artists to create works of art on an actual violin?”

The participating Ventura-based artists include oil painter Christine Beirne, mixed media assemblage artist Dianne Bennett and printmaker Lis Schwitters. Their violins and the others can be seen today and Monday at the Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo. The colorful artworks will then move to the Ventura County Museum of History and Art in Ventura, Tuesday through Feb. 22; the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Feb. 23 to March 23; and the Buenaventura Art Gallery in Ventura, March 23 to April 1.


The auction will be April 2 at the Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo. Proxy bids will be accepted by phone beginning March 1 at (805) 648-3146 or online at The goal is to raise between $20,000 and $40,000.

Auctioning art-enhanced violins isn’t new. In 2003, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra raised about $20,000 selling six similarly decorated violins created by Los Angeles artists.

The Ventura Festival will include performances by, among others, pianist Dmitri Demiahskin, violinist Corey Cerovsek, countertenor Bejun Mehta, the Ventura Festival Orchestra and the Malashock Dance Company.