Whether visiting the venue for the latest musical theater production or one of the Clark Center for the Performing Arts’ renowned concerts and music festivals, the path to its stage meanders through the box office.
And in this box office lobby, the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande is showcasing a different kind of art.
“People come in all the time to get tickets for various shows and are surprised to see the art we have hanging up in the box office lobby walls,” Lillyana Huerta said with a laugh. “They are even more surprised when that art changes every two months—it’s given the lobby this really neat dynamic.”
What began as a convenient way to decorate the lobby has transformed into a celebration of local artists hailing from across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
“We have two big walls in the lobby that are completely blank and a hanging system for them to use,” said Huerta, the Clark Center’s patron services coordinator. “They get to be creative in how they display their work.”
She added that the lobby art showcases have been a fun way to keep the walls looking fresh and interesting while also allowing local artists to show their art in a place guaranteed to garner attention.
“The art is open to viewing during box office hours,” Huerta said. “Some artists do hands-on exhibits, which sometimes includes artists redoing or making pieces in front of guests—anything that is just getting out there and having fun.”
Lobby art ranges in style and influence, but every piece submitted and juried by the Clark Center showcases just how much local art is out there.
“Over the years we’ve had your standard paintings—including oil, watercolor, abstract, and acrylic. On top of that, we also feature pencil drawings, woodworking, ceramics, and even mixed media,” she said. “It’s a large variety of art—some pieces are big, some are small, and all of it is local to the Central Coast.”
Currently, the acrylic and mixed media of Jewel DeMoss and oil paintings of Kevin MacFarlane are on display.
DeMoss’ work focuses on women and their lives through a style she said makes use of paper, fabric, and anything else she finds interesting in the world around her.
“There are not sufficient words to describe my excitement in finding mixed media … it provides so much opportunity to play,” DeMoss said. “I try to reflect a piece of life or a significant issue. ... I love creating figurative art and enjoy pushing myself to be even more abstract.”
On the opposite end of the visual art spectrum are the works of MacFarlane, whose landscape oil paintings of Pismo Beach encapsulate the beauty that captivated him and his wife when they moved to the Central Coast last year.
According to the self-taught oil painter, his Clark Center lobby contributions include landscape pieces that aim to capture the beauty of nature and the emotions they inspire.
Huerta said that the lobby has not only become a way for the venue to highlight local artists like MacFarlane and DeMoss but to also allow them to showcase and sell their work—with one notable caveat.
“[Clark Center] allows the artists to have their works be purchasable, and while we don’t take a cut of the sales, we do require that 20 percent of the profit go towards student scholarship programs,” Huerta said. “We have various ones we choose that usually aim to help graduating high school seniors get into theater in some form.”
She said that the artist application for 2024 is now open, and the artists selected will be able to host an individual—or collaborative—opening event free of charge.
“The whole point is to allow these artists to make these events tailored to what they want to fit their style and art—within reason of course,” Huerta said with a laugh.
Staff Writer Adrian Vincent Rosas, from the Sun’s sister paper, is thinking about buying some local art to hang up in his living room. Reach him at [email protected].