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Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 64  |  August 11, 2020

Brazilian cinematographer searches for locals who knew artist Cesar Papa in the 1980s

With over 700 documents collected during five years, a Brazilian cinematographer is in Laguna Beach retracing the steps of her great-uncle, artist Cesar Papa. Laura Papa, great-niece of Cesar, who lived in Laguna during the 1980s, is searching for anyone who knew her great-uncle during that time. 

She says, “I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to California to develop a personal project. On June 12th I arrived in Los Angeles. I also went to San Francisco. [Tuesday] I arrived at Laguna Beach, the most important destination of my project. 

“Here, my great-uncle and a Brazilian artist, Cesar Papa, lived during the turning point of his life. I’m a cinematographer, developing a documentary project: looking for people who met him, so I can know him as well. Maybe you can help me to find these people here by telling my story.”

Brazilian cinematographer Cesar

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Cesar Papa

Laura graduated in Communication Studies with emphasis in Cinema at the University of Brasilia in 2015. She says, “I’ve been working in this domain since 2011 and during the last five years, I worked in the Cultural Communications and Marketing Department at the Alliance Française of Brasilia. My passion is to develop projects, experiences, and content related to all art domains. I also work with videomaking, marketing strategy, graphic design, and production of events, films, and festivals. I’ve never met Cesar Papa, my great-uncle, in person. But in many ways, I can say that I know him.

“Today, I don’t even have an address. I left it all behind and bought a one-way-ticket to a big journey: Dear Cesar, my personal project. I’m traveling the world following my great-uncle’s steps, that I found through pictures and other documents.” 

Brazilian cinematographer women series

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“Women Series,” 1987, by Cesar Papa

Laura says, “I first met Cesar when my mother told me the story about her uncle who was an amazing artist. Since then, I started to look for the ones who could tell me more about him. Years later, I’ve collected almost 800 documents that showed me different stories of his life and also about his artworks. In addition, I found something intriguing about [the] archives: I could retrace Cesar Papa’s steps in this world. I’m traveling now guided by these documents – going to the places he visited, looking for the people he met.”

Although they never had the chance to meet, Laura says, “I grew up listening to people say we would’ve loved to have met each other, so I decided to know him by what he has left behind.” 

Papa lived in Laguna Beach from 1986 to 1989. “A time in which he truly developed his work and went from botanic and abstract oil canvas to huge and exotic jungle-themed pencil drawings, rich in details. Boyd/Sherrel, Internal Idol, Élan Gallery, and other gallerists hosted some of his exhibitions, and sold many of his paintings,” she says.

“Having the pictures Papa did in Laguna Beach 30 years ago in my hands gives me the chance not only to see how the city has changed, but also to experience the city as he did. Among the pictures left of the places he loved, I found [the] Boom Boom, Diane Nelson Gallery (nowadays Peter Blake Gallery), and the Laguna Art Museum.

Brazilian cinematographer no title

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“None of this would be a complete universe without the people he met. That’s why I’m searching for the ones who met my great-uncle and maybe would like to share their stories about Cesar Papa with me. I would be more than happy to meet them. I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at (213)421-9453.

“All these adventures are part of my personal project: Dear Cesar, a documentary series about Papa’s archives and stories. After California, I’ll redo the trips he did as well – Hawaii, China, and Thailand. It is the way I found to get to know him and also to try to give people the chance to discover the amazing person he was.

“Unfortunately my great-uncle decided to suddenly return to Brazil, on the very rise of his career as an artist. Many don’t know, but at the time he was diagnosed with HIV and the doctors gave him a short period of life. He died in 1990, in Brasília, Brazil.”

For more information, go to or follow in Instagram @dear.cesar.

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, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

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