For Immediate Release
NOMADIC ARTISTS NO MORE
By Donna Klaasen
DANA POINT• 05/11/05 For the past seven years, Bill Johnson has been looking for a home. Not for himself, mind you. Johnson has, in fact, devoted countless hours to finding a permanent home for Dana Point Coastal Arts. Johnson's quest to locate a space for a cultural arts center began back in 1998, when he and Linda Yadao collaborated as co-chairpersons to bring back the all but forgotten Dana Point Coastal Arts. Johnson kept his eyes and ears open and networked with anyone who would listen.
When The Headlands came along, CEO Sanford Edwards invited anyone involved in the local arts to meet at his office in Dana Point. Offering a foundation for cultural arts, Edwards presented a plan for a space on his property that included an art center. Over the next six years, The Headlands became a true community project, consistently assisting Dana Point Coastal Arts, the Dana Point Historical Society, and the Lighthouse Society. Unfortunately, The Headlands proposal never came to fruition, mostly because the Coastal Commission felt the amenities would disrupt the natural habitat.
Karin Schnell also kept in contact with Johnson in the early days of Dana Point Coastal Arts. Working as the Director of Education for Arts Orange County, because Schnell lived in Dana Point, she shared Johnson‚s desire for a local art center. Biding their time, the members of Dana Point Coastal Arts went from space to space, nomadic artists if you will, at the San Juan Library, Dana Hills Tennis Center, All-Fired Up, the Dana Point Community Center, the Renaissance Dana Point, and any other place available.
"We didn't want to be another Laguna Beach," says Johnson. "We just wanted to have a cultural center for the citizens of Dana Point."
In 2003, Johnson's two-term limit came up and the board voted in Schnell, who remains working with Johnson, now an ambassador for the organization. "Bill left because of the group‚s term limitation, but also because he wanted to follow through and find a venue for DPCA," says Schnell. "He's made strong connections with the Headlands and City Hall to make sure we get what we want: a special spot."
Enter Cliff Wassmann, owner of Wassmann Fine Arts in Dana Point. No stranger to the arts or the area, Wassmann has been an exhibitor at the Festival of Arts for ten years, vice-president of Art-A-Fair Festival for three, and owned two businesses in his current location since 1988.
With the assistance of two other tenants in his building, Scott Manticon, owner of Coastal Frameworks, and jeweler Barbara Hendricks Jones, Wassmann helped to create an annual "Art for Small Places" exhibit featuring guest artists in the building's three galleries. Held every November for the past eight years, Wassmann says, "The City was exploring ways to revitalize the "Town Center" area with a cultural/community organization facility and we thought this would be a way to bring life to our part of town."
Early in 2005 Wassmann took over as president of Dana Point Coastal Arts and turned the annual "Art for Small Places" exhibit into an outgrowth called, "First Fridays." Twelve to fifteen artists display their work at 34118 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, on the first Friday of every month.
When a fourth suite in Dana Arts Plaza became vacant on April 1st, Dana Point Coastal Arts jumped at the chance to finally have a more permanent home. "We had an opportunity to lease a space and be a part of the "First Fridays" program, which not only helps Dana Arts Plaza with their promotion, but also creates much needed exposure for our artists." Schnell adds, "Credit really has to be given to Cliff. "First Fridays" has grown more and more each month and not only are people attending, they‚re buying." Johnson agrees that what Wassmann has done has been nothing but positive for DPCA and the community.
On June 11th and 12th, Dana Point Coastal Arts will really show off their new space with the 6th Annual Alice Baum Art Splash. While extremely appreciative to Steve Rosen, owner of Renaissance Dana Point, for allowing DPCA to fill the restaurant and surrounding plaza with art for the last four years, the 2005 event will take place in their new home in Dana Arts Plaza. The only difference this year is that the exhibit will be open on both Saturday and Sunday. Otherwise, the format remains a juried art competition, with food, fun, entertainment, and as always, community support.
As for Bill Johnson, even though Dana Point Coastal Arts can relax for a while in their new home, he is still scouting around. "Although the search for a cultural art center in this town has been tremendously difficult, our goal is to pursue the idea that the people of Dana point need a venue for the arts, one that can provide a space for drama, the visual arts, dance, and music. With all the work we've done, and with the support of the city and the people, I think our time has come."
Dana Point Coastal Arts
34118 Pacific Coast Hwy. #3
Dana Point, Ca. 92629