KAABOO shines bright through local artists

  Music is definitely the foundation of KAABOO Del Mar, but the three-day festival wouldn't be a "mixperience" without the inclusion of its stunning visual art. From gigantic murals and live creation, the conversion of the O'Brien Pavilion into a sprawling showcase of hand-made fine art was an integral component of the third-annual event by the ocean. San Diego had plenty of musical representation in the form of bands like Little Hurricane, One Drop, Trouble in the Wind, and Pepper this weekend, but its on-site cast of fine artists was even more extensive. Here's a look at a few of the amazing San Diego artists, as well as their spectacular creations, represented at the 2017 KAABOO event. Michael Carini Michael Carini grew up in Point Loma, but moved to L.A. for a short time to study art. Now he's back and working out of his home in University Heights. "This is something I've always been doing," Carini said on Sunday during a break from working. "I feel like I didn't live before I started painting. To me, painting was my inception, my birth." Although the young painter felt pressure to stay in the star-studded Los Angeles scene, the choice for him to return to San Diego was a no-brainer. "When you grow up somewhere," he said, "there's a certain level of commitment to that place. There's a relationship there. You want to give back to the place that brought you up and help it grow. I want to be one of the people who bring it up a level." The KAABOO first-timer created two pieces over the weekend, both inspired by the festival. He also enjoyed the experience of constantly interacting with fans and passers-by, some of whom knew his work and some who were experiencing it for the first time inside the Artwork and Palate pavilion. "Painting is my way of communication," said Carini. "And I consider myself a storyteller. I'm concerned with telling an honest story. If you tell an honest story through your work, then it has value. And that's what creates the beauty. This whole thing has been a great experience, a great way to communicate, and I definitely want to come back." Ream more about Carini and his current exhibit that runs through Sept. 22 here. His artwork can be viewed at  mccarini.wordpress.com. Spenser Little Born at Grossmont Hospital and raised in El Cajon, Spencer Little never had any inclination that he'd end up making art. Although the tall, gregarious artist grew up working with wood and metal alongside his master tradesman father (who also authored high school and college-level textbooks on metal working), Little never really thought of it in any kind of serious way. "I've loved to draw and doodle on the margins of homework," Little said on Sunday. "And when I was 10, I got into wood carving, making little toy soldiers. But at 15, I discovered skateboarding and didn't do anything for the next 10 years until my knees blew out." Forced by a torn ACL into a six-month recuperation and meniscus rebuild, Little returned to the artistic tinkering of his youth. "I started incorporating wire for ornamentation for articulating parts," he said. "One day, I made a wire chair for a little marionette puppet and that was the midget epiphany. As soon as I made that three-dimensional design, I realized wire had a real sculptural value." Without any kind of formal art training, Little just started tying his creations to street sings. He kept wire and coil on him at all times - even going so far as to sneak it into his then day-job at a government compliant biotech lab in Sorrento Valley. "It was my stress ball," he recalls with a laugh. Now known as "the wire bender," Little worked out of the Glashaus in Barrio Logan until the San Diego Fire Marshall shut it down in the wake of the Oakland Ghost Ship fires that killed 36 people. A three-year KAABOO veteran, Little is back working out of his garage and was responsible for one of the biggest installations in the O'Brien Pavilion this year. His massive, multi-medium "Horse-Ghost Shrine" was commissioned exclusively for this year's festival and is homage to all the euthanized horses that have been downed on the Del Mar fairgrounds. Even though Little's wire-work currently is being showcased far beyond Del Mar, expect to see him again at future festivals.  "Prior to KAABOO," he said, "I had never done any kind of event or festival like this. But I think Coachella and Burning Man are making sure that the arts are a part of music festivals. They're realizing the stimulation that the visual arts bring. I've been showing primarily at galleries, which is a completely different, sterile and stifled environment. You just don't get this kind of jubilance at a gallery." Learn more about Little and his artwork at  spenserlittle.storeenvy.com. Carly Ealey Originally from Palm Springs, Carly Ealey has lived in San Diego for more than 10 years. In 2016, she painted a 30-foot-tall mural at KAABOO, but even that pales by comparison to the opportunity she was given this year. "When I was here at the last festival," Ealey said during a break from painting on Sunday, "I made friends with some people. And apparently, the owner of KAABOO mentioned my name when this space became available." The space she is referring is the large, room-filled structure on the fairgrounds commonly known as "the Motel 6 building." Previously in an area not open to the public during KAABOO, the festival's new layout changed all that. And Ealey was called upon to facilitate the makeover.   "So this is now an activated area they wanted to make look KAABOO-esque," she said. "I sent in some drawings of my style - the girls, the underwater themes - and they were like, 'let's do it.' The whole thing has been super cool." Not only is Ealey responsible for the transformation of the enormous building, her art will have the distinct honor of being a permanent fixture at the fairgrounds. "I've always done art since I was little," she said. "I've secretly drawn and painted since I was a kid. I also do photography....
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