Untitled Document What art student hasn’t daydreamed about lolling about the sunny French countryside, sketchbook in hand? Thanks to the Jeunes Talents (Young Talents) program sponsored by the French Government Tourist Office, nine art students from the Southern California area had their dream become reality.

The participants, who were enrolled at the Art Center College of Design, CalArts or the Otis College of Art, got to spend two weeks in the Alsace, Brittany and Provence regions, drawing and painting that which inspired them. One such talent is Shiba Ward, an aerospace engineer, who took a sabbatical to earn his Bachelor of Fine Art-Illustration degree from Art Center.

Ward says that his former Dean recommended him for the program. "My work is landscape based; it’s realist. She was familiar with the work I’d done and thought that I’d be perfect for it." Having visited France about fifteen years ago, Ward jumped at the chance to return and put his matured artistry to work.

"I’m certainly better than I was ten years ago," the painter says. "Back then it was an informal thing; I didn’t have formal training, just a love for painting. My skills have, I think, just developed in the last three or four years. I painted an average of six to eight hours a day for years. And I had some really great instructors!"

The M+B Gallery will be showing Ward’s and the other artists’ French output. Artist’s opening reception and auction will be Feb. 22, 6:00 PM-9:00PM. The art will be up for auction on opening night and Ward will be there to meet and greet.

M+ B Fine Art Gallery is located at 612 N. Almont Drive, in Los Angeles. Hours: Tues. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, call (310) 550-0050 or visit www.mbfala.com.