Russell Pierce, Not a Johnny One-Note – on show at the CAP Gallery downtown


 Walking into “Change Agents” at The CAP Gallery, you are hit with bold colors, large images, familiar faces, variety of work styles, mediums and techniques. It is a veritable carnival of art. What is even more incredible is the fact that it is all the work of one artist, Russell Pierce.

The subjects of the exhibit include the Beatles, Wayne Thiebaud, Buddy Rich, Hunter S. Thompson, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and other well-known people who have influenced Pierce and the world in general. In each portrait, Pierce has used combinations of different materials and styles to energize and personalize the subject. It may not be obvious at first glance, but there are subtle hints that tell the person’s story.

 During a conversation with Pierce and later listening to the Artist’s Conversation when Sandra Jones Campbell interviewed Pierce, I found out how complicated Pierce is and how that comes through in his work. He is not a Johnny One-Note, but rather someone who is always thinking “what if” while he is working on a piece. He may finish a piece, review it and then…the “what if” factor kicks in and he does a bit more.

Growing up on the East Coast, Pierce was immersed in art from an early age. His mother was an artist who nurtured his desire and educated him in art. Frequent trips to museums, a steady supply of materials and encouragement solidified his direction towards art. 

In college, Pierce went on to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York City, studying graphic design, illustration and photography. He also took classes in computer graphics for illustration at the New York Institute of Technology. Combining his training in traditional art and digital art he started Zero Hour Inc, his first graphics design company. It was at a time the use of digital graphic work was exploding in the advertising world and Zero Hour was on the leading edge.

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Submitted photo

Andy by Russell Pierce, mixed media

 After selling off his interest in Zero Hour and taking a job with Vision and Vision Street Wear, the hottest skateboard company at the time, Pierce changed coasts and came west. Falling in love with Laguna and its arts vibe, he settled here. After a bit he started FUSE, another graphics company, becoming known as one of the hottest interactive design shops on the West Coast. Again with a bevy of high-end clients, the company won many awards and accolades including the first Clio award given for interactive work.

During this time Pierce was finding that he wanted to get back to doing more of his own art and not run a large company. Selling his share of the company and handling just a few clients, Pierce got back to creating and experimenting with his own ideas and inspirations.

 Pierce’s style can be called ‘varied’ or ‘eclectic.’ During his career he has gone through different periods, experimenting to see what works in getting each piece’s story across. Digital may be the base, but then he may layer with collage, acrylic, oil pastel, marker, scraping for texture: looking at the four-piece Beatles work you can see some of this variety. Working in just one style or medium is not in Pierce’s personality. He is a self-motivated artist who does heavy research on his subjects. He is also open to accidental discoveries that can take the original direction of the piece into another direction or realm.

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Submitted photo

Hitchcock by Russell Pierce, mixed media

 Pierce’s palettes are varied; dark, bright, soft; and based on the subject matter and feeling he has while working on the pieces. “Hunter S. Thompson” is a work of collage: multiple layers and items are found in the work. It is worth the time to look close and then step back. There is always more to see with each look; miniature cards and dice, pills, glitter, all under layers of resin. A man who lived fast and hard and wrote about it in the same manner: creating the style of Gonzo Journalism.

 Portraits of Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa and Ringo Star are one grouping, done on actual drum heads. Rather than a static pose, each drummer is shown in action giving you the feeling of being there. Pierce’s choice of these men comes from their inspiration that gave him the need to become a drummer. Something that he still does today, as he has a drum set in his studio and performs with the local band The Agave Brothers.

 People who have had major influences on Pierce’s life and the world in general are the focus of this exhibit. The Beatles changing the perception of music on many levels, Warhol, Hockney and Thiebaud for their contribution to Pop Art, Marvel and DC Comics portrayals of heroes and read by many kids, Alfred Hitchcock and his influence on filmmaking, just to name a few.

 This is an exhibit that is worth more than one visit. Changes have been made since the opening and there may be more in store. Pierce’s energy is not only apparent in conversation with him, but also in viewing his work. There is a wide selection of people from the Arts, entertainment, science, all influential over the years. Take a break and check it out and catch some of that energy.

 The exhibit runs through May 30. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. It is free to the public.

The CAP Gallery is located at 260 Ocean Ave, Second Floor, Wells Fargo Building. Call (949) 553-7507 for more information.

Local authors, writers and booksellers share memories of libraries they have loved

Because it is National Library Week, Stu News asked a random selection of authors, writers, community leaders and library/book lovers to send in their thoughts about the roles that libraries have played in their lives. Here are some responses from local authors and members of Third Street Writers; we’ll have more on Friday. 

Please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have an anecdote about libraries that you’d like to share.


Saturday was Literary Orange, an amazing event put together by the Orange County Public Libraries. The day was a sold-out extravaganza (with a 350-person waiting list) celebrating authors, libraries, readers and the wonderful world of words. 

As I listened to the keynote speaker and one of my personal heroes, Anna Quindlen, tell her story of how she became the Pulitzer Prize winning literary star she is today, she started her story with a tribute to her favorite elementary school librarian. And I thought immediately of Virginia Gardier, my elementary school librarian. 

Librarians aren’t just a young reader’s first encounter with an adult booklover outside our own homes. (I grew up in a very book-friendly household, lucky me, with frequent trips to the library and the sacred appreciation of our very own library cards.)

Librarians, like Mrs. Gardier, were the first example for some of us that you can work outside the home and do it surrounded by books. Like Anna, I grew up in a family where my dad went to the office every day, and my mom happily stayed home with the kids. I wanted something different. 

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Photo from Facebook

Kaira with other authors at a literary festival

From a very young age I knew I wanted to be a writer like Robert McCloskey of Make Room for Ducklings fame who I wrote to in second grade. Our assignment was to write a letter to the person we’d most like to become. He wrote back and told me he was actually an illustrator, not an author, but wished me luck. To jump from the dream to the reality takes supportive grownups who can show you the way. Mrs. Gardier helped me publish my first book, Scooter and Skipper, in sixth grade. 

I wouldn’t be a novelist today if not for the librarian in my life. 

Due to my fabulous publisher I was able to attend the American Library Association meeting last summer in Chicago and met so many wonderful librarians. Their support, along with bookstores like Laguna Beach Books here and other bookstores across the country, is why Best Day Ever – my domestic suspense novel – has caught on with readers, and has so far been sold to seven foreign countries. (The French translation, Une Journee Exceptionnelle launches on Tuesday!) The paperback is launching on August 21, which is also exciting.

As I scanned the crowd during my Literary Orange panel session, I couldn’t help but smile at the librarian volunteers in the orange lanyards. I know how much they mean to the children like me, little girls who look up to them as role models. I know how much they meant, and mean to the sold-out crowd Saturday. Thank you, librarians. 

Kaira Rouda, best-selling author 


I spoke at a library event just this past week and talked with the librarian about the changing role of libraries. Libraries in our modern time are no longer only about books or archiving information. 

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Photo from Facebook

Suzanne Redfearn

They have become cultural centers, places that foster thought and expose us to all forms of creativity and intellectual thinking. It is exciting to think how much value this new approach to information sharing could bring to all the towns and communities that might not have had anything like this before.

Suzanne Redfearn, best-selling author


Libraries have always been something of a literary sanctuary for me. Some of my fondest memories as a child were spent at the library. The librarians, always generous in time and spirit, nurtured my love of reading. I still remember the book that made the largest impact on me: Island of the Blue Dolphins. Even now I long to read that book again for the first time.

Danielle Bauter, Laguna Beach Books

On Saturday mornings I would walk to my local library in Manhasset, NY, and load up with as many books as our gimlet eyed librarian would allow me-one of my favorite old fashioned series was “The Little Colonel.”

Jane Hanauer, Laguna Beach Books


My mother sorted books at our school library from the time I was in Kindergarten until the day I graduated high school. Every Friday for thirteen years, I would find her stacking, shelving, and dusting. It was a fascinating universe of Dewey Decimal and overdue, obsolete and out-of-print [books]. I loved this world then and continue to love it now. My mother is gone, but the memory of her library lives on.

Britta Wilder, Third Street Writers member


I was bored and hot, and summer loomed large – in the way only a nine-year-old girl can imagine. I clinked up the marble steps, tugged open the door, and the cool library air rushed over me, awakening my senses. I walked along the stacks of books, my fingers fondling the spines, removing a book, and climbed upon a large chair. The cool leather was a shock to my bare white legs, still unfamiliar to summer’s shorts. I opened the book and was transported. Prince Edward Island became my destination, Anne of Avonlea became my best friend, and the world of words opened up for me.

Theresa Keegan, Third Street Writers member

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Third Street Writers will launch their second story collection in May

Every Saturday morning, my dad deposited me in the children’s section of the downtown branch of the Asheville Public Library. While he read the newspapers upstairs, I gathered a stack of books to bring home to the rocking chair on our deck. I spent countless summer afternoons reading in shade of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This time not only turned me into a lifelong reader, but also became the foundation of my journey to becoming a writer.

Amy Francis Dechary, President, Third Street Writers

Sealed with a kiss? View sea lions, make a greeting card on April 14 at PMMC

Those who love art and animals love Art and Sea Lions presented monthly by LOCA Arts Education at Pacific Marine Mammal Center. The next workshop is Saturday, April 14 from 9 - 10:30 a.m. Families, groups, and beginners are invited. 

The morning includes a docent-led viewing of live sea lions, a presentation on the rescue and rehabilitation work of the center, and a fun, step-by-step printmaking class with Hedy Buzan. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Sea lions make for super greeting cards

Everyone will take home a finished greeting card. The cost is $20 for adults, and $15 for those aged six and up with paid adult. Free on-site parking is included. 

Advance registration is required. Call (949) 363-4700 or visit to sign up.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center is at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, one block north of Dog Park.

Skip Hellewell, local author, appears at Areo to sign his new book, Loving Laguna, on April 14

One of the most unique stores in Laguna, Areo LB, invites everyone to attend a book signing on Saturday, April 14, from noon to 3 p.m. Skip Hellewell, a local author, will be on site to personally autograph copies of his new book, Loving Laguna, a local’s guide to Laguna’s beaches, historic walks and drives, art galleries and restaurants, and a look back at the unique and historic origins of our hometown. It’s a must have for residents and visitors. It’s in paperback, and is 116 pages.

Get your copy of Loving Laguna signed by the author on April 14

The books can also be ordered online at, and the copy can be personalized and shipped to the buyer (or a friend) for free. The customer can use order notes at checkout to add a personal inscription.

Areo is located at 207 Ocean Ave. The store is open daily from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

For more information, go to the website above or call (949) 376-0535.

Sunset Serenades go global; concerts begin Friday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m.

The Sunset Serenades and World Music series is expanding its programming to add diversity to the 17 free concerts the City hosts at the Heisler Park Amphitheatre.

This year, music from Indonesia, Cuba, and music and dance from Africa will be featured. 

“The concerts are an important part of the City’s cultural offerings and they’re an opportunity to bring music from around the world to Heisler Park,” notes Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl. 

“We presented Middle Eastern and Indian bands last year and they were very well received by audiences who wanted to hear and see more. We are fortunate to have concerts funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. Without the funds from overnight guests at our hotels, we would not be able to offer so many concerts with such diversity.”

The Sunset Serenades and World Music series takes place Friday evenings from May 4 through June 8 at 6:30 p.m. The free concerts at the Heisler Park Amphitheatre will offer a variety of music genres.

5/4: Jackie Menter Trio – Classical

5/11: Jack Benny – Eclectic/Acoustic Pop trio

5/18: The Phil Gough/Alan Deremo Project

5/25: Maestro Lazaro Galarraga and Friends – Afro Cuban

6/1: Gamelan X with Mayang Sunda – Indonesian

6/8: L’Esprit D’ Afrique – African

Taste of the Nation, May 20 at Montage Laguna Beach, will raise funds for No Kid Hungry Campaign

The 11th Annual Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation at Montage Laguna Beach will be a tasty treat for a good cause. On Sunday, May 20 from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m., co-host chefs Craig Strong and Julia Browne of Studio will welcome six talented Southern California chefs to create small bites and desserts to help raise funds for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. 

The festivities will include wine tastings, craft cocktails, a silent and live auction conducted by Dan Dotson of A&E’s Storage Wars, After Party bites, parting gifts and good mingling with celebrity chefs. 

The top chef lineup includes: Host chefs Craig Strong and Julia Browne of Studio at Montage Laguna Beach, recent runner-up on “Top Chef” Joe Sasto of Michael Mina’s new Cal Mare in Los Angeles, past “Top Chef” contender Amar Santana, chef/owner of Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach and Vaca at South Coast Plaza, entrepreneurial gastronomist and former “Top Chef” contestant Marcel Vigneron, owner of Wolf/Beefsteak in Los Angeles, Chef Eric Samaniego of Michael’s on Naples Ristorante in Long Beach, Chef Bryant Taylor of Chianina Steakhouse in Long Beach, Chef Brian Huskey of Tackle Box: local grub shack in Corona Del Mar.

Beverage participants include: Antica, Illuminati Wines, Kikori Whiskey, MacRostie Winery & Vineyards, Riverain Vineyards, San Pellegrino, Serrano Wine, Titos Handmade Vodka, Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey, Wine Warehouse, and ZD Wines.

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Submitted photo

Last year’s event was a fun and successful No Kid Hungry fundraiser

At Taste of the Nation Laguna Beach, attendees will enjoy tastings from the nation’s top chefs and restaurants, and sample fine wines, and premium spirits. Guests will also enjoy live entertainment and a silent and live auction.

Immediately following the main event, guests will enjoy a private post Taste event, where they can enjoy ocean breezes, a breathtaking sunset, and lush landscape while enjoying one-of-a-kind wines, a champagne toast, a parting gift and mix and mingle with all the celebrity chefs.

The beneficiaries of the Taste of the Nation 2018 are:

Community Action Partnership of Orange County (CAPOC) seeking to change peoples lives, embody the spirit of hope, improve communities and make America a better place to live. The agency cares about the entire community, and is dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.

Second Harvest Orange County Food Bank – founded by the Council of Orange, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Food Bank began providing food for the hungry in 1983 in Orange, under the leadership of Dan Harney. In 2007, the Food Bank moved to a new facility in Irvine on the old El Toro Marine Base, more than doubling its capacity to meet the needs of Orange County.

Help No Kid Hungry as the top chefs in the area come together to make a difference and end child hunger in the US at Taste of the Nation on May 20.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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