SOLANA BEACH — Oceanic mosaics and paintings steeped in emotion await residents and visitors at Solana Beach City Hall gallery’s newest solo art exhibition, “Poseidon’s Garden,” by multimedia artist Leena Hannonen.
The exhibition debuted Sunday and will be open until May 12. The City Hall gallery displays rotating monthly art exhibits, organized by the Solana Beach Public Arts Commission.
Born in Helsinki, Finland, the self-taught Hannonen made her way to the United States after high school and wound up in Los Angeles, where she operated a graphic design studio for 15 years, before transitioning to the fine arts. She operates mainly out of a beachside studio in Baja California and splits her time in San Diego.
Hannonen said she had been eyeing the City Hall gallery as a potential exhibition venue for several years but had to wait due to closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of Public Arts Commission Liaison Kayla Moshki, they began to coordinate the exhibition last fall.
“I went to an opening there about four years ago, and I thought it was such a beautiful place, like, ‘I want to be here one day,’” she said.
Among the dozens of works in the exhibit are acrylic paintings of seaside landscapes, vibrant abstract florals and ocean shores. Among her favorite paintings in the exhibit is “Symphony of intensity,” with broad brush strokes depicting a churning ocean horizon and sky stretched across a series of three canvases.
Another eye-catching piece is the mosaic sculpture “Sparky is a good dog,” a dynamic and glittering structure of a dog balancing a ball and fish on its stained-glass nose, based on a now-passed yellow lab.
Hannonen said her work is inspired by nature and “its impact on our psyches,” as well as the beauty to be found in darkness. Ninety percent of the works in the exhibition, she said, she created in the past year following a period of extreme hardship, in which she lost her home in Julian and then suffered an attack from three men in Baja California that left her hand injured.
“I kept thinking, what’s the big picture here, all these events at the same time,” she said, noting that her attackers were arrested last fall. “After that happened, the floodgates opened, and I started to paint and I couldn’t stop.”
She said she views the show in Solana Beach as an opportunity for “second chances and new beginnings.”
“I hope to create work that opens dialog between the viewer and the art. Each image tells a story that evokes emotion mixed with tension and conflict yet open enough for personal interpretation,” Hannonen said.
Residents can also view Hannonen’s mosaic coyote sculpture, “Calling for all old souls,” near Seascape Sur in Solana Beach, on display until November. To learn more about Hannonen’s work, visit leenadesign.com.
City Hall is located at 635 S. Highway 101. The lobby is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every other Friday.