Running his portfolio business, Vaughn Woods Financial Group, in the back of his La Jolla Shores office at 2226 Avenida de la Playa, Suite A, Woods found zoning compelled him to incorporate some retail use.
“We had to do something about that, and I thought, ‘I’m just not going to do hamburgers,’” Woods said, adding he decided to do something special to fit the small amount of space available – hence La Playa Art Gallery.
“Both myself and my sister have been collectors of art, and, being painters (she’s the big painter), we decided to transition into the (art) gallery,” Woods said. “That largely includes what I would call a Fauvist approach to joy and exhilaration.”
Fauvism was the first of the avant garde movements that flourished in France in the early 20th century featuring artists like Henri Matisse and Andre Derain. Fauve painters were the first to break with traditional styles. Their spontaneous, often subjective response to nature was expressed in bold, undisguised brushstrokes and high-keyed, vibrant colors.
“What we’re trying to do here in the gallery is to offer the very finest and highest-quality selections available in San Diego, which is why we call ourselves La Playa Gallery,” Woods said.
“Small Gallery — Big Art,” is how La Playa gallery bills itself. The gallery specializes in original paintings in various media, handcrafted jewelry and pottery featuring local and internationally successful artisans like Duke Windsor, a former Marine Corps combat illustrator who's mastered a variety of media, and Kay Kaplan, a local San Diego artist who’s mastered the Fauvist style.
“Our focus is largely local artists, some of whom, who started out local, have moved on,” Woods said, noting La Playa is also currently showcasing some of the work of Cathy Carey, a contemporary impressionistic colorist.
“What Cathy Carey does is take the naturalist world and fills it with joy, novelty, exhilaration,” said Woods. “You (observer) catch it right away. It’s exciting.”
One of the things Woods is most proud of is having returned to school at Point Loma Nazarene University at age 50-plus to get a master’s degree. He studied econometrics under Senyo Adjibolosoo, Ph.D. Through Adjibolosoo and his research into econometrics, Woods said he’s learned that “you can assist in large social solutions to problems like poverty, illegal immigration or social decay through economic formulas.”
Woods said studying under Adjibolosoo has helped give him invaluable insight into the “qualities of human character” that helped spark his interest in another scientific field: neuroeconomics, the study of choice.
“I spent a year in the neurology library at UCSD studying the brain,” Woods noted. “In the end, I came away with a thesis statement that we’re all of us continually engaged in decision making based on our view of the world from a very unique set of capacities to metabolize stimuli.”
Woods is applying what he’s learned in econometrics and neuroeconomics to his day job in portfolio management, helping clients maximize their investments by meticulously monitoring, charting and predicting trends in various industries.
Woods talked about another of his role models: La Jolla Shores architect Dale Naegle, who died in 2011.
“Dale Naegle was many things in his lifetime,” Woods noted. “At the end, in the latter stages of his life, he became a leader in the preservation of La Jolla Shores. He saw that as an important part of his legacy. I honor that, and I agree with everything he was trying to do.”
Woods said La Jolla Shores residents who share Naegle’s vision of “preserving the community largely as a small attractive village” are carrying on the famed architect’s legacy through La Jolla Shores Tomorrow, a nonprofit group that, since January 2010, has focused on preserving the character and charm of La Jolla Shores through community consensus building.