Sales of nearly half a million make California Cool Art Auction the most successful auction in LAM history 

On Sat, Feb 10, Laguna Art Museum’s centennial edition of the California Cool Art Auction reached sales of over $466,000, making it the museum’s most successful art auction to date. Proceeds from the event benefit the museum’s exhibitions and education programs. The auction, in its 36th edition during the museum’s centennial year, featured works by more than 100 important California artists. 

The highlight of the evening was the much anticipated live auction led by Andrea Fiuczynski, executive vice president and chairman of Sotheby’s Americas, and Mark J. Thomas of California Coast Auctions. The museum once again partnered with Paddle8, the leading online auction house, and absentee bids, from both nearby and internationally, added a further element of excitement to the competitive bidding. 

Click on photo for larger image

Peter Alexander’s LAX XXXII, sold for $23,000

The live auction included eager bidding on Peter Alexander’s LAX XXXII, which sold for $23,000; Tony DeLap’s Eye in the Sky, which sold for $21,000; Lita Albuquerque’s Heavy Metal Explosion (Silver), which sold for $20,000; and Cheryl Ekstrom’s Beanbag, from the Stable Inhabitants series, which sold for $19,000. Other notable works in the live auction included Lorser Feitelson’s Untitled (Red with White Lines), which sold for $4,750, above the estimated value of $3,000; and Phillip K. Smith III’s Faceted Disc #14, which sold for $16,000, above the estimated value of $15,000. The live auction featured 20 works and totaled over $196,000. 

The evening also included a Fund-A-Need campaign, presented by LAM Curator of Educator Marinta Skupin, which raised over $33,000 to support the museum’s K-12 children’s education programs. 

California Cool Art Auction 2018’s silent auction component featured an additional 99 works of art and was highly successful with over $173,000 in sales. Ninety percent of the works were sold during the event, and unsold works will be available for purchase at their minimum bid price (50 percent of stated value) until Feb 16.  

Click on photo for larger image

Heavy Metal Explosion (Silver) by Lita Albuquerque sold for $20,000

In addition to great art, the event’s 300 guests enjoyed the culinary talents of West Coast Event Productions, wines by Wine Gallery, and desserts by Simply Sweet Cakery served alongside specialty coffees and teas provided by Urth Caffé. The evening’s cool ambience featured floral designs by Laguna Nursery and lighting and decor by The Showpros Group. Other sponsors included Cookes Crating, Paddle8, Randy Higbee Gallery, Royal Hawaiian, Sotheby’s, and Modern Luxury Orange County.

LAM’s California Cool Art Auction is the longest running benefit art auction in California and is one of Orange County’s most exciting art and social experiences. Proceeds from the event support the museum’s dedication to collecting and preserving California art, presenting critically acclaimed exhibitions, and enhancing art education. 

The California Cool Art Auction 2018 team was led by co-chairs Sara Heeschen and Deborah Lake; committee members Jeannie Denholm, Ruben Flores, Vanessa Helin, Lauren MacLaughlin-Brinker, and Karen Morally; and LAM Director of Special Events Sarah Strozza. 

For a full listing of the featured artists, go to

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

The Laguna Food Pantry’s PantryPalooza 2018: Groundhog Day Edition was a rousing success!

On Fri, Feb 2, local band The Agave Bros. had Skyloft rocking throughout the happy hour, which drew close to 100 guests for Laguna Food Pantry’s PantryPalooza fundraiser. 

Dr. Korey Jorgensen, Laguna Food Pantry Board Chairperson, thanked the crowd who turned out in support of the nonprofit, noting, “You are helping us to provide much-needed supplemental groceries to nearly 400 families every week. 

“Every weekday, we collect and distribute nearly two tons of food that help people who are struggling financially. These are folks on fixed incomes, or who work minimum-wage jobs, or are disabled, or elderly - the food we provide allows them to have a sense of normalcy in their lives when they sit down to a nutritious meal.”

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

The Agave Bros., who initiated PantryPalooza five years ago, rocked the house

The Laguna Pantry nonprofit is an almost completely volunteer-run enterprise that provides free, fresh, nutritious groceries to individuals and families in need. They collect and give away 3,500 lbs. of food every weekday. They serve 400+ families a week in South Orange County, more than half our shoppers have babies and children to feed.

Click on photo for larger image

Submitted photo

(L-R) Margie and Charlie Bell and Ginger and Tom Osborne

Generous Skyloft owner Ivan Spiers donated a portion of the evening’s food and beverage to the overall proceeds, which exceeded all three previous years. Sponsors included The Agave Bros, whose free popup concert five years ago was the basis for the PantryPalooza concept; Montage Laguna Beach, which provided a dinner for two to The Loft as a drawing prize; pure-ingredient infant formula Baby Life Shake; printing company Laguna Graphic Arts; and Firebrand Publishing. 

For more information on Food Pantry, go to:

One seat still open on city advisory groups – 21 appointments made


The City Council on Tuesday filled all but one vacant seat on city advisory committees and the Design Review Board.

Seven residents applied for a seat on the board. Incumbents Meg Monahan and Caren Liuzzi were reappointed to fill the two vacancies.

Jeffrey Feldman was the lone applicant for a seat on the View Restoration Committee, which had two vacancies. City Clerk Lisette Chel Walker announced that applications would be accepted until 5 p.m., March 15. The council will interview applicants and appoint one to the committee at the March 27 meeting. 

Seven residents submitted applications for the five seats on the Affordable Housing Task Force. After reviewing the applicants, the council voted to increase the size of the committee and appointed all the applicants: Gary Boisen, Jane Fulton, Mohammad Honarkar, Karen Martin, Allison Matthews, Chris Quilter and Louis Weil

The council filled the three vacant seats on the Parking, Transportation and Circulation Committee with applicants Jennifer Dawson, John Marcos, and Hasty Honarkar, daughter of Mohammad Honarkar, perhaps a first for Laguna.

Robert Ader, Irene Bowie and India Hynes were appointed to serve two-year terms on the Environmental Sustainability Committee. Christine Bennecke and Emerich Hlava were appointed to one-year terms.

Applicants Monica Silva and former committee chair Michele Hall were selected to seats on the Recreation Committee. 

Four seats were open on the Heritage Committee, which is currently in the throes of the city’s contentious revamp of the Historical Preservation Ordinance. Regina Hartley and Scott Sumner were chosen from the five applicants. A reduction from seven members to five, as recommended by the committee in January, was confirmed by the council. 

Two-year terms begin April 1. Appointments to the Planning and Arts Commissions will be made later this year.

Music is that powerful: Vino & Vinyl at The Ranch is a portal to the past, and to shared emotions 


“You hear breathing. You hear fingers sliding up the frets. Those aren’t mistakes to be edited out, those are part of the experience.” 

That’s Mark Christy, owner of The Ranch, talking about his obsession with vinyl records and why vinyl is so much better than digital recordings – and, he admits, this fascination of his is an obsession, not a mere hobby. 

“Sometimes I think I need an intervention,” he says. “I have more than 3,000 albums, in many cases several pressings of the same one.”

We’re standing on the patio at The Ranch. The sun has tucked itself discreetly behind the canyon walls, aware that nostalgia is a dish best served in a dim light. In the purple gloaming, golfers make their way from the greens to the clubhouse, carts kicking up the smell of the turf. 

Unusually, there’s not a deer to be seen – Linda Ronstadt’s Simple Dreams, amplified by speakers, has scared them away, for now. Leticia Christy is the first DJ of the night.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The evening closes in at The Ranch

I’m madly taking notes as Mark rhapsodizes about music and vinyl, in awe of the depth of his knowledge. 

“If only Stu was alive,” Mark says wistfully, “he’d have been my first choice as DJ. That man knew blues trivia like no one I’ve met.”

We both pause, thinking about the one-and-only-Stu, a mentor to so many, close friend to Mark, and a man who knew his stuff when it came to newspapers, music and baseball and so much more.

Flames flicker from fire pits, where guests sip from wine glasses, or heck, glug beer, because why not, who cares that tonight’s happening is called Vino & Vinyl? Alliteration is one thing, but it’s the vinyl part that really matters.

We sigh. But then our eyes alight upon Shaena, Stu’s business partner and soul mate in so many ways, and we smile.

Shaena is excited. She’s bopping up and down, as Shaena does. On this Ladies’ DJ night, it will shortly be her turn. Shaena is talking nineteen to the dozen (a South African expression which seems perfect for Shaena) to the other DJs yet to play: Lisa Rosecrans, whose choice is the Go-Go’s Beauty and the Beat; Linda Mussallem has selected Janice Joplin’s Greatest hits; and Candace Hurley will finish up with Bonnie Raitt’s Taking My Time. 

Click on photo for a larger image

The Go-Go’s album

Mark tells me that for the first few Vino & Vinyl evenings at The Ranch, which happen the first Tuesday of every month from 4 – 8 p.m., he has been doing all the DJing. From this point on, though, he’s decided to mix it up. 

“It’s an honor to include Shaena,” he says.

I ask Mark to tell me more about vinyl versus digital.

“So, Abbey Road is my all-time favorite. Still now, listening to it in vinyl can bring me to tears. There’s depth, there’s richness, it’s raw. You hear an entire story, not just a chapter,” Mark tells me. “You close your eyes, you’re hearing exactly what the musician wanted you to hear.”

Linda Ronstadt is nearing the end of her Simple Dreams. Stars are beginning to prickle the night sky. Shaena hugs a Fleetwood Mac album to her chest. 

Mark’s not quite finished his rhapsody in blues…and rock n’ roll…and the seventies. “We’ve become so accustomed to instant gratification. Vinyl, you have to get out of your chair to flip, but it takes you to a new level, well, it takes you back, too. Cat Stevens. Jackson Brown. Soundtrack of our lives, right?” I mention American Pie and Rodriguez (Searching for Sugarman) and suddenly we are two people who grew up in the same era, not reporter and interviewee. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Ladies night for DJs 

It’s Shaena’s turn.

Mark, music freak extraordinaire, gives me a quick hug and I return to my seat to sip some wine, calming the adrenaline rush that comes with interviewing.

Shaena takes the stage and talks about the impact that Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album and Stevie Nicks in particular had on her life. Her words are both eloquent and emotional. “A magical experience,” she says of her first time hearing Lindsey Buckingham in concert.

I have to leave, sadly. So I won’t be around to hear the final three DJs speak about their connections to the albums they will play. I do stay long enough to see Mark dancing with his wife, other guests joining in, their fire-flung shadows lengthening into the now-dark canyon.

Click on photo for a larger image

Mark and his wife Leticia

I understand now, as I drive away, the magic of these Vino & Vinyl evenings: the music, reverberating within the stunning natural sound stage that is Aliso Canyon, brings us together, reminds us of our shared emotions – even our shared humanity, no matter our station in life, or our trajectory through the years. 

Music is that powerful.

Especially when captured on vinyl.

CHOC Follies is enjoying sweet success: and this year, four Lagunans are helping make millions

Tight Assets owner Heidi Miller is kicking up her heels at CHOC Follies rehearsals just two months after surgery to donate one of her kidneys to Bruce W Cook (who is doing very well, incidentally).

Lagunans Kelly Emmes, Geri Kate Pearce and Marilyn Brumley are also part of the cast this year.

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Lagunans Kelly Emmes, Geri Kate Pearace and Marilyn Brumley are also part of the cast

CHOC has raised more than nine million dollars through the Follies over the last 21 years. This is Heidi’s 18th appearance. She’s hoping that one million more dollars will be raised this year for CHOC, the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

Shows will take place on March 29, 30 & 31. For tickets go to

Calling all species: Seems that the enjoyment of ukulele music doesn’t end at the shoreline

The Laguna Beach Ukulele Academy will sing Valentine’s Love Songs live on Laguna Beach FM KX 93.5 for Valentines Day this Wednesday evening from 5-6 p.m. – love will be in the air (and broadcast).

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy Tom Joliet

Even mermaids like the ukelele

Tom “Tommy J” Joliet’s Laguna Tropical Surf show will feature musician/singers from the Susi Q Community Center’s popular ukulele program. 

The radio audience can sing and dance to tunes played the combined classes of ukulele maestros Jack Morse, Jeff Eile, Mark Kohls, Jeff Heileson and Tommy J.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy Tom Joliet

Kanikapila, oil painting by Gayle Joliet

Afterwards, join the players across from the radio station on S Coast Hwy at the Pearl Street General Store’s The Seahorse Lounge for more live music, food and drinks from 6 – 8 p.m. 

Listen live by streaming on the free mobile app KX935, and at

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillespie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: for questions about advertising


Email: with news releases, letters, etc