Arts Commission Adds Exhibits but Holds The Bard

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The current Newport Beach Library art exhibit by Phyllis Paxton will run until March 2, when it gets replaced with the first of four new artists that the City Arts Commission recently approved for upcoming display.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

At their first meeting of the new year, the Newport Beach City Arts Commission approved additions to the city’s cultural lineup, but stopped short of adding a bit of The Bard on the peninsula.

Four new artist exhibitions were chosen for the Central Library’s gallery, located near the main entrance, during the meeting last Thursday. As recommended by the Art in Public Places Ad Hoc Subcommittee, the Commission accepted the works of artists Ed Olen, Agnes Schenk, Joe Cladis, and Raphaele Cohen-Bacry for display on the walls and in the glass cabinets of the central branch.

Oil paintings by Agnes Schenk will be the first of the newest exhibits to go on display. Schenk’s collection, “The Four Seasons,” includes landscapes in the midst of various seasons and vibrant florals. Her exhibition is scheduled to run from March 5 to May 4.

Schenk’s paintings will follow the current exhibition, Phyllis Paxton’s mixed media collages, which runs through March 2.

The Arts Commission also agreed to co-sponsor a screening of the film “Tony” with Dennis Baker and Leslie Feibleman of the Newport Beach Film Festival and Orange Coast River Park, Inc.

The film is a first-person account of homelessness in San Diego. Given the increased level of homelessness in Orange County and political attention given to the encampment along the Santa Ana River, city staff agreed that the issue is more than relevant. Vice Chair Arlene Greer agreed.

“In light of the fact that it will bring more awareness to the community, and the Newport Beach Police Department is involved as well, with a Q & A,” Greer moved that the commission approve its sponsorship of the film.

Chair Judy Chang seconded, and the commission unanimously approved. Commissioner Marie Little was absent.

The film will screen on Feb. 22 at Marina Park at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Approval for two Shakespearean performances by the Alchemy Theatre Company was tabled to a future meeting.

Tim Hetheron, Library Services Director, said that after watching video clips from the troupe, he felt the commission needed to see more before they give their approval.

“I do think that in order for the commission to make a suitable decision, [we] probably need to see a little bit more of the interplay between the actors and the costuming and the sets,” Hetherton said, adding that he felt there was more than enough time to ask the city for the funds.

The proposed event is estimated to cost $15,500. Greer agreed that tabling the issue was in the best interest of the commission.  

The Balboa Performing Arts Theater Foundation, before dissolving in 2015, donated $175,000 to the Newport Beach Arts Foundation with the stipulation that the City Arts Commission use the money for live stage performances. The NBAF turned these funds over to the city in June of 2015 for Arts Commission programming, according to the staff report. Approval from City Council is required to access the funds, some of which would be used to pay for the Shakespeare performances.

October 6 and 7 have been identified as potential dates for the performances with Peninsula Park near the Balboa Pier as a potential venue.

Shakespeare by the Sea had previously provided annual performances of Shakespeare plays in Newport Beach, but those performances stopped shortly after the new Civic Center opened in 2013.  

The City Arts Commission meets again on Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. at the Newport Beach Public Library Central Branch.

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