Malibu Arts Festival features artist, Wesley Van Dyke

Grandfather Dick Van Dyke with grandson Wesley Van Dyke, who is the Malibu Arts Festival Featured Artist. Photo by Janet Laird / TMT

The 37th annual Malibu Arts Festival brings celebrities, paint and music to the stage.

By Olivia Damavandi / Special to The Malibu Times

It can be said that talent runs in “the family,” and for the family of longtime Malibu resident, Golden Globe nominated, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor Dick Van Dyke, the saying seems to hold true. However, Wesley Van Dyke, has gone a different route than his grandfather, Dick.

This weekend, 23-year-old Wesley is the featured artist at the 37th annual Malibu Arts Festival, taking place at the Malibu Civic Center.

The festival exhibits award-winning painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, jewelers and other unique artisans. Produced by the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, the two-day event is comprised of an entertainment stage that will feature live performances from original musicians, a children’s workshop in which artists interact with children to help them create their own art, a new dining terrace boasting various menu items, as well as more than 200 exhibits of original art from throughout California.

Wesley, whose passion for art was discovered at age five, began painting at age 15. “I was born into a very creative family, everyone loves to act, write or direct, and my form of creative expression is art,” Wesley said.

Grandparents Dick and Michelle Van Dyke’s home is sprinkled with delightfully inimitable art, some of which was acquired from previous Malibu Arts Festivals. In addition to his legendary acting, Dick Van Dyke has taken up the art of computer graphics.

“I’m an animator. There is art involved because after you’re done [creating the graphics] you can put them into a paint program,” he said, to which Michelle added, “Dick is also very good [at art]. He draws caricatures which are auctioned off to different charities.”

Using actual paint, however is another matter. Van Dyke admitted with a chuckle, “Get me into paint and I’m a mess. No matter how I mix it, it always comes out brown.”

Wesley said his natural painting ability was not learned at an art school, though he “took every possible art class” he could throughout high school and college.

“My art teachers from eighth grade onward took me under their wings,” he said. “One teacher in high school ended up buying my piece before I graduated because she said she wanted an original painting in case I ever became big. Frank Sardisco, one of my professors from Moorpark [College], was my mentor. He saw what I could do, pushed me to my potential and ended up buying a painting from me for his wife. He unfortunately passed away a few years ago.”

Grandmother Michelle Van Dyke has also been an ardent influence in her grandson’s life, as she is sponsoring him at this year’s arts festival and bought him his first easel at age 11, which he still uses to this day.

While his talent ranges through many different mediums of art, Wesley is well known for his oil and acrylic paintings of landscapes, seascapes and mountains. An avid golfer, surfer and camper who has spent much time in the mountains with his family, he said he is inspired to paint by his experiences “growing up and being an outdoor kid.”

“I’ll paint something I remember as a kid, a certain moment, or now I’ll see something many perceive as ordinary, but I make it extraordinary for them to enjoy,” said Wesley, who doesn’t paint from photographs. “I find pictures to be restricting. For me, being free and using my imagination is much more fun. I visualize my paintings before I start painting them.”

Both Dick and Michelle Van Dyke said they are “really excited for Wes,” and looking forward to attending the festival.

“It will be a ball,” said Dick, who will be present at the event under his grandson’s tent to meet fans and sign autographs.

In addition to Wesley Van Dyke’s eye-catching paintings, the Malibu Arts Festival will feature singer/songwriter/rock violinist Antonio Pontarelli and present him with the “Best Song Award” in the Malibu Music Awards Song Contest.

Pontarelli, a classically trained violinist and pianist, has captivated the Indie music scene by his blending of classical, blues and jazz roots with the sounds of musicians and bands such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Tool and System of a Down. He is currently the violinist for Grammy award winning artist Seri Tankian, vocalist for System of a Down, who called Pontarelli a “great musician” and said that his violin playing “brought ambiance to the music.”

Pontarelli and his band have performed throughout the United States and plan to release their first CD late this summer.

A recipient of a plethora of awards for his songwriting and performance capabilities, Pontarelli was a winner of the prestigious International Songwriters Competition (ISC) “People’s Voice Award.” The ISC received more than 15,000 entries from 100 countries throughout the world and Pontarelli earned the most votes from fans that followed the competition. He won the Grand Championship of “America’s Most Talented Kids” of which American Idol winner Jordan Sparks was a part of. Pontarelli’s band also won the Inland Empire Music Awards for “Best Rock Band” as well as the ASTA National Alternative Styles Competition for “Best Rock”.

“It is a true honor to win the Malibu Music Awards Song Contest,” Pontarelli said. “I am extremely grateful for the positive response from the judges.”

Pontarelli will attend the Malibu Arts Festival during the afternoon of July 26 and he will perform at the second annual Artists Reception at the Malibu Country Mart at 6:30 p.m., where guests can mingle with artists and enjoy live entertainment, food and drinks.

Tickets for the 2nd Annual Artists Reception are $30 and include food and drink. Entrance to the Malibu Arts Festival is free. It takes place at the Malibu Civic Center, 23555 Civic Center Way between Cross Creek and Web Way off Pacific Coast Highway. Parking is $7. More information can be obtained online at or by calling the chamber at 310.456.9025.