After decades of working as litigators, mother-daughter attorneys Barbara McDonald and Christine Alford decided to pursue their artistic passions full-time and open an art gallery in downtown Oceanside.
The duo’s Luna Grace photography studio and art gallery opened in late April at the Ocean Place Cinema complex, 409 Mission Ave., on the former site of the Oceanside Police Community Resource Center.
When Alford saw the space at Ocean Place, she saw a chance to combine her photography studio with a gallery to exhibit her mother’s art. McDonald has exhibited in Southern California galleries for over 10 years, including the Carlsbad Art Gallery, The Cove Gallery, and Art-A-Fair, both in Laguna Beach. His pieces are part of private collections locally and around the world. Five years ago McDonald, 82, retired from exhibiting but continued to produce art. Alford brought his mother out of her second retirement and her art is now Luna Grace’s main collection.
The gallery is run by Alford and his mother, who is the gallery’s artist-in-residence.
McDonald created a kind of steel wall sculpture using a plasma cutting torch as a brush, thus combining carving and painting.
“With her steel-on-panel wall sculptures, Barbara has carved out a place for herself in the art world. Wielding a plasma cutter as fluidly as a paintbrush, she is able to draw images from steel that combine the strength of steel with the organic beauty of the universe,” said Patrick Alford, son-in-law. from McDonald’s.
McDonald’s themes cover a wide range of topics. Some are from mythology; others are abstract and most have a cosmic motif. She creates unique pieces, but there are recurring themes. For example, she has a series of pieces that are simply “Meditations”.
Alford is a photographer who retired from practicing law after 25 years as an assistant public defender in Orange County. She and her husband moved to downtown Oceanside in 2019. Alford was looking for something she could do “for pure fun.” She was inspired by the birth of her granddaughter last year to focus on newborn and maternity photography as well as photography of young children.
“We want our photos to be a creative expression of each family’s uniqueness, creating images that reflect their dreams and aspirations for their children,” Alford said.
When McDonald talks about what people take away from her art, she likens it to the “sympathetic vibes” of music.
“When I was little, a really special teacher organized a demonstration of a tuning fork for our class. The man who did the demo struck the fork and a beautiful clear tone sounded. To my amazement, the same tone echoed from a wooden molding in the classroom. The man explained that the phenomenon was a “sympathetic vibration”. The molding and the tuning fork were on the same wavelength and hitting one of them evoked a response in the other,” McDonald said. “I realized over the years that this probably explained how different forms of music struck a response in people who were also attuned to that wavelength. .”
“I believe the same phenomenon occurs in the visual arts, and if I can achieve that pure visual tone that strikes someone on the same wavelength, then my work successfully communicates something that is not just enjoyable, but therapeutic. Not everyone will be on the same page, but those who tune in the same way will have a special experience,” McDonald said.
The art gallery is free and open to the public from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and until 8:30 p.m. for First Friday Art Walks. The photography studio is open by appointment, with photography sessions taking place when the gallery is closed.