10th annual Art Stars Awards a dazzling celebration

Story and photos by ELIZABETH NUTT

On Sunday evening, Laguna Beach’s businesses, organizations, individuals and artists came together to celebrate at the 10th annual Art Stars Awards dinner. Laguna Beach Arts Alliance bestowed awards in seven categories to those ‘Art Stars’ in Laguna’s artistic community who have made significant contributions to the town’s arts and culture scene. 

The event was hosted by [seven-degrees] and kicked off with a red carpet reception. Guests then enjoyed a champagne toast, hors d’oeuvres and live music outside on the terrace, as they mingled and waited excitedly for the awards dinner to begin. 

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The 10th Annual Art Stars Awards Dinner

The Magnolia Memoir band continued to entertain guests with live music during dinner, which was followed by a welcome from Jonathan Burke, president of Laguna College of Art and Design. Jonathan presented a Posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award and video tribute in memory of Ken Auster. 

Next, bronze sculptor Louis Longi was recognized for “10 Years of ‘Louies’”, the one-of-a-kind sculptures—of which there are 75 altogether—that are created specifically for and presented to the Art Stars award winners each year. 

Delyer Anderson, the recipient of the 2015 [seven-degrees] of Inspiration Grant presented a film of her dance project, “IV”, which was funded in part by the grant. 

Dora Wexell and Mark Orgill presented the first Art Stars Award, the 2016 [seven-degrees] of Inspiration Grant Winner: Russell Pierce. 

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Russell Pierce, the 2016 [seven-degrees] of Inspiration Grant Winner

Russell’s collection, titled “Change Agents”, will capture and honor through a series of 50 portraits individuals who have made an impact on the world. The paintings will be presented on the walls of [seven-degrees] during the 2017 Art Stars Awards dinner.

 The six remaining 2016 Art Stars awards recognized Laguna Dance Festival (Best Arts Program), Montage Laguna Beach (Corporate Arts Patron of the Year), Jim and Suzanne Mellor (Individual Arts Patrons of the Year), LOCA Arts Education (Outstanding Arts Collaboration), Malcolm Warner (Arts Leadership), and Olivia Batchelder (Artist of the Year). 

Presenter Sharbie Higuchi of the Festival of Arts summed up the evening’s sentiment, saying, “When Art Stars got started, we were concerned that we’d run out of artists and individuals to recognize. But we quickly realized that would never be the case. Laguna Beach is the mecca for artists and supporters.”

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