By B.J. Coleman
La Mesa is graced with a natural beauty and amenable climate that can inspire artists.
Monique Straub is one La Mesa artist whose paintings derive from natural images, including leaves, trees and flowers. Her husband, John Straub, is a photographic artist, whose subjects focus on outdoor activities, mainly involving cars.
The couple, who have lived in La Mesa for 30 years, will have their artworks on display and for sale at the upcoming ArtWalk in Downtown San Diego’s Little Italy at the end of April. They spoke about their experiences as artists in an interview at Monique’s new La Mesa studio. Monique (who pronounces her name “moe-nay”) moved last month from a Mission Valley studio to be closer to home. Her La Mesa studio also features natural northern light conducive to painting.
This will be John Straub’s sixth year and Monique’s 12th year at ArtWalk in Little Italy.
The 2019 Mission Federal ArtWalk is the 35th in the annual series. The event will fill 16 blocks of Little Italy on Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28. Over 350 artists will display their works. Musicians and performing artists will entertain event-goers on stages during the arts festival. Attendance is expected to exceed 120,000 at the weekend event.
John said that he has been an artist all his life. He further disclosed that photography is a family tradition. He began taking photos of surfing subjects at the beach during his early years, and then developing them in his father’s darkroom. John’s preferred subject matter changed when he turned 16 and began driving. He fell in love with cars and on-the-road images as his preferred photography subjects. Photographic art is John’s full-time profession. He shows his work at festivals and galleries. John’s next scheduled showing after ArtWalk will be in Carmel-by the Sea.
Monique has been a full-time artist for 22 years. Her next showing following ArtWalk will be in Monterey in August. John and Monique both plan to display their artworks at the Laguna Beach Art Affair.
Monique expressed appreciation for the Downtown ArtWalk.
“There is a real ease of set up at this festival,” she said. “You can drive up to your booth and unload directly at your location. And you can meet people personally, unlike showing in galleries. You get to see repeat collectors who return each year.”
Monique Straub’s studio is located at 8383 Center Drive, Suite C. She works there weekdays, with open hours from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. She welcomes local residents to visit her there and view her paintings during those hours. Art from Monique and John can be purchased online.
Jason Humphrey is another La Mesa artist who draws inspiration and subject matter from nature. His mixed media artwork begins with “original ink,” followed by a layering technique, with images he dubs intuitive. Humphrey is currently completing a piece in his series of lion art. Another finished piece resting nearby in his home studio features an octopus.
“Lions are regal, reflecting strength and courage,” Humphrey said. “The octopus represents the mystery of the sea.”
Humphrey said that he has been creating art all his life and that he is self-taught. He recalled often playing by himself and drawing, and as a young teen, he experimented with spray paint art. He served in the U.S. Navy from the age of 17, and subsequently after military service, worked in different jobs.
Humphrey has considered himself a professional artist for the past 10 years, although he still works a “day job” as a surgical laser technician, which helps support his wife, Alicia, and their three daughters.
Humphrey estimated that he travels to 20-30 art shows and festivals each year. In May, Humphrey will show his work in Beverly Hills. In August, he will be in Los Altos.
“You have to get your art out there to different audiences,” he said.
This will be Humphrey’s seventh appearance showing his art at the Downtown ArtWalk. He has participated in the companion ArtWalks at Liberty Station and Carlsbad.
“Little Italy is the granddaddy of them all,” he said. “This promotes the love of art. At Little Italy ArtWalk, you can have intimate conversation with people who come by. You can talk about what goes into art, and how art has a healing property.”
Humphrey noted that he accepts commissioned projects on specific subjects. Prints of his works have a starting price of $40. With colors added to make a print unique, the cost rises to $150 to $200.
“Art should be accessible for everyone,” Humphrey said of his lower cost print artworks.
Other La Mesa artists slated to display their work at ArtWalk include Amir Barlev, David Cuzick and Cindy Teyro.
— B.J. Coleman is a local freelance journalist and editor/staff reporter with the 22nd Legionnaire. Reach her at email@example.com.