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The gang at Unique Designs offered fun items to the crowd. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, July 15, 2021

By Chris Frost

Tri County Sentry


Channel Islands-- Residents looking for unique gifts and treasures found something special, Saturday, July 10, as the Channel Islands Harbor Art Festival was a showcase full of great items for purchase.


The festival featured artists and craftsmen displaying original work for purchase in all mediums of fine art and craft. Attendees shopped and picked from paintings, photography, sculptures in metal, clay, wood, glass, jewelry, pottery, mixed media, fiber art, and more.


Christine Madrid from Unique Designs was back for her first show in 15 weeks, and she offered many classic toys and said her items change all the time.


"Most of what I have are one of a kind," she said. "Whatever pops up in my room of horrors shows up here. I added the beginning of Barbie, and I did a lot of Disney that sold early this morning. The Pie-eyed wooden Mickeys did really well. I like to do a lot of Disney, but I like a lot of other things too."


When Covid-19 struck, she ended up being stuck and home and unhappy.


"I hated it," she said. "I hated not being able to see and talk to people. It was something that I never thought I'd see in my lifetime."


She got her vaccine and is back in action. 


"I don't know why people are waiting," she said. 


Jim and Laura Rajner from Jimmy Romo's Coastal Creations had custom carved surfboard designs, and Jim said they've done well during Covid-19.


"We did a bunch of little pop-up shows," he said. "We had businesses that we sold to, and those people we knew did a show in front of their business. Everybody wore a mask, and it was perfect."


He was selling hand-cut recycled surfboards. 


"They are recycled into art," he said. "We run the largest surfboard recycling center in the country. We're based in San Diego, and it takes a million years for these to break down. They can last forever in somebody's home. Everything is donated."


He said experience is key when recycling a surfboard.


"We've known for 10 years now what would fit best on a shaped board," he said. "We have it down to a science."


He said the customer response has been great.


"Everyone is overwhelmed because we're the only ones in the world who make something like this," Jim said. "They're unique. They think they're made out of wood and don't realize they're made out of old surfboards." 


Rhonda Mills from Acton came with her group, West Coast Artists.


The West Coast Artists started in 1983, and Mills said it's her first show, because of Covid-19, since March 2020.


"This is our only show until November, and that will be in the Palm Springs area," she said. "West Coast Artists has a non-profit arm as well, the WCArts Foundation, which donates proceeds to non-profit organizations in the area."


The group has 40 different artists that use photography and art in all different mediums. 


"What the artists have to do is submit an application along with images of their work," she said. "It has to be their own original work, nothing commercial or manufactured, and the artists are required to be here and represent their own work."


The group also selects fine crafts and ceramics.


"I was 28 years old, and I was going to participate in an art show," she said about how she got her start. "It was done so poorly and done so expensivelyI decided at 28 years old that I could do better."


She is thrilled to be back at shows with people.


"Everybody is so happy to be out here," she said. "I feel like we're outside, we've all mostly been vaccinated, and we all social distancing anyway because we're outside, so I think it's all good."


For information, visit westcoastartists.com.


Peter Eller from Santa Barbara brought his kaleidoscopes to the show and had a lot of walk-up traffic.


"I use the best mirror you can get and set it up in an unusual triangle image, so it creates more triangles of color in your image," he said. "I use a variety of stained glass on the outside, so it's a total variety of images all the time."


He comes to his creations through some trial and error.


"Sometimes I go, what if I tried this," he said. "It might look better that way. If it works, I'll continue doing it."


James and Merzedez bought a picture of bongos because it shows an instrument where a person can make music from their hands, and James loves hand instruments.


"It shows music," James said. "Art is like the library and the bank. We went to the beach, but we looked this up on the internet; I love art, and we love cultural stones. Every time we come to places like this, we learn something. This is like a learning experience."


James does not miss his mask.


"I never liked it," he said.