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The Valley Line: Dinner launches Gold Medal Exhibition at Autry

Reviewing some of the spring social happenings, I realized there were two events held in early April that I hadn't yet chatted about in the Valley Line.

The evening of Friday, April 7, marked the first viewing of the California Art Club's annual Gold Medal Exhibition held at the Autry Museum of the American West. This special opening event was accompanied by cocktails and a sit-down dinner.

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The exhibit is stunningly presented, making the viewing even more exciting.

More than 200 paintings of all sizes and genres along with magnificent sculpture is open for viewing until this Sunday, April 30.

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Many of the artists were in attendance at the April 7 event, which gave guests an opportunity to talk with them and hear about their inspiration and art journey.

The exhibit, which this year includes paintings ranging from landscapes and seascapes to figures and still life, coupled with sculptures, has a rich tradition of being unthemed, in order to encourage artists to take risks with their works.

Peter Adams, an internationally recognized artist and president of the California Art Club said, "Autry's dedication to sharing the stories of the people of the American West offers a perfect platform for showcasing the current works of the club's artists, who are employing time-honored fine art techniques to provide a visual commentary on contemporary society, ranging from cultural and spiritual diversity to the changing landscape."

Just some of the participating artists this year include Adams himself, Bela Bacsi, Gale Roski, Brian Blood, Thomas Blackshear, Warren Chang, Scott L. Christiansen, John Cosby, Dennis Doheny, Jim McVicker, Ralph Obert, Michael Obermeyer, Alicia N. Ponzio, Mian Situ, Christopher Slatoff, Alexey Steele and William Stout.

The following night, April 8, there was another special party for art aficionados who came to enjoy the company of fellow art lovers and a buffet dinner.

Last weekend at the Autry, there was a lecture and tour led by Jean Stern, an authority on the California Impressionism movement. Stern is executive director of the Irvine Museum Collection at UC Irvine.

On the closing day of the exhibit, the club will stage an "Early California Paint/Sculpt-Out," a fun-filled day for families to watch artists at work as they create paintings and sculpture of live models dressed in period costumes. This event is open to the public.

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To complete that early April weekend of activities was the sold-out annual wine-tasting fundraiser of the Los Altos Auxiliary of Hathaway-Sycamores party held at the Thursday Club patio.

The theme of this year's event was "Celebrate Spain, A Tasting Experience."

The weather was magnificent when guests gathered in the flower-filled venue. The entrance was like peeking into a Cordova, Spain patio with a wrought-iron gate and pretty flowers — of course, the club's babbling fountain completed the ambience.

Greeting guests were co-chairs Laurie Rodli and Carol DeFond and co-presidents Michele Listo and Kelly Springer. At this California casual early evening event, guests sipped the wines from the Spanish region and savoring tidbits created by ETC Gourmet. A big hit was a huge pot of bouillabaisse that simmered happily in a corner of the patio. This popular Spanish-inspired dish was served in cockleshells so reminiscent the Galicia region of Spain's cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela.

Guests were there to support Los Altos Auxiliary via an online silent auction, giving tree, wine pull and sales of beautiful floral arrangements.

The annual event is a delicious and fun way to raise funds for Hathaway-Sycamores' El Nido residential therapy programs. Hathaway-Sycamores is one of Los Angeles County's largest, private providers of children's mental-health services.

With funds from this event and generous supporters in the community, Los Altos Auxiliary has been able to enrich the lives of the boys at El Nido in meaningful ways by providing their first on-campus library, computer stations, new playground equipment, a silk screening business, an art center, and the remodeling of two bathrooms.

Los Altos Auxiliary also provides "hands-on" activities for members by giving birthday gift cards and cupcakes, homemade blankets and Easter bags. Other activities include a Halloween carnival, an ice cream social, and by providing summer and winter activities.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at jnvalleysun@aol.com with news of your special event.

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