On the path to his own style

Art gallery operator discovers Westminster-based painter as he worked in a Huntington Beach coffee shop.

November 22, 2011|By Imran Vittachi
  • Local artist Scott Valenzuela is showcasing his latest works of art themed "Metamorphosis" at OMC Gallery for Contemporary Art in Huntington Beach.
Local artist Scott Valenzuela is showcasing his latest… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

The artist and gallery owner met at a coffee shop two and a half years ago.

In 2009, Rolf Goellnitz, co-proprietor of the OMC Contemporary Art Gallery in Huntington Beach, was stopping by the Peet's Coffee & Tea at the Bella Terra shopping center near his gallery when he spotted Scott Valenzuela at work.

Valenzuela wasn't working at Peet's as a barista. The Westminster-based painter was busy with his art. He regularly works at that coffee shop on his paintings and drawings.

Yet Valenzuela's art didn't immediately impress Goellnitz, a plain-speaking German immigrant and advertising artistic director who co-founded the gallery in Düsseldorf in 1999 with his American wife, RoxAnn Madera.

"I said, 'If you prove that you are an artist, then you get a show in my gallery,'" Goellnitz recalled.

It took Valenzuela two years to provide the art gallery operator with the kind of proof he was looking for.


Goellnitz wasn't interested in taking under his wing a young person who dabbled in art as a hobby. He also wasn't interested in someone who liked to paint dolphins, whales and sunsets — staples of too many Orange County artists, Goellnitz lamented.

The German wanted Valenzuela to show him that he was committed to creating art that challenged the viewer to think. That portfolio of work resulted in Goellnitz fulfilling his word by exhibiting Valenzuela's first show in April.

The two have since collaborated again. They just opened Valenzuela's second show in seven months at OMC. Valenzuela's "Metamorphosis" exhibit runs at the gallery in the Old World Village complex through Jan. 28.

"I normally don't do that but, I think. For Scott, it is important to keep a certain momentum and push him into this cold water of the art market," Goellnitz said. "… If you don't have these kinds of events, you are with those millions of anonymous artists, you know, who have no chance — even if they are good — to get the attention, which is needed to eventually make a living [from] it."

The show is divided into three sets of paintings with different themes and styles.

The first set of paintings by Valenzuela is a collection of pastels inspired by his love of written works by Ovid and Kafka; his second set of paintings, which appear to use wider brush strokes and brighter colors, reflect the artist's own metamorphosis; and the third part comprises colored-pencil drawings that resemble scenes from an illustrated children's book.

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