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Island Art
by Liz Goldner of the Orange County Metro, May 2002


A visitor to Lido Island, looking for "native" art, might head straight for the Peter J Gallery. Owner Peter Jang loves boats, nautical maps, Newport and Laguna Beach, Catalina Island and more exotic locations such as the Fiji Islands and Bora Bora. As an artist, trained by his mother and by art teachers in hisnative Korea, Jang has painted nautical subjects and locations for years.

Jang's gallery is filled with many of his works. They cover the walls, fill the storage area, are in various states of completion in his gallery studio, and peer out from shop windows on Via Lido. For his nautical chart paintings, Jang blows up nautical maps and superimposes onto them carefully rendered pictures of ships, fish, houses and even cars. To realistically create the look of sand, Jang grinds up seashells and mixes these with paint. His huge paintings with natural wood frames evoke the ocean scenes that Jang loves so much. He sells about 150 of these paintings each year and many are commissioned.

Beach and water themes characterize many of the gallery's other works. Emilio Flores, a mexican native and long-time Orange County resident, paints colorful, vivid pictures of ocean scenes, tropical foliage, rocks, mountains and boats. Flores, whose works have a Post-Impressionistic look, says, "I put many layers down to create a vivid look, a look that talks to me, that is imbued with my own energy."

Barbara Rogers paints small pictures of tall ships. Ricjard Harsh's sailboats are large and brightly colored. Glora Bradeson paints sailboats, using a palette knife instead of a brush, to create a deeply textured, impressionistic look.

The gallery carries many pictures of the nearby Crab Cooker restaurant by several artists in a variety of mediums, including watercolors, oils, and charcoal. Some of these are framed, others are stacked up.

There are nautical knots and life preservers, mounted inside frames, like low relief sculptures. There is a bronze sculpture fountain of dolphins, and a glass-covered coffee table with a tree branch frame and low relief fish sculptures under the glass.

Jang carries works by two Korean artists he knows well. Yuri Lee's scene of local homes, gardens and parks, painted with a palette knife, are impressionistic in style and colorful. Lee Park's paintings, with a more international look, are inspired by Miro and Picasso. Park does several paintings that are parodies of Picasso's "Girl in the Mirror," from the Museum of Modern Art. But in Lee's works, a girl is mirrored by a boy. Jang says that the works are very popular in Beverly Hills galleries.

Rounding out the Peter J collection are several vintage movie posters and framed black and white photos of the Eiffel Tower, the San Francisco wharf and Orange County's orange groves, all from the '30s. These are fitting items for the area, with the Art Deco Lido movir theatre nearby.

The Peter J Gallery may seem to cater to a tourist trade with its plethora of theme-oriented works. Still, the collection, evocative of the ocean and beach communities, is refreshing, honest and energetic.