ASF AIDS benefit gala on Saturday will feature Elizabeth Taylor Tribute on Festival grounds


The late Elizabeth Taylor, the first celebrity to publicly call attention to the need to help individuals with HIV/AIDS, will receive a fitting tribute on Saturday night from an AIDS organization she had strong ties with, AIDS Services Foundation (ASF).

Photo by Suzie Harrison

Close friends Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor at “Art for AIDS” fundraiser held at Laguna Art Museum in February 2002.

The tribute is part of ASF’s annual fundraiser event, Red Ball II, themed  “Hollywood Royalty.” The evening will commence with a 6 p.m. cocktail reception, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction, followed by a sit-down dinner and Broadway-inspired show at 8 p.m. And per usual, an exciting live auction will be held with enticing items and travel packages.

“Red Ball II will be a glamorous evening event that will remind our guests of the glory days of Hollywood,” says Ken Jillson, ASF founding board member, who helped organize the event. “The theme is ‘Hollywood Royalty’ and will include a moving tribute to Elizabeth Taylor, one of the first celebrities to publicly advocate for help for people with HIV/AIDS and who personally supported ASF.”

Longtime Laguna Beach locals, Jillson and his partner, Al Roberts, cofounded ASF, with a group of people in their living room after their friend Rock Hudson died of the disease.

“She and Rock Hudson were super close friends; they made ‘Giant’ together in 1956,” Jillson said.

Jillson and Roberts met Taylor at Hudson’s memorial service. “They had a relatively small memorial at his house and she came and actually took charge of [the memorial.] It was really fascinating to talk to her,” Jillson said. “Then she really got gung ho on helping. It really made her mad that people were dying of AIDS. Since Rock passed away in 1985 she really made a huge commitment to help people.”

The year Hudson died, Taylor joined with a group of doctors and scientists and unified two HIV/AIDS organizations to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Taylor later established The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991.

The first time Taylor facilitated ASF was in 1993, when she donated a Nolan Miller sapphire beaded gown designed for her and that she had worn to an Inaugural Ball for President Ronald Reagan.

“It was auctioned live at our ‘Big Splash’ event that year and raised a huge sum for ASF,” Jillson said. Then two years later she sent another gown, and a couple years later she sent another one, and we auctioned them off, and it was a big hit.”

In 2002, Taylor came to Laguna Beach with Michael Jackson for “Art for AIDS” fundraiser at Laguna Art Museum in her first appearance to support ASF. The star studded event had Penny Marshall as auctioneer, with a host of celebrities in attendance.

Taylor gave a moving, heartfelt speech at the event to the standing room only crowd. (Please see the end of this story to read her speech.)

Saturday night’s tribute will include video that includes Taylor’s speech and footage with her and Jackson.

“She says very determined I will never give up as long as I live,” Jillson said.

Taylor showed her support again the following year at ASF’s event at the St. Regis, which included a concert by Tom Petty and celebrities Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Carrie Fisher among others.

ASF Executive Director/CEO Phil Yaeger said the tribute to Taylor is important. “Elizabeth Taylor was a long time supporter of ASF, she was very much involved. And as a lot of people know, she was one of the first celebrities to speak out about HIV/AIDS at a time when it was not popular to do so. And a lot of people questioned what she was doing and why she was doing it.”

The Red Ball kicked off last year to celebrate ASF’s 25th anniversary. The 24 years prior featured the epic and wildly popular “Splash,” which started in Jillson and Robert’s backyard pool.

“We wanted to do something new and different,” explained Yeager, who has been with ASF for 18 years and started as a volunteer.

Besides the tribute, the evening will feature a live show put together by super showman Jillson.

“Heading up the event is Ken Jillson,” said Yaeger. “If anyone knows how to entertain, it’s Ken Jillson.”

The live show will feature a Hollywood-themed song and dance spoof entitled “Coup de Graae” that makes fun of such off-Broadway hits as “Forbidden Broadway” and “Forever Plaid”. Starring in the show will be Jason Graae who got his start on Broadway in “Forever Plaid”. Also appearing in the show are stage, film and television actors Nicolette Robinson and Chryssie Whitehead who play the “Fois Graaes” in the Red Ball show.

Mondo Guerra, “Project Runway” Season 8 designer, will also be on hand for a fashion segment on Taylor’s movie fashions.

Over the years, ASF has raised over $10 million at its annual events. This year Jillson said they hope to raise over $300,000 to go toward ASF client services.

Read more: AFS AIDS 092011

The 13th annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational set for Oct. 9 to 16

Laguna Art Museum and Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) present the 13th Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational Oct. 9 to 16 with a revamped format focusing on the community, the environment, and education.

This year, in recognition of Laguna Beach’s renowned landscape and marine environment, the 13th Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational endeavors to support the important role plein air painters play in depicting and creating awareness about endangered landscapes in a time of environmental threats. With the importance of these environmental issues in mind, this year’s Invitational has adopted “Sea, Sage, and Sustainability” as its theme.

Every year Laguna Beach, a famous seaside community and historic artist colony, turns into an outdoor studio with the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational. This event showcases 50 of the nation’s top plein air landscape painters who compete for prestigious prizes and participate in the week-long festivities including public paint outs, environmental awareness activities, and educational events. Culminating with the Collectors’ Soirée on Oct. 15 and Public Art Show & Sale at Laguna Art Museum on Oct. 16, this event celebrates the artistic legacy of Laguna Beach.

“We are committed to making the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational the most prestigious and vibrant event of its kind in the nation,” said Laguna Art Museum’s board president Robert Hayden III. “The Invitational is already beloved by the community because of exciting events like the morning Quick Draw in Heisler Park, where you can stroll amongst artists as they create small masterworks.”

“This year we’ve added even more events to make this a more highly engaging community affair. Over the next few years we anticipate this event growing exponentially and attracting locals and visitors to Laguna Beach to participate in this week-long celebration,” Hayden III added. “The many painters working today capture the spirit of the California landscape as did the early Laguna Beach plein air artists, in whose spirit the Laguna Art Museum continues today.”

This week-long event will feature numerous environmental awareness events and educational plein air activities in collaboration with other Laguna Beach organizations. These events include a kid’s paint out led by local plein air artists Rick Delanty and Jeff Sewell, an environmental awareness lecture at Laguna Art Museum, private tours of Laguna Canyon, a fine art lecture with Mr. Jean Stearn (Executive Director of The Irvine Museum), a Next Generation Paint Out with students from Laguna College of Art & Design, and outdoor artist demonstrations with select participating artists.

“The 2011 Plein Air Painting Invitational focuses more than ever on engaging our local community, which in turn strengthens our nationwide reach and attraction,” said LPAPA president Greg Vail. “This year’s theme, ‘Sea, Sage and Sustainability’, emphasizes the crucial role plein air artists play in portraying and communicating the value of our cherished—and endangered—landscapes and seascapes. The protection of these resources is vital to the fundamental quality of our lives.”

Events throughout the week are free and open to the public with the exception of the Collectors’ Soiree on Saturday, Oct.15, which is a ticketed event. Tickets are $125 for museum members and $150 for non-members, and can be purchased online or by contacting Laguna Art Museum at 494-8971, ext. 203.

For a complete list of scheduled events, download a PDF file here

Palette competition submissions are due at City Hall by Oct. 7 for Laguna Beach residents only

The City of Laguna Beach is asking for artist submissions for its annual palette competition. The Palette Competition is a project of the Arts Commission. Winning artists are provided with a 4’ x 3’ wooden palette on which to paint original artwork. The completed palettes are temporary in nature and displayed on lampposts throughout the city during the winter holiday season. There is an honorarium of $500 for selected designs.

Entries will be accepted from Laguna Beach residents, 18 years and older. Artists must satisfy one of the following requirements: have a studio in Laguna Beach; exhibit at a Laguna Beach gallery; students attending the Laguna College of Art and Design; or exhibit at the Art-a-Fair Festival, Festival of Arts or Sawdust Art Festival.

Please submit a palette design to the scale of 8½ x 11” in color within the border of a palette outline. The design must have a horizontal orientation. Please include the palette indent as integral to your design. Also understand that if your design is selected you might be required to reverse the indent and your design. All judging will be done anonymously; please do not sign the front of your submitted design. You may submit one design.

If your design is selected you will be provided with a 4’ x 3’ wooden palette with a primed surface ready to paint. You will be required to paint your approved design on one side with oil, acrylic, or another material that can withstand outdoor exposure. The artist’s signature and date should be placed on the front right hand side. Remember that palettes will be viewed from distances of about 8’ – 10’ up to 30’ or more. There are no restrictions on the subject matter; however, religious symbols are discouraged.

The seven members of the City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission will judge the designs based on creativity and appropriateness.

Deadlines: Oct. 7, prospective palette designs must be delivered to the Cultural Art Department; Oct. 10, the Arts Commission will review and select winning designs; Oct. 14 Artist will be notified of selection; Oct. 17 notified artists need to pick up a blank palette from the Cultural Arts Department; Nov. 14 completed palettes must be turned in by 10 a.m.

The completed palette and design becomes the property of the City of Laguna Beach and will be displayed when and where the City desires. It is the primary responsibility of the City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission to preserve and protect the collections under its management for the people of the City of Laguna Beach. Deaccessioning is the process by which the City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission recommends to the City Council that an object be removed from the City’s collection. The City shall deaccess works of art in its collection only in the public interest and as a means of improving the quality of its collections.

The City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission reserves the right, as its interests may appear, to reject any or all applications or proposals, to reject any finalist, to waive informalities in applications or proposals, or to terminate the selection process for any project without prior notice. The City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission reserves the right to make selections for this project from the Arts Directory if insufficient applications are received, or to terminate the project at any time. Application to any project advertised by the City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission constitutes agreement with all applicable rules and guidelines.

For information, please contact: Siân Poeschl, Cultural Arts Manager, City of Laguna Beach, 505 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, CA 92651; call 497-0722 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Lita Albuquerque lecture on ‘Emergence’ at Laguna Art Museum Sunday at 1 o’clock

On Sunday, Sept. 18 at 1 p.m., Los Angeles-based artist Lita Albuquerque will host a lecture and conduct a walk-through of her current exhibition “Emergence,” which is on display at Laguna Art Museum through Oct. 2.

Emergence Painting

Lita Albuquerque’s “Beekeeper,” a work that has a continuous flow of pixel movement – a series she has been working on since 2005

Curated by Laguna Art Museum’s Curator of Exhibitions Grace Kook-Anderson, “Emergence” examines two series of works that Albuquerque has been continuously working on since 2005: Red Pigment Paintings and Beekeeper. “Emergence” examines these two series in which complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple processes or actions. Both series deal with particles constituting a form, and both are enactments of unfolding and becoming.

“I am interested in the fact that we live in an informational universe and that each particle carries with it information that is for us to decipher,” said Albuquerque. “Since the mid-seventies I have been attracted to working with pure powdered pigment as an interest in color and its phenomenological resonance on our perceptual system, as well as in the particle of pigment itself being a geological emblem, a historical record of what exists in the earth.”

Albuquerque’s Red Pigment Paintings are created with pure powder pigments—a medium used by Albuquerque since the 1970s—blown onto panels by wind or Albuquerque’s own breath.

“I consider these paintings to be part performative and part record, albeit painterly, but possibly photographic of the motion of the wind or my breath on that particular moment offering to the viewer an image of two elements coming together: earth and wind,” said Albuquerque.

Albuquerque’s Beekeeper was created in collaboration with Jon Beasley and Chandler McWilliams. The works in this series include a computer generated digital installation and a set of photographic prints. In the installation, Beekeeper is controlled by generative computer software, creating a continuous flow of pixel movement following a unique path every time.

“My initial impetus for Beekeeper was to present the visual similarity between a beekeeper and an astronaut,” said Albuquerque. “I created a narrative around which the beekeeper’s aim is to help maintain biological life on the planet and the astronaut became the starkeeper maintaining life in the cosmos.”

Attendees at this event will have the opportunity to meet with and ask questions of the artist. Admission is free for museum members, and free for non-members with paid admission.

Laguna Art Museum is at 307 Cliff Drive. For information, call 497-8971 or go online to

Applications already available for Festival of Arts 2012 Summer Show with free seminar planned for Sept. 20

FOA Photo

Submitted photo

Original art created by over 140 juried Festival of Arts artists draws patrons and visitors who enjoy discovering and purchasing the unique art each summer

The Festival of Arts is looking for talented artists to apply for its 2012 summer show, which will run July and August next summer.

Recognized as California’s Premier Fine Art Show, the Festival is a prestigious, highly competitive, regional juried fine art show featuring original artwork by southern Orange County’s finest artists.

Artists who would like to apply for the 2012 fine art show should submit a CD with three digital images per media and a completed application form to the Festival of Arts by Oct. 28.

To apply artists must reside in the following cities:  Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Balboa, Balboa Island, Capistrano Beach, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Foothill Ranch, Irvine, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest (El Toro), Mission Viejo, Monarch Beach, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano.

Artists must be able to show that they have resided in one of the aforementioned cities for at least one year prior to the deadline. Applicants may download an application from the Festival’s website

The jurors will score the submitted artwork based on quality, intention and content; excellence of craftsmanship; facility with media; excellence in the use of design elements; and professional presentation. Jurying fees are $50 per medium submitted.

To learn more about the Festival of Arts, the application process and photographing artwork, artists are invited to attend a free seminar at the Forum Theatre on the Festival of Arts grounds on Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. on a first come first served basis. For more information, please call 464-4234 or go online to

Artist Eye Laguna Gallery artist reception Saturday for N.C. Swan from 6 – 9 p.m.

Artist Eye Laguna Gallery will feature the works of watercolor artist N.C. Swan for the month of September. Swan is a permanent member of the Artist Eye Laguna Gallery, and on behalf of all 16 artists, the public is invited to an artist reception at the gallery from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Swan is a fifth generation Californian who has been painting the world around her since childhood. She has recently created a new dimension to her work, and named it Audible Art. The concept came to her while painting a group of birds.  She was serenaded by their chirping and chattering. As she worked to capture their distinctive body language and conversational interaction, she thought it would be interesting to record their sound and incorporate it into the painting.

The artist expanded the audible art concept to her award-winning wave paintings. By simply pushing a button on the side of the frame, one can hear the sights and sounds of waves rushing to shore, and sometimes one can detect the sound of seagulls. Audible Art stimulates the senses, and transports the viewer into the art through sight and sound.

“This journey into the exploration of Audible Art is just beginning for me. My senses have become sharpened now, and as I keep my eyes open for scenes that move me to paint, my ears are open too,” Swan said.

The gallery is a cooperative venture featuring the works of 16 award-winning Southern California artists.  The gallery exhibits a variety of original artwork including fine art paintings in watercolor, oil, acrylic and mixed media, as well as photography and sculpture. Artist Eye Laguna Gallery is located at 1294-A S. Coast Highway. For information, call 497-5898 or go online to

Suzie Speaks

Suzie’s Articulation…

Art and art happenings are always ample in Laguna Beach – that is how lucky we are.

I really think the City’s Arts Commission and Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl should be lauded for all they do for the City culturally on myriad levels. They truly shape Laguna’s art landscape and work hard to preserve and enhance the arts locally.

If you’re wondering what is happening on the arts front, see is infrastructure and architecture by going to the source, by attending an Arts Commission meeting and learning firsthand. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Monday of every month at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. The public is welcome to attend. Mary Ferguson, Pat Kollenda and Suzi Chauvel among others have worked tirelessly for years to make Laguna Beach the arts haven that it is. I also laud former members Mike Tauber, Nancy Beverage and Jan Sattler, as well as Terry Smith and Joan Corman. Over the years, these truly amazing locals have been key in the art scene as well as being incredible individuals who have given so much to friends and the community.

They are responsible for the wildly popular summer concert tradition Music in the Park. Now that is over for the season, it’s time to change venues and go see the City’s September Sunset Serenade Series (quite the alliteration) on Friday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to sunset through September. The concerts are at Heisler Park’s Rockpile Amphitheatre. Opening the series is John Troy and will feature Bob Hawkins. Unlike MIP, canine friends are welcome to chill too. Hey, there is no mention of cats – what is up with that?

Before the concert, enjoy Laguna’s rich cultural art history by exploring the City’s extensive Public Art Collection with more than 65 pieces of original works, made specifically for the site, and representing a spectrum of art media.  Procure a map from the City or go online to and find it in the arts section. The site and the map are quite handy and user friendly.

On Sunday, you can experience the most recent piece in the collection during a Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony at 11 a.m. There will be a public art dedication for local artist, Jorg Dubin’s “Semper Memento,” a sculpture created with two beams from the World Trade Center.

Also on tap for Sept. 11 will be a Red, White and Bluegrass concert presented by Laguna Beach Live! from 4 to 7 p.m. outdoors at Aliso Creek Inn. The event is a place for families and friends to gather and share live music and BBQ. For information, go online to

Rewind a day to Saturday, Sept. 10 - I think it is a great idea to go to the Sawdust Art Festival and support the iSanctuary fundraiser event to help survivors of human trafficking. Purchase handcrafted jewelry made by human trafficking survivors. According to a spokesperson, “With   projects   in   Orange   County, California, and   Mumbai, India, iSanctuary employs girls ages 15 to 25, who have been rescued from the commercial sex trade and   taught   the   skill   of   making   beautiful   hand-made jewelry.” Powerful!

Until next time…so much art…so little time!

Mystery of the Nile Scores 10 Million Viewers

Filming Photo

Filming in Khartoum

After over six years touring around the world on the giant screen, “Mystery of the Nile” surpassed a milestone of reaching more than 10 million viewers.

The film was co-produced by Spanish production company The Orbita Max and MacGillivray Freeman Films, based in Laguna Beach.  The movie was released in 2005 and hit IMAX Theatres and other giant-sized screens worldwide, gaining its marker of becoming one of the top 25 highest grossing films in it’s made-for-giant-screen class.

“Mystery of the Nile” is a documentary that tracks the first river expedition ever to successfully sail the entire length of the Blue Nile River from the source to the Mediterranean Sea, in two rafts and a kayak.  The explorers rafted more than 3,000 miles to the river’s mouth, stopping along the way to reveal these cities to the doc’s audience.

One goal of the film was to document an IMAX-style film that would gain viewers and acclaim worldwide.  Spanish director and co-producor Jordi Llompart said, “This latest remarkable film milestone reaffirms our dream of producing a giant-screen film that would introduce a diverse international audience of millions to the fascinating countries of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt and to the famous Nile River itself through superb cinematography and inspirational characters.”

The film has been exhibited on 110 oversized screens in countries such as Spain, France, Germany and India, as well as the U.S.  The 48 minute film was co-produced by Greg MacGillivray, a two-time Academy Award nominee, of MacGillivray Freeman Films. The Laguna-based film company has produced 35 giant-screen films, most all with nature or adventure themes that are shot in some of the furthest corners of the world.

“There is still nothing that compares with the giant-screen film-going experience, and “Mystery of the Nile” takes full advantage of the format’s unique power to inspire and engage,” MacGillivray said of the film’s success on the extra big silver screen.

The adventure will continue as it has been rebooked to show in theaters later this year in Atlanta, Cleveland and Milwaukee.


Marion Meyer Contemporary Art has an exciting blend of art and artists – RELEVANCY exhibit

Marion Meyer Contemporary Art is featuring hot contemporary works and artists, including Christian Lopez and his recent innovative assemblages and mixed media works on metal as premiered last year.

Also on exhibit is Ben von Mahler, who recently introduced as a new artist to the MMCA roster of fine artists with his model, Jennifer Rasia, originally from Sri Lanka who made an appearance during the Aug Art Walk.

Check out the gallery’s exciting RELEVANCY exhibit, featuring Valencia, Spain’s David Lopez’s recent multimedia works on paper from a solo exhibit at the Palau de Musica in Valencia Spain, also on display is his sculpture entitled “Courage.”

The connection and sophisticated interaction of art shown by Christian Lopez (Mexico, residing in Texas) and David Lopez (Valencia, Spain) in the main gallery, is continued in the upper gallery space.

David Lopez PHoto

An interesting interactive setting of mostly early figurative paintings and few recent cutting edge LED pieces by MMCA Veteran Artist Claudia Meyer from Europe, on display are two works on canvas and paper by V. Cora, “Tempt Me” by Ingrid Dee Magidson, a selection Cheeming BOEY’s now world famous Foam CUP Sharpie Pen Artworks discovered by Meyer in early 2009, and life-size painted steel sculptures by Laguna’s own Jon Seeman in anticipation of “Captured Motion”, an upcoming solo exhibit of Seeman’s recent wall sculptures in dialogue with the artist’s standing sculptural work.

“Captured Motion,” by Jon Seeman will run Sept. 22 to Oct. 20 with an artist reception during First Thursdays Art Walk, from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 6.

Seeman’s standing sculptures in stainless steel, painted steel or in natural museum patina create an intriguing and dynamic dialogue; some of the kinetic pieces especially challenge the viewer to spend time, invited to connect with the energy and harmony expressed by the artist in the installation of these meticulously perfected sculptural works.

Marion Meyer Contemporary Art is at 354 N. Coast Hwy. For information, call 497-5442 or go online to

Deadline for City Hall’s Fine Art Juried Show Sept. 12

The City of Laguna Beach is asking for submissions for its 2011 Juried Fine Art Competition, which is open to all Orange County artists 18 years of age or older. Work must be original and executed within the past two years. Work must not have been previously exhibited at City Hall. Entry in this exhibit establishes an agreement on the part of the artist to all conditions listed in the prospectus.

An honorarium will be given to winners with first place receiving $1,000, second $500 and third $250.

The artwork must be two-dimensional and measure no more than 36” x 36” framed with submissions received by Sept. 12.

There is a non-refundable entry fee of $20 for up to three entries and must accompany submissions. Checks should be made payable to: City of Laguna Beach.

To enter send one CD, signed entry form, information and check to: Cultural Arts Department, City of Laguna Beach 505 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

On Oct. 3, notification will be sent to all entrants. Artists who are accepted need to

deliver selected artwork to City Hall between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Oct. 17.

The exhibit will run from Oct. 18 to Nov. 28 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a reception and awards ceremony at 5 p.m., on Nov. 3, prior to First Thursdays Art Walk.

The juror will be Richard Chang, who is an arts and entertainment writer for The Orange County Register, where he has worked since February 2000. Chang specializes in visual art and museums, but has also written about television, movies, film festivals, the performing arts and Southern California media. He also does art news and reviews for the national magazine ARTnews.

Please submit one disc for preliminary judging. Up to three pieces may be entered. All CD digital images must be in Jpeg format only. Images should be saved at the highest Jpeg setting, and sized at 72 dpi with the longest side of the image set at 12”. Each Jpeg should be titled with the artist’s name and image number. Compact disc and case must be clearly labeled with the artist’s full name.

All work must be completely dry, framed, wired and ready for hanging, or otherwise suitably prepared for exhibition. No sawtooth hangers will be accepted.

Participants must collect their art on Nov. 28 at City Hall from 9 to 11 a.m.

Download the official entry form here as a PDF

Suzie Speaks

Suzie’s Articulation…

It’s hard to fathom that the Art-A-Fair and Sawdust Art Festival closed Sunday and The Festival of Arts is closing Wednesday – the end of another amazing art season.

Recently, I dug the ultra-cool Festival of Arts happs – first that weekend was the killer fashion show with guest judge Academy award-winning actress Marlee Matlin and another judge, who I love, love, love – local artist and more – Suzi Chauvel. The fashion was cutting-edge and artist’s creativity using recycled materials was five stars.

It was exciting to meet Matlin at the incredible fashion show, as well as the cast of Criminal Minds later that day. They were cool, and beyond friendly with the hundreds of fans who showed up to meet them. The line was unreal – and they were accommodating to each fan – giving them individual attention. It blew me away – turbo charged good vibes.

I also have enjoyed some great art experiences over the summer and last week at the Sawdust Art Festival. It was fun to see Michele Taylor’s new work – phenom for sure.

Last weekend was exciting with the Festival of Arts’ Artist Fund Art-to-Go auction and the Acura Celebrity event and concert.

I really enjoyed interviewing Brenda Strong from “Desperate Housewives,” Cheryl Hines from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and Greg Grunberg from “Felicity,” among others.

I need to absorb as much of the Festival of Arts as I can before it closes.

Luckily, Art Walk is Thursday, which should help negate the end of festival blues.

Until next time… so much little time...

LCAD receives Brandt Papers – over 15 linear feet of treasures

The Laguna College of Art + Design library received a donation of over 15 linear feet of archival materials related to the Southern California artists Rex Brandt (1914-2000) and Joan Irving Brandt (1916-1995). The collection includes correspondence, diaries, photographs, slides, subject files, business records, sketches, and publications reflecting the lives and artwork of these two “California School” artists.

Rex Irving Photo

All photos courtesy LCAD

Rex and Joan Irving Brandt, 1938

Rex Brandt, along with Phil Dike (1906-1990) taught a workshop in 1962, the first summer classes were offered by what was then called the Laguna Beach School of Art. Brandt and Dike offered workshops out of the Brandt’s home in Corona del Mar for several decades.

Having the Brandt Papers cared for and preserved here will provide a wonderful resource for not only current students and faculty at the college but also for individuals associated with the broader Southern California artistic community. Given his many years of painting and teaching at his Corona del Mar residence, it seems like a natural fit that his sketchbooks, files, and other materials which document his work should be here in South Orange County.

The donors of the collection are the daughters of Brandt and Joan Irving Brandt, Joan Scarboro and Shelley Walker.

“We are thrilled to have his works close to the area he loved so much, and we hope that something in his papers will inspire others in their artistic endeavors,” said Walker.

Betty Shelton, Fine Arts Professor and Study Abroad Director commented, “I’m so thankful that we were able to examine and study the Brandt travel sketchbooks before my group of students traveled to Ireland and England this summer. To have the opportunity to observe the actual artwork was so beneficial, and set a high standard for the group to emulate. These drawings and watercolors are an invaluable teaching aid and a treasure to Laguna College.”

Crown of the Sea Painting

Crown of the Sea - 1940

The Brandt Papers are currently undergoing archival processing and will be available for research in the newly renovated library. They will not only expand the range of offerings available for inspiration and research, but also demonstrate the dynamic ways in which artists’ papers can inspire our students when they are incorporated into a class discussion. The Brandts’ legacy and contribution to twentieth century art will be studied and preserved for generations to come.

Rexford Elson Brandt was born in San Diego, California in 1914. A graduate of Riverside Polytechnic High School (1932), Riverside Junior College (1934), University of California at Berkeley (1936), he taught at Riverside Junior College, Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and at his Blue Sky Studio in Corona del Mar. Renowned for his watercolor paintings of the Southern California coast, Brandt wrote numerous books on technique and served as president of the California Water Color Society in the late 1940s.

Along with his contemporaries Phil Dike, Emil Kosa, Jr., Barse Miller, Phil Paradise, George Post, Millard Sheets, Robert E. Wood and Milford Zornes, Brandt was known as a member of what has been variously called the California School, the White Paper Painters and the California Regionalists. Brandt and Phil Dike operated the Brandt- Dike Summer School of Painting, which began in the late 1940s, which in 1955 became the Rex Brandt Summer School and was again renamed in 1973 as the Brandt Painting Workshop.

Rex and Joan Mallock Irving married in 1938 in Riverside, California. Joan Mallock Irving Brandt was born in Riverside, California in 1961. She attended Santa Barbara Girls’ School, Katharine Branson School, Riverside Junior College and Art Center School, Los Angeles. Along with her husband, she taught in the Brandt-Dike Summer School of Painting and was co-director of the Brandt Painting Workshop after 1973. She was a founding director of the Newport Harbor Art Museum, founding chairman of the Newport Beach Arts Commission, a life fellow of the American Watercolor Society and a life member of the Royal Society of Art.

Brandt was involved in designing the first two studios built for what was then named the Laguna Beach School of Art, located on the festival grounds in Laguna Beach, and he and fellow painter Phil Dike taught a workshop for the school in 1963 (the second year classes were offered). He also later served on the advisory board for the school and its endowment fund campaign in 1978.

“The Rex Brandt archives is a treasure trove of personal information focused on one of California’s finest mid century watercolor artists. It also provides engaging information pertaining to mid-century California art in general and some specific information regarding watercolor society exhibitions and other artists Brandt was affiliated with,” said Gordon T. McClelland. Gordon has written several books on the California School and California artists.

LCAD is at 2222 Laguna canyon Road. For information, call 376-6000 or go online to

Suzie Speaks

Suzie’s Articulation…


I feel like borrowing from the Festival of Arts Artist Fund – a similar moniker to express my art experiences – so instead of their Art-to-Go – I feel like I am constantly experiencing art-on-the-go. Because of the generous arts opportunities Laguna Beach offers – literally between the time the art festivals open in the morning to closing – luxuriating in all the happs is a full-time occupation.

On Sunday, obviously, I had quite a dreamy time at the Festival of Arts experiencing “Beatles Sundays” with Jason Feddy. It was a delight to chat with the award-winning singer/songwriter him and his lovely wife. Feddy looked especially stellar with an uber-tidy rock-n-roll shirt – way cool! And of course, his voice is always heavenly!

The Festival was packed, packed, packed with a flurry of art, activity and merriment. Ryan Heimbach was met with paparazzi like fanfare while he worked on sculpting a piece in his booth. I was surprised he could see with all the flashes going off. Perhaps, Heimbach must be used to it by now, even though he is a mere freshman at the Festival.

Still more at the Festival of Arts...I ran into Diane DeBilzan, who was working Gavin Heath’s booth and her friend who had stopped by during a Beatles’ break, Debi Renshaw of Sotheby’s.

Even though I have seen Debi in the arts circles, I officially had a proper introduction to her during the June Art Walk – while Shaena and I were art walking. We ran into Diane at her former gallery, DeBilzan Gallery. Quite gregarious, Debi immediately invited me to tour William DeBilzan’s work as a sort of docent, if you will – but rather, she inserted her personal interpretation of each piece. The art fan did not dish out the facts - she pointed out what was indicative to her. And while Debi is a self-described left-brainer, her ideas were quite right-brain-esque, and clever.

Once more, at the Festival, Diane’s friend showed off her right side acumen while and exploring art and taking pleasure in conversation.

This weekend I look forward to hitting the art festivals again in full force. Being a bit of a Criminal Minds fan, noting they most likely use the whole-brain approach, I am going to the Festival of Arts meet and greet with the show’s cast on Saturday. I know Joe Mantegna continues to support the Festival and Pageant. Right on!

And coming up – there’s the Art-to-go auction and I also can’t wait to experience the fashion at the Festival’s Fashion show with celebrity judge Marlee Matlin.

Until next time... so much little time...

JoAnne Artman Gallery in San Diego Art Fair

Artman San Diego Painting

JoAnne Artman Gallery will be part of Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair, Sept. 1 to 4. Go visit Artman at booth 54. For info, Pictured: Rimi Yang, “Seeking Future,” Mixed Media & Resin on Panel, 30” x 30.”

“Watercolors on the Beach” – Treasure Island Beach – this Sunday morning from 10 – 11:30 with LOCA

“Watercolors on the Beach” brings pristine tidepools and art together! The event will be held on Treasure Island Beach next to Montage Resort & Spa from 10-11:30 a.m. this Sunday. Great fun for kids five and older.

A Laguna Ocean Foundation docent will guide you around the tidepools and afterward LOCA’s award-winning artist September McGee will hold a workshop on watercolor journaling. All the materials are yours to take home.

A boxed lunch will be provided by Montage.

Adults $35 / Children $20 ages 5-18 accompanied by an adult,

Visit for more detailed information. (Art and Sea tab)

To register or call 949-363-4700 and leave your name, number and the best time to call you back.

LCAD launches its 50th year celebration with a nostalgic Gala on September 15 at [seven-degrees]


Submitted photos

Above: LCAD 1962

Below: A classroom setting in 1964

LCAD Class Photo

On Sept. 15 Laguna College of Art + Design will launch a yearlong celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Laguna Beach School of Art, from which the college evolved. The gala evening will be held at [seven-degrees] and attended by community and philanthropic leaders.

One of the evening’s highlights will be the debut of a film chronicling the remarkable history and milestones of the college during its 50 years. Those who attend will also have the opportunity to hear newly appointed LCAD President Jonathan Burke share his vision for the future the art college.

“In 1961 the Laguna Beach School of Art was founded with the mission to provide community art education of the highest quality in the region,” stated Burke.

“Fifty years later our mission is still relevant. What’s changed is that the definition of ‘community’ has expanded, and we now enroll students from 50 states and more than 20 foreign countries,” Burke said.

“At LCAD art education continues to meet the intrinsic need to observe, study and describe visual truth. Our students create and reveal a new reality through the integration of classical traditions and 21st Century technology.”

Guests will be among the first to view the invitational faculty art exhibition, showcasing the breadth of work created by LCAD’s distinguished faculty. Artwork from Drawing and Painting faculty reflects the increasing prominence representational work holds in galleries and museums around the world. Graphic and digital pieces created by the Visual Communication faculty showcases innovative trends in the design and entertainment fields.

LCAD Construction Photo

Laguna Canyon takes on what will become an iconic image in 1976

The exhibition will continue at Seven-Degrees through the month of September, underscoring the tradition of unparalleled artistic instruction at LCAD.

LCAD is a 2222 Laguna Canyon Road. For information, call 376-6000 or go online to

Festival of Arts Acura Celebrity event was a Star-Studded hit last Saturday night

The Laguna Beach Festival of Arts was filled to capacity on Saturday evening, Aug. 27, for the highly anticipated Acura Celebrity Event, hosted and headlined by acclaimed singer, songwriter and producer Richard Marx.

Richard Marx Photo

Staff photos by Cliff Getz and Suzie Harrison

Richard Marx in an acoustic concert Saturday night

Attendees were treated to a rare acoustic performance by host Marx, who played with a string quartet to the delight of the crowd. From 1987 to 1990, Marx became the first male solo artist in history to have his first seven singles reach the top five on Billboard’s singles chart, including the #1 hits “Hold On to the Nights,” “Satisfied” and the worldwide classic, “Right Here Waiting.” Thirty million album sales later, Marx continues to be one of the most prolific songwriters and producers of his generation.

His performance followed a red carpet arrival by many celebrity supporters of the Festival of Arts, including Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Oscar© winning actress, Marcia Gay Harden & Greg Grunberg (Heroes), Camryn Manheim (Ghost Whisperer), Alfre Woodard & Sam Hennings (Memphis Beat), CCH Pounder (Law & Order, SVU & Avatar), Jo Frost (Super Nanny), Robert David Hall (CSI), Vanessa Branch (The Pirates of the Caribbean movies), Dorian Harewood (Boomtown), Richard Karn (Home Improvement), Brenda Strong (Desperate Housewives), Gregory Itzin (The Mentalist, 24), Marion Ross (Happy Days), LeVar Burton (Star Trek, Reading Rainbow), and others.

The event is a fundraiser for the Festival of Arts, a nonprofit organization that promotes appreciation for the arts through arts education, exhibitions, scholarships and grants. Acura generously donated a brand new Acura ZDX, valued at $50,000, to be raffled off. Tickets were sold throughout the 2011 summer arts season, and on Saturday night, the winning ticket was pulled by Marx.

Cheryl Hines PhotoThe winner of the Acura ZDX was Arick Gale of Dana Point, California who was present. The crowd cheered in delight when he held up the winning ticket. Gale’s daughter, six-year-old Jaimie, is a Pageant of the Masters volunteer. Funds raised totaled nearly $60,000 for the Festival of Arts.

“Acura is a great supporter of the arts, and we are honored that they have stood behind the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts for so many years,” said Fredric Sattler, president of the board of directors for the Festival of Arts. “We’re also thrilled by the continued support of KOST Radio 103.5 and our mutual friend Mr. Richard Marx, who made the evening truly magical for all of our exhibiting artists, volunteers and visitors!”

The Acura Celebrity Event was free for the evening’s Pageant of the Masters ticketholders and Festival of Arts visitors.

Art Walk cures the post festival blues with exciting new art offerings Thursday

The art festivals’ summer season is over, but the art scene in Laguna Beach goes year round with First Thursdays Art Walk. Enjoying and experiencing art is a great way to kick off the Labor Day weekend starting on Thursday, Sept. 1.

This Thursday Art Walk commences with a Pre-Art Walk event at 5 p.m., featuring “Gallery Highlights” an exhibition of artwork from First Thursdays Art Walk member galleries located at Laguna Beach City Hall, 505 Forest Ave.

Art Walk is an occasion inviting art enthusiasts to stroll and trolley around Laguna’s picturesque town on a self-guided tour of gallery openings, artist demonstrations and receptions, live music and other entertainment and refreshments. There is no beginning or ending point, move around town at your own pace. The event is free to the public and so is the trolley service. At any gallery pick up an Art Walk brochure that includes a map and featuring all the evening’s special events.

“Hop from gallery to gallery enjoying the artwork of featured artists along the way. It is a lot of fun,” said First Thursdays Art Walk president Rebecca Barber. She continued, “There is so much great art available for purchase.”

A host of special events is planned.  Throughout the evening see artists in action and watch their creative process when visiting them at many galleries demonstrating their techniques and sharing their insights. Ask questions and engage the artists.  The following are a few participating: Barbara MacDonald at Cove Gallery, Katy Byerts at Quorum Gallery; John Eagle and other resident artists at Studio 7; and Todd Kenyon at purelagunabeach gallery.

La River Painting

Victor Hugo Zayas,

“LA River,” oil on canvas, 72” x 72.”

There’s always something sizzling at saltfineart gallery and this month is no exception. Join artist Victor Hugo Zayas in an exciting prequel to his show at Laguna Art Museum. The gallery is proud to present “Kinetic,” featuring never before seen line work by Zayas, including delicate nudes in charcoal and electrical grids in thick, visceral oils. A collection of vibrant rocks that the artist has created privately for years will also be shown.  The exhibit will be installed by discipline from drawing, painting and sculpture throughout the three rooms of the gallery. Art fans can enjoy a VIP cocktail reception from 6 to 9 p.m. and a special presentation by renowned art critic Peter Frank at 6:30 p.m. saltfineart will also be issuing a beautiful special edition companion catalog.

JoAnne Artman Gallery is featuring figurative work by artist Greg Ragland, as well as the popular continued “Back Room,” exhibit. These artists will inspire, provoke, engage and mesmerize. With visual perceptions always changing, peek behind the stories told and find the right artistic expression.

Blue Heron Painting

JoAnne Artman gallery featured artist Greg Ragland

“Blue Heron in Red with a Blue Line,” acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36.”

The jam-packed evening includes a multitude of featured galleries to see from Downtown to Gallery Row to Bluebird to Laguna Canyon Road, enhanced by performances by local musicians and gallery hospitality. At Studio Arts Gallery, view fused glass by Mary Murray with music on the patio. Stop by [seven-degrees] to view photographs by local artist Mark Orgill. At Dawson Cole Fine Art, experience an exhibition of gallery artists including Chuck Close, Donald Sultan and Richard MacDonald.

Art Walk gives you access to buy original artwork of every genre from these galleries. Also, be sure to visit the Laguna Art Museum featuring Noguchi – “California Legacy” and Lita Albuquerque – “Emergence”. More information can be found at

Earn a chance to win a stay at The Ritz-Carlton in the Festival of Arts benefit for the Artists’ Fund - Art-To-Go purchase

Mary Aslin Photo

All photos by Mike Tauber

FOA artist Mary Aslin with her original pastel work available to purchase

It’s time for art fans to buy their original Art-to-Go piece with 60 originals available daily through Friday, Aug. 26. All remaining pieces will be auctioned on Saturday, Aug. 27 from noon to 1:30 p.m. on the Center Green.

Attendees wearing gold can enter to win the free prize drawings from 10 a.m. until noon. Three winners names will be announced from noon to 12:30 p.m., winner must be present to win. Prizes will be lovely items from the FOA gift shop.

A special buyers bonus is available to all patrons who bought art from the Artist Fund 2011 collection, and will be automatically entered.

One name will be drawn to win a certificate good toward a one-night stay in a pool/garden view guestroom, including all taxes, resort fee and valet parking, at the luxurious oceanfront Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. The package, graciously donated by the Resort, is valued at $607. Winner need not be present to win.

Art-To-Go is the annual fundraising program benefitting the Artists Fund, which provides disaster relief to artists in need. Works are available daily in two exhibit locations on the Festival grounds. Currently available are works by Marlo Bartels, Scott Young, Kathy Jones, Jacquie Moffett, Carol Martens, Luciano Bortone, Mary Aslin, Tom Swimm, Sandra Jones Campbell, Jacobus Baas, Pat Sparkuhl, Breck Rothage and many more. Prices start at $75.

“Don’t wait until the auction to buy,” warns Art-To-Go program coordinator, Mike Tauber. He has seen people devastated to find the piece they wanted has already been sold.

Pieces donated to Art-To-Go are original works created by Festival exhibitors. Proceeds benefit the Artists Fund at the Festival of Arts, providing financial aid to artists suffering economic hardship due to illness, injury, or disaster, such as the recent mudslides in Laguna Canyon.

“We’ve provided comfort to artists with terminal illnesses, and have helped others return to their productive art career,” said Anne England, Artist Fund founder. “We are grateful to our artists for donating, and we thank our collectors – we couldn’t do it without you.”

It takes a lot of courage for people to ask for help, even if they are in dire need, said England. She encourages artists not to be afraid to apply.

“In the last 11 years we have spent about $90,000 on artists that had nowhere else to go,” said England. “And it’s absolutely confidential.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, premiered as the first luxury resort along coastal Orange County in August 1984. Twenty-six years later, the award-winning resort is a re-imagined surfside retreat that awakens guests’ senses with its unique oceanfront setting and remarkable service heritage.

For information on Art-To-Go, email Mike Tauber, Art-to-Go program coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 497-3597. Festival of Arts is at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, open 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily through Aug. 31. To reach the Festival, call 494-1145 or go online to

Check out these Art-To-Go offerings from Festival artists:

Group Photo

FOA features arts and entertainment for this week

It’s the final weekend for the Festival of Art and the pageant of the Masters with activities going through Aug. 31.

Special events include: on Saturday, Aug. 27 the Festival will hold its Art-to-Go auction for the Artists Fund from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 7 to 8 p.m. will feature a special guest performance by Richard Marx.

The Festival of Arts features 140 of the area’s most accomplished artists, as well as expansive menu of arts and entertainment opportunities.

Today on Tuesday Aug. 23, Art Talks, the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts special discussion series covering topics of art trends and connoisseurship, will explore the art of re-imagining fashion for the final discussion of the summer.  Join the multi-talented artists who created the fabulous pieces for the 2011 Festival Fashion show in a discussion about creativity, repurposing and re-imagining. See their creations up close that featured re-used recycled and reclaimed materials in innovative designs of haute couture.

Some of the free, popular happenings include music: Friday Night DJ with DJ Lucky Lou Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. Sundays feature three happening starting with The Art of Cooking, presented by William Sonoma, 1 to 2 p.m.; Art in Motion: Hip Hop to Tango is from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Beatles’ Classics performed by Jason Feddy and Friends, 6 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 25 the popular series, Art, Jazz, Wine & Chocolate, will feature jazz vocalist Anne Walsh.

This week’s schedule… Friday, Aug. 26, DJ Lucky Lou will be spinning the sounds of affection with “Ain’t nothin’ but the Blues.”

Sunday, Aug. 28, The Art of Cooking with Williams-Sonoma featured cuisine will be fresh and tasty tomato salad. Spectators will not only learn how to make the recipe themselves, they’ll also get to help Chef Joffrey eat what he prepares.

Also on Sunday, Art in Motion: Hip Hop to Tango will feature Traditional Irish dance.

Monday Aug. 29 live music will be performed by Peter Dobson from 6 to 8 p.m.; Tuesday features Terje Lie and closing night with Rick Tatum.

The Festival of Arts is at 650 Laguna Canyon Road. For information about the festival or Pageant go online to or call 494-1145.

Free admission and fun Aug. 27 and 28 for Art-A-Fair’s Customer Appreciation final weekend

Celebrating 45 years of exhibiting fine art in all mediums, Art-A-Fair will admit all visitors free of charge during its Customer Appreciation Weekend, Aug. 27 and 28, the festival’s final weekend of the summer season.

Despite the weak economy, visitors and residents have come to Art-A-Fair all summer long and purchased many works of art from the Festival’s 125 artists. As a result, attendance and sales have been high and Art-A-Fair wishes to give back to its patrons.

“Our Customer Appreciation Weekend celebrates the generosity of our visitors. We invite them to come back and enjoy another visit ‘on us’,” said Mike Cahill, President of the Board of Directors.

“Art-A-Fair has seen an increase in attendance and sales over last year, and we think this is due to visitors’ loyalty and support of our artists who exhibit millions of dollars of art,” Cahill said.

Arty, Art-A-Fair’s 45th anniversary character specially created for this year only, has been hidden daily this season on the grounds. The first visitor to find him each day has been awarded an art prize created by Art-A-Fair’s renowned artists. The hunt will continue with multiple hidings throughout Customer Appreciation Weekend. This will provide visitors many opportunities to find him and take home an exceptional piece of art. And if your kids find him, they will be able to take home a piece of art as well.

During Customer Appreciation Weekend, the final weekend of the season, Art-A-Fair will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.  and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Parking is available at Act V, just a short distance north on Laguna Canyon, with free shuttle service to Art-A-Fair, located at 777 Laguna Canyon Rd.  For information, go online to or call 494-4514.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

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