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San Clemente Times Cover Story

Grassroots is kind of word-of-mouth—and this is the only thing I can say," says San Juan Capistrano artist Kevin Short, looking around his upstairs home studio that’s lined floor to ceiling with paintings of Trestles, the Headlands and the Ortegas, among others. He sits on the couch and explains how he uses his paintings to help preserve open space-—specifically Trestles. "I’m trying tohelp people fall in love with the area for preservation,” he continues as the voices of his wife, Amy, and young sons trail up the stairs. "I used to drive around and see surveyor stakes up on a field and that would be the alarm—and I’d be there that afternoon to

paint it. " As a native San Deign, Short, 46, grew up traveling the coast with his family—-living as far north as Santa Barbara—surfing since High-school age and sailing often into Dana Point. "As a kid, I used to look at old photo graphs, a couple hundred years old, and they would be black-and-white," says Short, who graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 1984 and has worked as a full-time artist since, "and if you wanted to know what things actually looked like, you’d look at the colored paintings. It was cool to me." It was this time that served as the catalyst for what he now sees as his onus: paint ing the area around Trestles in hopes of stopping the proposed Foothill-South 241 Toll Road. "I’ve painted Trestles for about 15 years, but it was seven or eight years ago when I was just short of panic," says Short, who’s been involved in The Irvine Museum’s plain air competitions since the late ’90s. "I saw an old map and they’d been planning on putting a road there for decades and decades. I thought, “This place is just going to go Away” I realized there was a small, little, thin

opportunity to prevent the State Park from being given away" So he began painting "in earnest," he says, and, in the meantime, gained a followingwho could relate to his art and appreciate the subtle messages. Some of these paintings, in fact, are worth tens of thousands of dollars. “I’m just an artist; I’m not really an activist," he contends "I don’t even know if environmentalists would call me an environmentalist. I’m not against roads. I’m against giving away the State Park and paving down the [Donna O’Neill Conservancy It’s not just a San Clemente or San Diego County issue; it’s a state issue——if not bigger. And I don’t know if that message is out or not."

It’s a message, however, that’s conveyed in his new art book, Trestles, a 28—page glossy book he created with friend and publishers Mike Evens, author, and Jeff Girard, art director of The Surfers Journal. The first in a series, Trestles

stands out as one of Short’s “small, little, thin" efforts to remind people of the vast resource tucked away between Orange and San Diego counties. And if art for preservation is the only thing Short can say then, it’s well said.

–Rebecca Nordquist

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