Art students become pros for a night

The December installment of the First Thursdays Art Walk will mark a milestone for Robin Fuld, a professor at the Laguna College of Art & Design and its career services director.

Thursday's Art Walk will be the 10th anniversary of a mentorship that she fostered between LCAD and Laguna Beach art galleries.

A decade ago, Fuld ran an art gallery in Laguna Beach and was chatting with Jeannie Denholm, then an LCAD faculty member, about the lack of a formal relationship between Laguna's plethora of galleries and the local campus that trained future artists.

"There didn't seem to be a connection between the galleries in town and the college," Fuld recalled. "We had to do something."

So with Denholm's help, Fuld began a program to bridge that gulf by building a collaboration between LCAD and owners of Laguna art galleries. As a result, on the first Thursday of the 12th month since December 2001, LCAD has been pairing senior fine arts students, who take a class called "Professional Studies," with Art Walk member galleries, which volunteer to exhibit their artwork.

The class, given in the fall semester of the senior year, teaches the students to develop practical skills and know-how in promoting their art in the real world off campus and prepare them for their professional lives after graduation.

For example, after Fuld assigns a student to a gallery, the student will provide the gallery with an artistic statement, a biography and resume. And, depending on the gallery, students might also learn how to package their artwork for international shipping, sell their work in foreign markets or exhibit it abroad.

"Most of them have never walked into a gallery and talked to the director," said Fuld, who teaches the class and took over for Denholm as its instructor in 2006.

This year, 14 students from Fuld's class will be displaying their work separately at an equal number of galleries in town.

"It's really exciting to be part of the mentoring program," said LCAD senior Jason Umfress, who was busy in his campus studio working on still-life paintings of wood blocks, which he will show at DeRu's Fine Arts gallery.

"Without it I wouldn't know how to interact with a gallery," he added.

Sanja Simidzija, who owns the Art Cube Gallery and the new S Cube Gallery, which opened earlier this month, said she has taken part in the mentorship program for years and plans to continue doing so.

Because Laguna is a small town where the arts scene is so prominent, it's important for the galleries and LCAD to nurture relationships.

"If we as a gallery don't support that, then what are we doing here?" Simidzija said. "We give them an experience and exposure of dealing with a real life art gallery. This is their first experience with an art gallery, so we try to make it a really good one."

imran.vittachi@latimes.com

Twitter: @ImranVittachi

Students Showing At Galleries

Ryleigh Beloin at Sue Greenwood Fine Art Gallery, 330 N. Coast Hwy.

James Bertucci at Dawson Cole Fine Art, 320 Glenneyre St.

Claire Bush at [seven-degrees], 891 Laguna Canyon Road.

SiSi Chen at Studio 7 Gallery, 384B N. Coast Hwy.

Enrique Escobedo at saltfineart, 1492 S. Coast Hwy.

Michelle Farro at La Bottega Dell'Acquaforte, 1590 S. Coast Hwy.

Annel Guzman at S Cube Gallery, 346 N. Coast Hwy.

Monique Johnson at Cove Gallery, Suite B, 1492 #8 S. Coast Hwy.

Trace Mendoza at AR4T SPACE, 210 N. Coast Hwy.

Cynthia Mozingo at Quorum Art Gallery, 374 N. Coast Hwy.

Jason Nam at Townley Gallery, 570 S. Coast Hwy.

Heather Patton at Bluebird Gallery, 1540 S. Coast Hwy.

Hayley Schwied at The Redfern Gallery, 1540 S. Coast Hwy.

Jason Umfress at DeRu's Fine Arts, 1590 S. Coast Hwy.

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