Beginner's luck at 80

Paul Woodward landed his first gallery show without anyone's help.

He simply walked into Forest and Ocean Gallery and introduced himself to owner Ludo Leideritz last August. His pieces have been on display ever since.

From March 10, the 80-year-old sculptor will join photographers Tom Lamb and Hans Rindfleisch for the fourth installment of the gallery's Artist Spotlight series, which features a new group of artists every month. The contributors will be recognized at an opening reception on March 15, and their pieces will remain highlighted until April 6.

"Spotlighting three artists shows the diversity of what we are able to offer to the community," Leideritz said. "Having two artists with two-dimensional work and one with three-dimensional work adds depth to the presentation. It speaks well about the gallery that each person is a specialist in his own field."

Forest and Ocean Gallery started out with only 950 square feet to its name, but Leideritz acquired the neighboring space in 2013. Now, with approximately 2,100 square feet to play with, he considers it ideal to host an ongoing series of this type.

"We wanted to give our artists due credit for the work they've done, but also notoriety with a special event just for them," he added.

Leideritz selects the artists for the Spotlight series based on how long they've been with Forest and Ocean and whether they have enough pieces to exhibit.So far, the venue's clientele has responded with an outpouring of support, with between 150 and 250 guests attending each reception. The visitor list grows with each edition of Artist Spotlight, he said.

For the upcoming show, work by other Forest and Ocean artists will remain on display along with new works by Woodward, Lamb and Rindfleisch, who will also staff the gallery. This way, guests will get a closer look at each artist's skill set and gain an in-depth view of their work mindsets.

Rindfleisch has had a long relationship with art as a painter, architect and advertising executive, but other forms can't hold a candle to his 30-year-old love for photography, he said.

So he carts his 26-megapixel Sony camera everywhere, capturing landscapes and portraits on the move. An avid traveler who thrills in colors, textures and compositions, Rindfleisch's contribution to the upcoming exhibition includes images of Laguna Beach and San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. But there's one caveat — his work doesn't look like quintessential photography.

"I did a lot of realistic photography, and I became a little bit bored," he said. "There are a lot of photographers who shoot brilliant photos of nature, portraits and landscapes, but none do it like me. I like to distort them for a more impressionist and abstract feeling."

Turning to the computer program Photoshop, Rindfleisch gave in to his experimental nature and his $300 to $900 images were born. Having added his name to the location's 15-artist roster about six months ago, the artist is pleased not only by the caliber of work on display, but also the company he's in.

Leideritz met Lamb, whose prints will also be showcased, about 15 years ago when his wife enrolled in a class with the veteran photographer. The duo stayed in touch, and since Lamb became part of Forest and Ocean Gallery a few months ago, they've grown even closer.

By contrast, Woodward, a Laguna Woods resident, was well into his 50s when he stumbled across his taste for art. After retiring from a career in oil and gas exploration, he enrolled in classes at Saddleback College and winnowed down his options to sculpting. It was after a lengthy process of trial and error — and a discovery of patience — that involved playing with three or four pounds of clay all day that he conceived of his purely imagination-based "Blue Coral" series.

"I love creating new ideas out of clay," he said. "I don't have any rational explanation for anything I have done creatively. I just love it."

If You Go

What: Artist Spotlight series

Where: Forest and Ocean Gallery, 480 Ocean Ave., Suite B, Laguna Beach

When: 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday from March 10 to April 6; opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. March 15

Cost: Free

Information: or (949) 371-3313

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