The Coast News Group
Art n Soul on 101 hosts a reception April 21 to announce four new local non-profits that will receive a portion of sale proceeds from the unique shop over the next year. Photo by Wehtahnah Tucker

Art takes center stage for a cause and community

ENCINITAS— Art events supporting philanthropy and the environment were in full swing as April came to a close. The opening of “The Many Faces of Trash” featured more than 25 works by local artists at the Encinitas Library. Each artist was given a discarded traffic light donated by the city’s public works department as the starting point for each piece.

“I really had no idea how this was going to turn out,” said Rodney McCoubrey, the exhibit’s curator. He was especially impressed with the work done by students. “If you give the opportunity to a young one you can inspire them for a lifetime,” he said.

Steve Kwik’s “Tourista delSur” paid homage to the ocean and the natural resources influencing his everyday life. “I wanted to give a little something back to something that’s given so much to me,” he said. “Hopefully it will create some awareness for the benefit of the marine environment.”

Down the street, artist Sholeh sold her sculptures and paintings at Bliss 101 with a portion of the proceeds going toward Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. The nonprofit transforms the lives of children with physical deformities by performing comprehensive reconstructive surgery and follow-up.

With eclectic offerings that often feature local art, Bliss 101 brings a model of sustainability and the spirit of aloha to its location in the downtown Pacific Station shopping center.

The bustling shop is owned and operated by Helen Zeldes and her husband Peter. Zeldes named Bliss 101 after her mother’s book of the same name about living a more inspired, blissful life.

Besides the distinctive retail experience, Bliss 101 serves as a gathering space for many customers.

Zeldes is satisfied when her customers feel a connection to the shop. “(Bliss 101) is about more than just a place to shop,” she said. “It’s really a place where people can come and experience community.”

Art N Soul on 101 isn’t your typical art gallery. The splashes of color and full sunlight streaming from the storefront windows provide a welcome feeling for customers who are intrigued by the unique mix of artistry. And they don’t even know the whole story.

The gallery — filled with handmade crafts and artistic creations by local artists — is the vision of realtor Cindy Blumkin and landscape designer Paige Perkins. The two forged ahead to expose local artists to a wider customer base while giving back to the community.

Artist and performer Sholeh gives a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her sculptures and paintings sold at Bliss 101 on April 21 to local non-profit Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. Photo by Wehtahnah Tucker

The gallery celebrated the mutually beneficial partnerships between businesses, artists, charitable organizations and the community during a celebration April 21. With hundreds of loyal customers, artists and community groups in attendance, the festivities spilled out onto the sidewalk of downtown.

In addition to creating a nurturing environment for local artists, the owners have designed a revolutionary business model for allocating the store’s profits. An artist receives 60 percent of the proceeds of the sale of their work while the store takes the remaining 40 percent.

After the low overhead is paid, all of the profits are donated to specific local charities. The regional nonprofit organizations that receive quarterly donations from the store change each year, according to Blumkin. Current recipients include Conner’s Cause for Children, Leap to Success and Rancho Coastal Humane Society.

Leap to Success founder Dana Bristol-Smith said the organization was honored to be a recipient. “The support we receive will help us help more women in changing their lives,” she said. One recent graduate of the program stands out in Bristol-Smith’s mind. “She came to us as a person who had been homeless for 10 years, an alcoholic,” she said. “Today she is working full time and is a proud, happy woman. You’d never know what her life was like just a couple of years ago.”