The Artistic Career Change of Painter Paul Ventura
Many artists struggle to make ends meet by toiling away at meaningless McJobs while honing their skills and waiting for that big break. Painter Paul Ventura, formerly of Los Angeles and now of Pebble Beach, is not of that ilk. For decades, the affable and gregarious Ventura was a successful Hollywood casting director, working on films such as “Teen Wolf,” “Deep Rising” and “Somewhere,” slotting actors who would become some of the biggest names in the business into roles: Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Bob Thornton, Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney, to name a few. Ventura has a long association with the Monterey Peninsula. He spent his formative years in the Sacramento area and his family often fled here to beat the Central Valley heat, as many do to this day. He also visited while working toward his political science degree at Santa Clara University, where he caught the acting bug. “I learned more about political science through the theater department,” Ventura says. “I was in all the plays but never had to take the theater history classes or any of the boring stuff. At the end of the four years, I won the gold watch for most outstanding graduate of the drama department…I wasn’t even in the drama department. I just apparently did more work than anyone who was.” Ventura went on to UC Davis for his master’s degree in fine arts, focusing on acting and directing. Upon graduation, Ventura was tapped to join the California Actors Theater in Los Gatos along with later successful actors Kurtwood Smith (“Robocop,” “That 70s Show”) and David Ogden Stiers (“M*A*S*H”). “After two years, I was asked to be artistic director for a theater in Soquel,” Ventura recalls. That position led to a job doing local casting for a major film then filming in the Santa Cruz area. The young Ventura parlayed the contacts he made on that project into a Hollywood dream career as a casting director for film, television and commercials. After attaining financial success, Ventura purchased a Pebble Beach home for his parents (his late rocket engineer father Paul was profiled in a 2012 Carmel Magazine story.). While visiting, he chanced upon a photo of himself as a teen, standing behind comedian Bob Hope at a mid-1960s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Painting has been a lifelong passion for Ventura—he started at three—and he always listens to music as he works. “When you look closely at the paintings, you can almost tell the kind of music I was listening to at the time,” he says. His work is represented in Carmel by New Masters Gallery.
“I took that as a sign that I needed to move here,” Ventura recalls. “But I couldn’t just stop working, so I decided to fully commit to something I had done since I was three years old…paint.” Ventura’s mother was a painter and encouraged her son to take up the craft. “She went out one day and said to me, ‘Don’t go in that room,’ meaning the room she painted in.” That was a bit of reverse psychology and of course, young Paul went in and started painting “some Humpty Dumpty thing, I think.” Over the years, his work developed into a realistic style likened to “Andrew Wyeth themes done with Fuji film.” But, disliking to waste paint, he would dab unused, fast-drying acrylics onto a black canvas at the end of painting sessions. “After a while, thick shapes and colors developed,” Ventura recalls. “Once I put borders around everything, this new style erupted.” His work has focused on San Francisco cityscapes, but he’s been inspired to produce pieces depicting scenes of Dallas, Texas, as well. “Ventura means ‘future,’” the artist says. “I’ve spent my whole career getting people to where they want to be in their futures.” Now it’s his turn. Ventura’s work is represented in Carmel by The New Masters Gallery on Dolores between Ocean and 7th. 831/625-1511 or www.newmastersgallery.com or www.paulventuraartist.com.