Malibu Arts Festival a hit

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Chalk Artist Shoji Mishimura paints a chalk portrait of The Beatles at the Malibu Arts Festival in 2011. 

Large crowds gathered in the Civic Center over the weekend to take in art, music, food and a range of attractions.

By Simon Wakelin / Special to The Malibu Times

An eclectic mix of art was on offer this past weekend as the 40th Annual Malibu Arts Festival drew large crowds to the Malibu Civic Center. Award-winning painters, sculptors, photographers and jewelers all displayed, while live music played next to sumptuous cuisines and local wine booths.

Organized by the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, half of the weekend’s proceeds went directly to Autism Care and Treatment, a nonprofit that provides treatment services and support to families with autistic children.

Vendors included The Bird Experience, California’s most extensive bird rescue facility, which had Ernie, a Green Ecclectus parrot from the Solomon Islands on hand helping artist Elliot Binder from the Westlake Village Gallery sell art. Ernie attracted children and parents interested in rescuing and preserving beautiful tropical birds.

Despite limited funding, Nicholas Cigan of The Bird Experience said his group was committed to rescuing birds and donating time to support community events, as well as in the entertainment world.

“We have a variety of rescued tropical birds that have entertained in movies and TV,” Cigan said.

“This was my first time exhibiting at the Malibu Arts Festival, so it was a great opportunity to find a new audience with the Malibu community,” Binder said. “The highlight of the show for me was a visit to my booth by ‘Avatar’ and ‘Titanic’ director James Cameron who purchased almost 20 prints of my work!”

Other artists included Norik Babayan, whose fine art bronze sculptures were reminiscent of classical Henry Moore sculpture, combining contemporary notions of design with the classical element of the past.

“The Malibu Arts Festival is one of the best shows I do all year,” Babayan said. “This beautiful outdoor festival is where I meet other great artists and the wonderful people of Malibu. I enjoy the work of other artists and being able to share my love for sculpting with the community.”

Leah Devora, a digital mixed media artist, displayed her unique artwork bringing music and film artists such as Marilyn Monroe and Jimmy Hendrix to life. Her mixed-media approach combines traditional paint (such as oil and acrylic) with non-traditional digital oil painting on canvas to create a unique pictorial look. Her work has appeared on a number of television shows, including “Six Feet Under,” “Entourage” and “ER.”

“This was the first time I did the Malibu Arts Festival and it exceeded my expectations,” Devora said. “I had a great response to my artwork.”

A taste of Malibu was on offer with the pancake breakfast available each day at the dining terrace sponsored by the Optimist Club of Malibu. Families also had the chance to relax and choose from such international cuisines as Mexican, Mediterranean and Italian, as well as everyday American.

Malibu’s artistic future looked bright at The Children’s Village, where kids worked with artists to create their own art at the KidzArt Children’s Workshop booths. It was an opportunity for parents to watch their children create original art with the assistance of volunteer artists.

The Malibu Wine Garden offered many selections from featured wineries on the final day of the festival, including Hoyt Family Vineyards, Lobo Castle, Malibu Family Wines and Malibu Solstice.

Wood-bodied cars, called “woodies,” owned by local members of the National Woodie Club were parked nearby. The vehicles possess the style and character of yesteryear dating back as far as the 1930s. In their heyday, woodies were often the most expensive cars on offer by manufacturers, and the National Woodie Club is the only organization serving the more than 3,000 woodie enthusiasts throughout the world.

On the entertainment stage, local musicians sang and danced in front of the dining terrace. Musical guests included Elaine Faye, whose unique blend of soul, pop and folk added to the weekend ambiance.

“This is my first time in Malibu, and I never want to leave,” Faye remarked. “What a great first experience.”