New gallery hits on darks and lights of art

A new fine art gallery in town is juxtaposing ceramics and photographs, creating unusual and eye-catching exhibits.

Forest and Ocean Gallery opened just a little over a month ago. Eleven artists have their work on display there. Robin Lee Riddell, who lives in San Clemente, is one of those artists. Riddell, who has a background in fashion design and fine arts, creates ceramic pieces out of clay.

"My process is continuos," Riddell said about her art. "You can never learn enough about clay."

Her ceramics mix dark and light clay or porcelain, with titles like "Mad Hatter" and "Let it Flow."

"I just like to play the dark and light off each other," she said, adding it makes a hard surface appear soft.

The gallery is owned by Ludo Leideritz and his wife Barbara, who live in Rancho Santa Margarita. They previously had the gallery in an industrial park in South Coast Metro.

"We created quite a buzz there," Ludo Leideritz said, "but overall it was a tough road there."

The Leideritzes frequent Laguna Beach quite often, Leideritz said, attending the weekly farmer's market. It was at one that his wife noticed a vacancy at what was once the video store on the corner of Forest and Ocean avenues. The couple moved on the space.

"It's a fantastic location and we are on a beautiful corner across from the biggest parking lot in the city," Leideritz said.

There's also a little patio in the back area and the gallery had a reception opening for the artists last month there. A ribbon cutting with council members will take place Aug. 30.

Mixing photographs and ceramics appeals to the Leideritzes.

"It's a great balance between the two," Leideritz said. "They are three- and two-dimensional [pieces of art] and they complement each other very well."

One photography exhibit, by Carol Cirillo Stanley, shows off different types of cement and concrete as one image, photos she captured in Hollywood and downtown L.A.

The artists featured in the Leideritzes' gallery have either been close friends or those the couple has known and followed their work. Alan Ross, assistant to Ansel Adams, is a good friend, Leideritz said, and expressed interest in being in the gallery, and they took him up on that offer. More artists could eventually be added.

"A few local artists have expressed interest in our gallery and of course have come to us since we opened," Leideritz said. "We'd like to expand to include more artists, possibly three to four more artists depending on the amount of space we can give them."

Forest and Ocean is at 480 Ocean Ave. Suite B; (949) 371-3313,

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