By Margie Palmer
The 32nd annual Mission Federal ArtWalk will return to Little Italy on April 30 and May 1; as in previous years, the event will continue to celebrate San Diego’s rich arts and culture landscape. More than 300 fine artists, including La Mesa residents John Straub, Chris Schwimmer, Monique Straub and Stephen Fishwick will be showing and selling their work.
Photographer John Straub has been telling stories through his camera lens for decades.
“[It] plays out because it’s all there, just waiting to be found, waiting to be experienced, waiting to be captured,” he said, adding that exploring, engaging and clicking allows him to take a scene and make it his own.
Although his original medium was film, Straub has since migrated to a digital format because it’s given him a way to advance his art.
“Today there are no barriers with what can be done on a computer; my camera is an amazing tool,” he said. “It’s a black box between me and the world that lets me translate what I see with my eye and feel in my soul when I finish making my image.”
Abstract painter Chris Schwimmer said that while she didn’t officially become a full-time artist until about 10 years ago, her love of art has been with her since she was a child.
“I began dreaming of becoming an artist ever since my fifth-grade art teacher praised a piece of work I’d done in class,” she said.
Schwimmer, who was born and raised in Chicago, said that spending 30 years in such a multi-cultural metropolitan area definitely had an impact on her as an artist.
“Between the beauty, the grime and grit, the poorest to the richest, raw and refined, perfect yet imperfect, all of these influences are woven into the fabric of my art.”
Painter Monique Straub said that it wasn’t until 2001, after half a lifetime of non-creative occupations, that she decided to take a risk and follow her dreams of becoming a full-time artist.
It all started with a vintage box of 300 Grumbacher soft pastels that were given to her by her father-in-law. Straub admits that she didn’t have any formal training and relied solely on “high school art lessons and a few pastel instruction books,” but she decided to run with it.
“Within the first year, I was entering the San Diego County Fair, local juried art shows, and [was] selling my work through a shared art studio at Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park,” she said. “I filled my days with experimentation and non-stop painting, and my unique style developed quickly. I believe my design and composition skills are attributed to having extensively studied photography in my younger years. I compose and photograph all of my own material, and paint from my photos in the studio every day.”
Stephen Fishwick best describes his painting style as Spontaneous Realism, as his style allows him to be free of the confinements of traditional techniques.
“I tend to use everything from brushes and sponges to forks, knives and spray bottles, to my bare hands,” he said. “My work has a chaotic-ness to it, but there is a bit of reality that I hope shines through.”
Fishwick, who has partnered with a number of corporate and professional clients including but not limited to the National Football League, Apple, Microsoft, Disney and the San Diego Padres, also has a deep-running philanthropic streak.
To date, he’s raised more than $1 million for different charities. “My goal is to have my artwork do something bigger than myself,” he said.
The 32nd annual Mission Federal ArtWalk will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1 and will feature professional artists from all throughout the region. The free, family-friendly event will not only include art, but also live musical performances, street food, interactive art activities and Kids Walk, which will offer a wide range of creative projects.
For more information on this year’s ArtWalk, visit artwalkSanDiego.org.
—Margie Palmer is a San Diego-based freelance writer who has been racking up bylines in a myriad of news publications for the past decade. Reach her at email@example.com.