Artists Association open ‘This is America’ showcase

Richard Omura's "Catcher" was one of several pieces of art on display at the Santa Clarita Artists Association gallery, called "This is America." Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Under the theme of “This is America,” the Santa Clarita Artists Association allowed guests to pass through its Newhall gallery on Friday to look upon what artists think about their country. 

Gallery chair Mardi Georgio said the idea was to emphasize America and all of the places, people and different cultures within it, which gave artists a broad theme to work with. 

“It was partly motivated by this time of the year, July 4, Independence Day and a lot of what’s going on in the world,” she said. “We thought that would be nice to showcase what America’s all about, and it’s all the different artists’ ideas of what this means, what America is.”

Different mediums were used to bring portraits and landscapes from 18 of SCAA’s artists to life. While one painting utilized the colors and design of the American flag and another memorialized 9/11, other work showed adobe buildings and a homeless encampment beneath a freeway. 

“It’s pretty broad,” said exhibiting artist Laurie Morgan. “‘This is America’ is what your idea, as an artist, represents America to you. On the other hand, it’s what you have in your repertoire already that you can submit to the show.”

Each piece of artwork was for sale, and the gallery also featured a reception where artists brought their own wine, snacks and desserts. 

Morgan’s work detailed various spots in the country, including Virginia Beach, Rancho Camulos Museum and Promontory, where the eastern and western lines of the Transcontinental Railroad met in Utah in 1869. Her works also featured several different mediums, including pastel, watercolor, acrylic and colored pencil. 

Two of Laurie Morgan’s art pieces reflect the railroad near Promontory, Utah, and the buildings at Virginia Beach, while one of Meressa Naftalin’s works presents an encampment of tents underneath Freeway 118. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

New SCAA member Richard Omura shot photos printed onto Diabond aluminum, which gives off no glare and “adds character to the art,” Omura said. He shot photos commercially for 30 years until he decided to take photos of youth sports games. 

“It’s quite different, because I realized that photography, by itself, is a craft,” Omura said. “To make it an art, you can’t just take a picture of what’s out there. You have to really make it your own and that’s what I’m doing right now.”

On display was “Catcher,” a photo Omura took of a young woman playing baseball. It fit with the gallery’s theme, he said. 

“It’s a picture of a girl catcher,” he said. “Baseball is about as American as you can get.”

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