A Longi tradition of art? Isabella Longi debuts her photography at [seven-degrees] on May 4

Artist Isabella Longi will hold her debut photography exhibition, entitled Solitude, between May 4 and 31 at [seven-degrees] – which just happens to be the site where her father, sculptor Louis Longi, served as the debut artist 16 years ago, and where she spent many a happy day during her early years.

“My sculptures were the debut art exhibition at [seven-degrees] when they first opened. Isabella was just born and we were living in Studio 1 for the first year the facility was opened,” Louis Longi says. 

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Photo by Isabella Longi

Isabella Longi’s photographs capture immense peace and solitude

All of Isabella’s photos are originals, adding to their value.

“Over the last few years I have been compiling many images throughout my travels documenting my interest in capturing peace and solitude,” Isabella explains.  

“Isabella has grown up in the art world,” Louis Longi tells Stu News Laguna.  “Over her 16 years she has been on many sculpture installations and has always participated with the process, from working in wax to taking photos of me while installing one of the sculptures.

“Since an early age, she would grab the camera and take pictures of the sculptures. When I downloaded the pictures I would always notice more creative images and compositions of my sculptures and I didn’t remember taking those myself.

“It finally registered with me that she was taking the shots and had a better eye for composition and constructed the composition with her angles and perspective.”

Around the age of eight, Isabella’s rightfully proud father says, her photography compositions began to grow and he noticed she was capturing great images.

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From an early age, Isabella focused on creative angles, developing a unique style

Talent obviously runs in the family. Louis Longi has been sculpting professionally for over 32 years, with more than 15 major public art sculptures (three in Laguna Beach) to his name throughout Southern California and Nevada. He’s created works for organizations from the Nevada Cancer Institute to Cirque du Soleil.

Isabella Longi’s Artist’s Reception, likely the beginning of a great career, will take place on May 4 from 6 – 9 p.m. as part of the First Thursday Art Walk. [seven-degrees] is located at 891 Laguna Cyn Rd.

Spring cleaning? Think about donating to El Morro’s Green Team Clothing and Textile Drive

Clothes for the Cause, El Morro’s Green Team, and El Morro PTA are hosting their annual Clothing and Textile Drive.

Most people have unwanted clothes and textiles that are out of fashion, not needed, or no longer fit. Instead of discarding surplus clothing and household linens, there’s a great opportunity this week to give them a second life through Clothes for the Cause.

Clothing bags can be dropped off at El Morro Elementary School on April 27 and 28 from 7:30 – 9 a.m. Accepted items include clothing (new and gently used), shoes (paired only), towels, stuffed animals, hats, sheets, blankets, quilts, bedspreads, drapes, purses and belts. All items must be dry and clean. 

Items that will not be accepted are glass, breakables, electronics, pet beds, bed pillows, carpeting, uniforms, hotel linens, fabric scraps and samples, or items previously for sale at a thrift store.

For more information, contact Michele Johnson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 949-246-0248, or contact Lisa Barreth, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Latin Jazz Syndicate kicks off Laguna Beach Live! Summer Jazz Wednesdays on June 21

Laguna Beach Live! announces the return of Summer Jazz Wednesdays on June 21 at the beautiful Rose Garden at Hotel Laguna. The Latin Jazz Syndicate, featuring Bijon Watson on trumpet, starts the series.

Cindy Prewitt, President of Laguna Beach Live!, said, “We are delighted to return to the Garden. It is such a great space and it offers personal service with a menu of tempting food and beverages. Space is limited, though, so we suggest people buy tickets early.”

The Latin Jazz Syndicate was formed in 2005 as a musical project meant to explore the fusion of Latin and world rhythms with a vast collection of jazz standards. The group pays homage to American indigenous music, jazz, while maintaining the rhythmic and harmonic authenticity required of various ethnic styles. 

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The Rose Garden setting is wonderful for Laguna Beach Live Jazz Wednesdays

Featuring a variety of top musicians, the series continues every two weeks: vocalist Samantha Sidley with Dan Reckard on piano (July 5); Eric Dries Group (July 19); internationally-acclaimed vocalist Leslie Lewis (August 2); “A Tribute to the Poll Winners: Barney Kessel, Shelly Manne, and Ray Brown,” featuring Graham Dechter on guitar, Ryan Shaw on drums, and Alex Frank on bass (August 16); and concludes on August 30 with the Laguna Beach Live! All Stars.

Tickets are $25 for table seating and $20 for side seating. Members of Laguna Beach Live! at the Associate level or higher may purchase tickets starting on May 1 before they go on sale to the public on May 15. 

To become a member or renew a membership, go to lagunabeachlive.org. Season tickets and single concerts may be purchased at lagunabeachlive.org or by phone 800-595-4849. For further information, call 949-715-97113.

“Tree Within Me” show on April 29 at Avran Fine Art features artists Jennyfer Stratman & Michael Kessler 

Avran Fine Art will present a joint exhibition of artworks by critically acclaimed artists Jennyfer Stratman & Michael Kessler on Saturday, April 29, from 6 - 9 p.m. Both artists will be in attendance. 

Jennyfer Stratman’s work reveals a personal journey by contemplating the interior landscape of the psyche and how this resonates with her experience of the exterior world. Her work is a continued exploration of interconnections between all things from the subatomic to the galactic, expressed primarily through figuration and natural elements.

The narrative qualities in Stratman’s work evoke an emotional response that speaks broadly about the experience of being human. All of us have a primordial knowledge of the universe locked inside our bodies that is manifest in our varied ways of viewing our world and beyond. For her, expressed through her sculpture, it is her way of understanding the cosmos and her small part in it.

Stratman explores interconnections among the subatomic to the galactic

There is a metaphorical interplay between the natural imagery she uses and its multiple meanings. While the human figure features strongly, it is the essence of the body that is important to Stratman, not the representation. Particularly, she imagines trees and branches as a figurative link between the natural environment and our physical presence. The implied internal landscape of the body can also be reflected in how our surroundings from birth affect our sense of identity. By exploring landscapes of the body and mind, she also hopes to comment on the larger picture of our impact on the natural world.

Michael Kessler’s work explores the continuum between gesture and geometry. Each work consists of as many as 50 micro-thin layers of translucent and transparent acrylic. Biomorphic tendrils branch to and fro, while arcs of line and color slip over and under matrices, balancing nature’s sinuous curves with the mindfulness of structure. He likens the gestural freedom in his works to a kind of painterly “tai chi” – a visible expression of a line of energy – and imbues his structural motifs with a sense of play and buoyancy. Like the yin and yang, the organic and geometric elements in his paintings speak not of dichotomy, but of integration. Nature provides the basis upon which his work exists.

Avran Fine Art distinguishes itself among the vibrant art scene in Laguna Beach by offering its clients a unique perspective on contemporary art for collectors and enthusiasts. 

Avran Fine Art is located at 540 S. Coast Hwy, Suite 106. For more information, call 949-494-0900 or visit www.AvranArt.com.

Film director records the work of LBHS girls in raising awareness of the water crisis in Burkina Faso

A group of students at Laguna Beach High School is working hard to help end a water crisis on the other side of the world. Student Charlotte Watkins is president of the Walking for Water club, whose mission is to raise funds and awareness for the water crisis in rural Burkina Faso, Western Africa, through a walk-a-thon scheduled for June 2017. The girls’ efforts are being captured in a documentary, 20 Miles a Glass, filmed by director Colter Johnson of Santa Monica.

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Charlotte Watkins is interviewed for the documentary 20 Miles a Glass

Charlotte was introduced to the water project through family friend Susan Hough of non-profit Wisdom Spring, an NGO that works with American high school students to install wells in Burkina Faso. Susan mentioned to Charlotte that one of the high schools she works with in Leesburg, Virginia, had raised $30,000 through their 2016 “Walk for Water” project. 

Charlotte decided she wanted to get a walk started in Laguna. She recruited fellow students Callista Helms, Audrey Trabert, Uta Urnshido, and Ellie Glade. Under Susan Hough’s leadership the team is planning its own Walk for Water for June 2017.

Colter Johnson, director of the documentary 20 Miles a Glass - a film that follows the work of Wisdom Spring and the efforts of American high school students to raise awareness for the water crisis – stopped by LBHS recently to interview the students about the progress of their project. 

Johnson found the girls extremely enthusiastic about the team’s efforts.

“My main goal is to raise more money than they did in Leesburg last year,” Charlotte Watkins said. “It’s our first year, so we are not sure exactly how it’s going to go, but we are confident that we can do it.” 

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Walk for Water group: Back row L-R: Jillian Goson, Sophia Vandertoll, Lya Veski.

Middle: Kiana Parsi, Julia Trabert, Elena Gillepsie, Isabel Riches, Callista Helms

Front: Audrey Trabert, Uta Urnshido Charlotte Watkins, Ellie Glade, Susan Hough

Not in Picture: Emma Russell, Riley Gough, Sophia Costanzo, Maya Takabayashi

Teacher: Somer Selwa

The club’s treasurer, Uta Urnshido, was also positive. “I feel like it’s a really good thing that we are doing, and working on the project makes me feel good about my actions,” Uta told Colter.

Entitled 20 Miles a Glass, Johnson’s documentary focuses on the work of Susan Hough and the late Sobonfu Somé of Wisdom Spring as well as the high school volunteers and event organizers. 

Sobonfu Somé, one of the film’s main subjects, was born and raised in Burkina Faso and experienced the water crisis first hand. She immigrated to the United States in the 1990s and quickly became a published writer with a powerful female perspective.

Some’s books included Women’s Wisdom from the Heart of Africa and Welcoming Spirit Home.

Director Colter Johnson was born and raised in Santa Monica and his most recent documentary Chasing Begg Rock (2016) was distributed globally by French distribution company Gonella Productions. 

20 Miles A Glass is currently in production, scheduled for release in winter of 2017.

Police Chief/staff give report on crime rates, staffing, and the future


Numbers don’t always give a clear picture. 

The statistics on robbery, rape and arson all showed an increase from 2015 to 2016, according to the report by Police Chief Laura Farinella and members of her staff Thursday night at the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club, but that is not the whole story, they say. 

An 18 percent increase in violent crimes: that’s scary. However, when dealing with small numbers, percentages can be deceiving. 

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Photo by Cheryl Kinsman

Chief of Police, Laura Farinella, addresses community members

Seven more robberies, four more rapes and five more arsons were committed in Laguna in 2016 than in 2015. For a town of 24,000, that’s a lot, but it is not the highest number of violent crimes committed in town, according to data collected since 1988.

For a town that is visited by more than six million outsiders annually the number of violent crimes is statistically infinitesimal, according to one local certified public accountant.

“The real test is how safe do you feel walking around town,” former police Chief Neil Purcell used to say.

Farinella, who was appointed chief in 2016, called the increases a very low rate. 

“Alcohol crimes, traffic incidents, thefts and nuisances-related issues remain in the forefront of what drives our workload and when called, on average a police officer arrives in less than six minutes,” said Farinella.  

She had barely stepped into her new office when she submitted a three-year strategic plan that high-lighted department priorities and where increased services were needed – in part due to the change in Laguna from a summer destination to a year-round destination. 

Not true that the town “shuts down after summer” Farinella says

“The biggest lie I was told was that the town shut down after summer,” said Farinella.

Her plan called for more sworn officers and support staff. She wanted, and got, two full-time beach patrol officers and two more sworn officers dedicated to downtown foot patrol, as well as another dispatcher and a jail supervisor.

The department currently employs a staff of 127: 96 of them are full-time, and 52 of those are sworn officers, meaning they graduated from the Police Academy and carry a gun. 

Five members of the department’s command staff participated in the report presented on Thursday.  Other officers attended. 

Speakers included heads of departments Captain Jason Kravetz, Field Services; Jim Beres, Civilian Services Administrator; Captain Jeff Calvert, Support Services; Lt. Joe Torres Day Shift Commander; and Lt. Tim Kleiser, Night Shift Commander;  Natasha Hernandez, Community Services Officer; and Ranger, the canine officer the Woman’s Club helped purchase, who barked his two cents worth.

New community outreach programs include Coffee with a Cop

Farinella said the department has made a concentrated effort to better communicate with the residents, including a media team to shape the public’s perception of the department.

“To further enhance our relationship with the community, new outreach programs were implemented: Coffee with a Cop, Dog Walker Watch, Bike Rodeo, and Living with Wildlife,” said Farinella. 

“The Police Department’s Citizen Academy and Community Emergency Response Team programs continued with great support.

“I look forward to serving and working in partnership with the Laguna Beach community in the coming years.”

Farinella said she would make the biennial report a regular event. The next one is due in early 2019.


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