This year at Jazz in the Pines in Idyllwild, 11 bright hand-painted banners will be decorating the French Quarter and near the main stage. Many of the jazz musicians featured on the door-sized banners are locals, including musical director Marshall Hawkins, the late crooner, Herb Jeffries who had a home here, and vocalist/pianist Yve Evans, who lives in Palm Springs.
Bassist/singer Casey Abrams, who wowed on American Idol three years ago, Caleb Hensinger, a trumpet player and Graham Dechter, jazz guitar, were Idyllwild Arts Academy graduates. Abrams will appear with Hawkins on the main stage at 4:15 p.m. today (Sunday).
Hensinger was a scholarship student who is studying at Berklee in Boston. Jazz in the Pines is a fundraiser for student scholarships at the Idyllwild Arts Academy and Summer Program.
Other banners at the festival include jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Etta James. All the banners were created on tab-topped cotton curtains with acrylic paint from the hardware store. Local artist Marcia Gawecki, who worked as a van driver at Idyllwild Arts for five years, likes using bright Behr mistints like seafoam green and neon pink.
She paints on her kitchen floor in Idyllwild. It’s the only available space for the large banners. Outside on the deck, pine needles rain down and bugs meet a sudden death with the paint.
This is the first time Gawecki has shown all 11 banners together in an outdoor space. She hopes to showcase them all together at a gallery this year. Three of the 11 were purchased by locals, including Anne Finch, co-chair for this year’s jazz committee, and Pam Pierce, Casey Abrams’ mother. Celebrities who own Gawecki’s banners and paintings include comedian Bill Cosby, rock flutist Tim Weisberg and President Barack Obama. Gawecki sent Obama a T-shirt a few years ago, and his framed thank-you note hangs in her home.
After the jazz fest, Gawecki hopes to sell eight of the original banners which range in price from $500 to $800. For more information, call (951) 265-6755.