Hillcrest Festival

by Robert Sanchez

La Habra Heights – From ceramics, to jewelry, to even less traditional forms of art. The Hillcrest Congressional Church annually holds the Hillcrest Festival of Fine Arts, allowing individuals to submit, view, buy and sell artwork of various styles. For the fifty-third year in a row, Hillcrest has displayed a wide variety of works .This year the event was held Friday February twenty-second through the twenty-fifth. It was not only composed of exhibited work as well as demonstrations and workshops, but also two featured galleries. Which consisted of the works of Batik artists, Sandra Grassi Nelipovich and tiki expert LeRoy Shmaltz.

Nelipovich had been studying various forms of art for years before she approached the method of batik art. After studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, Sandra discovered the traditional method of batik, a combination of dye, waxes, and cloth. This tedious process requires dipping the cloth into dyes rather than brushing them on. Each individual color is applied one at a time from lightest to darkest. After each dip, the dye needs to dry making this process very time consuming. Sandra used her basic understanding of the method to develop her skills, and has been working in this form for thirty-five years. Her skills and patience with the medium are quite visible in her scenes. Her images seem to share a balance of simplicity and complexity. Viewers can appreciate the use of the soft colors and tones from afar, or move in closer to view the illustrative detail.

The other featured artist, LeRoy Shmaltz found his interest in art at a young age. As a former student at Otis Art Institute, Barnsdall Park Art Center and Rio Hondo College, he continued his quest to submerge himself and his life in artistic ideas. Schmaltz eventually sought to further his education at California State University – Los Angeles, where his passion for tiki art led him to ironically get expelled. Today, he is known worldwide for his success and expertise in his recognizable tiki work and talents, such as the Tiki Room and Trader Sam’s at the Disneyland Resort. LeRoy currently works primarily out of his local business, Oceanic Arts located in Whittier, California, providing tiki décor all around the world.

With almost two hundred artists showcasing their best work each year, the Hillcrest Festival of Fine Arts is always a success, leaving guests with positive impressions. If you missed the art festival, be sure to plan a visit next year. Each year the event is open to the public where you’ll be sure to see both new and old faces.

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