Cathy Segal-Garcia
Productions (More Art)

MORE ART INC.

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From Left to Right: Tamira Meskimen, Harriet Schock, Johnny Lewis, Judy Norton, Jim Meskimen, Jeannie Deva, Cathy Segal-Garcia, Michael Lewis, Alison Robinson

DAILY NEWS Los Angeles 1/25/10

A professional jazz singer, Cathy Segal-Garcia understands the important role of the arts in society.

That's why she agreed to chair the advisory board of the recently formed nonprofit organization, More Art Inc., which showcases and promotes artists and their work in the San Fernando Valley.

"I've been an artist all my life and I really do believe the arts are a gift for people," said Segal-Garcia, a 56-year-old Granada Hills resident who also works as a voice teacher and coach, composer, recording artist and event producer.

"It helps them escape the drudgery that people can come up against, and also the act of creating is really very healing and healthy. So, for those reasons, I think it's really very important."

Segal-Garcia, Oscar nominee Karen Black ("Five Easy Pieces", actress Judy Norton ("The Waltons") and a roster of other local celebrities and dignitaries will headline the ribbon-cutting Wednesday at More Art's new Granada Hills home.

Other advisory board members expected to attend include character actor Jim Meskimen ("Apollo 13" and "Frost/Nixon"), Johnny Lewis ("Sons of Anarchy") and Grammy nominee Harriet Schock ("That Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady.") Schock will perform at the free event in More Art's newly refurbished "Stage One."

"The whole purpose of this is to showcase all the arts and give the artists and performers a bit of a leg up on their careers," said Michael Lewis, a screenwriter and playwright and co-director of More Art. "We've been doing concerts with established performers and showcases with people who are not quite so established - young talent, new talent or struggling talent."

Currently, More Art is doing a regular program of workshops by professionals - songwriting, career-building, screenwriting, acting, drawing and children's books. The venue also includes a small gallery where artists can display their work.

More Art wants to help people do "more singing, more writing, more dancing, more dreaming ... more painting, more images, more forms and more beauty." In short, More Art wants to inspire more art, "which in turn begets more living, more hoping, more understanding," according to its Web site.

"We are trying to get everything in - visual arts and performing arts," said Lewis, who wrote the screenplay to "The Seventh Coin" starring Peter O'Toole. "I think the only thing we haven't had so far is juggling."

In the last six months, the organization has put on eight concerts and several teen and young adult showcases covering jazz, rock, blues and the classics.

"We're delighted that the community has responded so warmly to us," said co-director Alison Robinson, an award-winning poet who was nominated for the national poet of the year in 2007. "They love that live entertainment is back in town and right around the corner."

Since the closure of the Granada Theatre a few years ago, Granada Hills has largely been devoid of live entertainment, Lewis said.

"It's a beautiful community and it really needs to have its own live entertainment," Lewis said. "The community really needs to have support groups for its arts and artists."

For Segal-Garcia, the new arts venue will provide the community with an opportunity to get to know its artists and performers, will help artists keep connected to the arts and reveal the power of art - the happiness it brings to people.

"People need the arts," Segal-Garcia said. "It's not only a healing tool, but it teaches you something about how to live. It's important for everybody to have the arts in their lives and to be touched by it."