It’s the city of San Fernando’s 100th birthday and to celebrate the municipality’s distinctiveness, La Galeria Gitana is presenting a new exhibit entitled “Rediscovering San Fernando at 100”. Opening on January 22nd, and continuing through March 19th, the exhibit includes the work of sixteen local artists who portray their impression of the city through the more than 100 pieces of artwork on display.
Nestled close to the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, San Fernando enjoys a panoramic view of nature’s majesty, and some artists have captured this physical beauty. Others have focused more on the historic landmarks that add much to the city’s charm, including the San Fernando Mission gardens and Lopez Adobe; while still others have depicted the common manmade structures that can be found in just about any city, such as laundromats, barbershops and residences.
Yet one unique aspect about the relatively small city, which covers a mere 2.38 square miles and has approximately 25,000 inhabitants, is that the residential architecture includes a variety of styles: American Craftsman Style, Dutch Colonial Revival, Mid-Century Modern, Victorian, Tudor Revival and Spanish-style adobe, to name a few.
Intrigued by this wide array of architectural design, North Hills artist Chuck Kovacic made it a goal of his to discover and paint a sampling of what he refers to as the “gems” of the city. Beginning in September 2010, Kovacic began scoping out San Fernando, and during the next several months, succeeded in completing seventeen oil paintings that are included in the show. During this time, Kovacic himself became somewhat of a fixture in the city, as he positioned himself near the residences he was interested in painting and then eagerly set to work. Curious passers-by would often stop to talk to Kovacic, adding to his fervor and making his work a bit more enjoyable.
As a member of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, Kovacic was delighted when he came across an Art Deco style home from the 1930s in the midst of the city, a rare discovery on his part. As he continued to explore the neighborhoods, he says he was pleasantly surprised by what he found, just as many residents were, when they realized their homes were the subject of his paintings.
“They would ask me, Why are you painting my house?” he said. “Maybe it is worth painting…Sometimes, we tend to overlook, literally, what is in our own backyard.”
Once people in the city learned about Kovacic’s mission, their interest in the upcoming art show was piqued. Contemplating how to get even more people interested, Kovacic and gallery director Karen Nichols came up with an innovative plan. They put together a contest of sorts; participants who can successfully identify and locate the residences in Kovacic’s paintings will be awarded a voucher, good toward the purchase of certain paintings in the exhibit.
Nichols, who is also an artist herself, has been running La Galeria Gitana since November 2008. A former art instructor for the Los Angeles Unified School District, she had always dreamt of one day opening her own gallery. Now that her dream is a reality, she is relentless in her efforts to bring art to the forefront, in the city of San Fernando, as well as the rest of the San Fernando Valley. This exhibit, the gallery’s eleventh one, brings continued esteem to Nichols, as well as the surrounding community.
“The artists have portrayed San Fernando as being a friendly place,” Nichols said. “This exhibit is proof that there’s a heck of a lot of talent in this (geographical) area.”
(The opening reception for “Rediscovering San Fernando at 100” will be held on Saturday, January 22nd from 6:00-10:00 p.m. Admission to the exhibit is free. La Galeria Gitana is located at 120 N. Maclay (Suite E) San Fernando 91340. For additional information call: (818) 898-7708)