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H.B. exhibition ‘Centered on the Center’ a focal point for eclectic mix of art across media

Huntington Beach Art Center Executive Director Kate Hoffman at "Centered on the Center" exhibition Friday.
Huntington Beach Art Center Executive Director Kate Hoffman at “Centered on the Center,” a non-juried open-call exhibition.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

For more than two decades, the Huntington Beach Art Center has opened its galleries to artists across media in “Centered on the Center,” an exhibition that’s never the same thing twice but always results in an eye-catching conglomeration of creativity.

That proud tradition continued Saturday as the show returned in a modified format, courtesy of the pandemic. Visitors are asked to register online or by phone for hourly slots intended to reduce crowding, and a virtual viewing option is available on the center’s website.

Executive Director Kate Hoffman said interest in the non-juried, open-call event seems to have grown in the past two years, as virtual exhibitions allow audiences far beyond Huntington Beach to enjoy the artwork and submit pieces of their own.

Mutated Chicken Yellow, 2021, made with resin, foam and acrylic by artist Feiran Wang.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“[In 2020], we put out the call on Instagram, and we received responses from 11 different countries,” she said. “The pandemic changed how we operate, but the change allowed us to bring in a larger audience from around the world — and it hasn’t stopped.”

This year’s show features 200 works from more than 150 artists throughout Orange County, Southern California and the nation, including one artist from Brazil. With no impositions on medium or subject matter, the entries vary widely.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Chair (Black and White), 2021, by artist Christie Grimstad.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Chair (Black), 2021, top, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh Chair (White), 2021, bottom, both made with mixed media on recycled cutting board by artist Christie Grimstad.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“There are sculptures, there are paintings, there are hanging objects and hand-crafted objects,” Hoffman said. “It really is a fun show because it’s so eclectic.”

One of the artists who answered the call is Huntington Beach resident Christie Grimstad, 65, who specializes in intricately rendered pen and ink stippling and block pieces as well as assemblage, the formation of found or recycled objects into low-relief 3-D arrangements and scenes.

A fan of clean lines and geometric patterns, he submitted two assemblage works designed to replicate, in miniature, high-backed chairs made by Scottish architect, designer and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh — one in white upon a black background and the other black on white.

Though he himself has been a member of the Huntington Beach Art Center for the past few years, Grimstad appreciates the incredible diversity of talent and creativity that converges at “Centered on the Center.”

Soul Tie, 2021, top left, and Zairoise, 2021, right, acrylic and collage on loose canvas by artist Carmel Katumba.
Soul Tie, 2021, top left, and Zairoise, 2021, right, both made with acrylic and collage on loose canvas by artist Carmel Katumba.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“I come out of there nine times out of 10 with ideas I can use that I never would have thought of,” he said. “It has no boundaries, in terms of its imagination. Just to see the minds of people — they go everywhere — it’s a joy.”

While the traditional opening night reception was foregone this year, organizers are hopeful the county’s infection rate may ease up enough to allow for a closing night reception.

“If we can have an audience come together, we will do that,” Hoffman said.

“Centered on the Center” runs through March 5 at the Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St. Galleries are open Tuesday and Wednesday, from noon to 6 p.m., from noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. To make a reservation, call (714) 374-1650 or visit huntingtonbeachartcenter.org.

The Huntington Beach Art Center's annual "Centered on the Center" features 150 artists and more than 200 works.
The Huntington Beach Art Center’s annual “Centered on the Center” features 150 artists and more than 200 works from across multiple media.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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