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Art in the Park goes on display for 16th year Saturday in Newport Beach

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Contemporary impressionist painter Wendy Johnson stands in her Newport Beach gallery with her recent painting of Crystal Cove, left, which will be on display during the Art in the Park show Saturday.
(Susan Hoffman)

Art in the Park returns to Newport Beach on Saturday for its 16th year, featuring 125 Southern California artists displaying and selling their paintings, ceramics, photography, textiles, jewelry, glass and wood works and more.

“The submissions are selected by a panel of three judges, with 50% of the exhibitors returning artists,” said Pat Jorgensen, president of the nonprofit Newport Beach Arts Foundation and co-chair of the event with foundation secretary Carmen Smith. “The Civic Center opened up a wonderful space, parking is free and abundant and everyone enjoys the beautiful location.”

The festival also will offer art activities for children provided by the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity of Costa Mesa.


Here are few of the participating artists:

Wendy Johnson

Newport Beach resident Wendy Johnson, who is in her fifth year in Art in the Park, has been painting for 50 years. Her style is contemporary impressionistic, using a variety of subjects as well as abstract design.

Her paintings hang in a gallery in Carmel and have been part of a permanent collection for 13 years at the Sapphire Laguna restaurant in Laguna Beach.

She has had her own studio gallery for 30 years that began as an antique store. Called South of France, it is on 31st Street in the Cannery Village area of Newport Beach.


“I was a flight attendant before I started painting, and whenever my husband and I would go to the South of France, he took cooking lessons while I took painting lessons,” Johnson said.

“My gallery is what is referred to in French as a l’atelier, or working studio, and paintings are also hung there,” she said. “I work every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and I’m open to the public.”

Julia LaPalme

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Julia LaPalme of Costa Mesa shows two of her submitted photos for Saturday’s Art in the Park show in Newport Beach. The black and white was shot at Death Valley National Park, the other in the Mojave Desert.
(Susan Hoffman)

Though rain put a damper on Art in the Park last year with a smaller turnout than usual, Costa Mesa resident Julia LaPalme said she received positive responses from visitors and fellow artists during her first year as an exhibitor. She’s looking forward to her return this weekend.

LaPalme, who works full time as a freelance photographer specializing in the automotive and motorcycle industries, will be displaying and selling photos of a different kind Saturday.

“I have a passion for nature and landscape photography, which is what I will be selling at the show,” she said. “I’m just getting started selling my passion project.”

“My work speaks to my love of the outdoors and nature and travel throughout California,” she added. “It’s fun to visit these places and be able to photograph them. I began taking photography seriously in 1998 and it has since changed the course of my life.”

Reza Safa

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Artist Reza Safa of Corona del Mar shows his oil and acrylic painting of Charlie Chaplin that will be featured at Art in the Park on Saturday at the Newport Beach Civic Center.
(Susan Hoffman)

This is the first year as an exhibitor at Art in the Park for painter and sculptor Reza Safa of Corona del Mar. His style is impressionistic, with bold use of color and subjects ranging from celebrities, politicians and sports figures to landscapes and still life.

Safa, who was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, has been painting most of his life and winning awards at art exhibitions in Iran, yet he lacked confidence.


“It was a combination of not believing I was good enough to be in the art community and not having time to devote to art,” he said. “I was involved with the Christian ministry of spreading the gospel among Persians and refugees around the world.”

But things changed one day while he was painting at Lookout Point in Corona del Mar. His son took a photo of him painting Tiger Woods after the Masters golf tournament.

“My son asked if he could put the photo on Reddit and I said sure, and 24 hours later there were over 2,000 direct messages and 75,000 ‘up’ votes,” Safa said. “Reading the comments, a lot of people believed in my work, which is when I started taking myself seriously and painting more.”

“I’m still involved in the ministry but no longer traveling, and now have the time to devote to my painting and sculpting every day,” he said.


What: Art in the Park

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Newport Beach Civic Center green, 100 Civic Center Drive

Cost: Admission is free.



Susan Hoffman is a contributor to Times Community News.

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