An evening of art and perception

(From left) City of Malibu Recreation Coordinator Amanda Rigali, Community Services Department Deputy Director Kristin Riesgo, Community Service Director Jesse Bobbett, Malibu Arts Commissioner Julie Holland, Malibu Arts Chair Lotte Cherin, Malibu Arts Commissioner Fireball Tim Lawrence and Malibu Arts Commissioner Barry Haldeman pose for a group photo during the opening reception of the ‘Malibu Perception,’ art exhibition at City Hall on Saturday, April. 30, 2022. Photo Samantha Bravo/TMT.

The Malibu Arts Commission had their opening reception at the Malibu City Gallery at Malibu City Hall for “Malibu Perception,” a photography exhibition featuring five local artists.

Members of the community and members of the City Council attended the reception and had the opportunity to share, inspire and contribute to conversations surrounding photographs taken throughout the City of Malibu. 

Participating artists include Carla Bowman Smith, Julie Ellerton, Nicole Fisher, Maureen Haldeman, and Dave Teel. Each artist had a brief biography placed next to their photos.

Ellerton, who is also a photographer for The Malibu Times had photographs on display and dedicated them to her father, who passed away on April 8.

Her bio shared a brief history of how her interest in photography began.

Ellerton is a native Angeleno, born in Southern California and raised in both Southern and Northern California. As a child, Julie would sit beside her father, an artist, and draw or paint right alongside him. Her unique approach began at a young age, coloring outside the lines and creating her own little masterpieces, encouraged by both her parents. Her love of all things, where her creative expression could explode, led her to her first camera, a Vintage Kodak Instamatic Film, from the 1970s. Her focus was capturing the unexpected, the colorful, the dark, and all aspects of life. She has followed her passion into adulthood, documenting Malibu as she sees it, either through video or her trusted Nikon. For more information on Ellerton’s work, visit @julieelerton on instagram and twitter. 

Haldeman was born and raised in Montreal and now resides in Malibu. After studying art history and fine art photography at UCLA, she began photographing nature, primarily the ocean and its surrounding landscapes. She has taught photography at the college level, done freelance work for publications including the Los Angeles Times and has been commissioned to do private photographic projects for the entertainment industry. For more information on Haldeman’s work visit,

Teel graduated from Western Michigan University in 1996 and his goal was to shoot commercially to support his passion for fine art photography. For more information on Teel’s work, email

Fisher has raised her children under the California oaks surrounded by the Santa Monica Mountains. The intent of her art is to celebrate, call to action, and capture the pure beauty substance and all other gifts trees give. Fisher shares her stories in several media, including painting, sculpture, mixed media, and photography. For more information on Fisher, visit

Bowman-Smith is currently the head of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Malibu High School. Bowman-Smith has been a photography and graphic design instructor since 1997. Previously she worked in the graphic design field after receiving a bachelor’s degree in art and design with photography concentration from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She has a master’s in education from Pepperdine University. For more information on Bowman-Smith’s work, email 

Event attendees included Malibu Mayor Paul Grisanti, who also knows the artists that had photos on display.

“I’m so sorry that Julie Ellerton wasn’t here, but it’s so nice to see them [artists] being recognized,” Grisanti said. “I love the fact that we’re able to open City Hall to the people because this is supposed to be for all of us, and I’m really looking forward to the City Council meeting on May 9, which will be for one time only and then we’re back on zoom again.” 

Malibu Arts Commissioner Fireball Tim Lawrence said the art shows they host are about the artists.

“In any way, shape or form we want to be able to promote each individual artist so that people will become aware of them, go to their website, possibly purchase their work or hire them in some way to beautify their home, space, restaurant or anything else,” Lawrence said. “And the nice thing is that we’re not in the business of sales, we’re in the business of awareness and we’re trying to create a situation for Malibu that highlights the level of art that we have in the community.”

Malibu Arts Commissioner Julie Holland helped gather the artists that were shown.

“It’s such a beautiful space seeing all the beautiful artwork, it’s a hidden gem and I want people to know that we want to feature the great talent that we have here in Malibu,” Holland said.

Community Service Director Jesse Bobbett said the opening reception went well.

“We’re in the phase where we’re reopening all of our programs and all of our events are happening again and for us to have an art exhibition like this, it’s great getting back to normal,” Bobbett said. “We’re just excited —we’re excited to have the artwork and excited to have people come and see what we’re doing here and especially what the Malibu Arts Commission is doing.”