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Grinch comes to Laguna, artistically speaking

Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow devotes holiday exhibit to works based on Dr. Seuss' classic Christmas tale.

December 12, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Co-owners Mark Weiner, left, and Torrey Cook pose for a portrait in front their holiday-themed exhibit titled "Straight Outta Whoville : The Night Before Grinchmas" at the Artists Republic For Tomorrow gallery in Laguna Beach on Wednesday.
Co-owners Mark Weiner, left, and Torrey Cook pose for… (KEVIN CHANG, Coastline…)

With feet embedded in snow, the curmudgeonly Grinch wondered, "How could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags."

Come Saturday, the holiday will dawn at Laguna Beach gallery Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow (AR4T) without packages, boxes or bags. Instead, there will be paint, ink and even palm fronds.

Happy to let the bitter cave-dweller steal the show, founder Torrey Cook is slated to host "Straight Outta Whoville: The Night Before Grinchmas" through Dec. 31. Thirty local and foreign artists will be showcasing as many pieces. A reception will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on opening day.

"Our normal art programming for the gallery is emerging, new-contemporary with a nod toward skate and street culture, so during the holidays when most of us are looking for a little fun, having holiday programming that takes us back to being a kid just seems natural," she wrote in an email.

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A fan of organizing a yearly family-friendly holiday show, Cook collaborated with co-owner Mark Weiner and Trace Mendoza, an artist and gallery assistant, to pick the participants. They represent a cross-section of artists, some of whom have previously exhibited at AR4T. Each contributor to the group show was provided with the title and theme and then handed the reins, Cook said.

Bret Brown, a mixed-media artist from San Luis Obispo, credits his 4-year-old daughter, Aspen May, for his submission.

She is fascinated with Sally Who and Dr. Seuss' green-furred creation, whom she finds "mean but nice," Brown said. He was working on his piece for the show, when, after watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," Aspen May demanded similarly themed bedtime stories for two consecutive weeks.

And so, "Picking the Right Size," priced at $275, was born.

"It speaks to the immediacy of impermanence and that at any moment this life can be taken," the artist said. "The Grinch is choosing a bigger heart, but that choosing is juxtaposed with a scowling/angry expression even while a car is barreling down on him. So, has he really chosen? Or has the negativity bias created too strong of a feedback loop to really have a choice?"

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