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  • Writer's pictureCathy Carey

"Inspirations" Juried show by Cathy Carey and Vaughn Woods

Sponsored by Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, exhibiting at La Playa Gallery.

The reception is this coming Friday April 1, 2022 from 6 - 8PM! Awards ceremony at 6:30PM

La Playa Gallery - 2226 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037

The Surfing Madonna Oceans Project juried art competition “Inspirations” has been an incredible success! There were over 112 submissions, and of those, 43 were chosen for inclusion in the show. With so many excellent pieces submitted the judges decided to add a “Best in Show” category and two extra “Honorable Mentions” to acknowledge the excellence of all the works. The mediums varied from traditional painting, to digital photography, marquetry wood working, ceramic sculpture, mixed media, and photography. The show was judged by Surfing Madonna Executive Director Cathy Carey and Vaughn Woods - owner of La Playa Gallery. “We were delighted by the variety and quality of the work submitted by the artists. It was really difficult to choose. I think the show is very strong and that the community will be energized by viewing the works. We asked the artists to include what their inspiration was for their piece, and viewers will be able to see those responses by using the QR codes on each label with their smart phones and read about each artist. We are hoping this leads to more interest and sales for the artists.”

Cathy Carey went on to say “viewing art is a benefit to the community that Surfing Madonna wants to share in these stressful times. There was a recent research study done in Norway, the Nord-Trondelag Health Study, that collected information about the effect of participating in cultural activities. The study found that there was a correlation between participating in the arts as well as viewing or attending cultural events that led to enhanced good health, and lowered rates of anxiety and depression. It’s interesting that the effect was felt by people looking at art as much as it was felt by the artists creating the art. In another study at the University of Arkansas in 2014, it was discovered that experiencing cultural events enhanced the critical thinking skills of the students as well as increasing their feelings of empathy. Professor Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist with the University of London discovered through brain scans that people experienced a release of dopamine in response to viewing art. Dopamine is brain chemical related to feelings of joy, love and pleasure. So with that in mind, come on out to this show, be inspired and feel better!”

Congratulations to the “Inspirations” award winners!

Best in Show - Juan Flores for “Green Houses, Del Mar, CA”

First Place - Kelley Sutphin for “Jellyfish Dreams”

Second Place - Mac Hillenbrand for “Torrey Pines”

Third Place - Sue De Wulf for “Chilly Day At the Beach”

Honorable Mentions -

Carol Mansfield for “The Aquarium”

April Leffingwell for “Inspired” by the Surfing Madonna”

Cheryl Tall for “Villa of the Bees”

Jordan Lee for “Poseidon’s Garden”

View a slide show of the accepted works and the awards on our website:

Best in Show - Juan Flores for “Green Houses, Del Mar, CA”

The award of Best in Show went to acrylic painter Juan Flores. On his website he says: “When I started painting I wished to paint the view as seen by a surfer floating on the line-up and waiting for the next wave. When painting an image from the ocean vantage point I try to capture the feeling from the line-up, taking in the peace and beauty of the moment, and make it permanent. I feel that the surfer’s view, looking back toward the shore, on the edge between land and ocean, is an unique perspective. In my paintings I aim to recreate the feeling of distance from the shore (from everyday life?) and the dance of sky and shore reflections on the water which is always changing with the infinity of the ocean moods. “

First Place - Kelley Sutphin for “Jellyfish Dreams”

First Place winner Kelley Sutphin has this to say about her piece. “Jellyfish Dreams” is an oil on board with an acrylic underpainting. All my life I have been inspired by themes of fantasy and magic which have become the core of my art. My dreams are often vivid and lend great creative input into my artistic process. I once had a dream I met the personification of the ocean. She was of Indo-Pacific descent with hair flowing like waves and a wonderous sense of delight in her element. In this dream I was chosen to be with her and take care of her needs. It was the following year I moved to Southern California and met the sea for the first time. This is the distillation of that dream met with a sense of renewed hope for the future.”

Second Place - Mac Hillenbrand for "Torrey Pines"

The Second Place award went to Mac Hillenbrand for his marquetry wood inlay depiction of Torrey Pines State Beach in Del Mar California. Mac describes the incredible craftsmanship of his work as using “veneer from about 18 species of trees either individually stained with tinted shellac or left in natural wood tones, cut piece by piece and painstakingly assembled and laminated to a 3/4” plywood substrate before being varnished. I’ve been working for about 5 years to develop my skills to be able to make this marquetry wood inlay depiction of this place I consider so unique and special. The Torrey Pines trees along the upper ridgeline only grow in two places in the world both of which are here in California.”

Third Place - Sue De Wulf for "Chilly Day at the Beach"

Our pick for Third Place went to ceramicist, Sue De Wulf. “This wall relief ceramic sculpture reflects upon how the ocean as been a part of my life since childhood. The joy of a day by the seashore is reflected in the imagery on the piece. My ceramics illustrate my childhood fascination with toys and play. I remember discovering my grandmother’s toy basket full of zoo animals and carefully lining them up along her porch. The pieces I create are often disguised as being functional bottles, vessels and containers. Toying with the idea of function in a sculptural piece I find a fascination.”

Award winners also receive a Surfing Madonna Swag bag including a ribbon, framed certificate and a swag bag of goodies from the folks that sponsor their challenge events. Included in those will be: Ultima electrolyte hydration drink mix, Bear Republic Mineral sunscreen and hand sanitizer, Surfing Madonna “Save the Ocean” beach towel and neck gaiter, plus a special Surfing Madonna pin for each entrant identifying them as an artist in the show.

The show runs from April 1 - April 29, 2022, with the reception on April 1 from 6:00 to 8:00pm. The Awards ceremony begins at 6:30pm. The location is at La Playa Gallery at 2226 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037.

Surfing Madonna Oceans Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Encinitas, California and was officially formed in 2013 by Robert Nichols and Mark Patterson (artist of the Surfing Madonna mosaic). The specific purpose for forming the nonprofit was to conserve, maintain and promote the public display of art and to promote environmental conservation efforts. Our intention is to partner with local arts groups and recognize the excellence of local artists and promote the arts through media. We strive to share our resources and create opportunities for local artists by giving awards, producing programming and creating opportunities for the public to share in the arts. One of our other main focus events for the year is the Special Needs Surf Camps, going on now! The “Challenge of the Century” virtual event, also going on now through September, is the fundraiser for the camps and super fun way for people to get out and accomplish personal fitness goals. There is still time to help sponsor the Surf Camps for next summer. All the information for the Art Show, Challenge, and how to donate to Surf Camps, is on our website:

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