Dozens of art enthusiasts gathered at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale for a panel discussion featuring female artists and a state senator, with their focus being women in the arts and ways to push legislators to prioritize funding for arts education.

The Southern California artists, along with State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), discussed the role of women in the arts during a forum hosted by the Glendale Commission on the Status of Women and the Forest Lawn Museum in connection with the museum’s ongoing exhibit titled “LA Women: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.”

The exhibit, showing at the Forest Lawn Museum until Jan. 5, features 24 female artists from different time periods who’ve been influential in local art culture and history, some of whom pursued art despite a lack of access to an arts education.

Among the artists in the exhibit is Ruth Weisberg, also a panelist at Saturday’s event, who recalled a time when she was told not to bother pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts because she’d never get a job in academia.

“I was told it was pointless,” said Weisberg, now a professor at the USC Roski School of Fine Arts.

Panelist and art historian Karen Schifman said more women need to be in positions of power at museums to encourage more exposure for female artists.

“We need more shows like this. Women are still invisible in terms of their contributions in fine arts,” Schifman said.

Sherman Oaks resident Ziggy Mrkich, who works as a film festival director and curator in San Pedro, said the event inspired her to consider hosting a show highlighting female photographers or filmmakers.

“It was wonderful to hear all ladies speak and talk about issues, and what solutions are, and how we should move forward for the future and encourage more spending on arts, and encourage women to stay in the arts,” Mrkich said.

Liu encouraged event-goers to be vocal with legislators about prioritizing funding for the arts.

One way to support artistic endeavors is to purchase a California arts license plate, which ranges from $50 to $100, Liu said.

The money generated from the plate initiative is the primary source of California's public arts funding, according to the campaign’s website.

For more information, visit www.artsplate.org.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.