Stephen Mirich, Swan Lake to Swanee River, 2020, Oil on canvas, 20 X 24 in.

“Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?”

a galvanizing art challenge based on titles inside of fortune cookies

September 25 – November 13

Opening Reception: Sept 25, 6 – 9pm


Masks are required for attendance in accord with CDC recommendations.

Palos Verdes Art Center / Beverly G. Alpay Center for Arts Education is pleased to announce “Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?,” a group exhibition on view at PVAC September 25 through November 13.

This show was conceived in 2019 when arts writer Bondo Wyszpolski surveyed a group of paintings on display and noted that most of them had fairly standard subject matter rendered in fairly standard style–pets, piers, tidepools and sunsets. He commented that if one pulled on the tails of these and other artists by urging them to try something out of their comfort zone, then perhaps something exciting or unusual would emerge. But how could this happen? By giving them unusual titles which would become the basis of their paintings.

In January of last year, 35 visual artists gathered at La Venta Inn in Palos Verdes Estates to spin a wheel of fortune, upon which were attached a constantly replenished supply of fortune cookies. The usual fortune (romance, travel, an unexpected inheritance) had been removed from each cookie and replaced with a random title (created by Bondo). Spinning the wheel to find out which fortune cookie was theirs was like combining Chance and Fate. The title in each cookie was to be the title of their work.

There were two requests: that the artist not veer into the abstract and that the completed masterpiece vary from what the artist was known for. Throw the public a curve, in other words. Most of the artists willingly complied.

The idea was to attract a wide range of artists, without regard to their level of accomplishment, who were game for trying something new. That was the primary consideration. If Thomas Kinkade had wanted to paint like Vermeer, and Vermeer had wanted to paint like Thomas Kinkade, both might have been invited. Who knows?

After the original dates of the exhibition were postponed, Peninsula resident Brad Webster suggested to Bondo that they extend the “challenge” a step further with songs based on the artworks. Bondo wrote lyrics, Brad composed music. Today, most of the pictures have been “set” to music, and this is one more aspect that distinguishes “Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?” from the typical art show. And you’re here to enjoy it. What could be better?

PLEASE NOTE: To safeguard the health of our employees, students, visitors, affiliated groups and the community at large from infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, PVAC has adopted a mandatory vaccination policy. Effective October 31, 2021, all visitors must wear face masks and show proof of vaccination.

Click image above to view video with songs inspired by the paintings in “Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?” Lyrics by Bondo Wyszpolski. Music and performance by Brad Webster.

Debbie Abshear, Fei Alexander, Lynn Attig, Emily Brantley

Robin Cowles, Don Crocker, Dan Dempster, Bernard Fallon

Debbie Giese, Joy Gonzalez, Errol Gordon, Judy Herman

Carol Hungerford, Carolyn Liesy, Drica Lobo, Larry Manning,

Stephen Mirich, Margaret Missman, Margaret Mohr, Hung Viet Nguyen

Lois Olsen, Thomas Redfield, Janice Schultz, Nancy Sewell

Steve Shriver, Val Simon, Richard Stephens, Bronwyn Towle

Katrina Vanderlip, Joyce Welsh, Aaron Westerburg, Karen Wharton

Susan Whiting, Jody Wiggins