Aliso Viejo artist captures the emotions of the cosmos in art featured at Newport Beach Public Library

Aliso Viejo artist Sunny Kim is exhibiting her work at the Newport Beach Public Library through early January.
(Courtesy of Sunny Kim)

Art has always been a part of Sunny Kim’s life, from when she was a little girl in Seoul, South Korea, to her life now in Aliso Viejo. Her father was a dentist, but he’d painted in his childhood through middle school, and Kim ventures that being an artist has been in her genes from the start.

Art took Kim from Seoul National University to New York, then to Los Angeles before she arrived in Orange County.

But it was only about 20 years ago after she watched a video by astronomer Carl Sagan that Kim became fascinated by the cosmos, its power and the speed of light and energy, she said.

Kim, who describes herself as religious, said she also sees God in the universe and reflects that belief in her art.

Seventeen of her paintings are on exhibit at the Newport Beach Public Library through Jan. 7 as part of a city program run by the Newport Beach Arts Commission.

“The theme is always cosmic dreams or starry nights,” Kim said, adding she picked the paintings featured in the gallery based on the size and scale of the space given to her.

The show itself is called “Capture the Emotions of the Cosmos.”

Arts commission chair Arlene Greer said the city exhibits artists’ work in the library’s gallery space for two-month periods throughout the year. Many of the artists apply at least two years in advance of their actual showings.

“The library is a very popular space. Thousands of people pass through that lobby gallery sometimes per day, which is more than some museums on a slower day,” said Greer. “It’s a highly sought after space to exhibit artworks, and Sunny was chosen and she is coming into the gallery at a very nice time of the year during the holidays when many many people visit in addition to residents. Her work will be viewed by thousands of people.”

Greer said she, sculptor Miriam Baker and fellow Arts Commission member Ritch LeGrand made up the Art in Public Spaces Committee in 2019, and the three recommended Kim’s work.

“For me, I can speak for myself. It was two years ago. I was drawn to her color, texture, the boldness of her work and the fact that it just stood out, and it was just lovely and her presentation of her work in the application typically was representing her images of the universe, the cosmos, the heavens and what lies beyond the boundaries of the physical world in the spiritual realm and this is right from her,” said Greer. “That expression really carried over into her work and the work that was submitted for the submission.”

Kim describes her art as abstract expressionism, drawing upon the action-painting style of Jackson Pollock and the color-field painting of Mark Rothko.

Kim said she had heard almost 4,000 people might see her paintings in a day, a number that encouraged her to submit her work. “If people can see my painting and feel something and become happy to see my paintings through the colors or the composition or whatever, that would make me very, very happy,” she said.

Her ultimate goal is to one day have a solo exhibition at a museum — the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in particular.

“I want people to see my paintings and be happy,” said Kim.

Kim will be appearing at a reception held by the Newport Beach Arts Foundation Saturday afternoon to speak about her work at the bamboo courtyard of the Newport Beach Main Library on Avocado Avenue.

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