Bringing 'Mike's Mountains' To La Mesa

LA MESA -- One of the joys of living in La Mesa is its proximity to so much.
Twelve minutes to the ocean. 15 minutes east and the landscape gives way to stark desert beauty.
Take a jog north on that eastern trip, follow a winding road up through forested hills and you find yourself in a completely different world. Lake Cuyamaca stretches out before you, quaint Julian with its apples, lilacs and pies beckoning from nearby.
Shannon O'Dunn, proprietor of O'Dunn Fine Arts on La Mesa Boulevard, lived with and loved a man for whom the outdoors and Lake Cuyamaca held a special place. Geologist Mike Bemis, her husband, loved fly fishing and the catch-and-release traditions of Mission Bay and Lake Cuyamaca.

To honor the first anniversary of Bemis' death, O'Dunn has called on some of the best artistic chroniclers of Lake Cuyamaca and Julian scenes to bring the mountains to La Mesa.

Mountain Gold, a show featuring the works of, among others Jack Jordan, Joe Garcia, Gary Johnson, Vanessa Rusczyk and Paul Strahm, will open Friday, April 25, with a reception from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at O'Dunn's stylish gallery at 8325 La Mesa Boulevard. The show will feature more than 30 paintings with a portion of all sales going to support the Lake Cuyamaca Foundation.

As one would expect, O'Dunn tears up as she describes Bemis' love for Lake Cuyamaca and the Julian area and it is clear this show is more than another gallery opening for her family.

"Mike did so much in his life for that area,'' O'Dunn says. "He loved the land and did all he could to protect it and preserve it. We thought this was a perfect way to remember him and support the foundation.''

 Gina Garcia is a Realtor (CalBRE #01704251) and is publisher of To contact her,

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Tags: Julian, Lake Cuyamaca Foundation, Mike Bemis, O'Dunn Fine Art, Shannon O'Dunn


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