ON THE STREET OF DREAMS

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Kathleen Keifer knows her audience and she knows how to please. The artist’s eighth show at the McLean Gallery drew a sizable crowd of local fans fawning over her beach-inspired beauties. The exhibit is titled “Along PCH” and it’s a collection of images that are instantly recognizable to any Malibuite. There are views from Las Flores Canyon at midday with the Queen’s Necklace sparkling off in the distance, another view at daybreak in hues of powder-blue pink, lavender and gold, a bird’s eye view of the cross walk at La Costa Beach, an assortment of red roof tops at Serra Retreat.

“Everything in ‘Along PCH’ is a view of the highway or has the highway in the background,” the artist explained.

Every year, Keifer selects a simple image and turns it into a series of eye-popping miniatures arranged in groups. Following the popularity of her lifeguard station, palm tree and beach chair themes, this year she selected a sign of the times. “I feel PCH is an artery of dreams and I wanted to find an icon for that so I just picked the Interstate One sign with the arrow in both directions.”

Her miniatures come in a kaleidoscope of colors, from vermilion to black and midnight blue to tan, turquoise and tangerine. In addition to the landscapes, there are more intimate subjects like strollers at the shore near Surfrider Beach and a petulant pooch behind the “No Dogs Allowed” sign at Broad Beach. Common beach objects become works of art, a lone tennis shoe carried out to sea or a pair of Starbucks coffee cups nestled in the sand.

“It’s a soft change in direction,” Keifer said. “Instead of painting a landscape, I wanted to put myself in the landscape.”

Unlike last year’s show, “Coastal Nostalgia,” which captured classic beach scenes from the ’40s and ’50s, “Along PCH” changes with the times as it offers the rear view of a shiny new surf mobile or a pair of skateboarders chatting on their cell phones.

Gallery owner Denise McLean has watched Keifer soar in popularity. “When she first started, she was doing coastal imagery, but her style was pointillism,” McLean said. “That’s what’s great about Kathleen. She keeps growing. She keeps experimenting. She keeps testing. She continues to do things that are new and fresh.”

The artist has become extremely collectable, especially with our local folk, and her success has surpassed even her own expectations. “I hoped, I dreamed, but I didn’t really expect this.”

Although Keifer’s local following is huge, her appeal is universal. “It goes beyond Malibu,” Keifer said. “Everyone can relate to a day at the beach. It means memories regardless of where you live.”

“Along PCH” runs through Sept. 4.