JULIAN – When a fire in the town hall delayed the opening of an art show, Mike Menghini offered the spacious grounds at his winery for artists to set up their exhibits.
That was 18 years ago, and the Menghini Arts & Music Festival is still going strong.
"It's just become a tradition," said Menghini. "People bring their chairs and sit here all afternoon, looking at the art and listening to the music."
The show is open to members of the Julian Arts Guild and other invited artists.
John Heglin will exhibit his sculptures at the show. This is his third year to participate. He specializes in life castings, mostly of faces and torsos.
"I've made a living most of my life as an artist/sculptor, working in clay, metal, glass and wood," said Heglin.
The life castings are considered therapeutic for cancer patients or anyone who wants to preserve their body image before it undergoes changes.
"I'm making a permanent representation of their form, then they can let go of that aspect of their illness," he said.
He uses a plaster-like substance to form a mold directly on a person's torso or face. After the mold is made, it takes about one month to complete the sculpture.
"They only need to sit for me one time, but some people come back to see the process," he said.
Heglin has been an artist since 1968 and has made castings for faces since 1974 and torsos since 1994. His sculptures are mainly done on commission.
"I've always been fascinated with faces and doing face casts," he said. "It's sort of like a facial massage for people who are experiencing it."
Heglin has amassed a series of faces that he calls his "20-year study."
"It's a collection of all these faces of ethnic backgrounds, of occupations, socioeconomic status, education level," he said. "I'm going to see if all these things show on a face."
He is "somewhere in the middle" of completing the collection.
A former professional dancer and choreographer with a background in psychology and counseling, Heglin has lived in Julian for three years.
Arlene Smith will be in the Menghini show for the first time. She makes small figures and pins from the wood of dead apple trees.
"I became an artist, because (Heglin) inspired me," she said. "I do clay, woodworking and stained glass."
Other arts and crafts at the festival will include watercolors, oils, acrylics, jewelry, ceramics and stained glass.
The music is being coordinated by Harry Joe Reynolds, who plays with the Volcan Mountain Boys. Several bands will play throughout the two-day event. Please note, the Menghini Art Festival is not currently being held.