Fine art? Not if, by fine, you mean “stuffy” or “snooty” or “traditional.” You’re unlikely to find any of those things at the 927 Art Show, set for July 18 and 19 at the Cambria Veterans Memorial Building.
“It’s all nontraditional,” event coordinator Tish Rogers said. “If people come in with a landscape or a seascape, they will be looked at very strangely.”
“Strange” is a word some might use to describe the art entered in the show.
Artists tend to push the envelope, which is exactly what organizers want. They encourage the unusual, attracting entries in four tongue-in-cheek categories:
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- Sensible sanity (politically and environmentally-themed works).
- Outrageous hilarity.
- Beastly belligerence (works with animal-related themes).
- Peculiar sensitivities.
Rogers expects 70 to 80 entries this year.
Two- and three-dimensional artwork will be featured in the show, with an emphasis on thinking outside the box — or the teapot, as the case may be: One artist entered a quilt made entirely of teabags.
Participants often give their works humorous titles. For instance, Rogers’ husband, Jim, created a piece built around painted miniature barstools and called it “Stool Samples from the Interior of Cambria.” A rusted hubcap served as the centerpiece for an entry by another artist, titled “Rust Limbaugh.”
“They’re not traditional artists,” Tish Rogers said. “But they’re very original, and they’ve got great senses of humor.”
The only requirement is that the work be “wacky.” First- through fourth-place prizes will be handed out in each category, with organizers giving away restaurant gift certificates as awards.
Some pieces featured in the 927 Art Show in the past might be described as provocative, or even macabre.
Last year, a mummified cat dressed to the nines titled “PETA Pussy” was named Best in Show, a decision that generated a backlash from some attendees.
“This exhibit was designed to shock and offend. It did,” one person declared in a letter to The Cambrian.
But Rogers said the piece, while considered offensive by some, wasn’t off-limits, given the show’s emphasis on the odd.
“No one harmed an animal,” she said. “It didn’t offend me. It offended a lot of people, but it’s art, and art is supposed to cause people to talk and cause controversy. I wouldn’t have entered it, but we were not going to keep them from entering it.”
Founded 27 years ago by artist and Cambrian cartoonist Art Van Rhyn, the 927 Art Show originally was open only to Cambria residents.
Hence, the origin of its name: At the time, 927 was the only phone prefix used in Cambria. Other prefixes have since been added, and entries from outside of town are now welcomed in the show.
“We’ve gotten entries from Cayucos, Paso (Robles), San Luis (Obispo),” Rogers said. “I think we even got an entry from Bakersfield once.”
Rogers has been involved with the show in various capacities since about 2000, but this is her first year as coordinator.
Last year, she said, “They tried to make it more high-level, but that’s not what this show is about, so we’re going back to simplicity. It’s just a fun show to do, watching the imaginations of people run wild.”
Artists may enter as many as three pieces, at an entry fee of $10 apiece, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. July 17, the day before the show. The admission fee for those wishing to view the art is $3; the Allied Arts Association of Cambria will use the proceeds to help cover the cost of its annual Youth Art Show.
If you go
- When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 18 (no-host bar from 5 to 7 p.m.), and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 19.
- Where: Cambria Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St., Cambria.
- Cost: $10 per piece (up to three) for artist submissions; $3 for adult admission and free to students and children.
- Information: www.cambriacenterforthearts.org.