RVOC February 2013 : Page 66

...continued ow n work i s s c at t ere d throughout the space. This is where she creates—pieces ranging from paintings to handmade jewelry that she sells through Seed People’s Market at Costa Mesa’s The Camp retail hub and Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. Friends stop in to say hello. She answers emails, writes blog posts, investigates new art shows and interacts with the artists in her community. “I wish I had access to this network when I graduated from school,” says deFelice, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Laguna College of Art and Design. She started noticing a shift about five years ago—a growing community of emerging artists began seeking the same communal support she longed for. She was living in Pittsburgh at the time, looking for real-life (and big-city) experience. But she was lured back by word of a developing society of brethren. “Having an art community here inspired me and made me want to be here,” she says. “It helped me to develop my style.” deFelice’s work speaks to the intimacy of the personal touch and the small details that are etched into everyone’s life. “Everything,” she says, “has a human touch, without seeing it.” Her current works, cityscapes painted on reclaimed wood, capture the spirit of places she’s been—from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles to San Francisco. Torrey Cook, the owner of Artists Republic for Tomorrow in Laguna Beach, is drawn to the subtleties she finds in each piece. “There is a whole, wide world of nature,” she says. “And if you didn’t stop to look, you would miss it.” There’s no doubt the inf luence a community can have in developing one’s work and focus. But for deFelice, these new relationships have resulted in something more—a desire for collaborative work. “I have been looking at things through new lenses, and I have also become more interested in multimedia,” she says. “It is hard to find people who share your aesthetic, but it is one of my goals to find people to collaborate with.” She envisions installation-based works using multimedia elements such as video and sound, and she’s looking toward her new community of artists to join her. The venue for such exchanges of artistic ideology wouldn’t be possible without the local art galleries that support the work of emerging talent—Artists Republic for Tomorrow, Curbside and Päs are among them. “We provide a great space for young artists to show, to bring different styles of art to Laguna Beach and to inspire creativity,” says Cook. “It really is an amazing time to be part of the Orange County art community. We are like the Wild West, but with badass artists.” R Artistic Brethren Chantal deFelice has found a home among Orange County’s burgeoning society of artists. Here, three “neighbors” whose work she admires. Yevgeniya Mikhailik She didn’t grow up here, but Yevgeniya Mikhailik (yevgeniyadraws.com) chose our coast as her artistic homeland. Her work is intricate, using a technique that a nonartist could only describe as ever so arduous. She paints an image, often inspired by children’s books, and then scratches into it with a needle. “My work is quiet, delicate and meditative, bordering on obsessive,” she says. Aside from the results, deFelice is captivated by the mythical elements of her work. “She creates another world with creatures from folklore but uses ambiguous washes and scratches away the detail,” deFelice says. Mikhailik is in her final year of the MFA program at Cal State Long Beach, and she’ll be showing her work May 5 at the school’s Dutzi Gallery. You might run into her while she’s assisting and curating at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. Nancy Chiu Creative mind Nancy Chiu (nancychiu.com) found her way to O.C. after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts from the same school Yevgeniya Mikhailik is attending. “I became close with many extremely talented artists… and many of them lived in Orange County,” she says. On the surface, Chiu’s art is whimsical, but closer examination reveals more mature emotions. “I often combine elements from different species to create visual metaphors that narrate the relationships and interactions one may experience throughout their life,” she says. And deFelice is drawn to that idea: “She has this quality where she is contrasting really delicate, beautiful creatures with something strange and haunting, but in a really mesmerizing and attractive way.” Chiu works as a commission artist and shows off her creations on her website. Jennie Cotterill This gal isn’t your typical artist. Jennie Cotterill (jenniecotterill.com) creates dioramas with the heartfelt intent of being fun and funny. “I love shrines, theater sets, dioramas and reliquaries,” she says. “I personally think my work could be called Cartoon Realism. It’s so deeply influenced by the cartoons I watched growing up—mostly old Warner Bros. cartoons and Ren & Stimpy —that it’s almost subconscious.” And deFelice can’t get enough. “She has a really good sense of humor,” deFelice says. Her work automatically evokes a smile, a giggle and an inspection of the details hidden within each diorama. Although she has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts from Cal State Long Beach, she’s stuck to Orange County for its creative network. She says it’s a community of “open, supportive people, and they have a ton of energy.” 66 | | February 2013

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