Marilyn Crawford, who worked at the Chamber with its former executive director, Arnie Wishnick wrote Circling the News. “Have you seen the portrait of Arnie in the old Chamber window on Antioch? Katie O’Neill put it in her studio window, and it is wonderful. So far, Arnie is at the Library, Village Green, Antioch Street posts, Katie’s gallery window, Theatre Palisades (ads in ‘memory’ of), a brick on Sunset and now P.R.I.D.E will dedicate a town clock in his name.
“Is there any other individual in the Palisades so honored?” Crawford asked. I do not think so. I am so proud to have been his administrative assistant from 1999 through 2017.”
Artist Katie O’Neill explained the painting, “I was carrying something from my old studio [Via de la Paz] to the new studio on Antioch and ran into Ken Kells, who was walking by. We started chatting about Arnie and as soon as he mentioned the idea of painting Arnie, I knew I had to do it.”
O’Neill said she met Arnie more than 10 years ago, when she moved from her Malibu studio to the Palisades.
“It was almost like starting my business all over again, so the Chamber was invaluable,” O’Neill said. “I really got to know Arnie after I hosted my first Chamber mixer at my space on Sunset and he was the master of ceremony.
“Over the years, he was continually supportive and helpful in the success of my business,” she said. “It’s still hard to imagine I won’t see him turn the corner, sharply dressed with a crooked, genuine smile.”
Wishnick appreciated O’Neill’s talent, and her art was featured on four chamber directory covers. Her work has subsequently been selected to serve as covers for three Palisades Americanism Parade Association programs.
O’Neill, the daughter of Thomas (now deceased) and Virginia, grew up in the Palisades and attended Marquez Elementary, Paul Revere and PaliHi.
She was one of five kids and her mom taught her how to paint. “I had an idyllic Palisades childhood in the 1970s and 1980s,” O’Neill said. “I did a lot of commercials and a short-lived sitcom.”
The sitcom was called “Together We Stand,” until they killed off O’Neill’s TV father, Elliot Gould, and retitled the show “Nothing Is Easy” with Dee Wallace Stone as a single mom.
After graduating from USC film school, O’Neill worked as an assistant editor and in development in Los Angeles. She moved to New York City, where she “dog-walked by day” and was the house manager for Classic Stage Company, an off-Broadway theater.
After a year, her mom called and asked, “Do you want to open an art studio with me?” O’Neill returned home and the two opened their studio in Malibu.
Eventually, O’Neill had two young sons and had to decide whether to keep the Malibu studio and move the family there or relocate the studio to Pacific Palisades. “I wanted to raise my kids here,” she said.
One son, who graduated from Palisades High School is now a freshman at Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University), and the other is a sophomore at Palihi. He was in the recent spring musical “Oliver” and has an incredible voice.
“He has loved music since he was a toddler,” O’Neill said and added “The Palisades High theater department is amazing. So many opportunities to learn so much.”
From Sunset to Via de la Paz to 15330 Antioch, O’Neill said, “I love my new location. It’s like Mr. Roger’s neighborhood with people just dropping in to say ‘Hi.’
And, “I love that I have a little peek of my beloved Santa Monica Mountains out the front door,” she said.
One can view the paintings that are on sale at the store or on her website (oneillsfineart.com). Or stop by the store to see “Arnie” (not for sale). Call (310) 459-1030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.