by Laurel Costa

When AnomaR, an art festival hosted by the Art Center of Ramona, approached James early this year and suggested that Ilan-Lael could become a “collaborator,” he gave an enthusiastic blessing: “It sounds wonderful!”

James and all of us at Ilan-Lael were excited to become a part of the Art Center festivities because AnomaR is not your typical art festival. This creative-community gathering in Ramona takes over part of Begent Ranch overlooking the majestic Grasslands Preserve in Ramona each year. If you are picturing a swath of art buyers admiring easels with framed oil paintings, think again. There is no art for sale at AnomaR. Instead, dozens of “collaborators” set up  unconventional areas in which participants can interact with each other and their instructors, while engaging in creative activities.

And creative it was! Participants bent copper wire into necklaces, learned to juggle, participated in interactive storytelling, fashioned a paper hat, were taught a lesson in permaculture, painted a communal mural, and even interacted with animals like foxes, birds and snakes.

The name “AnomaR” — Ramona spelled backwards —  was apparent when we exited the festival at the end of the day dressed in our paper hats, fingers tired from crafting, and clothes covered in fox hair. The reversed festival-name letters reinforced  a “through the looking glass” feel. AnomaR was a place where everyone was free to explore and experiment creatively without judgment. 

As AnomaR collaborators, Emilie Ledieu (ILF caretaker and resident mosaic artist) and I lugged our heavy cement pavers and buckets of glass tile and broken ceramic plates onto the grounds, knowing we would bring the Hubbell philosophy of art inspiring nature (and vice versa) to the fair goers. We reiterated the phrase James would often say to us when guiding us at the start of various mosaic projects over the years, “You have to trust life.” Both of us interpret this to mean that after a moment of confusion we must let our instincts drive our hands until we stop second guessing and see the path forward. This is a message both Emilie and I use on a daily basis, and it is a concept that constantly motivates us to create. 

Many thanks to Molly Begent and Begent Ranch, Helen Wilson, the Art Center, 2 Create Gallery and everyone who makes this wonderful event come to life. It was a truly wonderful day connecting with our local art community and forging new relationships with fellow artists. We hope to do it again next year, and trust us…we will give everyone on the Ilan-Lael mailing list plenty of notice next time so you also can attend, too!


Looking for inspiration? We invite you to get creative at Ilan-Lael this summer, click here to view our workshop schedule: stained glass, mosaics, jewelry and more!

 

About the Author

Laurel began working at Ilan-Lael as a mosaic tile artist for Hubbell Studios. But it wasn’t long before her many other talents were put to work by James. You might see Laurel repairing the roof of a building, or waist-high in a hole shoveling dirt, or photographing the art and nature on the property, or helping out in the studio forge or stained glass studio. Her skills are multi-dimensional. But her favorite place is in the art archive where she’s served as the Ilan-Lael Foundation Archivist since 2018. She’s been tasked with organizing, cataloguing, and preserving the vast body of James’ work.  In 2022 Laurel became the Ilan-Lael Operations Manager, helping to run programs and working with the Ilan-Lael team to serve the mission of the foundation. 


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