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Art Under the Stars shines a light on Menifee artists

Diane A Rhodes - Valley News - - September 16, 2022

     While everyone knows that artists are creative people, members of Arts Council Menifee had their talents tested when they had to improvise for their Art Under the Strs event Sept 9. Planned as a mostly outdoors celebration of art, music and more, unexpected heavy rains caused organizers to pivot at the last minute.

     The nonprofit's 120 members are no strangers to best-laid plans going awry. Late last year, a new landlord forced them out of the space they shared with Menifee Valley Community Pantry who let them use it as an art gallery and boutique for most of the year. And the year before that, COVID-190 put a damper on their in-person events.

     ACM's Visual Arts Director and artist Kathleen Crain, an ACM member since 2012, said the space they have been leasing for a disco9unted rate since Feb, is being rented to someone who can pay full rental price. This means the group is once again looking for a space to showcase all the creations put forth by its many talented members.

     "This event is our last hurrah, for now," Crain said.

     Several artists set up tables inside the Menifee Art & Boutique and outside under roof overhangs at the Sun City shopping center off Cherry Hills Blvd. where the boutique will be until Sept. 30.

     "We had about five other artists who couldn't make it due to the weather but we have had constant customers and for that we are grateful," Crain said.

     Estella Calderon has been a member for about a year and was featured as ACM Artist of the Month in May. She creates whimsical paintings, woven dolls and seasonal items. She describes her style as "happy art that puts a smile on your face."

     "I've always done drawing and painting and used to go to lots of big craft shows," she said. "I've enjoyed my membership here. I meet a lot of wonderful artists and nice customers."

     Denise Pulvino had set her table full of one-of-a-kind necklaces outside the boutique, facing the rain-drenched parking lot. But her dazzling pieces attracted a constant stream of visitors. She also displayed her watercolor paintings and cards that were also for sale.


     "I started making necklaces as a hobby to go with particular outfits," she said. "During COVID, I made 125 pieces. it takes an average of 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours to make each necklace."

     Pulvino has been an ACM member for more than two years and said it has been nice having a one-stop building to display her works.

     "The extra-curricular events are a plus," she said. "I get to meet new people and make new friends."

Cosmo Wilson of Bottle Design Lights began making and selling his light-up bottles as a fun outlet and has enjoyed attending farmers markets and ACM events to share his unique crafts. His wife, Pam Wilson, helps out and often gives him ideas for new projects.

     Cathey "Cat" Dyer creates her striking, eclectic pieces with acrylic paints. She is one of ACM's newest members and has enjoyed meeting the other artists. She said the boutique draws more attention to the talent that is in the community.

     "I really like bright colors and things that pop," she said. "My style is fluid in that I can do whatever I like. I enjoy painting abstracts and letting the colors tell me what I'm doing."

     Dyer offers private group instruction painting classes thro9ugh @Picatso Art. She tailors courses to age, level of experience and interest in acrylic, glazing or fluid pour. She takes the lessons/classes to the client, whether it be at an office, church, home or party venue. For more information, Cat can be reached at

      Her children, Sam and Connor Dyer, also are artistic in their own rights, having been surrounded by their creative mother for their entire lives. Sam makes semi-precious jewelry, incorporating crystals into her distinctive bracelets.

     Artist and crafter Tina Gardner, mixed media abstract artist Sheryl Stradling and fused glass artisan Therese Wilson were also at the event to share their individual talents. Sabino Flores played guitar throughout the event while his daughter Sabin Flores and her friend Liam Smith, both 22, sketched nearby. The Murrieta resident was recruited by Menifee Mayor Bill Zimmerman and his wife Julie who were on hand to support Arts Council Menifee and the Art Under the Stars event.

     A land surveyor for 44 years but a guitarist for 55 years, Flores said he looks forward to any opportunity to provide entertainment. Like many others, he knows ACM events are about artists supporting artists.

     Mary Carnes is among the dozen ACM Board Trustees who keep things running smoothly for the Arts council that has music, literary, dance and theater divisions as well as its visual arts. She said the nonprofit is working on finding a way to feature members' works for sale on its website Although it's not an ideal showcase, it will have to do until a future home can be found.

     In the meantime, Crain said the group will continue to look for a suitable location and will hopefully find a new location before the end of the year so the public can have a unique place to shop for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.

     "We are looking for a space to rent from an art admirer who would like to promote local artists," Crain said.

     Having a storefront location is key to helping artists promote their work and connect with others. Many of the newest ACM members found out about the nonprofit through seeing the boutique while shopping at nearby retail stores or dining at one of its eateries. A recently opened Thai restaurant brought in many new art lovers, Crain said.

     With its tagline of "Bringing the arts to Menifee and local artists to the public," Arts Council Menifee members plan to continue their presence at events such as the weekly Sun City Farmers Market at the Sun City Civic Association, 26850 Sun City Blvd. Crain said ACM will continue to host in-person gatherings of musicians, artists and craftsmen and craftswomen whenever and wherever possible. Dates and locations will be posted on the organization's website.

     For more information, or 951-290-2781.

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