Oil on acrylic for change: Alhambra art show to raise money for Typhoon Haiyan victims

Artist Jennifer Lugris will join seven of her friends to present a collection of paintings, sketches, and photographs in an exhibition Sunday called “Compassion.” The artists will donate 35% of their proceeds to UNICEF to aid the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Lugris, 27, began oil painting in October 2012 after taking classes in a small, private Alhambra studio with artist Marina Amor. Lugris has since moved away from Alhambra, but along with Katherine Bingley, Micheal Cruz, Cheyene Ellet, Arslane Merabet, Andrew Lauerman, Elan Heredia, and Michelle Loren, has come back to create the group show.

"Delano & Lona", oil on canvas | Jennifer Lugris

We spoke with Lugris via Skype about her work in Sunday's art show and why the group of artists came together to support the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Michael Cruz

What motivated you and this group of artists to have this exhibition?

Mike Cruz, Kat Bingley, and I used to live together in Alhambra. I moved to Oakland in September, and was coming down to L.A. to visit them. I figured, rather than just come down and hang out, why not have a show and exhibit our work together? Then I thought we should try and link the show to some sort of cause, and fundraise for something that would help people.

Since the typhoon in the Philippines was such a recent event and so many people are still suffering, we're going to be donating a portion of our sales to UNICEF to help them. I like the idea of having art not just to hang up in someone's house and look nice but also to actually make a difference and create some kind of change.

"Lauryn Hill," oil on canvas | Jennifer Lugris

You are going to be exhibiting some portraits of musicians Lauryn Hill and Snoop Dogg. Why did you decide to paint them?

If you visit a musician's website, usually you see images of the person because you can't really have an image of music. What I wanted with these pieces was to have their music guide the way I painted them.

Lauryn Hill's “Unplugged” album was a slower, very neat process of painting. I wanted to make her beautiful because what she says in her album is really strong and true – about how she struggled and had to learn how to stop being an image for her fans, and had to re-learn how to just be herself. I think that's really important not just for artists, but for everyone: the idea that you should just be who you are and not who people expect you to be.

Cheyene Ellet

Painting Snoop Dogg was quite interesting because I had never actually listened to him before. My boyfriend recommended him, so I just decided to go with it. It pushed me further into challenging myself and exploring the unknown. Painting him went a lot faster because it's hip-hop so it has different rhythms. I was kind of dancing while I painted him, so it wasn't as careful as the Lauryn Hill portrait. It was a lot more jumpy.

The artists featured in “Compassion” have different styles. What did you hope to achieve by having such an eclectic collection of work?

I wanted to make it as varied as possible. It's better for the consumer because everyone has different tastes. For example, Michael Cruz is a photographer who does a lot of fashion, but we also have another artist – Cheyene Ellet – who does more abstract work, closer to street art. I'm the only one who focuses more on realism.

"Tree sketch" | Katherine Bingley

I'm thinking the more artists, the merrier – we'll be able to draw in more diverse crowds, show different styles of work, and hopefully have something to appeal to everyone.

How has working alongside other artists helped you?

The most challenging thing about being an artist is getting over the fear of failure.  Many artists, myself included, are afraid to pursue an art career because they think they will never make it. However, having friends who are also artists has helped me overcome this fear and challenge myself. We support each other and encourage each other.

Why should readers come to your exhibition?

It's really tricky to show your work in public because you're essentially showing a part of your heart. It's a process of saying, “Okay, I'm lending out a piece of my soul,” and seeing how people respond. By coming to the exhibition, you're showing us support in that process, and at the same time contributing to a good cause.

“Compassion” will take place on Sunday, Jan. 19, from 1-4 p.m. Prints start at $15 and go up to $250. For the exact location or to learn more, visit Jennifer Lugris’s website or email her at jlugris@live.com.

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