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Laguna Beach

 Volume 11, Issue 98  | December 6, 2019

Timeless wonder of Festival of Arts electrifies large crowd at Preview Party


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

On Wednesday evening, the buzz in the air was palpable as the crowd mingled among artist booths during Preview Night at the Festival of Arts (FOA). No matter how many times one goes to the Festival of Arts, the anticipation never wanes. Each year is different and the raw excitement of seeing the unique and innovative creations of longtime exhibitors and new propels visitors among the maze of booths. 

The Festival’s prestigious juried art show includes a wide variety of media such as paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, handcrafted wood and furniture, ceramics, glass and more – all by 140 of Orange County’s finest artists. 

The timeless costumes

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Lisa M. Berman and artist Kathe Madrigal with time travelers Stacey and Benjamin 

Of course, the Pageant of the Masters theme of The Time Traveler echoed throughout the grounds. Attendees were asked to dress up in their favorite time period and many did, to the delight of all. Steampunk costumes were a favorite and added a wonderful whimsy to the night. 

Part of the overall party atmosphere was the fun of spotting friends and then enjoying the beautiful weather, food, libations, and music that played throughout the evening.

First-time exhibitor Lisa Kijak describes her pieces: “My textile work explores texture and its ability to illustrate the passage of time. I use layers of fabric and stitch to recreate the peeling paint and chipped surfaces of neon signs left in disrepair.”

The timeless Lisa

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First-time exhibitor Lisa Kijak and her textile works

After her first night at FOA, she said, “The experience of exhibiting at Festival of Arts for the first time has been magical and exciting. This is a community of supportive, brilliant, fine artists, who have welcomed me as a newcomer with open arms. I am truly honored to be the only fiber artist exhibiting this year. I can’t wait for the rest of the summer and look forward to sharing my work with the festival attendees.”

Jeweler Lance Heck has been exhibiting for 34 consecutive years and was juried in when he was just 18 years old. (He admits he misses the lawn and surrounding booths of the old FOA grounds, but is getting used to the new arrangement.) “While working mostly in 18k gold, platinum and fine gemstones, my pieces are contemporary in design with craftsmanship that is ‘old world.’”

The timeless Lance

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Jeweler Lance Heck has been exhibiting for 34 consecutive years

Accolades for the event came from first-time and return visitors as well.

Kristine Thalman, president of Laguna Beach Seniors says, “This is the most all-encompassing event in Laguna! Beautiful art, good friends old and new, expressive and fun dress, fantastic music, uninhibited dancing, and all in an extraordinary setting. I never take this for granted! We are truly blessed!”

The booth of photographer Jeff Rovner, who has been exhibiting since 2017, drew quite a bit of attention. This year he’s exhibiting a portfolio of six photographs that merge his passion for photography with his work experience in the field of artificial intelligence. Each photograph of a vintage toy represents an application of artificial intelligence. The lucite pane protecting each photograph is laser-etched with an excerpt of a machine learning computer code for that application. The etched letters cast a shadow on the photograph behind them.

The timeless Jeff

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Jeff Rovner (on right) and booth visitor

Bree Poort, who works in mixed media, is a first-time exhibitor and one of the youngest to ever exhibit at the Festival. “I never thought I’d be one of these artists. It’s so cool.” In a description of her work, she says, “My artwork is deeply inspired by the ocean and the power and peace she brings. Using resin and acrylics, my work is like flying over the ocean and getting the bird’s eye view perspective.”

Rachelle Weir’s figurative sculptures are “introspective and expressive.” She says of her work, “I take inspiration from vintage materials that are rich, tactile and authentic, most of which come from treasure hunts in dusty barns, wood piles, and flea markets.” She uses many diverse materials and construction techniques in her work and is especially drawn to woodcarving and the use of found elements in her sculptures. 

The timeless Glori

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No Laguna event is complete without Glori Fickling – with Harry Huggins at the booth of Rachelle Weir and her figurative sculptures

After attending on Wednesday, Joan Gladstone, artist and trustee of Laguna College of Art and Design, said, “I feel very fortunate to live in a town that values art and artists and offers exceptional venues like the Festival of Arts. I was impressed by the wonderful new works by longtime Festival artists as well as intriguing artwork by many new exhibitors. There were so many friends to talk to at the preview party, and so much to see, that I’m going to return very soon to take it all in.”

That seemed to be the general consensus – it requires more than one visit to take in all the incredible works of art. Time to go back.

Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd.

It runs from July 5 - August 31, 2019.

Festival hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 11:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. There is early closing on August 24 at 1 p.m.

For more information, go to

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, see slideshow below

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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