Robert Marble's signature was created almost by accident.
In an effort to add a dab of color to his earlier creations, the Newport Beach resident invented a little red bird. It would attract the eye to a particular spot, he said.
"If it works once, I figured, it might work again," Marble said of "Ricochet Red Feather."
And work, it did.
What began as a "spur of the moment" decision now encourages people to remind the artist to include his trademark, he revealed.
"People — kids of all ages, parents, everyone — will come to the exhibit, and the first thing they do is look for the bird," he said.
The painter, who is by his own admission a keen "people watcher," has displayed his work at Art-A-Fair every year since 1977. The desire for exposure and experience initially motivated Marble to try out for Art-A-Fair, which he considered a "step up" and "great challenge."
According to Mary Gulino, Art-A-Fair's vice president of marketing, 125 artists will showcase two- and three-dimensional work in mediums including digital art, mixed media, glass, fiber and wood. Tivoli Too! will serve epicurean cuisine, and a new ceramics class will be launched Friday.
Also, Arty, the show's official mascot — a painter's palette with arms, legs and a face — will be part of the crowd. Guests are encouraged to find a miniature version of Arty, constructed from felt and hidden in different booths every day, to be eligible for prizes, typically donated pieces of art.
"Visitors are invited to leisurely walk among the artists as they create, have a conversation and learn what inspired them or just quietly absorb the lovely garden ambiance of this artist's haven," Gulino said. "What makes this a unique opportunity for the artists themselves is that there is no residency requirement for artists to get juried into the Art-A-Fair."
Art from all over
Per Gulino, artists from around California will be joined by others from Fayetteville, Ark., Georgetown, Texas, and Prescott, Ariz. Laguna Beach singer-songwriter Sasha Evans will entertain along with Brian Young & The Blues Station, Kevin Miso, Kelly Fitzgerald, Chris Whynaught and SolSpeak.
Gulino believes that Art-A-Fair's veteran artists bolster the show's foundation, adding, "They provide guidance and hope to the new and upcoming artists, some of whom are showing and selling their artwork for the very first time this summer."
While the show generates friendships among people who share a common passion, an added bonus, Marble said, is being able to witness the evolution of new members.
"I've been through the good and lean years and I've witnessed the pride that has grown in this organization," he said, having participated in about 30 shows throughout the Southwest for four decades. "It truly is like an extended family."
For Paula Hinz, it literally is a family — her mother, Lorraine Edrie, is one of the other artists.
"Some people need to run; we need to paint," Hinz said. "It's part of our character."
Hinz, having been accepted by the Art-A-Fair jury in 1978 — a year after Edrie — has donned several hats during her tenure: board member, secretary and advertising representative, to name a few.
Until the festival winds down Sept. 1, the Sacramento resident plans to spend Friday through Monday in Orange County and then fly back to her job as a behavioral therapist for dogs.
What keeps her coming back every season, she said, is the fact that Art-A-Fair seems like "a village within a village."
"Artists are kind of nomadic — they go from show to show," said Hinz, who cherishes encounters with artists from as far as France and Italy. "Here, artists are interacting with each other. It's a lot of fun."
The two clarify, though, that they don't share a booth since their styles diverge.
"We can express our art, and people can come and see that we do things that are very different," Edrie said. "We are individuals in our art — it's a satisfying situation."
'I've done something good'
Angie Whitson of Woodland Hills has watched people come and go since she joined Art-A-Fair in 1976. She has stayed.
"If it hadn't been for Art-A-Fair, I don't think I would have succeeded as much as I have," said the sculptor, whose clients live in New York, England, Italy, Germany and even Switzerland.
Over the years, Marble has found that the lines between customers, acquaintances and friends have blurred. Many a time, buyers have announced their arrival at his booth by saying, "So, what's new?" he recounted.
He has also been told, "What you've created has made a positive impact in our lives," which the artist says "is both a humbling and proud moment because it says that I've done something right and I've done something good."
If You Go
Where: 777 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach
When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday from June 28 through Sept. 1; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 4 and Sept. 1
Cost: General admission is $7; military personnel, seniors, students and groups over 20 enter for $4; children 12 and below enter for free; Passport to the Arts (includes entry to Art-A-Fair, Festival of Arts and Sawdust Art Festival) is $21.50
Information: http://www.art-a-fair.com or (949) 494-4514