The Valley Line: Floaters gather for happy hour; artist opens gallery to friends, neighbors


Last Friday evening not only was there a La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Assn. Happy Hour, but there was also a delightful reception and art showing for recent art school grad Ella Ritts.

The Happy Hour was held at the lovely home of Linda and Scott Deacon. Even though the day was super hot, by evening it had cooled down enough to call it pleasant.

More than 50 guests arrived with all sorts of different hors d’oeuvres to share. It’s always fun to have so many delectable nibbles to taste. Of course, some people like to whip up desserts, and they are delicious too.

Stepping up to tend bar and pour refreshing drinks that night were Mike Leininger, Art Johnson and Jeff Hemphill.

Mike Davitt, a city councilman and president of the group, was there with his lovely lady, Alison. Other “floaters” enjoying the evening included Nancy Leininger, Eremita Miranda, Larry Andreason, Pam Wiedenbeck, Sue Beatty, Stewart Lee, Lynne and Joe Thompson, Clyde and Bobbie Hemphill, Daryal and Mary Gant, Ann Neilson, Beth Neilson, LCF Mayor Terry Walker, Peggy Hotaling, Chris Peaslee, Dave Moffet, Lorie MacKenzie, Dick Grippi, Rose Linda and Ricardo Gonzolas, Gloria and Terry Beyer, Harriet Hammons, Bill Pounders, Brett Pounders, Kay Payer, Nancy and John Wolhaupter, Nana and Joel Smith, Dorothy Rubino, Pamela and Bud Carney, and Harriett and Chuck Hughes.


Not too many blocks away was a lovely party celebrating the graduation of Gabriella “Ella” Ritts from Maryland Institute College of Art in Philadelphia. It also was a perfect opportunity for Ella to show off her exciting, edgy art displayed in her late father’s office, which has now become her art gallery.

By the way, her dad, Mark Ritts, was a well known and beloved man of many talents — writer, producer and actor — who passed away in 2009.

Ella Ritts said, “I wanted to host an art event in my hometown of La Cañada as a way to encourage art appreciation. I hope to showcase my art and the work of other young local artists in order to spark intimate conversations about art’s role in shaping individuals, cultures, and the course of political and social realities.”

On her website,, she describes her works as “bordering fact and fantasy. My art finds a balance between sincerity and cynicism, possessing both a childlike spirit and a mocking self-awareness.”

I loved the original art pieces she had hanging on the walls of her gallery. Her palette is bright and exciting and she refers to her style as having crisp edges and showing off her love for color.

It was a good night for conversation with the many guests who came to celebrate with Ritts, some of them neighbors living just doors away, and others an eclectic mix of fascinating people from all walks of life.

Her mom, Teresa Parente, an artist of a different ilk, was on hand to greet guests too. Parente is an actress and vocalist. She is a vocal consultant with the Towne Singers, our own community choir that was founded by LCF resident Phyllis Winnaman in 1987. Parente also works with choristers at La Cañada High School and gives private lessons in vocal techniques.

Overseeing all the activities that night was the family dog that I at first thought was a cute little pillow. She is a tiny, feisty gray and white fuzz ball named Brava — how fitting for the two outstanding female artists that share the household with her.

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