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Volume 16, Issue 17  |  February 27, 2024

TOP HEADLINES THIS ISSUE

TOP STORIES THIS MONTH

Students going with the FLOW revisit the fires of 1993 in LBHS project

The freshman class at LBHS individually prepared newspaper front pages revisiting the devastating 1993 fire that swept across town as part of the school’s FLOW curriculum (fire, land, ocean and water)…

Two council meetings (this week) to cover updated public art program; master plans for parks, recreation, facilities; committee appointments, and more

On Thursday (Feb. 29), council will hold a special session to hear the items that were skipped after the abrupt adjournment of the February 13 meeting due to a “disturbing incident of Zoom bombing” that disrupted the proceedings…

TOP STORIES THIS MONTH

Laguna Life & People – Brayden Belden: a long road to Athlete of the Year

Seventeen-year-old Brayden Belden’s journey from suffering a traumatic brain injury six years ago, to being selected as Athlete of the Year for the 57th Patriots Day Parade, is nothing short of miraculous…

Planning Commission holds off on hearing Hotel Laguna exterior plans as project heads to Heritage Committee

The Planning Commission this week continued their discussion and action on proposed plans for changes to the exterior of the historic Hotel Laguna until the Heritage Committee reviews the project. Read on for the proposed exterior changes…

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Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

 

Students going with the FLOW revisit the fires of 1993 in LBHS project 

Yesterday I headed to the Laguna Beach High School Library for their latest FLOW program event. F-L-O-W stands for fire, land, ocean and water, four environmental issues that are particularly relevant to Laguna Beach.

Students at LBHS study FLOW topics successively through grades 9-12 by having experiences across the curriculum, sharing a common read, and by attending community events.

Yesterday was one of those community events. The freshman class with the topic of Fire, individually prepared newspaper front pages revisiting the devastating 1993 that swept across town, taking with it the complete destruction of 366 homes, damaging more than 500 others and burning some 17,000 acres of brushland. But, when the fire settled, perhaps the most incredible news was that there were NO deaths, as the students were reminded by Laguna Beach Fire Captain Kuzmic, who was in attendance and actually was there back in 1993 battling those fires.

The event featured each of the pages displayed on an easel, with the freshman writer/designer proudly standing next to it to explain their thoughts in undertaking and developing each of them. An audience of school officials and community members were on hand to circulate, talk with the students and take in the quality of work.

All were good, some were very, very good. The students were given free rein on design, style, the paper’s name, photos and editorial content, some of which was procured by interviewing locals in town about their remembrances of that particular day.

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Photos by Mary Hurlbut

LBFD Captain Kuzmic talking with freshman Cameron Thomas and her mom

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LBHS Principal Dr. Jason Allemann discusses the FLOW exhibit with one of the participating students

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Student William Thiery shows off his work

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Student Kingsley Wade was all smiles with her well-done creative design piece on the 1993 fire

For me, as I shared with the students, that long-ago day is still quite memorable. I remember, as reports of the fire circulated across media channels, a group of us moved to the rooftop of the old Daily Pilot building in Costa Mesa, where I was publisher, and we could see the glow of the fire illuminating above the hills in the gray skies filled with smoke separating Newport and Laguna.

It was eerie.

We had several issues to figure out. We not only had a fire to cover editorially, but we also had employees wondering if their residences in Laguna were still standing. Everyone was on edge.

The solution was a boat, owned by a Daily Pilot vendor, who taxied a group of employees down to just off Main Beach, with their last yards made by fighting through the crashing waves to shore.

Each of the student’s work did a wonderful job rekindling the remembrances of that fateful day.

Kudos to teachers Sarah Benson and Jun Shen for making learning fun! It could be felt in the room.

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Program’s teachers Sarah Benson (center) and Jun Shen (right, hat) hand out certificates to all the finalists

• • •

The first of two Laguna Beach City Council meetings this week is tonight, with Closed Session beginning at 4 p.m., the Regular meeting beginning at 5 p.m.

It’s a full agenda, including a 15-item Consent Calendar.

On the Regular Order of business are a number of items, including consideration of an updated public art program policy; the awarding of a contract to develop a master plan for park, playground and recreation; an urgency Ordinance recodifying the Laguna Beach Municipal Code regulating single family residential one- and two-unit developments and urban lot splits relating to California SB 9, and the possible development of a community survey exploring revenue enhancements and other related topics.

Finally, there will be a Public Hearing for the appeal of a Design Review approval allowing a 253-sq.-ft. addition on an existing two-story dwelling, hardscaping and landscaping for a property at 31616 Second Ave.

The second meeting of the week will be held Thursday, Feb. 29, with the times the same as tonight’s meeting.

• • •

Courtesy of Laguna Art Museum

Jennifer King’s “Nature Box,” one of the featured pieces in the California Cool Art Auction

If you’ve been part of the Laguna Art Museum’s 42nd Annual California Cool Art Auction, it culminates this Saturday, March 2 at the Museum in a night of art, cocktails and music from 6:30-10 p.m. Tickets to the event are required.

Bidding in online and ends March 4.

• • •

Laguna Live! presents BACH to the Future this Sunday, from 1-2 p.m., also at the Laguna Art Museum. The monthly chamber music concert program will feature the dynamic flute and cello duo, Flucello: Antonina Styczen-flute and Pola Benke-cello.

“Flucello will perform a diverse repertoire, weaving together masterpieces by Johann Sebastian Bach with more modern gems by composers such as Stravinsky, and others,” according to LAM.

Live! at the Museum is now on the first Sunday of the month. The concert is still free to members of Laguna Beach Live! and to members of the museum; $14 to non-members. For advanced reservations, go here.

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Guest Column

Dave Min, 47th District

Member, California State Senate

A mistake that will never happen again

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State Senator Dave Min

Just over nine months ago, I made the worst mistake of my life. I decided to get behind the wheel of a car after having been drinking earlier in the night. And as you probably know, I was pulled over, arrested, and charged with driving under the influence.

I’m sorry. I know I made a reckless and stupid decision that night, and I also know I let so many people down, including my family. I screwed up. Big time.

But I also want to correct the record, because the attack ads flooding the TV screens and mailboxes of people who live in the 47th Congressional District are distorting this incident for political purposes.

First, I have never had any prior issues with alcohol or with law enforcement, other than a few traffic tickets. I’m an Eagle Scout, a father of three young kids, and former federal prosecutor. My young adult years in college, law school and for the first part of my career were spent in East Coast cities like Philadelphia and Boston where I didn’t need, or have, a car. When I relocated back to California, where I’d grown up, I was the father of an infant, and we had two more kids shortly after that. Drinking any amount of alcohol and driving was just not part of my life history until last year’s incident.

Second, I did not try to dispute the charges or get out of them. To the contrary, I accepted full responsibility and thanked the officers for doing their job. Having never been in this situation before, I had questions about the process, but as the officers noted in their report, I was cooperative and respectful, and I did not mention my role as a State Senator until after they had identified me as such.

Third, I immediately owned up to the incident, accepted full responsibility for it, and apologized as soon as I was able to the next day, in a public statement that was widely covered by the media. And you don’t need to just take my word for this. As the Los Angeles Times’ Editorial Board has described, “Min never treated [the DUI as a trivial incident]. He immediately made a straightforward public statement about his arrest and apologized. He didn’t try to make excuses or pretend that the arrest was unfair, overblown, or an attack on liberalism…More politicians who err badly should follow his example.”

This has been a sobering experience for me, literally and metaphorically. The worst and most embarrassing mistake of my life was amplified all over the news media and by political rivals. I know I have let so many people down.

But this mistake was not characteristic of who I am or what I have done with my life. I have served the public throughout my career, turning down higher paying jobs to try to make this country, and our community, better. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2002, I went to work at the Securities and Exchange Commission because I wanted to crack down on corporate fraud after the Enron and Worldcom accounting scandals. I went on to serve as an economic policy advisor for Senator Schumer before coming back home to California to teach at what was then a brand new law school at UC Irvine that Erwin Chemerinsky had started. My wife Jane is still a full-time law professor there and directs the Domestic Violence Clinic, which has helped hundreds of survivors of abuse get the legal remedies they need.

A decade ago, going into politics was the furthest thing from my mind. Jane and I had dream jobs teaching at a top-tier law school and training the next generation of legal advocates. I had testified six times before Congress and my research had been cited in national media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post. And we were so excited to raise our family here in Irvine and watch our kids grow up.

But I believe this country needs massive change. We need to restore economic opportunity, address massive generational challenges like climate change and gun violence, and we need to strengthen our democratic institutions and the rule of law, even as we are facing a growing movement of insurrectionists and white nationalists in this country. And at some point, I realized that I could be the change I wanted to see. And that is why I entered the political arena, flipping a seat from a well-established incumbent and winning my State Senate seat in 2020.

I have not been a politician for very long, but I do believe that at a time when public trust in our government is waning, we must stand up and model transparency, honesty and integrity. Whether or not you agree with me, I believe I have governed with the same values and priorities that I campaigned on. I have kept my promises. And my office and I have tried our best to be accessible, even to those who disagree with me and my legislative actions.

I have lived a very fortunate and blessed life, and as the son of Korean immigrants, I know I owe everything I have to this place and this set of ideals we call America. But I have also tried to live an honorable and good life, giving back to this country through public service and good works through my career.

And I hope that you will judge me by the totality of my life and actions, not just on the basis of my worst moment.

I am proud of the fact that even after my DUI, so many major organizations that I respect entrusted me with their formal support. The California Democratic Party, the California Labor Federation, the Los Angeles Times, Sierra Club, the California Teachers Association and Equality California are just a few of the many groups that have endorsed me following that incident.

I am also honored to be the only candidate in this race backed by law enforcement, including the endorsements of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Officers Research Association of California, which collectively represent peace officers in Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Seal Beach and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

And I am so grateful to the 150+ federal, state and local government leaders who have placed their trust in my campaign, including the incumbent who currently holds this seat, Congresswoman Katie Porter, as well as local elected officials from all of the cities in this area.

Those who know me or have interacted with me will attest to my honesty and integrity. As your State Senator, I have tried to model these same values. I am so deeply sorry for letting you down, but I promise you I will never make a mistake like this again.

(Sen. Dave Min was elected to office in 2020 and is presently running for re-election.)

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Artist Rowan Foley captures the magic and mystic of Michael the Greeter

By DIANNE RUSSELL

For 14 years, Michael the Greeter (Michael Minutoli) has been a Laguna institution. It can’t help but brighten your day when spotting him spinning, dancing and waving. His is a particular brand of wizardry that’s undefinable, one that brings passersby into his own private world.

As ethereal as that quality is, local artist Rowan Foley was able to capture it in her painting of Minutoli titled, Michael, which is now on display at Laguna Coffee Company. (The shop consistently features the work of local artists.)

As for the title of the painting, Foley said, “I’ve decided to keep it simple and call it Michael – it just feels right.”

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Foley with her painting, “Michael,” which is on display at Laguna Coffee Company

“This painting means the world to me because it’s all about Michael – his essence, his vibe, everything,” Foley said. “When I was working on it, Michael and I had these amazing conversations about creativity and the magic that exists in the moments before an artist begins their performance. I wanted the painting to capture that feeling – Michael lost in thought before he begins to perform, holding the Boz Scaggs record that he uses both as inspiration and to spin on.”

Residents may recognize Foley from Festival of the Arts (FOA), where she exhibited for the first time in 2023, and she’ll be returning for this year’s FOA season as well. As detailed in her FOA profile, Foley’s artistic journey began in Sonoma County, where her parents – a writer and a painter – instilled in her a passion for the arts. She refined her skills as an apprentice under the tutelage of acclaimed sculptor Colin Lambert during her senior year of high school. Foley pursued her artistic education at the Savanna College of Art and Design, as well as the Laguna College of Art + Design, where she earned a BFA in Drawing and Painting, with an emphasis on Sculpture.

Since her graduation in 2020, Rowan’s exceptional talent has captured the attention of the art world, with her work featured in Best of Drawing magazine and showcased at prestigious galleries such as the National Geographic Gallery and Woods Cove Gallery in Laguna Beach.

“Living in Laguna and getting to know Michael has been such a blessing,” said Foley. “He’s this incredible force of positivity, always spreading joy wherever he goes. Whether he’s waving to passing cars or just making everyone’s day a little brighter, he’s a true gem and inspiration.”

Foley explained her inspiration for the painting: “With this portrait, I wanted to give back a piece of the joy Michael brings to the world. If it sells, I’m planning to donate the proceeds. I haven’t decided where yet, but I am sure the right cause will come to me once the time comes.”

Although Foley didn’t see Minutoli’s initial reaction to the painting, she said, “The first time he saw me after I painted it, he gave me a hug and expressed how much it meant to him. He said he felt a little awkward looking at it but was also proud and touched that I asked him to model for me. He said that when I asked him, he didn’t even know I was an artist, so he didn’t think much of it and was shocked when he saw the painting. He felt it was part of his legacy.”

For more information on Rowan Foley, go to www.rowanfineart.com.

Laguna Coffee Company is located at 1050 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

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Two council meetings to cover: updated public art program; master plans for parks, recreation, facilities; committee appointments; council policies; tenancy termination noticing ordinance

By SARA HALL

Laguna Beach City Council will hold two meetings this week and cover a variety of notable items.

At the Tuesday (Feb. 27) meeting, council will consider: An updated public art program policy; a contract for the park, playground, and recreation master plan; council meeting agenda order of business; policies updating procedures for councilmember placement of items on council agendas and establishing the format of meeting minutes; a contract for the citywide safety action plan; a donation to reconstruct decorative stone planters and refinish the main entrance doors at city hall; an ordinance amendment regarding single family residential one- and two-unit developments and urban lot splits; an ordinance amending certain portions of city code and determining that no further environmental review is required and a 2024 community survey.

On Thursday (Feb. 29), council will hold a special session to hear the items that were skipped after the abrupt adjournment of the February 13 meeting due to a “disturbing incident of Zoom bombing” that disrupted the proceedings. The special meeting also has a few notable new items added to the agenda.

At the special meeting, council will consider: An ordinance related to tenancy termination noticing; consultant services agreement for the development of a facilities master plan; a variety of appointments for six city committees; a level three risk assessment of a public tree recommended for removal and resolutions authorizing the city manager to apply for various state grant funds.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Council will consider an updated public art policy tonight (pictured: “Seabreeze: by Sukhdev Dail)

Up first during regular business at tonight’s meeting, council will consider an updated public art program policy and provide direction to help develop a proposed ordinance that would revise pertinent sections on the city’s municipal code to align with the changes outlined in the new policy.

On Oct. 5, 2021, council approved retaining Cultural Planning Group to draft an updated public art program policy.

Members of the Arts Commission unanimously agreed on May 10, 2021, to kick off the effort to provide more guidance and combine all public art elements into one ordinance, which would cover more than what’s currently described in city code. The process includes updates and revisions, and aims to establish specific standards for public art.

David Plettner-Saunders and Linda Flynn with CPG, the consulting firm tasked with reviewing and recommending updates to the policies, gave a presentation and asked for direction during a public art policy update workshop on December 7. On Jan. 24, 2022, commissioners received a brief presentation about the progress on updating the policy.

In preparing the draft policy, CPG engaged stakeholders and interviewed artists, developers, architects, business owners, donors, and community and nonprofit organizations to streamline processes and provide transparent and consolidated policies.

The policy recommendations will:

–Organize all programs (art in public places, murals, etc.) to be referred to as “public art program.”

–Provide explicit and greater authority to the Arts Commission to fulfill its role as decision maker in relation to the public art program and asks the council to only substitute its judgment in cases where there is a departure from Oregon following the policy guidelines.

–Aim for comprehensive and transparent policies by consolidating policies and making them available online as a resource for all.

–Acknowledge and respect the role and importance of artists in the program.

–Provide clear criteria for the selection of artists, artworks and sites.

–Provide all new artwork a specific exhibition time frame as opposed to permanently accessioning them into the collection (private development projects have a 20-year minimum).

–Set stronger criteria and authority to de-access works.

–Set clear criteria for donations and responsibilities for the cost of maintenance.

–Allow artwork memorials honoring organizations or events and eliminates individual memorials.

–Encourage financial contributions of any amount to a public art fund.

–Provide that maintenance costs for donated artworks and memorials become the responsibility of the donor.

–Create a policy for responsibilities on each partner to assure mutuality and workload and costs as it relates to the production of public art projects.

–Limit artist to four pieces in the city collection at any one time.

–Provide a well-defined appeals process.

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Laguna Playhouse presents A Shayna Maidel limited engagement beginning March 13

Laguna Playhouse presents A Shayna Maidel, written by Barbara Lebow and directed by Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director David Ellenstein. A Shayna Maidel will begin previews on Wednesday, March 13 (with a press opening on Sunday, March 17 at 5:30 p.m.) and run through Sunday, March 31 at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road.

A Shayna Maidel (which means “a pretty girl” in Yiddish) is a touching memory play about two sisters reconnecting after years of separation and a hopeful story about the resiliency of the human spirit. The play, set in New York City in 1946, explores family, faith and forgiveness in the pursuit of a better future.

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Courtesy of Laguna Playhouse

“A Shayna Maidel” runs from March 13-31

Director David Ellenstein reflected, “When I first directed A Shayna Maidel in 1990, it proved to be a moving and profound experience for me, not only as a theater artist, but as a human being. Though set against the backdrop of the Holocaust, it was the story of one family’s courage and strength in dealing with profound tragedy. The beauty and inherent power in the play was felt by all who worked on it and all who attended. The production helped to shape my concept of what great theater can do; how it can affect not only the audience but the artists that work to bring it life. It helped to set my course going forward as a theater artist. In 2009, I chose to revisit the play again, and directed a production at North Coast Repertory Theatre. Once again, the play had an impact and effect upon all who experienced it.

 “And so here, in 2024, Laguna Playhouse has chosen to bring this beautiful and important play to the stage once again. Its intriguing story and timeless message of resiliency and hope resonates as truly and purely as when I first encountered it. It is with great excitement that I approach the work for a third time, knowing once again that I will find a life affirming experience awaiting me. Theater has power to make our world a better place. A Shayna Maidel is a great example of theater embracing what it is to be a human being and lifting it to the special optic of the stage for us all to experience together.”

David Ellenstein (Director). In May 2023, Ellenstein was named artistic director of Laguna Playhouse, after filling the role in an interim capacity since September 2023. In addition, he has been the artistic director of North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, Calif. since 2003.

Barbara Lebow (Playwright). Lebow is a Santa Barbara resident who grew up in New York, moved to Atlanta in the 1960s, and joined Academy Theatre’s developmental workshop, eventually becoming playwright in residence. A Shayna Maidel was among her first productions.

The cast of A Shayna Maidel features Samantha Klein, Zarah Mahler, Eden Malyn, Josh Odsess-Rubin, Marnina Schon and Joel Swetow.

The design team for A Shayna Maidel includes: scenic design by Stephen Gifford; lighting design by Jared A. Sayeg; sound design by Ian Scot; costume, hair and wig design by Elisa Benzoni; props design by Kevin Williams and the dialect coach is Jana Mazurkiewicz. Casting is by Michael Donovan Casting, Michael Donovan, CSA and Richie Ferris, CSA. The Production Stage Manager is Natalie Figaredo.

A Shayna Maidel will preview on Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, March 14 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Friday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. (with a press opening on Sunday, March 17 at 5:30 p.m.) and runs through Sunday, March 31.

Performances will be Wednesdays through Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. There will be added performances on Thursday, March 21 at 2 p.m. and Tuesday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. There will be no performance on Sunday, March 31 at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $45-$84 and can be purchased online at  https://lagunaplayhouse.com, or by calling 949.497.2787. Group discounts are available by calling 949.497.2787, ext. 229. Prices subject to change.

The box office is open Tuesdays through Sundays: 12-4 p.m.; On Mondays it is open two hours prior to show time and until 15 minutes after curtain. It is open until showtime on all performance days.

For more information on all shows and programming, visit https://lagunaplayhouse.com.

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Artist Manuel Avendano opens exhibition at The Signature Gallery during Art Walk on March 7

The Signature Gallery will feature one of their premier local artists for the upcoming First Thursdays Art Walk on Thursday, March 7, from 6-9 p.m. Manuel Avendano, a distinguished Mexican painter known for his captivating works, will present his latest collection, inviting collectors and art enthusiasts to experience his new plein-air paintings firsthand.

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Photos courtesy of The Signature Gallery

“Cafecito” by Avendano

Avendano has recently returned from his months-long European sabbatical with a fresh new body of his recognizably ethereal oil paintings. Drawing inspiration from the natural beauty of his surroundings, Avendano’s paintings transport viewers to these idyllic locations, capturing the essence of each place with his unique artistic vision. His new works feature dreamlike figures and romantic depictions of iconic landscapes from the Eiffel Tower to the beaches of Positano.

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“Morning Walk”

“I have always expressed myself through art. In my early years, drawing and painting took me into a world of my own, and I always knew my path in life would lead me to a career as an artist,” Avendano said. “Previously living in several cities throughout Mexico gave me a great source of inspiration, as well as that strong Hispanic influence. It’s the female figure that I mostly utilize to give a delicate beauty to my paintings.”

Throughout his career, Avendano has received widespread acclaim for his artistic achievements. He has been commissioned to paint key individuals throughout society and politics, including the official portraits of former Mexican Presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon.

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Avendano’s painting “Adagio,” oil on canvas

The First Thursdays Art Walk in Laguna Beach is a beloved tradition that celebrates the vibrant art scene of our coastal community. The Signature Gallery looks forward to welcoming art lovers from near and far to experience the enchantment of Avendano’s new paintings. Guests can expect to enjoy live music, appetizers and refreshments, with the opportunity to meet Avendano in person and gain perspective on his artistic process.

The artist-attended reception will be held on Thursday, March 7 from 6-9 p.m. at The Signature Gallery at 220 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach. For more information about Manuel Avendano and his artwork, visit www.thesignaturegallery.com, or call 949.376.4244.

For more information about First Thursdays Art Walk, visit www.firstthursdaysartwalk.org.

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This is as close as we can come to actually singing to our readers on their birthdays!

We’d love to include yours – and/or your children’s birthdays here.

Just email to: editor@stunewslaguna.com

Celebrate and enjoy your birthday!

February 27: Gavin Richards, Michael Digiovanni, Nancy Robinson, Samantha Savage Breit

February 28: Barbara Bowler, Bob Metzler, Carrie Joyce, Dan Reckard, Ellen Godfrey Vinograd, Mary Rabe, Nancy Caron, Sally Moran, Terry Hubbard, Tricia Bumpus

February 29: Happy Leap Year!

March 1: Andy Schoembs, Jack Wight, Jim Fletcher, Joyce Sadon, Natasha Darling, Rick Conkey, Thasa Hauntz-Zuziak, Valerie Smith

March 2: Carey Brown Strombotne, Claudio Lanzi, Evan Stone, Linda Winslow, Meghan Kelly Sickner, Sally “Priscilla” Conley, Sandie Ward

March 3: Chris Guziak, Jacob Vinograd, Jill Hecht, Stacey Garmshausen, Tom Joliet

March 4: Catherine Helshoj, Kaye Marseille, Michael Tompkins, Rachel Uchizono

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Laguna Live! and LAM present BACH to the Future Live! at the Museum

Laguna Beach Live’s monthly chamber music concert Live! at the Museum in collaboration with the Laguna Art Museum, presents BACH to the Future, featuring dynamic flute and cello duo, Flucello: Antonina Styczen-flute and Pola Benke-cello.

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Photos courtesy of Laguna Live!

Antonina Styczen

The performance will take place on Sunday, March 3 from 1-2 p.m. at the Laguna Art Museum.

Flucello will perform a diverse repertoire, weaving together masterpieces by Johann Sebastian Bach with more modern gems by composers such as Stravinsky and others.

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Pola Benke

Live! at the Museum is now on the first Sunday of the month. A feast of sight and sound, the concert remains free to members of Laguna Beach Live! and to members of the museum; $14 museum admission to non-members. Advanced reservations are recommended and can be made at www.lagunalive.org, or by calling the museum at 949.494.8971.

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach.

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Vehicle break-in prevention

By Nicole Rice, CSO/Crime Prevention, LBPD

Avoid leaving valuables and other small items in plain view. Small items to not leave in your car include mail, money, sunglasses, shopping bags, etc. Even small items can grab attention.

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Courtesy of LBPD

Don’t be a target for a vehicle break-in

Try to always take valuables with you. If you must leave something in your car, lock it in the trunk, if available. If it catches your eye, it catches others’ eyes too.

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This week in Breakers sports

Tuesday, Feb. 27

3 p.m. – Baseball vs. Capistrano Valley Christian

3 p.m. – Girls Beach Volleyball vs. Huntington Beach at Beach/PCH

3 p.m. – Girls Swimming & Diving vs. Fountain Valley

3 p.m. – Boys Swimming & Diving vs. Fountain Valley

3 p.m. – Boys Tennis vs. San Clemente

5:30 p.m. – Girls Lacrosse at Mission Viejo

Wednesday, Feb. 28

2 p.m. – Boys Golf vs. El Toro at Ben Brown’s GC

Thursday, Feb. 29

3 p.m. – Boys Golf vs. Aliso Niguel at El Niguel CC

3 p.m. – Girls Beach Volleyball at Corona del Mar on Big Corona Volleyball Courts

4:30 p.m. – Girls Lacrosse at Wilson/Long Beach

Friday, March 1

6 p.m. – Boys Volleyball vs. Northwood

Saturday, March 2

TBA – Boys Track & Field at Mt. Carmel High School

TBA – Girls Track & Field at Mt. Carmel High School

TBA – Girls Lacrosse vs. TBD in Rose Bowl Tournament at Rose Bowl Stadium

Results

None reported

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LagunaTunes is now accepting new members

LagunaTunes Community Chorus resumed on Saturday, Feb. 24, in preparation for the June concert, Showtunes!

Both new and past members are welcome, and there are no auditions. If you sing in the shower or sing along with the car radio, you’re eligible. All you need is a desire to sing and learn with a fun group of people and a great director. Recorded rehearsal tracks are available for all parts. Listen to them in your car, while exercising, any time you want to learn effortlessly between rehearsals.

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Courtesy of LagunaTunes

LagunaTunes members at brunch rehearsal

The free June concert will feature songs from The Great White Way to Tinseltown, Broadway to Hollywood. It will be Sunday, June 9 at 4 p.m. in the Artists Theater at Laguna Beach High School.

Regular LagunaTunes rehearsals are on Mondays, at 7-9 p.m. at Thurston Middle School (2100 Park Ave., Laguna Beach). Bring a check for $90 (music fee) and a willingness to sing. COVID vaccinations, though not required, are encouraged.

The chorus is led by Bob Gunn, former long-time director of the Orange County’s Men Alive chorus and Laguna’s St. Mary’s choir. LagunaTunes is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides choral singing to everyone. Funding is by the FOA Foundation, the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

For more information, visit www.lagunatuneschorus.org, or email lagunatuneschorus@yahoo.com.

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Laguna Live! kicks off Jazz Wednesdays tomorrow night, February 28

Tuesdays through May, 11:30 a.m.

Live! Music Matters, free children’s program returns

Laguna Beach Live! is delighted to announce another series of their free, children’s program “Live! Music Matters.” An interactive music class for ages up to 6 years old, with caregiver involvement. Local musician Zach Churchill leads the sessions while attendees sing, dance, and play child friendly percussion instruments.

​The Tuesday morning sessions are held at Laguna Beach Library, 363 Glenneyre St.

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Photos courtesy of Laguna Live!

Zach Churchill at Laguna Beach Library – every Tuesday

Jazz Wednesdays returns:

Jazz Wednesdays feature world-class musicians in the cabaret setting of [seven-degrees] 891 Laguna Canyon Road. Held every two weeks, the six-part series kicks off tomorrow night with powerhouse Jazz and Blues Vocalist Maiya Sykes and her sensational Tribute to Musical Legends.

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Maiya Sykes performs on February 28

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Soul of Jazz, Bijon Watson

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience, or to gift the experience, of some truly outstanding music.

Ticket prices for individual concerts remain at only $37.50 in advance; $40 at the door; $225 for the full season. Concerts are 6-8 p.m., doors open at 5 p.m. for bar and social hour. Drinks and food are available for pre purchase.

Click here for tickets, or call 949.715.3713.

The Line-Up

March 13: Matt Johnson and The New Jet Set: “Swingin’ the Disney Songbook” featuring Adryon de Leon.

March 27: Brazilian Guitarist and Vocalist, Téka, Quintet featuring Saxophonist, Robert Kyle.

April 10: Black Market Reverie with their “speak easy” jazz, a mix of jazz, classic French pop and Americana.

April 24: Renowned Soul, Jazz and R&B vocalist, Raffia Thomas brings stunning vocals and soulful vibes along with her quintet.

May 8: Grammy award winner Bijon Watson’s Latin Jazz Syndicate, featuring sizzling Cuban vocalist, Adonis Puentes.

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Flucello, (L-R) Antonina Styczen and Pola Benke – March 3

–Sunday, March 3, 1 p.m.

Live! at the Museum, Flucello with Antonina Styczen and Pola Benke

Flutist Antonina Styczen comes from the small town of Bielsko-Biala in Southern Poland, and at the age of 5, set her mind on having a career as a flutist. By age 6, she had enrolled in a local flute class, and since then has had experimental performance art rarely seen in glamorous concert halls.

Pola Benke, an esteemed cellist hailing from Poland, commenced her musical journey with the cello at the tender age of 8. She debuted as a soloist with the University Orchestra in 2007, rendering a

captivating performance of “Grave” by Lutoslawski. Her quest for musical excellence led her to earn a master’s degree in orchestral training from The Boston Conservatory, and later, to pursue postgraduate studies under the tutelage of the acclaimed Marek Szpakiewicz in Los Angeles.

The concert is performed at the Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach.

Cost: Free for members, $14 for non-members. Email ava@lagunabeachlive.org for reservations.

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Steve Wood and Beth Fitchett, Beth’s Tuesdays – March 5

Tuesday, March 5, 7 p.m.

Beth’s Tuesdays

Joel Rafael and Grace Freeman

Cost: $20. For tickets, click here.

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Letters to the Editor

What follows Gelson’s closing?

It was good to see our Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf showing some concern about the fact that Gelson’s Market in South Laguna is closing March 2.

They say the market is leased from the Aliso Creek Plaza landlords.

The city council is responsible for the general welfare of our city residents. They should encourage the leasing of the market to a new fair pricing operator. So, between Trader Joe’s north of us and Crown Valley Parkway we have two premium-priced stores, Vons and Whole Foods, and one fairly priced store – Ralphs.

Some hope Gelson’s is replaced with a Stater Bros. and others have a favorite grocery store they would like to see open.

The 72+ seniors in the Vista Aliso apartments across from Gelson’s have depended on the store as a lifeline, even though it is “pricey,” because some use walkers to cross the street walking and many others have no car.

Let’s hope a fair-priced operator comes soon.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

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LAM adds new March events and anticipates California Cool Art Auction this weekend

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Photos courtesy of LAM

California Cool Art Auction announces participating artists

California Cool Art Auction, a sell-out annual event, is just around the corner – March 2 at 6:30 p.m. Experience the live and silent auctions alongside a night of specialty-crafted cocktails & appetizers, a red-carpet experience, live music, artist meet & greets, and more. Laguna Art Museum (LAM) has just announced its participating artists.

The annual California Cool Art Auction and Benefit brings together the art community in support of the museum’s mission to enlighten people of all ages through California art.

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Interactive Art Bar

Is it a bar or is it art? Why not both! From the minds of L.A.-based artists Raffi Kalenderian and Alberto Cuadros, interact with a unique, exhibition experience: Raffi and Al’s California Cool Art Bar. There will be drinks, snacks and small works of art for sale.

 Preview auction artworks in person. Online bidding will conclude on March 4.

Laguna Art Museum’s California Cool Art Auction is powered by Artsy, enabling art lovers from around the world to view and bid online. Artsy is the world’s largest and fastest growing marketplace for buying and selling art, with the world’s largest database of contemporary art.

Preview and get ready to bid on more than 125 original artworks in support of your museum. The majority of artworks are on view now at the museum for you to enjoy during museum hours. Proceeds from the annual auction provide vital support to the museum.

Want a closer look at the artworks available in the Art Auction? Many of the available artworks are on display now at the museum to view with admission. Featured are high-profile artworks at affordable starting bids. For a list of participating artists, click here.

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Adam Neeley, “Modern Alchemy” continues through July 29

–Modern Alchemy: The Fusion of Art and Nature in the jewelry Designs of Adam Neeley

Adam Neeley is an award-winning artist/jeweler who transforms precious metals and gemstones into wearable art by traditional goldsmith techniques and modern technologies. His unique designs are inspired by the vast variety of shapes and colors found in the natural world. In fact, it was his childhood interest in collecting rocks that eventually drew Neeley to the master goldsmiths in Italy, where he would study the art of jewelry making. Eventually he developed his own style and techniques of goldwork that have won him international acclaim, as well as prestigious awards across the jewelry industry.

Through many years of trial and error, Neeley developed a never-before-seen technique that he calls Spectra Gold, which seamlessly changes one color of gold into another. This is accomplished by a labor-intensive forging process to create a subtle gradient, or ombré, of color from yellow gold to white gold and more. This, along with his creation of totally new colors of gold, adds to the sense that his jewelry is created by a modern-day alchemist.

This exhibition will explore both the creative working processes of this innovative jeweler, and some of the raw and faceted gems and minerals used by him to create his art. Collaborating with world-class lapidaries, such as Stephen Avery, Neeley creates truly imaginative pieces that go beyond contemporary designs into the realm of dreams and fantasy inspired by imagination and the world around him. Neeley is a true 21st century alchemist.

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California Cool Art Auction and Benefit – March 2

Saturday, March 2, 6:30-10:30 p.m.

42nd Annual Art Auction

Secure tickets for this sell-out event before they are gone! Support Laguna Art Museum’s largest fundraiser of the year by participating in live and silent auctions and enjoying a night of specialty-crafted cocktails & appetizers, a red-carpet experience, live music, artist meet & greets and more.

For advance tickets, click here.

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Meet Pet of the Week Brownie

If you’re looking for a little background sound and a lot of love, it’s time to welcome Brownie the guinea pig into your home. This neutered male is 1 1/2 years old, is very friendly and loves to be held. Feeding is a special time, as he squeals for food and is very, very happy when his vegetable tray arrives. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, is hoping to have Brownie adopted as soon as possible.

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Courtesy of the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter

Brownie, the guinea pig who loves his vegetables

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, their return rate is 5% as compared to the national return rate of 50%.

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road. Call 949.497.3552, or go to the website for information on adoption procedures, www.puplagunabeach.org/our-pets.php.

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Dennis’ Local Almanac

By DENNIS McTIGHE

Here comes March

Here’s the latest on Daylight Savings Time. Oregon was trying to get rid of it, but California and Washington were not on board, so it’s a “no go” as all three states must agree. So, we stick with the plan and Daylight Savings will commence on Sunday, March 10 and continue until the first Sunday in November.

Our longest day will occur on the summer solstice on June 21 with a sunrise at 5:42 a.m. and sunset at 8:08 p.m. at our latitude. It’s not that the day is any longer per se, rather it’s the point at which we have the most daylight of the year on a particular day. The farther north you go into higher latitudes, the more sun time you get. The opposite occurs in the Southern Hemisphere where you have the least amount of sun time, and at the Equator it’s pretty much 12 hours of sun time the whole year.

Here comes March – which starts on this coming Friday – and things begin to warm up a bit with a normal hi-lo of 68-48 degrees. The warmest day in March was March 26, 1988, with a high temp of 92 degrees – a product of a late-in-the-season strong Santana wind event.

The coldest March temp occurred on March 5, 1976, with a low of 33 degrees in town and 29 out in the canyon. Normal March rainfall in Laguna is around 2.5 inches with the wettest March on record at 10.40 inches. There have been two rainless months in March and that was in 1959 and again in 1997. Santana wind events begin to decrease in March, but they still occur on occasion.

Water temps in Laguna average around 57 degrees but they’ve been as cold as 52 in 1989 and as warm as 67 in 1997. On occasion, we’ll see a bit of the morning marine layer in the form of some fog and low clouds but that usually is reserved for later months like April, May and June. Sometimes we’ll see an early – in the season – strong Southern Hemisphere swell that increases in frequency during the months in later spring and summer.

Our next weathermaker is perched off our coast with lots of instability as it possesses two different air masses with subtropical air from the SSW – and it’s mixing with cold unstable air from the NNW. Together they’re creating a lot of convective activity in the form of some strong to severe thunderstorms. There’s lots of lightning with scattered heavy showers and squalls with hail in some areas and even a few waterspouts thrown into the mix. This area of disturbed weather isn’t moving very much currently. It’s just kind of meandering around out there a couple of hundred miles off the Southern California coastline with most of the activity occurring from Point Conception to the north and the Mexico/California border to the south.

The term “cutoff low” is the prime reason for this storm to be almost stationary (instead of moving through here and clearing out within a day). It simply means this low has broken free from the normal storm track thus allowing it to wander around in almost any direction with little or no steering mechanisms to give it a push, so it’s hard to forecast their next move. These “cutoff lows” have been known to wander around for as much as a week merely drifting back and forth between San Diego and the Bay area. The northern jet stream is well to our north at the present time and the southern jet is well to our south, so we’re kind of in between – at least for the near future. Stay tuned on that one.

Until then, ALOHA!

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LBCAC adds new events to 2024

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Courtesy of LBCAC

Guy King – February 28

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m.

Guy King Trio

The Sky and Ocean Aren’t the Only Way to See Inspiring Blues in Laguna in 2024.

The Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center has stepped up to preserve one of America’s most powerful and influential art forms, by providing a memorable OC haven for national touring blues legends.

The LBCAC offers its intimate listening room, stellar acoustics, state-of-the-art sound system and a host town recognized as one of the nation’s leading arts-centric resort destinations.

Guy King got his start in Chicago, with blues singer Willie Kent’s band “The Gents.” They played together for six years, and ultimately, King became Kent’s bandleader. Not long after Kent died, King began his solo career. King is known for his eclectic style and unusual technique of plucking the strings with the side of his thumb.

For tickets, click here.

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Photo by Barbara MacGillivray

Steve Wood and Beth Fitchett, Beth’s Tuesdays – March 5

Tuesday, March 5, 7 p.m.

Beth’s Tuesdays

Joel Rafael and Grace Freeman

Cost: $20. For tickets, click here.

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Photos courtesy of LBCAC

Art Walk featuring James Clay Garrison – March 5

Thursday, March 7, 6-9 p.m.

Art Walk featuring the music of James Clay Garrison

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Courtesy of LBCAC

Chris Cain – March 12

Tuesday, March 12, 7 p.m.

Laguna Blues, Chris Cain

Among the greatest compliments a musician can receive is praise from his fellow artists. With more than three decades of touring and 14 previous albums, master blues guitarist and vocalist Chris Cain has earned his reputation as a musician’s musician.

Cost: $30. For tickets, click here.

LBCAC is located at 235 Forest Avenue.

Checkout the calendar at www.lbculturalartscenter.org.

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A glimpse at Crystal Cove

Crystal Cove State Park is offering a variety of public events in February. During the winter, the beaches and park are less crowded, providing the perfect opportunity to hike, explore and discover the flora and fauna, and take in picturesque ocean vistas.

Speaker event with Rich German, founder of Project O: March 2 from 1-3 p.m.

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Courtesy of Crystal Cove State Park

Rich German, founder of Project O

Join Crystal Cove Conservancy as they fall even more in love with the ocean during a special speaker event featuring marine conservation advocate and founder of Project O, Rich German.

Guests will enjoy a special presentation and Q&A conversation with German, as he highlights the ocean’s beauty and its marine life as seen through his eyes, while also sharing about the perils our planet faces that impact humans. A post-event reception will be held for guests to mingle, as they enjoy complimentary lights bites and drinks on the Cottage Check-in Deck #35.

The event is free to attend, but RSVP is required, so register here.

For a complete calendar of events, go to www.crystalcovestatepark.org/park-calendars/.

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Sawdust Festival looks forward to more exciting classes

Sawdust Art Classes has many expressive and informative classes offered every week that the Sawdust Art Festival wants to share with you (far too many to mention here!).

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Photos courtesy of Sawdust

Pottery Wheel Experience – March 2, 9, 16 and 23

Saturday, Feb. 24, 1 p.m.

Pottery Wheel Experience

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit at a potter’s wheel and actually throw a pot?

Robert Jones will take you through the process step-by-step, allowing you to gain confidence so that, with his help, you will make your own pottery pieces on the wheel. Each student will make two pieces that he will then fire and glaze in his own studio so that you will end up with a beautifully glazed mug or bowl which you can truly call your own. Please note, the firing and glazing time will take approximately 3-4 weeks before ready to collect. If you wish your items to be mailed, there will be an additional cost to cover postage and packing.

Absolutely no experience is necessary to take this class, however closed-toe shoes and casual, comfortable clothing are recommended. All materials are included in the cost.

Cost: $105.

Animal Portraits – March 9

Saturday, March 9, 1 p.m.

Animal Portraits

Are you an animal lover who loves to paint? Join Sawdust for this fun and value-packed class to the alla prima style of oil painting, or “wet on wet” direct oil painting.

Attendees will paint the animal portrait from a photo (provided) or you can bring a photo of your pet. All skill levels are welcome.
In this fast-paced, two-hour class, Tatyana Zen will take you through all stages and tools – brushes, paint, palette and support. You will learn not only the fundamentals – composition, drawing, establishing value and color harmony, but also be encouraged to notice unique characteristics that capture the essence of the animal.

Note: A reference photo is provided. Students can use their own photo (printed or on a digital device to reference during class).

 Cost: $95.

I Spy Your Eye Photography – March 28

Thursday, March 28, 10 a.m.

I Spy Your Eye Photography with Mary Church

Join artist Mary Church in this three-part class covering the key principles of photography. In the first part of the class, Church will talk you through the key elements including perspective, composition, color, design and imagery. Then, under her guidance, attendees will explore the grounds of the Sawdust Festival to create three different printed images (one 8.5” x 11” and two 4” x 6”) that you will take home. The final element of this class will be a display of your images and discoveries that you made during your time in class.

To participate in this class, you will need to have either a digital camera, an iPhone/iPad, or Android/smart phone (all digital devices welcome). This class is suitable for ages 10-110.

Cost: $95.

Women’s Retreat Workshop – April 20 and May 18

–Saturday, April 20, 1-5 p.m.

–Saturday, May 18, 1-5 p.m.

Women’s Retreat Workshop – Michelle Burt

For a while now, Michelle Burt has been wanting to create a safe space for women to come together, reduce stress and create together. She has a process where participants can transform the stress of their lives into something beautiful.

Join in the adventure of creating abstract art by sheer intuition. Like dancing, you’ll find your own rhythm utilizing different textures, materials, colorful mediums and tools. You will explore oil pastels, acrylic paint, specialty papers, graphite, charcoal and inks. There are so many different items to choose from.

Women will share a lovely afternoon exploring and creating an abstract piece of art that will inspire them every day.

Note: This workshop is held off-site, but within Laguna Beach. Exact location address details will be provided upon registration.

Cost: $298.

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LOCA is excited to present Art Talks beginning on March 14

Art lovers will meet Laguna Beach’s most fascinating artists and industry professionals at LOCA Art Talks. Events are Thursday evenings, now through May in Downtown Laguna Beach. Attendees will receive a post-event coupon for 15% off dining at nearby restaurants.

LOCA Art Talks schedule:

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Courtesy of LOCA

Art and Jazz – March 14

Thursday, March 14, 5:30-7 p.m.

Art and Jazz: The Iconic Imagery of Blue Note Records

LCAD Gallery, 374 Ocean Ave., Laguna Beach

Everyone who appreciates art and jazz music will love meeting vocalist and historian Elena Gilliam. She will share the history of art appearing on the spectacular album covers of Blue Note Records. Gilliam, a longtime jazz vocalist, performs locally at The Drake and Skyloft, and at Campus Jax in Newport Beach.

Her productions have ranged from tributes to Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne. Her upcoming premiere concert, Shall We Dance, will be performed at Irvine Barclay Theater on April 7.

Gilliam’s Art Talk will include a slideshow of cover art by Blue Note Records. The label, founded in 1939, became iconic by introducing groundbreaking early jazz musicians including Art Blakey, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk and many others. The development of unique and now highly collectible album covers played an integral role in the promotion of this “new sound.” Graphic designer Reid Miles and photographer Francis Wolff made history in the 1940s-1960s creating trendsetting designs and elements still in use today. “Their bold use of color, intimate photography and meticulous typography came to define the look of jazz,” said Robin Kinross of Eye Magazine. Even a young Andy Warhol was commissioned by Blue Note Records. Attendees will learn about these amazing covers, their creators and how the visuals became an integral part in the evolution of jazz.

As a bonus, everyone will receive a post-event certificate for 15% off food at nearby Lumberyard Restaurant.

Advance registration is required.

Cost: Free to LOCA Members: Advance registration is required, email: loca@locaarts.org. Non-Members $20.

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April 25: Andrew Myers – Career Retrospective, with Andrew Myers. Registration is open.

May: Public Art in Downtown Laguna Beach, with Mike Tauber and guest artists. Registration opens soon.

Become a LOCA member and enjoy free admission to all LOCA Art Talks, and many other benefits.

LOCA’s newest teaching location is in the south end of Laguna Beach, easily reached from Downtown, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel and San Clemente.

The expansion allows LOCA to offer “extended learning” series of classes whereby students, both adults and families, can build a “toolbox of skills” over several weeks.

LOCA students will enjoy the hilltop location, panoramic ocean views and free onsite parking. Laguna Beach Community and Recreation Center, 30516 S. Coast Highway. Enter on Cardinal Drive, just south of Nyes Place.

Know someone who loves art and Laguna Beach? Surprise them with a LOCA 2024 membership and they’ll enjoy a full year of art experiences of their choice! Your $50 purchase ensures them a bounty of benefits including free admission to six LOCA Art Talks lectures, an exclusive Membership Sunday Brunch and Art Talk, a shout-out feature in their eNewsletter, half-priced registration to LOCA’s workshops taught by well-known Laguna Beach artists throughout the town – and much more.

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Courtesy of LOCA

Give the gift of art experiences for a full year

What they’ll get:

Your thoughtfully chosen gift will be presented as a charming reusable box, topped with a LOCA pencil, and elegantly wrapped with a bow. Inside is a 2024 membership card listing the fantastic benefits. A $250 value!

Buy it now for $50:

Use LOCA’s secure and easy “Gift a Membership” red checkout button on their membership page by clicking here. Your package will arrive by mail in 4-7 business days.

Check out all the Custom Art Escapes LOCA has to offer – there’s something for everyone.

Courtesy of LOCA

Projects have included “Bioluminescence” inspired by recent ocean phenomenon

Families Love LOCA at the Library

LOCA’s Family Art Classes at Laguna Beach Public Library have been a smashing success. The “happy hour” 4:30-5:30 p.m. timeslot has made it convenient for parents and kids to enjoy a creative learning space, led by Allison Keefe. “We encourage parents and kids to work together,” Keefe said.

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Fire on Bird Rock

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The sun sets behind Bird Rock making the rock mass seem aglow

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Laguna Beach Master Community Calendar

The following are calendar links for regularly scheduled meetings and events in Laguna Beach:

City of Laguna Beach meetings & events calendar

www.lagunabeachcity.net

Laguna Beach Public Library – everything at the library calendar

www.ocpl.org/libraries/laguna-beach

Laguna Beach Unified School District news & events calendar

www.lbusd.org/calendar

Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce community events calendar

www.lagunabeachchamber.org/events/calendar

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The art of the hustle: Michael Savas’ LCAD exhibition showcases the diverse range of a working artist

By MARRIE STONE

This story is a part of our Arts section. For more arts stories as well as our arts calendars, visit www.stunewslaguna.com/arts.

Back in the 1970s, when Michael Savas was still deciding on a profession, it came down to music or art. Like a lot of 20-somethings in the ‘70s, he played in a band and took classes at Orange Coast College. But he figured art might be the better long-term choice. So, without any technical training – but a lot of talent, hard work and relentless determination – Savas began building a 45-year art career from the ground up.

“I put together some promo materials, found a mentor and – slowly but surely – started building a freelance business,” said Savas, who has taught at Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD) since 1996 and served as Chair of the Illustration Department since 2005.

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Courtesy of Michael Savas

Michael Savas has taught at LCAD since 1996 and served as chair of the Illustration Department since 2005

Now through March 17, Michael Savas: Variety of Creation is on exhibit at the LCAD Gallery. The show spans several decades of Savas’ diverse and prolific career including technical illustrations, digital prints, acrylic portraits, oil paintings and airbrush work. Unfortunately, there wasn’t space for his many watercolors, sculptures, children’s book illustrations, gouache, reduction cut prints and other works.

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Photo by Marrie Stone

“Michael Savas: Variety of Creation” is on display at the LCAD Gallery on Ocean Avenue through March 17

In addition to a few dozen outstanding pieces on display, the exhibit conveys the full life of a working artist, the art of the hustle and what it can take to make a living in an ever-evolving field. It also demonstrates how quickly Savas had to pivot his skills and adapt to new technologies that threatened to drive him out of business. When Savas saw how digital tools were coming to take his job in the 1990s, he learned to use them to his advantage and was soon hired by LCAD to teach.

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Photo by Marrie Stone

“Reuland Electric Motor Co.” (1996), acrylic and airbrush on board. Companies initially resisted digital technology. As an early adopter, Savas convinced them change was inevitable. He taught his first LCAD class on computer imaging.

Savas began as a self-taught portrait artist at amusement parks like Disneyland and Marine Land. He refined his ink and technical skills during the ‘80s, finding lucrative work in the aerospace industry as a technical illustrator. His clients included companies like McDonald Douglas, Hughes Aircraft and Northrop Grumman. That paved the way for jobs with other manufacturers including Rainbird Sprinklers, Reuland Electric Motors and several others. He also worked in advertising for companies like Mars Candy, Quaker Oats and Carl’s Jr.

“I hadn’t taken any technical or perspective classes. I learned that on my own. I went to the library and studied books on perspective, dimetric drawing, isometric drawing – which is what they did back then.”

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Photo by Marrie Stone

“Meter” made for Beckman Instruments (1997), acrylic and airbrush on board

The technical aspects of art weren’t the only skills Savas learned. There was also the business of art. He taught himself how to pitch clients by stuffing envelopes and selling himself to agencies. He learned how to invoice, pay taxes and get a business license. He even discovered how to sue a client when they stiffed him on a bill. And he won.

“I was a hustler turned artist,” Savas said. “I needed money. I would do anything anyone paid me to do, and I didn’t turn anything away. If I didn’t know how to do it, I would research and learn. But when you’re self-taught, you always feel like an impostor. What legitimized my career was getting the degree.”

Savas returned to school in the 1990s, earning his BFA from LCAD and his MFA from California University Long Beach.

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57th Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade line-up

The 57th Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade on Saturday, March 2 will salute as honorees “Grand Marshal Captain Rick Shoemaker,” “Honored Patriot of the Year Colonel Richard Seitz,” “Citizen of the Year Karyn Philippsen,” “Junior Citizens of the Year Elaina Seybold and Tyler Palino,” “Artist of the Year Mike Tauber” and “Athlete of the Year Brayden Belden.”

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Courtesy of LB Patriots Day Parade

Vietnam Vets march in 2023 Patriots Day Parade

The parade starts at 11 a.m. on Park Avenue near Laguna Beach High School, turns right on Glenneyre and right again on Forest Avenue, ending just past City Hall.

For information, email shworthy@cox.net, or check the website www.lagunabeachparade.com for more information. To access the parade line-up, go to the middle right of the website page and hit “Click on for the line-up.”

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Public invited to attend grand opening of new Moulton Meadows Park Dog Play Area on February 29

The City of Laguna Beach is excited to invite the community to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Moulton Meadows Park Dog Play Area. The event is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Feb. 29 at 10 a.m. at Moulton Meadows Park (Balboa Avenue and Capistrano Avenue) in Laguna Beach.

The new Moulton Meadows Park Dog Play Area has a variety of new amenities and enhancements for the community including new benches, new fencing, a modified irrigation system, renovated turf, new landscaping and a new asphalt path along the frontage of the dog play area.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for February 29 at Moulton Meadows Park

“Our community is excited for the grand opening of the Moulton Meadows Dog Play Area, a project that creates a permanent space for dog owners to enjoy,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf. “We took time to create a space where dogs and their owners can explore, socialize and have fun. We are grateful for Senator Dave Min’s commitment to our community securing the funding for this project.”

A significant contribution to the funding of the Moulton Meadows Dog Play Area was made possible by Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), who secured $300,000 in state funding for the project.

“Orange County’s open spaces are part of what makes our communities an incredible place to live, work and raise a family. Laguna Beach is no exception, and today, we’re doubling the state of California’s impact in the city,” said Senator Dave Min. “With the help of $300,000 secured in the 2023-24 state budget, this investment is a reflection of the strong state and local partnership that helps to meet the needs of Laguna Beach families. Thank you to the city leaders and the many residents, including our very vocal canine community, who made this dog play area a reality for Moulton Meadows.”

The city invites community members and their dogs to come out to the ribbon-cutting ceremony and enjoy the new amenities at Moulton Meadows Park Dog Play Area.

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Cultural opportunities: Two concerts at Cultural Center will feature classical music and world-famous blues performer Guy King

By THERESA KEEGAN

This story is a part of our Arts section. For more arts stories as well as our arts calendars, visit www.stunewslaguna.com/arts.

The Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center (LBCAC) has become a harbinger of the arts, welcoming a diverse group of artists to our community. This upcoming week’s performances highlight that versatility.

On Sunday, Feb. 25, a Ukrainian pianist who helps traumatized children through music will take the stage with a violinist and a Chinese soprano singer to produce Lunar Lullaby and on Wednesday, Feb. 28, the internationally famous blues performer Guy King will kick off a series celebrating this all-American genre.

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Courtesy of Lyena Atonyicq

(L-R) Lyena Atonyicq, vocalist and pianist, lived and performed in New York before moving to California seven years ago. She is joined by soprano Diana Skavronskaya after the show.

“Pretty much we’re all foreign born, but we all moved here and live here,” Lunar Lullaby organizer Lyena Atonyicq said of her performers. “But music is international and has its own unspoken language of peace.”

She will be joined on stage with soprano Elaine Huang and violinist Xenia Deviatkina-Loh. The three women are creating a night of “enchantment and impact” according to Atonyicq, who hopes to raise funds for her nonprofit, Artomya.

They will feature some of her own compositions, as well as many classical pieces and some lively pieces by George Gershwin.

“Music is my life,” said Atonyicq. “It offers me a different perspective on the world. Many people travel the world and go to museums to learn about culture. To me, music is the same way. It opens your eyes to the world around us.”

She left her home country of Ukraine 24 years ago to pursue a music education in the United States. But it was her world travels in 2003 that solidified her focus on the healing power of music – especially for children.

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Courtesy of Lyena Atonyicq

(L-R) Lyena Atonyicq joined harpist Alisa Sadikova in New York

“Classical music heals your nervous system,” she said. “It raises your vibration and it regulates your auto immune system.”

While she spends time teaching students piano and voice in person, Atonyicq also offers online Zoom sessions. Getting parents involved is key to a program’s effectiveness she says. A goal is for the practicing to continue throughout the week.

“It’s a relationship when you teach students,” she said.  “Every child has difficult days, so I give parents very easy ways to calm them down.”

In addition to her trio, the Lunar Lullaby evening will also feature Laguna Beach’s own Eric Henderson. The gifted guitarist who has trained under Andres Segovia always presents an amazing show that pushes musical boundaries.

“The whole night should be fun – and delicious,” said Atonyicq. “I am bringing Ukranian cakes (known as Kyiv cakes) to share.”

When Guy King starts playing the blues at the Cultural Arts Center on Wednesday, he will be the inaugural act of a monthly blues series the center is offering. It will also be one of King’s first concerts since returning from a tour in Switzerland with his band earlier in the month.

The trio will be performing some of the songs King has written and composed, as well as other blues favorites.

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Courtesy of LBCAC

Chicago-based Guy King is a quintessential performer of the blues. He writes, composes and arranges many of his own pieces.

It’s a long way from his youth in Chicago when he’d read liner notes on his older siblings’ albums and be carried away by the music of Marvin Gaye and Eric Clapton and an ever-evolving line-up of musicians.

“Then the blues came in and swept me off my feet,” said King. “All the elements pulled together. I understood how they worked.”

With the innocence of youth, he decided he’d become a musician.

“I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” he said. But he practiced continually, and felt he was getting better. As others affirmed that he was good, and improving, he kept at it. Although his family was always musically inclined – his parents insisted all their children would learn an instrument – King didn’t receive formal training in mastering the blues. As a youngster, he sang with big bands, and he took naturally to performing.

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LB Garden Club Monthly Meeting and Speaker Series on March 8

Join the Laguna Beach Garden Club on Friday, March 8 as they feature Alan Barry for their Monthly Meeting and Speaker Series. Social time and refreshments will take place between 9:30-10 a.m., and meetings begin promptly at 10 a.m. Meetings are held at Laguna Presbyterian Church in Tankersley Hall located at 415 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach. Non-members are invited to attend for free on their first visit.

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Courtesy of Laguna Beach Garden Club

Alan Barry will speak on the “Joy of Bird Feeding” on March 8

Barry, an engineer and an educator, will be speaking on the “Joy of Bird Feeding.”

Take an engineer and an educator, move them to South County, and they discover birds! Barry and his wife Maggie, moved to Rancho Santa Margarita 26 years ago. They were immediately enthralled by the variety of birds in their yard, and sought out a bird feeding resource. This brought them to Wild Birds Unlimited in Mission Viejo. After having been customers for several years, they bought the franchise from the original owner in 2014.

Now both retired from their prior careers, they continue to enjoy operating the store with their team of fellow bird lovers. Barry’s presentation will speak to all aspects of the hobby of bird feeding focusing on the actions you can take in your own yard to attract local birds.

Please do not use the church parking lot; street parking is available.

For more information about the LB Garden Club, go to www.lagunabeachgardenclub.org, or contact info@lagunabeachgardenclub.com.

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No Square Theatre holds auditions beginning on March 12 for Dogfight

Initial auditions (by appointment) for the play, Dogfight, which will open on May 17, at No Square Theatre, will be held:

Tuesday, March 12 – 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 13 – 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 14 (TBD, if needed)

To schedule an audition appointment, email Ella Wyatt, artistic director, No Square Theatre at theellawyatt@gmail.com.

Callbacks (by invitation):

Monday, March 18 – 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 19 – 6:30-9:30 p.m.

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Courtesy of No Square Theatre

Auditions for “Dogfight” begin on March 12

Dogfight features music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. It is based on the book by Peter Duchan and directed by Karen Rymar. Christopher W. Smith is the musical director, and it will be choreographed by Sabrina Harper.

Rehearsals/Performances

Rehearsals begin March 25 and will be scheduled weekday evenings and weekend days. Final rehearsal schedule will be determined based on cast availability within those options. Cast will not be called seven days a week. Tech rehearsals will begin on Saturday, May 11, and performances begin on Friday, May 17 and continue through Sunday, May 26.

Those who are auditioning should prepare a contemporary musical theater song (not from the show) under three minutes to demonstrate range, musicality and storytelling abilities. They should also bring a headshot, resume and sheet music in the appropriate key; an accompanist will be provided. (Also bring a list of all conflicts from March 25-May 26.)

For more information, click here.

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Vietnam veterans are encouraged to participate in the Patriots Day Parade

The Patriots Day Parade is planned for Saturday, March 2 and Vietnam veterans, along with other U.S. military service veterans, are being encouraged to join in for the festivities.

A parade entry position (entry #9) has been reserved for local Vietnam vets to participate in the parade again this year. The group, South Orange County Vietnam Veterans, has been doing so every year since 1985.

The parade organizers invite all branches of the service – including those from World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria – to participate and be recognized for their service.

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Courtesy of South Orange County Vietnam Veterans

Local veterans proudly wave their flags to the applause of many onlookers during a previous Patriots Day Parade

Veterans are encouraged to wear their uniforms (or parts thereof).

The group will organize near Laguna Beach High School, located at 625 Park Ave. from 9-10 a.m.

Parking will be challenging because of pre-parade organization, so those planning to participate should arrive as early as possible to ensure a parking spot. Those needing additional assistance may go to the check-in booth at the corner of Park and Short streets for information.

The parade will cover about six blocks (all downhill or level ground) and will begin promptly at 11 a.m.

The Vietnam vet group is also seeking a convertible automobile that would allow those needing to ride, rather than march, the opportunity to do so.

Additionally, the veterans a are planning their traditional annual get-together at Hennessey’s Tavern (213 Ocean Ave.) immediately following the parade’s conclusion.

Interested veterans should contact Patrick Freeman at patrick@lagunabeachinsurance.com, or call 949.497.7473.

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Festival of Arts now accepting scholarship applications, deadline March 8

The Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach (FOA) announced that applications for the 2024/2025 academic school year are now open to local students. Applicants must be a graduating high school senior who resides in Laguna Beach or attends Laguna Beach High School. Applications are available online by clicking here. Deadline to apply is March 8 at 4 p.m.

Since 1957, the Festival of Arts scholarship program has supported rising young artists by making it possible for students to pursue college studies in the arts. Last year, the Festival awarded six students with first-year scholarships totaling $120,000 and renewed scholarships totaling $30,900 for nine students.

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Courtesy of FOA

Original watercolor illustration by Vanessa Rothe, 1988 Festival of Arts Scholarship recipient, for the 1988 Laguna Beach High School yearbook

Many Festival of Arts scholarship recipients pursue successful careers in the arts, including Laguna Beach artist Vanessa Rothe. With many accolades to her name including gallery owner, curator, fine artist, author, editor, lecturer and more, Rothe credits her Festival of Arts scholarship to her career success.

“I was so honored to be awarded the Festival of Arts scholarship soon after winning first place in the 1988 senior art contest at Laguna Beach High School,” shared Rothe. “The Festival of Arts scholarship played a pivotal role in helping me pay for my first years at the University of San Diego, where I took one art class at a time along with my business and literature majors. The scholarship encouraged me to take fine art classes and there was one particular art class, a graphic design class, which gave me a skill I could use for the rest of my life.”

The four-year, highly competitive scholarships are awarded to students who excel in Film, Performing Arts (dance, music and theater arts including performance and production), Visual Arts and Writing. A student may apply for any or all of the four categories, but will only be awarded one scholarship. The Festival of Arts Scholarship Committee includes Chair Pat Kollenda, and committee members Wayne Baglin, John Connolly, Marge Earl, Jacquie Moffett and Jeff Rovner.

“Students with talents in multiple fields are encouraged to submit an application in more than one category,” said Festival of Arts Board Secretary and Scholarship Chair Pat Kollenda. She continued, “This is an excellent opportunity for students who are considering a career in the arts.”

Rothe added, “My advice for any young artist today would be to learn to draw well first. Do the hard work at a young age, get your classical training in drawing and really understand light logic and ‘values.’”

For general scholarship information, click here. The Festival of the Arts is a non-profit organization that produces the Festival of Arts fine art show and the Pageant of the Masters. Their mission is to support the arts and art education in and about Laguna Beach.

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Artists Fund “Special Sale Gallery”

Now through May 2024, view the Artists Fund “Special Sale Gallery” collection of affordable originals. Proceeds from sales support their Hardship Grant fund.

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Courtesy of Artists Fund

“Afternoon Light” by Cliff Wassmann, part of the Special Sale Gallery

All works are originals donated by past and present Festival exhibitors. Prices shown are reduced – to support their Hardship Grant fund for artists in need. Works may be collected in Laguna Beach or shipped at an additional cost.

To purchase artwork, contact curator Mike Tauber, call or text at 949.497.3597.

To view them online, click here.

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Cultural Arts invites public to dedication of temporary sculpture installation on March 7

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Photos courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

“Dream Big” by Elizabeth Laul Healey

–Thursday, March 7, 5 p.m.

Dream Big Public Art Dedication

The Arts Commission invites the public to attend the dedication of the temporary sculpture installation Dream Big by Elizabeth Laul Healey on Thursday, March 7 at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 505 Forest Ave. The sculpture will be installed on the front lawn at City Hall and be on display March through May 2024.

Sunset Serenades Artwork

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“Sunset Beats” by Kimberly Duran

Kimberly Duran’s design was selected by the Arts Commission for the Sunset Serenades Promotional Artwork competition. The 2024 Sunset Serenades concert season starts the first Friday in May.

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and city of Laguna Beach.

Year in Review

The Arts Commission and Cultural Arts review their 2023 accomplishments. To view, click here.

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2023 banner by Tatyana Zen

Banner Competition

Deadline: March 4

Honorarium: $4,000

Watch the new “Artist Perspective” video (click here) featuring local artist Al Esquerra sharing his best practices for the City of Laguna Beach annual Outdoor Banner Competition. The Arts Commission is also accepting design submissions for the 2024 Banner Competition. You can participate and be a part of Laguna Beach’s artistic community by applying today.

Open to residents of Orange County, 18 years of age or older. The completed banners are displayed on lampposts throughout the city of Laguna Beach during June, July and August and celebrate the summer season.

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and city of Laguna Beach.

Click here for the 2024 Banner Competition program guidelines. The deadline to apply is March 4.

Art That’s Small at City Hall

Deadline: March 9

1st – $600 | 2nd – $300 | 3rd – $150

The Arts Commission invites artists to participate in their temporary public art and exhibitions opportunities.

These programs are funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Public Art Ordinance & Policy

The City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission will present its concept and recommendations for policies for public art to the City Council on February 27. The purpose of the report is to provide a consolidated and updated set of policies that could become a comprehensive program guideline available online for all artists, stakeholders and the public.

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LPAPA announces 20th Annual “Best of Plein Air” Juried Show on March 4

LPAPA’s 20th Annual “Best of Plein Air” Juried Art Show – a celebration of paintings by LPAPA members created outdoors “en plein air.”

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Photos courtesy of LPAPA

“Best of Plein Air” Juried Show – March 4-April 1

Show Overview & Timeline: (All times shown are Pacific Time)

Online Art Catalog Exhibition (Finalists & Top Semi-Finalists): March 4 through April 1.

Online Preview Auction: Opens 10 a.m. Monday, March 4, ends 8 p.m., Thursday, March 7.

LPAPA Gallery Show (Finalists):  Opens 11 a.m., Thursday, March 7 through Monday, April 1.

Art Walk Gallery Reception & Awards: Thursday, March 7, 6-9 p.m. (awards 7 p.m.) Gallery awards presentation will be live-streamed on Facebook.

Award Winners: Award winners will be announced during the March 7 Art Walk Gallery Reception. The 1st Place award-winning artist also receives a coveted “golden ticket” invitation to participate in LPAPA’s 26th Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational, October 5-13.

LPAPA is proud to present its Juried Art Shows, Signature Showcase Exhibitions, Signature Artist in Residence Exhibitions and Featured Members at their beautiful gallery located on Gallery Row in Laguna Beach, Calif.

Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, LPAPA Gallery, 414 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday through Monday, and by appointment. Hours extended to 9 p.m. for First Thursdays Art Walk reception (6-9 p.m.).

To contact, call 949.376.3635 or email info@lpapa.org.

Online Paint Party Paint Alongs:

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New Paint Party Paint Alongs – February 28 and March 6

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Daddy’s Girl – February 28

Online Paint Party

Save more than $35 when you enroll in the series of four, or purchase individual courses for $59/each.

Sunset Sky – March 6

New Paint Party Paint Alongs are here. Grab your paint and easel and join award-winning artist Debra Huse for live, online Paint Parties.

Discover Huse, who will provide the reference photos and guide you from start to finish as you paint together, brushstroke by brushstroke. Enjoy exclusive pro tips and insightful instruction. Paint Parties are fun for everyone, from beginner to more advanced painters. Complete a great little painting in only two hours. See, paint and learn with other artists from across the world.

To register, click here.

Annual Signature Showcase

The LPAPA Gallery features their 3rd Annual “Signature Showcase” gallery exhibition features original plein air and studio works created by LPAPA Signature Artist Members on display until March 4.

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Signature Showcase

Participating Signature Artists: Geoff Allen, Richard Boyer, Carl Bretzke, Cynthia Britain, Brienne Brown, Saim Caglayan, Larry Cannon, Rick J. Delanty, Gil Dellinger, Carole Gray-Weihman, Scott Hamill, Nita Harper, Mike Hill, Catherine Hillis, Charlie Hunter, Debra Huse, Chuck Kovacic, Jason Li, Calvin Liang, Richard Lindenberg, Kim Lordier, David Marty, Eileen McCullough, Terry Miura, Lisa Mozzini-McDill, Robin Purcell, Jeff Sewell, Mark Shasha, Michael Situ, Durre Waseem and Ran Wu.

The LPAPA Gallery hours are Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., or by appointment, with extended hours to 9 p.m. the first Thursday of each month. For assistance, call the LPAPA Gallery at 949.376.3635, or contact Bonnie Lander at bonnie@lpapa.org, or Toni Kellenberg at toni@lpapa.org, or by phone at 949.291.0882

Laguna Plein Air Painters Association/LPAPA Gallery is located at 414 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

For more information, go to www.lpapa.org.

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Reflecting on the sunset

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The setting sun reflects off of the Main Beach lifeguard tower window in its bright yellow and orange

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Compiled by Suzie Harrison

Police Beat derives from information in the daily police and arrest logs published on the City of Laguna Beach’s website and required under CA Government Code Section 6254 (f). Additional information is obtained through communication with the Laguna Beach Police Department’s Public Information Officer.

Information in the logs is deemed reliable and Stu News Laguna is not responsible for any mistakes made available as public record by the Laguna Beach Police Department.

Any person arrested is innocent until found guilty in a court of law.


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