Del Mar Art Center to mark 10th year with a party

When the Del Mar Art Center opened its doors in the Del Mar Plaza in July 2000, it was a dream come true for Maria Gardiner.

“I always wanted to have a place for emerging artists to show their work,” said Gardiner, the center’s founder and president.

“I lived in Del Mar, and we didn’t have anything like it at that time,” she said.

Almost a decade to the day after its grand opening on July 13, 2000, with former Del Mar Mayor Andy Schooler and other city dignitaries, the center is inviting Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest and community members to celebrate on July 11 at the gallery in the Del Mar Plaza.

The nonprofit started with a coalition of eight volunteer artists who took turns running the gallery where their art was displayed. Now, membership has grown to 30 artists set on bringing awareness of the fine arts to the community. Along with its exhibits, the center reaches out to the community with public lectures, poetry readings and art programs for schoolchildren.

“I remember the people who helped me open the art center, and this is about celebrating those people and all the volunteer artists who have kept the center going for a decade,” said Gardiner, who has served as the center’s president since it opened.

The center became a reality with the help of many people, Gardiner recalled, including co-founders Alix Dumka and Betty Sandbrook, along with Zus van Thillo, Barbara Krystoff-Scott, Sarah Hart, Birgit Ford, David Winkler, Mark Rathsam, Luana Karr, Patricia Walkenbach, Mary Batchelder, Maximilien Volkaert, Gabrielle O’Flaherty and Danica Grimm.

“It took seven months of blood, sweat and tears to find a place in Del Mar to exhibit,” Gardiner said. “We are very grateful to have gotten a place in the Plaza and to be there all this time.”

Gardiner remembered how Fire Chief Jack Gosney and Colleen Gosney helped paint the gallery, and Bob Peters and others renovated it before its opening.

When Gardiner talks about the work that keeps the center going, she calls it a labor of love.

“It’s a lot of work to run a gallery; unless you love it, you can’t do it,” she said.

Gardiner, an artist all her life, has a deep love for the arts and is set on sharing it.

Said her daughter Luana Karr, “She loves art and giving back to the community; she felt it was important for children and the community to learn about fine art and appreciate it — it keeps the creative juices flowing.”

Gardiner recalled the joy of teaching art at a summer arts program at Del Mar Heights School.

“I like to see children learn to express themselves in art,” she said. “Art is a healing thing.”

It has been Gardiner’s hope to start a scholarship program for young art students.

Each year, the Del Mar Art Center hosts an exhibit of works by students from area schools, such as Del Mar Hills Academy, Del Mar Winston School, Santa Fe Christian School and Torrey Pines High School.

Gardiner studied art in her native Italy and the United States, where she moved in the late 1950s. She moved to Del Mar in the 1970s and lived there for 30 years until recently moving to Carlsbad. Gardiner studied briefly under renowned photographer Ansel Adams. Her works include paintings, mixed media and prints. She is also a co-founder of 101 Artists’ Colony in Encinitas.

“You must have art in your heart; without it, the world is without a song,” Gardiner said.

If you go

- What: Del Mar Art Center’s 10th Anniversary Party
- When: 4 to 7 p.m. July 11
- Where: Del Mar Arts Center Gallery in the Del Mar Plaza, street level next to Banana Republic, 1555 Camino del Mar, Del Mar
- Musical guests: Vocalist Lucille Tillotson, Con-Trast
- Gallery hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
- Contact: (760) 931-8099,

Related posts:

  1. Art with heart
  2. Time to shine
  3. Pioneering school hits 30-year mark
  4. RSF couple gives $3M to downtown senior center
  5. Del Mar Highlands shopping center supports local art education

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