Katina Zinner (top) and her mother Christa Zinner have combined their artistic talents to benefit Heal the Bay, Katina's paintings and Christa's scultpures will be on display at the James Coleman Gallery on Ocean Avenue until Oct. 16. (photo by Christina Walker)

OCEAN AVE Artist Christa Zinner, 88, looks remarkably calm as she sits in her easy chair listening to her daughter, Katina Zinner, describe for the first time the shark attack she experienced last year. Katina tells her Mom to cover her ears. She does, for about six seconds, and then uncovers them.

After three times of asking her mom to keep her ears covered, Katina gives up and proceeds to vividly narrate the way a shiny ring she wore while swimming attracted a 4 1/2 foot shark that tried to eat her hand. Luckily for her, Katina’s hand, though bloodied and battered, survived intact. She was back, swimming in the Santa Monica Bay two weeks later.

Christa shakes her head in helpless dismay at her daughter’s adventurous risk taking. She prefers to gaze at the ocean from the hillside of her Pacific Palisades home and would never think of swimming in the ocean like Katina.

Their approach to the ocean is like their approach to life. Although each may take a different path, both Katina and Christa can agree on one thing — their passion for art. Both mother and daughter are life-long artists who have decided to combine their sculpture and paintings in a two-woman exhibit called “Tides of Emotion,” now showing at the James Coleman Gallery on 1431 Ocean Ave.

Keeping true to their love of nature, both women will donate a portion of the proceeds from the show to Heal the Bay.

“It means a lot,” Katrina said of the bay. “It’s such a great resource and we can’t lose that. Heal the Bay has raised consciousness exponentially.”

The women connect so well as artists that they can finish one another’s sentences while talking about the creative process.

“I go to paint,” said Katina, “and you lay an egg,” Christa finished.

When it comes to sculpting, Christa admits she is a late bloomer. She spent years as an iconic photographer while Katina was growing up, capturing such big names as Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Astaire, and Nancy and Ronald Reagan.

“I always felt I could do it,” Christa said of sculpting. “If I got my hands on it I could do it.”

Even though she dabbled a little as a child, other challenges in her life prevented her from sculpting. Finally, at the age of 70, Christa got her chance. Using models to keep her eyes sharp and ensure accuracy in her figurative works, Christa began to sculpt in clay and cast those works in bronze.

Christa remembered the first sculpture she made. As a child she sculpted a little girl figurine. The figurine had a skirt “blowing enormously” in one direction.

“The Hunt,” is a piece in the current show that was based on a model close to home — Katrina.

Katina posed for the piece with a cougar on her shoulder. Although the cougar was fake, Christa was real in her intent to capture her daughter in bronze.

“That’s the wild untamed part of you,” Christa told daughter Katina during the interview. “She’s the wild one because there is a cougar living in her.”

One might well believe Christa is right. After all, Katina did survive that shark attack and lived to tell about it. As a child she wandered the Swiss Alps, making friends with neighbors and animals alike at a time and place gentler than the present. Katina, who is now a video editor by day, recently took a trip to Kenya by herself and documented the vacation by snapping 1,700 photos.

She credits her Mom with always being supportive of her art. Her first impromptu show was held at the age of 6 at home in France as a young girl. Her mother hung her drawings all over the kitchen walls.

Her father, Oscar winning film editor Peter Zinner, raised the family in both Europe and the United States. Katina said all of the castles and famous European art played their part in influencing her work.

As an artist, Katina is especially fascinated by light and color. She’s been known to take her pet dogs with her into a rain storm to hike and relax. She admitted that at first her pets didn’t like the rain all that much, but as she took them out they came to appreciate the heightened smells that come with the rain. Katina herself drew inspiration from the way the rain amplifies color and the aromatherapy that comes with the rain and immersing oneself in nature.

“How can you come back to your life in the city and feel the same?” Katina said.

A video showing how nature has inspired Katina’s work can be seen at the gallery.


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