Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Long-Lost Artist, Found!

"I never realized how many people wanted to be artists, but gave it up at one point for one reason or another," said David Fairrington recently. He directs Banning's Center for the Arts and just delights in reigniting that interest and desire in those who come to this new downtown Art District's Gallery. In this way, he envisions the need for this Center and its "mission" which is more than the "sum of its parts" ie. a gallery for display and sale of both locally and nationally known artist's works, a classroom for aspiring artists of most ages and media, a tea room for the artists' refreshment and networking of creative ideas and contacts, and even a performance venue for new performance artists, dancers and musicians.

My curiosity was piqued recently when I came home and found that my wife was once again inspired to paint in oils. I had missed that pungent smell of turpentine which usually accosted my senses announcing her creative activities. She assured me that it had been quite awhile since she had used that stinky solvent for her brush cleaning as she showed me her new "studio" in our small, home- office. She then told me about her new, weekly "lessons" with David at the Arts Center. It was on my day off at the time, so I wanted to go with her and see this Center and meet her new painting mentor. I was so happy to see that she wanted "to paint" again. I've always thought she was more "herself" and happiest when she was painting. I had given up trying to encourage her and just knew she would get back to it when she felt ready and inspired. Thanks, David!

I first met David Fairrington and his wife Lilly at a public information meeting for the newly started "Arts District" project for downtown Banning back in October of 2005. He had invited my wife, as his newest student, and we decided to go since we had been involved in or supporting "the Arts" for many years; raising three out of four of our sons as "artists". I was encouraged by what I saw and heard that evening and posted my comments in my blog. ie "Banning Arts Colony?" On a recent, rainy Tuesday I helped my wife tote her painting gear to her gallery/classroom and took a little tour of the Center. Again, I was impressed. Later, that morning, when David found out I liked to write, he invited me to come back on a Monday, when the Center was closed, and do an interview for this posting and a possible article for publication in "Art-Talk".

He offered me a cup of coffee, the Tea Room was also closed, and we sat and talked for almost two hours. He cleared a space at the classroom table. He had recently gotten a donation of art supplies to add to his " student store" and he was organizing them and getting ready to render at his own easel -his only "free day to paint" as the Center's Director/Teacher. He told me a little about the history of the Center when it was called "Artists in Residence" and didn't have a full-time director and wasn't open to the public as much. Now the Center's hours are: Tues - Sat. 10:A.M. to 4:P.M. with two docents and many volunteers. There have been special events into the evenings including special openings of local artist's shows, collaborations such as the current show called "Timeless Goddess" with three artists, jazz musicians, dancers and demonstrations such as "pot throwing".

April 8th the Arts Center will be the hub of a downtown Art District "street faire" called "Art-Hop" It sounds like fun. The Spanish-styled building has a wrought-iron enclosed front yard and patio right on the sidewalk for displays and performances in warmer weather. There are three rooms besides the classroom with almost 1000 square feet of display area. Most of the walls are well lit for hanging paintings and surround tables and chairs for tea. I can just imagine the warm ambiance especially on Saturdays between 10:A.M and 2:P.M. when Denice Myers reads "your future" from your tea leaves.

While I was there, a local artist dropped in and inquired about the possibility of "hanging" some of his paintings for sale in the gallery. David encouraged him to bring them in and he would decide what he could put up "on consignment". There are two other galleries across San Gorgonio Street, which is one of the main streets in downtown Banning (next to City Hall).

All in all I can see now why my wife and other local "budding artists" might be attracted to come and participate in this center. It is not just the unassuming gallery, classroom and tea room. It is David himself. He has a wide and varied amount of experience as a career, commercial artist; in Viet Nam, as a Combat Military Artist, and in Hollywood, as Promotional Graphics Artist. He has the reputation as a well-known and talented portrait artist in the United States, especially in California, Arizona and New Mexico. He not only leads and teaches by example but he is able to critique and suggest ideas to his students in a way that is very non-judgemental and supportive. He has an openness and acceptance in his demeanor which makes it very easy for his art students to try "new things" and take risks. He considers "teaching" as more of a "learning experience". He was recently quoted, "If you listen and pay attention to your students, you can end up seeing the world through a different set of eyes." As the old saying goes, "El que da, recibe. El que ensene, aprende." He who gives, receives. He who teaches, learns. Bob


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