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By Breeana Greenberg

A temporary studio and gallery space will open on Saturday, April 23, with Dana Point artist Chris Justice setting up shop in the Prado West development.

Set to stay open through mid-August, the gallery will be an interactive studio, where Justice, who grew up in Dana Point and graduated from Dana Hills High in 2006, will paint on-site and interact with visitors.

“I may or may not do a live painting (at Saturday’s opening)—I’ll just leave it there,” Justice said.

Justice plans on having a variety of events throughout his residency at Del Prado, including a weekly happy hour. He hopes that the additional events will bring people back to the space again and again.

While there, he’ll also be painting new artwork. The works displayed one day may be replaced with completely new work the next.

“I plan on every Friday doing a happy hour, from probably 5-7 p.m., where I will be pouring wine,” Justice said. “And people can experience my process as an artist. They’re going to be able to watch me work the whole time.”

Justice’s gallery hours will be Thursday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. He will work out of the studio for the duration of the gallery hours.

Justice hopes that the Artist in Residency concept will connect the community with his process as an artist and plans on using the space as a studio in addition to a gallery.

The Dana Point Entertainment and Arts Council (DPEAC), a new nonprofit, facilitated the residency concept with support from Raintree Partners.

“That new 501(c)(3) has been designed to help further the arts and entertainment in the city and help raise funds to support those types of endeavors,” said Todd Wallin, DPEAC managing director.

“This is the first event that DPEAC is supporting,” he continued. “So, we put the idea together, went to Raintree Partners—definitely kudos to them for stepping up and actually making the space available and seeing the vision of what we’re trying to create—and then we went out and tried to find a local artist.”

Raintree allowed DPEAC to handpick a space in its new development, Prado West.

“When we went to them, Jason and the owner, Jeff Allen, the owners of Raintree, were really supportive of trying to do something that’s different and had a cool energy to it for the city, and they liked Chris’ artwork as well,” Wallin said.

“They thought it was vibrant and cool for the city,” Wallin added. “When you have a good landlord or business developer like Raintree stepping up and helping the community, they just made it a lot easier to get done.”

DPEAC is looking to bring a vibrant experience to the town center.

“With all the changes going on, it’s important that we keep doing events like this and make it interactive and fun, things that not only attract locals but that our visitors enjoy,” Dana Point Arts and Culture Commissioner Ashley Keene said. “That way, we can all enjoy everything the community has to offer and also highlight the people who live here and have grown here.”

The Artist in Residency concept brings more of a communal experience of art, which can be more of an isolating experience for the artist. 

“The really cool thing, what means a lot to me with this show, is that working artists spend a lot of time alone in their studios, and that’s just the way it is,” Justice said. “Having this space and having this artist-in-residence concept really reverses that. It enables the artist, myself, to connect with the community on more of a human level than just me making art in my studio and then selling it to somebody and repeat, repeat, repeat.”

Justice said he hopes that the gallery opening can be a celebration of bringing back gatherings. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Justice hasn’t been able to put on an art show in more than two years, he said.

“We’re kind of on the backside of a lot of tough times, and I think a lot of people have been very stressed and worried, and I just want to be able to have this be a show that kind of celebrates us being back to some normalcy,” Justice said.

All of the art will be for sale, as well as all of the art that Justice will be creating in the space.

“I just want this to be a space that people can come and hang out and feel comfortable and not necessarily feel the pressure to buy the art, nor will I hard-sell them on buying the art,” Justice said. “I just want people to come and have a space where they can just kind of chill out for a few minutes.”

On Saturday, DPEAC and Justice will host a reception and special wine testing with the Santa Barbara-based Margerum Wine Company from 5-8 p.m. at 24471 Del Prado Ave, Suite B. RSVP for the event by contacting Justice on Instagram @chrisjustice_art.

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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