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Laguna Playhouse presents a special stripped down to the abs holiday event Dec 10 & 11

Laguna Playhouse brings back last year’s sensation in an all-new outrageous holiday event, The Skivvies: I Touch My Elf, with two performances only on Monday, Dec 16 and Tuesday, Dec 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Broadway’s Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley return to the Laguna Playhouse for two nights of the most outrageous holiday show of the season. This undie-rock, comedy pop, award-winning duo perform stripped down, mashed up versions of holiday favorites and more. Expect to see ukulele, electric cello, and an array of zany instruments as well as many special guest artists performing along with and some even in their own “Skivvies.” 

Laguna Playhouse Molina

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Courtesy of Laurenmolina.com

Lauren Molina co-stars holiday comedy at Laguna Playhouse, “The Skivvies: I Touch My Elf”

The show will include guest performances by Nick Adams (Broadway’s Chicago, A Chorus Line, and Guys and Dolls), jackbenny (Disney Hall, Hollywood Bowl), Erik Altemus, Emerson Collins (Buyer and Cellar), Spencer Curnutt (The Lion In Winter), Laguna’s own Jason Feddy, Blake McIver, Tori Roze, Brett Ryback, and the Playhouse’s Veltria Roman. 

Tickets range from $36 - $61 and can be purchased online at www.lagunaplayhouse.com or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787). Group discounts are available by calling (949) 497-2787 ext. 229. Prices are subject to change.     

Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

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Laguna Playhouse announces holiday show, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirates’ Christmas

Laguna Playhouse is excited to announce that Lincoln Clauss (Broadway’s Bat Out of Hell) will star as “Peter Pan,” Dakota Lotus (Disney’s Coop & Cami Ask The World) will star as “John Darling,” Bryce Charles (Pasadena Playhouse’s Ragtime and The Book of Mormon) will star as “Wendy Darling,” Ben Giroux (Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger) will star as “Smee,” and Clarice Ordaz (So You Think You Can Dance) will star as “Tiger Lily” in Lythgoe Family Panto’s Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirates’ Christmas. 

Written by Kris Lythgoe, with choreography by Kitty McNamee, musical direction by Doug Peck, and directed by BT McNicholl, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirates’ Christmas will begin performances on Wednesday, Dec 4 and run through Sunday, Dec 29. 

Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirates’ Christmas is a singing, swashbuckling adventure performed in the high-flying style of a British holiday Panto. Take off on a wild quest with Tinker Bell, Wendy, and Peter Pan as they try to put a stop to the plot of some dastardly pirates who plan to kidnap Peter as a present to Captain Hook. Filled with big laughs, magic, dancers, and contemporary songs by everyone from Taylor Swift to the Bee Gees, this family show has a little bit of something for everyone. 

Laguna Playhouse Clauss

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Lincoln Clauss will star as Peter Pan 

Lincoln Clauss (Peter Pan) will be making his West Coast debut at the Laguna Playhouse in this production. He recently appeared in Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell at New York City Center. Other Credits include: Bat Out of Hell (Toronto), Burn All Night (A.R.T.), Borderline (Eugene O’Neill Theater Center), Evocation to Visible Appearance (Actors Theater of Louisville, Humana Festival), and Iron & Coal (Strathmore). Lincoln is a proud alum of Ball State University.

Laguna Playhouse Lotus

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Dakota Lotus will star as Cooper 

Dakota Lotus (John Darling) stars as Cooper “Coop” Wrather, an optimistic and charismatic middle school student who runs his own live web show featuring out-of-the-box “Would You Rather-type” questions, in Disney Channel’s family sitcom Coop & Cami Ask the World. He has performed with musical greats such as Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Katy Perry, and Kenny Loggins. His stage credits also include performing as Ren in Celebrating the Music of Footloose, the 35th Anniversary concert featuring songs from the iconic movie, re-envisioned by Loggins. In his spare time, he enjoys writing and playing music, dancing, and parkour. He is currently working on new music, including an EP which will be released in 2020.

Laguna Playhouse Charles

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Bryce Charles will star at Wendy Darling 

Bryce Charles (Wendy Darling) earned her BFA in Musical Theatre from AMDA College and Conservatory. She has toured with the Tony award-winning musical The Book of Mormon and recently filmed a TV Pilot for ABC called Woman Up!. Other credits include: Sarah in Ragtime at The Pasadena Playhouse; TV guest-star roles on Blackish (ABC), Fuller House (Netflix), Teachers (TV Land), Scroll Wheel of Time (Eko), and recurring roles on Encore! (Disney+) and Tales of the City (Netflix). 

John O’Hurley (Captain Hook) is best known as J. Peterman on Seinfeld, the number one syndicated television show in the world, for which he won a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. Most recently starring in the comedy feature Swing Away, John can also be seen on the ABC hit Dancing with the Stars, ABC’s Dance-Off!, and as the host of Family Feud. He is one of the most recognizable voices on TV, appearing in dozens of animated productions including Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants and NBC’s Father of the Pride. O’Hurley’s first CD, Peace of Our Minds, a collaboration of his piano compositions with world-renowned cellist Marston Smith, debuted #13 on Billboard.

Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays at 12 and 4 p.m. 

Tickets range from $41 - $76 and can be purchased online at www.lagunaplayhouse.com or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787). Group discounts are available by calling (949) 497-2787 ext. 229. Prices are subject to change.

The box office is open Mondays – Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open until showtime on performance days); and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

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LAM’s Art & Nature continues exploration of art and the natural world with Yorgo Alexopoulos

 Laguna Art Museum presented the seventh annual Art & Nature, a multidisciplinary exploration of art’s many and various engagements with the natural world this past weekend.

For the first time in the event’s history, the commissioned work of art was inside the museum rather than outside. The specially commissioned work, 360° Azimuth, is a large-scale multimedia installation by the Los Angeles-based artist Yorgo Alexopoulos. 

It transforms the museum’s largest space, the historic Steele Gallery, with a two-channel video projection with sound in which landscape symbols become metaphoric “characters” in an animistic meta-narrative where reality and constructs of our collective subconscious seem to co-exist peacefully.

Unlike previous Art & Nature commissions which have been on view only during the festival weekend, 360° Azimuth will remain on view through January 5, 2020.

LAMs Art green

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

360° Azimuth will remain on display at LAM through Jan 5 

Art & Nature weekend began in conjunction with First Thursdays Art Walk on November 7, making it a community-wide event in which local galleries presented nature-inspired exhibitions. 

Participating galleries included Forest & Ocean Gallery, Kelsey Michaels Fine Art, The Redfern Gallery, and saltfineart + RAWsalt; and other partners included the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Community Art Project, and Gallery Q at The Susi Q. At Laguna Art Museum, 360° Azimuth opened to the public at 6 p.m. and more than 300 visitors attended the museum during Art Walk. 

On November 8, Alan Braddock, Ph.D. gave the keynote lecture, From Nature to Ecology: The Emergency of Ecocritical Art History. Braddock is the Ralph H. Wark Associate Professor of Art History and American Studies at the College of William & Mary. 

He has published, lectured, and taught courses about the history of American art and its ecological significance, and is currently an Art and Ecology scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. He is co-author of the book Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment, which accompanied a major traveling exhibition that won the Association of Art Museum Curators Award for Excellence.

On November 9, the museum presented a full schedule of programs on the theme of Art & Nature, beginning with a screening of the film A Boy’s Dream, which premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and was selected in partnership with the Newport Beach Film Festival. It documents the artist Theo Jansens, who creates large-scale “beach animals” that move independently, powered by the wind. 

On Saturday afternoon, Elizabeth Turk signed copies of the recently published book documenting Shoreline Project, the 2018 Art & Nature commissioned work. The film and book signing were followed by the conversation Art in a Time of Climate Change with Professors Victoria Vesna and James K. Gimzewski. 

LAMs Art hall

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

More than 400 visitors enjoyed free admission and hands-on art over the weekend

Vesna is an artist and professor at the UCLA Department of Design Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci Center at the School of the Arts and California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), and Gimzewski is a distinguished professor of Chemistry at UCLA and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute. On Saturday evening, an engaged audience gathered to hear Yorgo Alexopoulos discuss his work, including the Art & Nature commissioned piece, 360° Azimuth.

Also, in the museum, three recently-opened exhibitions complemented Art & Nature with themes of different approaches to landscape. Thomas Hunt: California Modernist features works by the 20th century artist best known for the coastal and harbor scenes that he painted in Southern California and during regular visits to Gloucester, Massachusetts. 

Etchings by Mildred Bryant Brooks, from the museum’s permanent collection, highlights landscape etchings in which lovingly observed trees often occupy center stage. Laurie Brown: Photographs presents works by the Newport Beach-based artist from the 1970s onward that document mankind’s relationship to the landscape in its less comfortable forms, dwelling especially on zones that form a no-man’s-land between the man-made and the natural.

On November 10, the museum concluded Art & Nature with a family festival on the theme of art’s engagements with the natural world. The day began with a family-friendly yoga session hosted by Bala Shala Yoga. 

More than 400 visitors enjoyed free admission and hands-on art and science activities with the museum’s partners: Art Division, Center for Art Education and Sustainability, Environmental Nature Center, Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, Laguna Ocean Foundation, Newport Bay Conservancy, Ocean Institute, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and Lojo Simon, the Literary Laureate of Laguna Beach. The festival concluded with a family-friendly concert of eco-conscious music by Birdsong and the Eco-Wonders.

Major support for Art & Nature was generously provided by the McBeth Foundation, the Draper Family Foundation, the Orange County Community Foundation, Chris Quilter, the Festival of Arts Foundation, the Ebell Club of Laguna Beach, and anonymous donors. Sponsors also included the Lodging Establishments and the City of Laguna Beach, The Inn at Laguna Beach, and Visit Laguna Beach. The Art & Nature 2019 Committee were Gregg and Kathleen Abel, John and Yasuko Bush, Jane and Joe Hanauer, Barbara and Greg MacGillivray, David Powers, Chris Quilter, Elie Weaver, and Hilton Weinberg.

The eighth edition of Laguna Art Museum’s Art & Nature is scheduled to take place from November 5-8, 2020.

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First Annual Coast Film Festival celebrates people, places and purpose around the globe

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Scott Brashier

Ben Warner, founder and executive director of Coast Film Festival, admits that, “Starting a film festival from scratch is no easy task, especially without a working public theater in town.” The three-day festival included a variety of activities in addition to the 28 films and 18 speakers – a beach cleanup, canyon nature hike, artist appearances, and athlete presentations at LBUSD schools. 

First Annual with Stacy Bare

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Get Outside Panel: (L-R) Pat Parnell, Richard Yelland, Dick Metz, and Stacy Bare

After attending the “Healing for Nature” film block on Saturday morning, it appears as if Warner and his team were up to the task – and more. The audience in the Forum Theater at the Festival of the Arts had the privilege of viewing seven incredibly moving short films about the power of nature in the healing process. It was followed by a discussion with Pat Parnell and Stacy Bare, whose film Adventure Not War screened. Made in 2017, it is the story of three U.S. veterans traveling back into the mountains of Iraq on a mission to heal wounds and experience the country and its culture without the shadow of war. 

Bare said, “What started out as a goal to save myself has turned into a goal to get everyone outside to share in nature’s healing powers.”

First Annual group

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After Saturday’s feature filmmaker showcase: (L-R) Pat Parnell, Giovanni Derousseau, Jeremy Jones, Ben Warner, Enich Harris, Chad Nelson, Ben Classen, and Erich Roepke

Lynette Brasfield said, “I spent an amazing morning at the Coast Film Festival here in Laguna Beach watching short films with the theme ‘Healed by Nature.’ We were treated also to a conversation with Stacy Bare, an Iraq war veteran and founder of Adventure Not War. If you get a chance to view this film, please do! It’s remarkable.”

“We were really pleased with the attendance,” said Warner. “A few events sold out! The least attended event was the ‘Healed by Nature’ short films on Saturday morning, which was unfortunate since it was one of the favorites with powerful topics and speakers! There’s an opportunity for us to do a better job at explaining the caliber of films and speakers.”

“Healed by Nature” dealt with moving, powerful, and varied topics – from a 97-year-old runner George Etzweiler to Vietnam veteran, author, and eco-warrior Doug Peacock who founded the Save the Yellowstone Grizzly.

First Annual Parnell and McGillivray

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Pat Parnell (on left) and filmmaker Greg McGillivray

How did Warner feel about the venues? “We had to get scrappy without a working public theater in town, which turned out great because we created an outdoor experience at Seven7Seven that was very unique from other film festivals. The Forum Theater was fantastic with the 4K projector and large screen. 

Transformed: Sawubona won the people’s choice award. Warner says, “The crowd gave a standing ovation to Giovanni Derousseau and his amazing story.” 

First Annual movie

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Winner of People’s Choice Award, “Transformed: Sawubona”

Warner relates some of the high points of the festival: “To actually see each element of the festival happen after so much planning, especially the athlete presentations at El Morro, TOW, and the high school. There wasn’t a fourth grader in the room that didn’t have a hand up to ask Greg Long a question! Also – the tremendous support from friends and volunteers to help make it happen. The bringing together of people of all ages with passion for film and the outdoors. The amazing feedback from attendees and comments by many that the experience moved them so much they would make changes to their lives.” 

First Annual Van Hamersveld

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Jon Van Hamersveld

The festival also included artist appearances. In his career of fifty years, the iconic multidisciplinary pop artist John Van Hamersveld created influential and recognizable graphic design. At the start of his career, Van Hamersveld created the timeless, culturally transcendent Endless Summer film poster while he was still attending art school at Art Center and Chouinard. 

Looking into the future to next year’s event, Warner says, “We are excited about next year. There is so much more that we can do. We’ve already been contacted by sponsors and filmmakers. A priority, however, is to take the time to build this carefully and as a community event. It is too soon to say what changes we will make for next year. We have ideas and will use feedback from participants to guide us. We can say that we are doing it again due to the success and outpouring of positive feedback. All of the elements of the event were successful. 

“We feel very fortunate to start the film festival in Laguna and appreciate the support that we have gotten in the first year.”

I’m already looking forward to the Second Annual Coast Film Festival.

For more information, go to www.coastfilmfestival.com.

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Live! at the Museum presents Parnas Herlin Duo on Nov 14

On Thursday, Nov 14 at 7 p.m., Laguna Beach Live! is partnering with the Laguna Art Museum to present a night of elegant music and fine art featuring the Parnas Herlin Duo. 

As an artist founded at the complex intersection of musical heritage and unprecedented innovation, American violinist Madalyn Parnas Möller secures her place on today’s concert stage by bringing inimitable style and artistic vision to every performance. 

A passionate chamber musician, Ms. Parnas Möller’s recent engagements include recitals at the Kennedy Center, New York’s Subculture, San Francisco Performances, the Minneapolis Museum of Russian Art, and the San Francisco Academy of Achievement International Summit as a 2014 delegate. 

Live at Parnas

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American violinist Madalyn Parnas Möller

Praised for her “impressive artistry” and “wonderful bowing technique” (San Francisco Classical Voice), French cellist Juliette Herlin has performed throughout Europe, the U.S., and Asia. 

As a soloist, chamber musician, and recitalist, she has appeared in prestigious venues such as the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Musée du Louvre and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Alice Tully Hall in New York, the Zhuhai and Chongqin Grand Theaters in China, as well as at the Minsk Philharmony in Belarus.

Live at Herlin

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French cellist Juliette Herlin 

Live! at the Museum, a special collaboration of Laguna Beach Live! and Laguna Art Museum, takes place the second Thursday of each month from 7 - 8 p.m. The concert is free to museum members and to non-members with museum admission. 

Pre-reservations are available online through the Museum’s website, or at (949) 494.8971 ext. 203. These seats are held until 6:50 p.m. Additional seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

For more information about the series and other concerts, visit www.lagunabeachlive.org or call (949) 715-9713.

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Coast Film Festival hosts nature hike with REI and Laguna Canyon Foundation on Saturday

As part of the Coast Film Festival, all are invited to enjoy a guided hike with representatives from REI and Laguna Canyon Foundation (LCF) on Saturday, Nov 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., meeting at the James Dilley Preserve.

The hike will be a fun one with lots to experience: the smell of sage, beautiful vistas, and Barbara’s Lake. Each hiker will be entered to win prizes from REI and LCF.

Coast Film trail

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Hike the beautiful James Dilley Preserve on Saturday

The hike will be a four to five-mile hike over steep and uneven terrain (650-ft. elevation gain). It is for ages 16 and up. Hikers under 18 must be accompanied by a parent. Attendees are advised to wear appropriate attire, shoes, and sun protection, and also to bring plenty of water.

The hike will begin at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, James Dilley Preserve.

For more information, click here. Parking is $3 per vehicle.

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LAM’s Seventh Annual Art & Nature Festival celebrates nature-inspired art this weekend

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Executive Director of Laguna Art Museum (LAM) Malcolm Warner describes the Seventh Annual Art & Nature Festival as “a celebration of art inspired by nature,” and the four featured artists –Thomas Hunt, Laurie Brown, Mildred Bryant Brooks, and Yorgo Alexopoulos – each represent that theme in vastly different ways.

The festival is a multidisciplinary exploration of art’s many and various engagements with the natural world, and this journey continues all weekend through Sunday, Nov 10. For the first time in the event’s history, the commissioned work of art – this year by Yorgo Alexopoulos – will be inside the museum rather than outside and will be on view after Art & Nature weekend through January 5, 2020.

On Wednesday, members of the media had the unique opportunity to preview the artists’ works and view the multimedia installation by Alexopoulos –with the added treat of an explanation of the work provided by the artist himself.

LAM's Seventh Mildred

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Malcolm Warner explains “The Last Tree” etching by Mildred Bryant Brooks 

The works of Hunt, Brown, and Brooks have been on exhibit at LAM since October 13, and each artist has a unique approach to the issue of landscape and environment.

A preservationist, Mildred Bryant Brooks is known for her landscape etchings, many of which depict trees – such as her piece The Last Tree. 44 of her etchings from the 1930s and 1940s are on display.

Warner says, “She often portrayed nature under threat and the danger of it being undermined by development, as represented by the oil derricks in her work Black Mirror.”

Thomas Hunt is best known for his colorful coastal scenes. His exhibit Thomas Hunt: California Modernist features 50 paintings characterized by his distinctive style, which involves broad brushwork and the bold effect of light and reflection. Hunt was an active member of the LB Art Association. 

LAM's Seventh Thomas

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Thomas Hunt is known for his colorful coastal scenes

Displayed in the museum’s beautifully renovated basement, photographer Laurie Brown’s work depicts mankind’s relationship to the landscape in less comfortable ways, “dwelling in the zones that form a no-man’s land between the man-made and the natural.” Periphery #11, Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, 1995 shows the patterns left by bulldozers on the hillside during the development of Newport Coast. 

LAM's Seventh Laurie

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Photographer Laurie Brown depicts man-made impact on the natural world

As the riveting centerpiece of the event, Art & Nature presents 360° Azimuth, a specially commissioned work by Alexopoulos for the festival. The site-specific installation is on view inside the museum through January 5, 2020. 

A mesmerizing experience, Alexopoulos’s large-scale installation features a two channel video projection with sound and invites the viewer to be part of it. As described, “the landscape symbols become metaphoric ‘characters’ in an animistic meta-narrative where reality and constructs of our collective subconscious seem to co-exist. Using landscape symbolism as a point of departure, he combines Euclidean geometric shapes with a multiplicity of moving images, whether filmed, photographed, painted, or drawn, that unite representation and abstraction into a common aesthetic.”

An American-born artist of Greek descent, Alexopoulos graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in Los Angeles. He creates paintings, time-based media artworks, and installations. He often synchronizes multiple monitors or projections in a dynamic ensemble to create an ever-changing immersive spectacle. 

LAM's Seventh Yorgo

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Yorgo Alexopoulos in front of “360° Azimuth”

Alexopoulos says, “Throughout history, nature has been constantly interwoven in religion and other cultural aspects, and I’m sensitive to how humans interact with landscape. Thirty thousand years ago, humans personified landscape/nature, and the sun and other elements became gods. They’re all different methods of landscape as symbol.” 

Inspired by various types of landscapes, he says, “It’s not the content or where it was filmed, but how landscape is being presented. Everything was shot at same angle using motorized dollies.” 

The photographs are from all over the world and drawn from his collection of 25 years of photography. He adds, “But there is CGI [computer-generated imagery] in the installation.”

Addressing the question of the various landscapes – deserts, oceans, mountains, and streams – in his installation, Alexopoulos says, “The body of work is like a narrative with the landscapes as different chapters. It has open-ended meaning. This is very liberating and experimental, something new and fresh, and I’m part of the pioneer process.”

His work is captivating and shouldn’t be missed. 

Activities throughout the weekend

 Throughout the weekend, there are many other activities for visitors to experience. There will be a keynote lecture by Professor Alan Braddock; a film screening; a panel discussion; and a free family festival exploring art and the natural world. 

Friday, Nov 8: 

6 - 9 p.m. – Keynote Lecture: On November 8, Alan Braddock, Ph.D. will give the keynote lecture, From Nature to Ecology: The Emergency of Ecocritical Art History

Saturday, Nov 9: 

11:30 a.m. – Film: LAM screens A Boy’s Dream, a documentary about the artist Theo Jansens, who creates large-scale “beach animals” that move independently, powered by the wind.

12:30 - 2:30 p.m. – Book Signing: Elizabeth Turk signs copies of the recently-published book documenting Shoreline Project, the 2018 Art & Nature commissioned work. 

2:30 - 4 p.m.Art in a Time of Climate Change: Professor Victoria Vesna leads a conversation with Linda Weintraub, the author of To Life!: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet.

4 - 5 p.m. – Educators discuss how the idea of art inspired by environmental consciousness can be applied in the classroom.

6 p.m. Reception, 7 p.m. Lecture: In Person: Yorgo Alexopoulos: Yorgo Alexopoulos discusses his work, including this year’s Art & Nature commissioned piece.

Sunday, Nov 10 – Family Festival: LAM offers a day of free admission on November 10, plus family yoga with Bala Shala, hands-on art and science activities with partner organizations, and a family-friendly concert by Birdsong and the Eco-Wonders.

10 - 11 a.m. Family Yoga

11 a.m. - 2 p.m. – Hands-on Art & Nature: Art, nature, and science activities by Laguna Ocean Foundation, Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, LB Laureate Lojo Simon, Ocean Institute, Pacific Mammal Center, Newport Bay Conservancy, Center for Art Education and Sustainability, and the Art Division. 

2 - 3 p.m. – Birdsong and the Eco-Wonders

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr, on the corner of Pacific Coast Hwy and Cliff Dr.

Admission: General admission: $7, Students (18+) and Seniors (60+): $5, visitors aged 17 and under: free, museum members: free.

For more information, click here.

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Thomas Studios features unique artists and artisans including owner Shaun Thomas

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Thomas Studios opened its doors in August of 2018, showcasing not only the works of three talented artists, Casey Parlette, Erik Skoldberg, and owner, designer, and featured artist Shaun Thomas, but several other artisans and designers of modern and mid-century lighting, vases, and furniture. 

The organically growing “Thomas Collection” has quickly become a style guide sought after by many clients and collectors for their homes and businesses. From the moment visitors walk in, they immediately get a sense of the unique, coastal, and warmer contemporary style. 

Thomas says, “The positive feedback has been amazing and so fulfilling. It really helps motivate and push my creativity in both my artwork and ideas that I want to pursue, adding to the ever-changing gallery experience. I have truly found what I love to do, and I can’t get enough of it.” 

Thomas Studios interior

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 (L-R) Thomas’ “Sun and Moon,” Skoldberg’s surfboards and vibrant painting, and Parlette’s “Old Timer” lobster sculpture on table

Growing up in Rancho Santa Margarita, most days Thomas could be found down in San Clemente surfing. As a graphic designer, he had years of experience branding companies, creating and designing their online presence and printed material. 

Thomas says, “I had a good track record, always surpassing my client’s needs and expectations. It’s the perfectionist in me that established a high standard and style as a designer. It’s not until I moved to San Clemente five years ago, that I first started creating my own artwork to fill empty walls that needed some love. Merging my passions for surfing and for graphic design, I created my own recognizable signature style of artwork.”

Thomas Studios Shaun

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Shaun with his “Nautilus Shell” 

However, creating art and opening up a gallery are two different endeavors. 

Thomas says, “For the past few years, making a name for myself as an artist, I kept running into an issue with customers and collectors on where to send them if they wanted to see my work in person, purchase a piece, or talk about a custom commission. Having a location with a variety of different pieces to view in one spot is so important in the art world, especially my work as the pieces are multi-layered and images don’t do it justice.

“If I was going to take this art venture seriously, I really needed to go all in. I began driving around Orange County in search to possibly open up a location and found myself, more often than not, talking to a lot of business owners about their experience with their business. You cannot rely simply on ‘tourist season’ or ‘busy season’ anymore. Selling average products or services just doesn’t work.”

Thomas Studios upstairs

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Upstairs at Thomas Studios

On the search for the perfect gallery location, Thomas drove up and down the local coast, eventually stumbling upon a location in downtown Laguna. 

According to Thomas, with his popular Wood Wave Sculptures being collected in surf or beach towns all over the world, opening up a gallery in Laguna seemed like the perfect spot. 

“After my first visit to the vacant space near downtown, which used to be the Drizzle Pop Art Studio, I immediately began visualizing ideas of what type of gallery I wanted to build. The place needed a lot of work, but I could see the potential.”

Thomas Studios goldfish

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 Casey Parlette’s “Limited Resources”

“Knowing I had to create something unique and different from the traditional art gallery, I began selecting designer furniture, lighting, and decor items that I thought fit my style and complemented my work. I decided to add to the experience two other artists that I have been a personal fan of for a couple of years.” 

Thomas admits that both Parlette with his coastal-inspired wildlife sculptures and Skoldberg with his vibrant and energetic contemporary paintings, have helped create an amazing collection of work. 

“Teaming up with these talented designers, creators, and artists that are truly passionate about their work has been such an amazing experience. It’s what keeps fueling my passion.” 

Thomas Studios is located at 550 S. Coast Hwy #5.

Showroom hours are Thursday - Sunday, from 1 to 7 p.m.

For more information, go to www.ThomasStudiosLaguna.com or call (949) 274-9023.

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Community Art Project (CAP) presents Illuminating Elements through January 31

Illuminating Elements is the new exhibit that opened last month at The CAP Gallery. The exhibit features the works of pastel painters Mary Aslin, Lesli Bonanni, Gil Dellinger, Mike Ishikawa, Margaret Lindsey, Marie Tippets, and Elizabeth Wallace. The subject is the effect of light on elements found in nature – natural and man-made.

Margaret Lindsey’s Pacific Atmosphere is a shore scene featuring foamy shore breaks washing up on the dark, wet sand. A mottled blue sky is shot through with streaks of pink at the distant horizon and again peeking through the sky as you look up towards the top of the piece. Her work appears heavily textured with layers of rich pastels, but it is the fine application of thin layers of pastel that creates that appearance. A feeling of peace and calm at the end of a day can be felt when viewing this piece.

Community Art Pacific

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Margaret Lindsey’s “Pacific Atmosphere,” Pastel   20” x 27”

Mary Aslin may be more known for her still life and portraiture work, in which her handling of light and shadow is exceptional. Her ability is also apparent in her outdoor scenes. Morning Sun, Laguna Alley is a view down one of Laguna’s quaint alleys. Early sunlight dapples the lush vegetation and brilliant bougainvillea lining the side of the alley, while long shadows start to withdraw. A feeling of early morning calm can be felt.

Lesli Bonanni’s work is more moody, abstract, and atmospheric. Blending color in thin layers and moving it around on the surface, also adding, subtracting, etching into the surface, she allows emotional and spiritual feeling to flow as she is working on her piece. Her edges are blurred, rather than sharp, giving a dream-like quality to her work. In Dare To Dream, a river flows from the foreground into the distant horizon. Land shapes are on either side. Overhead is a sky with golden hints of clouds. At the meeting point of the river and the sky is a sliver of bright glow. A hint of what could be or what is to come?

Gil Dellinger has a different view in his Tank Cars, Port of Stockton. Soft sunlight washes over the sides of the tank cars and on down to the ground. Meanwhile, surfaces that face away from the light are either in shadow or completely dark. For Dellinger, it is the way light can move around, defining shapes and shadows, such as the brightness that seeps over the tank cars and disappears into the surfaces between the cars.

Community Art Mike

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Mike Ishikawa’s “Manhattan Pier, Evening Glow, “Pastel 10” x 27”

Mike Ishikawa works with a saturated and bright palette. Manhattan Pier, Evening Glow shows the pier extending into the ocean, the bright red roof on the building, perched at the end of the pier, like a beacon. Behind it is a turquoise sky and light to dark pink clouds; cobalt blue water and sparkling white waves dance in the foreground of the pier while a mix of oranges, yellows, pinks, and reds reflect off the sand: the panorama of a bright California coastal sunset.

In Early Snow and Winter In Utah, Marie Tippets’ goal is to “capture some of the magic” of the winter in Utah. The contrast between the dark trees and brilliant white snow blanketing the land, combined with the casting of cool shadows by the trees, bring to mind the cold, crispness, and deep expanse of her views. Visiting family in Utah gives her the opportunity of revisiting her experiences growing up in New York and brings that feeling to her work.

Elizabeth Wallace has a love of birds and they can frequently be the subject of her works. In a recent experimental series done in pastel, graphite, and watercolour wash, the backgrounds are wind turbines done in watercolor wash. In the foreground is a single bird, done in pastel, and winding through the piece is a stream of writing in handwritten graphite. Treadmills, Windmills features a roadrunner running across the foreground. Spiraling out from the center of each turbine is a stream of writing in pencil. 

Looking closely you can read it and discover it is a poem written in a “stream of consciousness” style. These writings come about after Wallace has added the bird to the turbine background. She spends time looking at the work until the words come to her. For this one it is “Treadmills, windmills, time and space. Walking, running, stand in place.”

Each of these seven artists has their own take and interpretation of Art + Nature. The commonality is the medium they use to express themselves and their originality.

Take a break and visit Illuminating Elements and see this selection of work. 

CAP’s mission is to increase the visibility and appreciation of art and serve as a catalyst for art education. Ongoing exhibitions can be enjoyed at The CAP Gallery, in the unique Rotunda Gallery space located on the second floor of the Wells Fargo Building, 260 Ocean Avenue. 

Visit www.caplaguna.org for information about ongoing or upcoming exhibits, to be on the email list, or to become a member and supporter of CAP. CAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit funded by the member supporters, the Festival of Arts Foundation, the lodging establishments, and the City of Laguna Beach.

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LCAD presents In Search of the Real III fine arts faculty exhibition

Laguna College of Art and Design’s (LCAD) MFA and BFA programs in Drawing + Painting are proud to present In Search of the Real III, a collection of original works from the college’s esteemed graduate and undergraduate fine arts faculty. 

The collection will be on display at the LCAD Gallery downtown from November 7 - 28, from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., and during a First Thursday Art Walk reception on Thursday, Nov 7 from 6 - 9 p.m. 

The exhibition is comprised of drawings, paintings, and sculptures dedicated to contemporary views of the figure, landscape, and still life. Each artist is a current LCAD faculty member and is dedicated both to expanding representational art and to mentoring a new generation of contemporary representational artists.

LCAD presents Aixa

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Submitted photo

Aixa Oliveras, “Resilience,” Oil on linen, 2018

Founded in 1961, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) is a dually accredited, nonprofit college located in Laguna Beach. LCAD offers undergraduate degrees (BFA) in Animation, Drawing + Painting, Drawing + Painting with Sculpture Emphasis, Drawing + Painting with Illustration Emphasis, Game Art, Graphic Design + Digital Media, Graphic Design + Digital Media with Action Sports Emphasis, Graphic Design + Digital Media with Illustration Emphasis, Illustration, and Illustration in Entertainment Design. 

LCAD also offers Graduate degrees (MFA) in Drawing, Game Design, and Painting; and a Post-Baccalaureate in Drawing + Painting. 

For more information visit www.lcad.edu, follow on Facebook at @LCADBFA, Twitter @LCAD, and Instagram @lcadbfa.

Laguna College of Art and Design Gallery is located at 374 Ocean Ave.

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