Honey Bunns & Joe is a small-sized bakery with a big heart for art. For the past year, they’ve given away wall space in their Idyllwild business for artists to host shows . The June show is called “Giants, Scoundrels & Locals,” a motley crew of Pop Art portraits by Idyllwild artist Marcia Gawecki.
Granted, it’s not a big space. The sign on the wall says there’s a capacity for only 10 people. But ask any artist whose shown there, and they will tell you that you can do a lot with those four walls.
“I had 25 prints and three small banners, and I managed to fill the space,” Gawecki said, with the help of her friend Nanci Killingsworth.
Gawecki’s show features $25 prints of jazz giants like Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. Most of them were created for Jazz in the Pines, a two-day jazz event held on the Idyllwild Arts campus in August each year.
There’s also prints of scoundrels or celebrities who have “fallen from grace,” such as Michael Jackson and Mel Gibson. Gawecki sized up her choices in her “Artist Comment” posted on the wall:
“Many Hollywood stars that I have painted have “fallen from grace.” I don’t have to like them, only get a good likeness.”
Gawecki has had an art gallery refuse to show Mel Gibson because of his anti Semitic beliefs.
“For this show, I titled it ‘Mad Mel’ to give viewers an idea of my feelings towards him,” Gawecki said. “I didn’t want to offend anyone with the image, but open up a dialogue . There’s been some anti Semitism in Idyllwild, and we need to get it out in the open. I don’t think it should be tolerated.”
Besides the title, Gawecki showed a bloody red cruxifix protruding from Gibson’s eyebrows. It was painted shortly after the release of his 2004 film, “The Passion of the Christ,” which many say depicted Jews as being exceptionally brutal to Jesus Christ.
Gawecki has not been one to shy away from politicizing her views in paint. The image of Michael Jackson originally had the title, “The King of Pop is Not” to discuss his many child molestation accusations.
“If you look closely at his ears, you can see their pointed or elf like,” Gawecki said.
And the image of Ronald Reagan was reframed for the Honey Bunns show. The original one was a wooden frame with camoulflage on it. Gawecki had just come back from living two years in Chile, and had an earful of Reagan’s offenses.
“Reagan has a slight bit of red under his nose,” Gawecki said. “Its not a shadow, but blood.”
The rest of the painting was all done in green hues. The red is subtle but is more obvious when you add the camelflage frame, she said.
There’s also Idyllwild locals, including Marshall Hawkins, who heads up the jazz department at Idyllwild Arts who was just inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame. He started Jazz in the Pines which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
In addition to Marshall, there’s American Idol heartthrob Casey Abrams, the ‘Bronze Buckaroo’ Herb Jeffries, who turns 100 in August this year and Jeffrey Taylor, who owns Green Cafe Internet and has been promoting films for 15 years now.
“I like to title my shows because then it gives them a framework,” Gawecki said. “But everyone’s giant could be someone else’s scoundrel.”
Gawecki sold one painting yesterday, but other artists at Honey Bunns have had more success.
Nanci, a mosiac artist from Idyllwild, had made the most of her show space last fall by adding shelves, and using her interior design know how. Before her opening, she had already sold five pieces.
“I called her with the good news, but she was up until midnight making more mosaics to replace the five that were sold,” said Dan Slattery, one of Honey Bunns & Joe’s owners.
“After he called, I was happy that people liked my work, but I also had to raise my prices,” Nanci said.
As a memento, Nanci left Honey Bunns one of her mosiac cups for their stir straws. Other artists have left paintings, prints and photos on the wall as a “thank you” for not charging for the space.
“People can’t believe that we don’t charge any commission,” Dan said. “But the way I see it, every month someone comes in here and redecorates the place. It’s really great! Not like getting bored seeing the same old painting.”
For other artists like Helen Ziler, who had her Honey Bunns show in May, sales aren’t the mark of success. The fact that her son considers her art “family heirlooms” meant more than any sale.
“My son looked around the room, and told me that he wanted to keep all of them in the family,” Helen said wistfully. “That meant a lot to me.”
This was also Ziler’s first art show, and it was comfortable enough for her to want to continue in her pursuit.
Dan’s wife, Laura, is the baker who also has talent.
“I’m just creative,” Laura Slattery said, when someone called her an artist. Some of her confectionary creations include lavendar-almond scones, snickerdoodles and of course, sticky honey buns.
“She likes to mix it up by combining different ingredients and not featuring the same thing all the time,” Dan added.
On the wall above the door features one of Laura’s photos. It’s a close-up of her hands kneading dough. The reflected light makes the pose more intimate. It was a collaboration with a photographer friend over the internet, she said.
“Giants, Scoundrels & Locals,” a collection of Pop Art portraits by Idyllwild artist Marcia Gawecki, will remain at Honey Bunns & Joe through June. The bakery is located at 54385 N. Circle Drive in Idyllwild, and is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Call (951)659-8606.
Copyright 2013 Marcia Gawecki. All rights reserved.