ON THE PICTURE : Art City could lose its longtime home. Photo by Alex Wilson
by Alex Wilson
Renowned stone artist Paul Lindhard faces an uncertain future as he walks past other sculptors using power tools to realize their visions of what lies beneath the colored rocks.
Since founding Art City in an industrial area of West Ventura in 1985, Lindhard has inspired countless works of art and nurtured the careers of young artists. It is a collective art studio where Lindhard provides sculpting materials for large-scale works of art, as well as an atmosphere that encourages collaboration and creativity.
Art City is also an economic driver for the local arts economy, with customers coming from far and wide to view and purchase the artwork, Lindhard said.
“I’m already kind of a destination for a lot of people. I hear hundreds of times a month how much people love coming here. And they bring family and friends and come from out of town.
Lindhard’s own hand can be seen in many monumental works of art across Ventura. Projects he has worked on include the Veterans Memorial at Cemetery Memorial Park, the stone staircase leading to the city’s iconic cross, and the “Welcome to Ventura” sign at the west end of Main Street.
While the rock carvings will outlast all the humans who created them, the future of Art City currently lacks such solid ground.
The one-acre lot at 197 Dubbers Street that Lindhard has leased for nearly 40 years has sold for $1.75 million, owner John Berriman said. All artwork, supplies and equipment must be gone at the end of the lease in August. The property is currently in receivership, which is expected to close on September 10.
Lindhard said he was worried about where artists who rented space from him would go. Some who came to Ventura to work at Art City may have to relocate.
“They moved here for this engine and probably wouldn’t stay here because it’s such an expensive city,” he explained.
A “unique artist enclave”
JoAnne Duby recently spent a sunny day in her outdoor studio putting the finishing touches on an onyx sculpture. Duby also uses his studio as a classroom to teach budding artists. She has worked at Art City since 1988.
“The energy here is so fabulous,” she said. “Rock carving is usually a very isolated thing. The thing is, we produce dust, and there are a lot of places where you can’t do that. We’re kind of nestled here in the best place in the world with the best weather for a stone carver. It’s a magical place to work. »
Donna Granata is founder and executive director of Focus on the Masters, an art archive and library that has been compiling primary sources from local artists, including Lindhard, since 1994.
“Art City is truly one of the most unique artist enclaves, frankly, in California if not the United States,” Granata said. “[Lindhard] took an empty lot and turned it into an awe-inspiring experience. Anyone with a creative bent, and who appreciates art, as soon as you walk around the estate, you are immediately stimulated by the beauty of the stone, seeing all the artists working in the open air, so accessible are they.”
Granata said people come from all over the world to visit Art City, noting that “the consequences of its loss will affect many people in the stone carving world, and I would also say our community reputation as an art destination. We cannot lose these institutions because it is our culture.
New city of art?
Lindhard explores options for Art City’s future.
Although he never owned the land that Art City sits on, Lindhard does own two other properties nearby, including one right next door that once housed a car dismantling business and covers about half an acre. This property belonged to his best friend who recently passed away and bequeathed it to Lindhard in his will. Lindhard also owns another property near the corner of Main and Peking streets which is currently used to store the stone, he said.
But according to Lindhard, moving the operation is hard work that could cost upwards of $100,000.
“Hopefully the goodwill I’ve brought to the community at large, with this crisis mode coming, will spark interest in supporting us,” Lindhard said.
Owner Berriman is sensitive to Lindhard’s plight. “He could definitely move Art City. It obviously wouldn’t have room for many of the artists who are currently on my property.
Berriman also said the property is currently zoned for industrial use and the new owners are Los Angeles-area developers. He doesn’t know what they want to do with the property in the future. But he hopes Art City will have a viable future even after the business has to leave its current location.
“I regret any hardship I’m imposing on Paul, but if there’s a moment for Paul to reinvent Art City and reduce the operation to something he can successfully manage, I think it’s the moment,” Berriman said.
Art City Studios, 197 Dubbers St., Ventura, 805-648-1690, www.artcitystudios.com.