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Laguna Beach

“Art in Public Places” – Eternal Sunset and Eucalyptus Urns by John Barber


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

This is the sixth in our weekly series featuring Art in Public Places. Since there are over 100 pieces of public art scattered throughout Laguna, it will take a while to cover them all.

The art you see around Laguna Beach is the result of two City programs: “Public Art and Murals” and “Art in Public Places.” The goals of the Public Art and Murals and Art in Public Places (adopted in 1986) initiatives are to create diverse art installations of the highest quality that will, over decades, reflect the City itself and its citizens, and improve the quality of life; and to be a source of pride to all Laguna Beach residents.

Eternal Sunset, created by John Barber and installed in 2003, was funded by the Montage Resort and Spa. It’s a 27-foot pate-de-verre glass mural.

This most unique form of glass is rarely seen historically or in contemporary work. Very early glassmakers used the technique of metal casting to cast glass and treat it as “poured stone.”

Art in Eternal Sunset

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“Eternal Sunset” by John Barber

Dating from the 3rd Century BC, this technique predates blown glass by 1,500 years. Glass works created in pate de verre have proven durability, and some museum pieces have survived more than 2,000 years. The beautiful mural, visible from Pacific Coast Highway, depicts a graceful Laguna Beach landscape. This base relief mural is composed of 17 cast panels 1.5 inches thick and is backlit at night offering a glowing sunset perspective.

Barber also created two 48-inch tall illuminated Eucalyptus Urns, inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, placed on pedestals at the property entrance. Combining bronze eucalyptus trees framing pate de verre glass panels and bases, these urns offer a soothing glowing light from within.

In an interview after the Eucalyptus Urns were completed, Barber said, “The inspiration for the pieces came from my community. Our sunsets, silhouettes of eucalyptus trees, views of the crescent moon over Catalina Island, and the Aliso Mountains behind us evoke the beauty of Montage and Laguna Beach. That’s what I wanted to capture.”

Art in Urns

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“Eucalyptus Urns” by John Barber

“John Barber is a Laguna Beach art legend and was one of four local artists selected to create work for the Montage,” says Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl. “What a homage the Montage has paid to our local artist community by employing the creativity of artists such as John. The opportunity to work on such a large scale propelled an already well-respected artist to the stratosphere.”

The installations references the Arts and Crafts movement.

The American Arts and Craft Movement believed in a strong connection between artists and their work as a key to human fulfillment – more a philosophy of living than a distinct aesthetic style. Barber embodies that. He lives and works in the canyon with this wife Becky and mother-in-law Helen.

According to Poeschl, “John has provided apprenticeships to many glass artists who have trained at his studio and now are part of the blown glass movement in Laguna Beach. He has made a huge investment into future generations of glass artists who continue to call Laguna Beach home. His work/live lifestyle and creativity through the masterful manipulation of molten glass make John a ‘National Treasure.’”

Since 1977 he has sold his glass creations at the Festival, as well as entertained all who stop by to witness how this ancient art form is made.

The Montage is located at 30801 S Coast Hwy.

For a map of Art in Public Places (not every piece is listed), click here.

To apply for the Arts in Public Places program, click here.

Laguna Dance Festival receives $5,000 grant from the FoA Foundation

The Laguna Dance Festival (LDF) wishes to thank the FoA Foundation for its generous grant of $5,000 in support of LDF’s educational programming, including its LIVE Summer Intensive, June 14-19, in partnership with OC Music & Dance. This week-long dance intensive will be taught by acclaimed choreographers and teachers including Jodie Gates, LDF Founder and Artistic Director, Professor, and architect of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Other esteemed faculty members are Maria Kowroski, principal dancer for NYC Ballet; Fiona Lummis, Netherlands Dance Theatre; Jermaine Spivey, Crystal Pite’s Kidd Pivot; Spenser Theberge, formerly with Ballet Gulbenkian; and Krystal Matsuyama-Tsai, freelance artist.

This summer LDF is offering 15 students in underserved communities scholarships to attend. You can help in this effort by contributing $500 in support of a student.

This grant enables LDF to continue fulfilling its mission of providing outstanding dance education to young artists. The Laguna Dance Festival is one of Orange County’s major cultural art events as well as an important showcase for new and established dance companies and artists. 

Check LDF’s website for other details and performances at or call (949) 715-5578.

Laguna Art Museum presents virtual Film Night featuring Beyond the Visible on Thursday 

On Thursday, April 15 at 6 p.m., Laguna Art Museum will present April’s Film Night, featuring the documentary Beyond the Visible. The documentary about the visionary Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, whose work was the subject of a 2019 exhibition at the Guggenheim that became that museum’s most-visited exhibition ever, was directed by Halina Dyrschka.

Laguna Art Museum presents

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LAM’s Film Night features “Beyond the Visible” on Thursday, April 15

Hilma af Klint was an abstract artist before the term existed, a visionary, trailblazing figure who, inspired by spiritualism, modern science, and the riches of the natural world around her, began in 1906 to reel out a series of huge, colorful, sensual, strange works without precedent in painting. 

The subject of a recent smash retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, af Klint was for years an all-but-forgotten figure in art historical discourse, before her long-delayed rediscovery.

Director Halina Dryschka’s dazzling, course-correcting documentary describes not only the life and craft of af Klint, but also the process of her mischaracterization and erasure by both a patriarchal narrative of artistic progress and capitalistic determination of artistic value.

To view the film at home, visit

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

Laguna Playhouse presents live Zoom magic show featuring Michael Gutenplan 

Laguna Playhouse is proud to announce that master magician, mentalist, and third-generation psychic Michael Gutenplan will present a special family-friendly, virtual magic and mentalism show live via Zoom on Saturday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. 

One hundred percent interactive, this streamed show is filled with incredible magic, mentalism, mind reading, and lots of laughter, and is designed to bring families and friends together for a fun and amazing one-of-a-kind experience.

Laguna Playhouse cards

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Master magician Michael Gutenplan presents a family-friendly virtual magic show on April 24 

“We are such fans of the art of magic and could not be more excited to bring the extraordinary talents of Michael Gutenplan to our audiences,” comments Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham and Executive Director Ellen Richard. “It does not take a mind-reader to know that this is going to be a wonderful evening that the whole family can enjoy together!”

Michael’s award-winning magic and mentalism will energize, enthrall, and entertain you. With over 20 years of professional experience, Michael knows how to engage and entertain the most sophisticated and skeptical audiences. He has performed at the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, Off-Broadway in his critically-acclaimed one-man show Extraordinary Deceptions, in The Spy Magic Show in Washington, D.C., and at clubs and events across the nation with The Members Only Show.

The Los Angeles Times raves: “Gutenplan’s expertise with cards is evident. However, most impressive are his mind reading abilities.” “Captivating…Michael is a youthful, old-fashioned magician, working with cards, money, and minds (he reads them). He also requests a helper for almost every trick, a practice that delights most magic fans under 18, if not their more-shy elders,” raves The New York Times

Laguna Playhouse art

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Guests can enjoy a fun night via Zoom with talented magician Michael Gutenplan 

Michael Gutenplan is an award-winning magician, mentalist, and third-generation psychic who specializes in creating unforgettable experiences using a mixture of psychic entertainment, magic, and comedy. 

Known as the go-to magician and mentalist for the who’s who of Hollywood, members of private clubs, and the nation’s top CEOs, he’s performed in 24 countries and 49 states. He has been featured on dozens of TV programs and reviewed by countless newspapers including The New York Times, Variety, and the L.A. Times. He was awarded the 2019 and 2020 “Los Angeles Award” for Best Psychic Entertainer and has been named Best Corporate Entertainer in the “Corgentum Survey” for 2017-2020. He has been the magic and psychic advisor to various TV, theme park, and theatrical productions. Michael was the creator and star of the hit Off-Broadway show Extraordinary Deceptions as well as The Spy Magic Show.

Passes for this live via Zoom event are $30 per household. Prices are subject to change. Tickets are available at

Laguna Craft Guild returns to Main Beach Cobblestones again this Sunday

The Laguna Craft Guild will return to the Main Beach Cobblestones this Sunday, April 11 from 9 a.m. to dusk. 

Laguna’s longest-running downtown art fair will feature a dozen or more artists exhibiting their works. Artists participating include jeweler David Nelson, painter/photographer Cliff Wassman, ceramicist Robert Jones, glass artist Muffin Spencer-Devlin, illustrator Laurel Meister, and more. 

Laguna Craft Guild returns

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

From 2019 Laguna Craft Guild show

Although the location has changed over the years, the Laguna Craft Guild continues an over four-decade tradition of setting up their fine arts and crafts on the Main Beach Cobblestones. It began in the early 1970s as a way for local artists and makers to sell their work. It is a non-juried show with two simple rules: artists live in Laguna Beach and they make what they sell. 

The group’s current home is on the Cobblestones next to The Greeter’s Corner Restaurant on 14 Sundays a year. The artists must be present to show their work, so this is a great opportunity for the public to meet the makers and perfect place to pick up a hand-made gift made by local artisans! 

For more information about Laguna Craft Guild, go to

SLCA’s annual meeting on April 12 focuses on protecting paradise

Leaders of the South Laguna Civic Association invite the public to attend its annual meeting on Monday, April 12 to celebrate the successes and challenges experienced in South Laguna’s corner of paradise.

The 6 p.m. Zoom meeting will feature video presentations about “the reasons we are so lucky to call South Laguna our home,” said Greg O’Loughlin, the association’s president.

SLCA's annual meeting

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Photo by Tom Joliet 

A glimpse into one of Laguna Beach’s protected coves

The videos will look at:

--Parks, trails, and open space preservation – accessibility, habitat destruction, and your place to get away from it all.

--Ocean protection – our Marine Protected Area, the effects of the off-shore sewer outfall, and Aliso Creek Estuary.

--Community Garden – the community’s favorite place to gather at a distance.

--Tourist impacts – addressing the increasing number of visitors, their sometimes-antisocial behavior, and the stress they put on emergency personnel.

--South Coast Water District – the urgent need to avoid sewage spills like the one on Thanksgiving of 2019 and the campaign to recover the right to vote for SCWD’s board.

--Coast Highway – the status of the Caltrans project to build a sidewalk, as well as the City’s proposal to impose paid parking.

“We’ll cover how SLCA has addressed these matters and more during its 75-year history – what we have accomplished, and what we have not yet accomplished,” O’Loughlin said.

This will be the first online annual meeting hosted by SLCA, which saw strong attendance for its Zoom-based candidates’ forum last October.

To view the April 12 meeting, visit

LAM and Laguna Beach Live! present Live! at the Museum on Thursday

On Thursday, April 8 at 7 p.m., Laguna Art Museum and Laguna Beach Live! are partnering for Live! at the Museum. This virtual concert will feature cellist Alex Grenbaum for a solo performance.

As cellist of the Hausmann Quartet, Alex Greenbaum is an Artist-in-Residence at San Diego State University, where he teaches cello and chamber music. 

One of the principal cellists of The Knights, Alex has performed and recorded throughout the U.S. and Europe, appearing at the festivals of Caramoor, Dresden, Ojai, Ravinia, and Tanglewood, as well as in the Canary Islands and Carnegie Hall with Osvaldo Golijov’s Pasión.

LAM and Alex

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Cellist Alex Grenbaum to perform on Thursday for Live! at the Museum’s virtual concert

An avid chamber musician and passionate advocate for new music, Alex has been a member of the Tarab Cello Ensemble and Hutchins East, performed often with the FLUX Quartet, appeared with Newband, and at Music at the Anthology (MATA). 

Grenbaum has performed as soloist with the Lehman Concert Artists, National Repertory Orchestra, and Brandywine Chamber Orchestra. His varied interests have led to collaborations with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Malashock Dance, and the Mark Morris Dance Group. 

In San Diego, Alex is a mainstay on the Art of Élan chamber series, an affiliated artist with San Diego New Music, a member of the San Diego Baroque Soloists, and Ensemble-in-Residence at Mainly Mozart with the Hausmann Quartet.

To view Thursday’s performance, click here.

FOA Foundation awards $100K in grants for Laguna Beach arts community

The FOA Foundation is pleased to announce the seventeen selected recipients awarded $100,000 total in arts grants for 2021. The FOA Foundation helps fund the many art-related nonprofits in the Laguna Beach community, emphasizing the enrichment of children and young adults in all disciplines of art.

“The FOA Foundation is a longtime sponsor of the Laguna Beach community’s nonprofit art organizations. During these difficult times, the Foundation is proud to support local organizations and venues that provide education and experience in all the arts to our youth,” said FOA Foundation President Bob Earl. “We hope to increase the cultural experience for young people, giving them a foundation for future appreciation and possibly a lifetime participation in the world of art.”

FOA Foundation awards

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A Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach kinder-buddy participating in the organization’s live Art from the Heart program via Zoom in the Virtual Clubhouse

The FOA Foundation is a six-member board of trustees who oversees and administers the program including Bob Earl (president and treasurer), John Campbell (vice president), Jacquie Moffett (secretary), Kathy Jones, Kirsten Whalen, and Jeff Redeker.

The 2021 Art Grants recipients are:

--Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

--Festival of Arts

--Laguna Art Museum

--Laguna Beach Chamber Singers, Inc.

--Laguna Beach High School Art Department

--Laguna Beach High School Band Boosters

--Laguna Beach High School Ceramics

--Laguna Beach Live!

--Laguna Beach Seniors, Inc.

--Laguna College of Art & Design

--Laguna Community Concert Band

--Laguna Dance Festival

--Laguna Playhouse

--Laguna Plein Air Painters Association

--LagunaTunes Community Chorus

--LOCA, Inc.

--Sawdust Art Enrichment Fund

In 1989, the Festival of Arts with a $1.5 million donation established the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts Foundation, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation, in order to guarantee annual financial support for the arts in Laguna Beach. 

The FOA Foundation, co-founded by John Rayment and David Young, was designed to hold these funds in a permanent endowment. The earnings and income from this endowment would be distributed annually in the form of scholarships to graduates of Laguna Beach High School and as grants to nonprofit art organizations and educational institutions in and about the city of Laguna Beach. 

The FOA Foundation operates independently from the Festival of Arts. In 2007, the Festival of Arts assumed the financial responsibility of the art scholarships, enabling The FOA Foundation to focus on its grant program for local nonprofit art organizations.

“Art in Public Places” – Life Force by Dora De Larios


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

This is the fifth in our weekly series featuring Art in Public Places. Since there are over 100 pieces of public art scattered throughout Laguna, it will take a while to cover them all.

The art you see around Laguna Beach is the result of two City programs: “Public Art and Murals” and “Art in Public Places.” The goals of the Public Art and Murals and Art in Public Places (adopted in 1986) initiatives are to create diverse art installations of the highest quality that will, over decades, reflect the City itself and its citizens, and improve the quality of life; and to be a source of pride to all Laguna Beach residents.

Life Force by Dora De Larios was funded by the Montage Resort and Spa.

It is one of the artist’s largest pieces, and its installation in 2003 was facilitated by Daniels Fine Arts and Evelyn Daniels. 

Art in mural

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“Life Force” at the Montage is one of Dora De Larios’ largest pieces

Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl says, “Dora knew her destiny was art, according to her bio, at age eight on a trip to the archeological museum in Mexico City with her parents – she responded to her cultural heritage and to large-scale works.”

 Measuring 6’ x 30’, Life Force is comprised of blue porcelain with stylized ocean motifs. 

 In this mural, De Larios combines abstract patterns with figurative sculpture with the mythology of “koi,” a Japanese carp. The legend says that if the koi leads an honorable life, it will return to its birthplace and be transformed into a dragon empowered to perform good deeds. The symbolism stirred her – as the creative experience nourished her spirit and her belief in the transforming power of art.

It is said that Larios’ ability to translate universal human dilemmas into mystical and transformative works of art accounts for her international appeal. 

Art in fish closeup

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Mythology of “koi” – a Japanese carp 

Her connection to Japanese myths is quite possibly connected to her upbringing.

Born in Los Angeles to Mexican parents, De Larios was raised in a downtown neighborhood near Temple Street surrounded by Japanese families that spoke Spanish. Her limited use of English hindered her verbal comprehension in school and probably contributed to her use of a visual vocabulary.

The artist’s formal training began at Dorsey High School and then at the University of Southern California.

She felt profoundly connected to her Mexican ancestry. Both pre-Columbian pottery and monolithic stone sculptures played an important role in her decision to work in clay.

After receiving her degree, De Larios took a 13-month trip around the world, where her academic studies of world religions and ancient art came alive and cemented her unique pan-cultural artistic vision.

“I began to see the patterns and similarities between myths in the various cultures,” De Larios said. “There were different names for the deities, but they served the same purpose. They were positive or destructive forces.”

Art in mid range

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De Larios’ outdoor pieces appear all over the world

De Larios’ work energized a wide spectrum of the California landscape; since 1966 she was involved with murals and wall size panels for hotels and public buildings in Los Angeles. 

Creating art with architecture, it is said that De Larios sought designs that would energize, enrich, and humanize public space.

Her public and private architectural commissions are equally impressive. As stated in her biography, most rewarding to the artist was being chosen in 1979 by the City of Los Angeles to create a 6 ’x 26’ cement mural to present as a gift to Nagoya, Japan, L.A.’s sister city. 

Other faraway places boasting large-scale De Larios sculptures include Oahu, Hawaii (Makaha Inn Resort); Percypany, New Jersey (International Pipe and Ceramic Corp.); Orlando, Florida (Disney World); Tetiaroa, Tahiti (Marlon Brando’s resort); and Kona Coast, Hawaii (Kona Surf Hotel).

Art in turtles

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Blue porcelain with stylized ocean motifs 

De Larios sculptures also enrich Southern California parks, government buildings, and private corporations in Anaheim, Camarillo, Carson, Chinatown, Compton, Culver City, El Monte, Hawaiian Gardens, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, Lynwood, Norwood, Pasadena, Rowland Heights, Santa Fe Springs, and Santa Monica.

“Dora passed away in January 2018, at age 84 and the world is a much duller place for her loss,” says Poeschl.

The Montage is located at 30801 S Coast Hwy.

For a map of Art in Public Places (not every piece is listed), click here.

To apply for the Arts in Public Places program, click here.

Laguna Art Museum names Julie Perlin Lee Executive Director, effective May 3

Following a national search, Laguna Art Museum has announced Julie Perlin Lee as its new executive director. Lee, who most recently served as executive director of Catalina Island Museum, will assume her new role on May 3. She succeeds Dr. Malcolm Warner, who led LAM from January 2012 through December 2020. 

“The Museum’s search for its next executive director came at an ideal time,” said Joe Hanauer, chair of the museum’s board of trustees. “For the past nine years, recently retired executive director Dr. Malcolm Warner did a wonderful job positioning the museum as a leader for California art and artists. Once viewed as primarily a place focused on early California and plein air art, a visit to the museum today reveals all periods of California art including modern and contemporary works. 

“This enviable platform provides opportunities to expand the reach of the museum by appealing to our region’s residents, attracting more of the area’s tourists, and serving the schools to which the museum provides art education. With Julie we have a person with strong experience managing exhibitions and collections, and yet someone with experience in senior level museum administration. It’s typically one or the other, but usually not both.” 

Laguna Art Museum Julie Perlin Lee

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Julie Perlin Lee, newly appointed executive director of LAM

At Catalina Island Museum since 2016, Lee has led a period of growth including high-profile exhibitions and educational programs, and the completion of a capital project for the museum’s new permanent facility which opened in 2016. She was curator of the exhibitions Elizabeth Turk: Tipping Point in 2019 (Turk was LAM’s commissioned artist for Art & Nature in 2018) and Peter Shire, Sculptures in 2018. She is responsible for a significant rise in individual, foundation, and legacy giving, enhanced the care and quality of the museum’s collections, and increased Catalina Island Museum’s recognition and prominence. Personally, she and her family participated in service groups and clubs throughout Avalon. 

Before joining Catalina Island Museum, Lee was the vice president of collections and exhibition development at the Bowers Museum where she worked from 2008 to 2016. There she procured acquisitions for the museum’s permanent collection, directed research and preservation, organized exhibitions, and contributed to publications including A Legacy of Bounty: Paintings from the Bowers Museum and Traditions and Transitions: Tribal Art from North America. She holds a BA in Art History, MFA in Exhibition Design, and Certificate in Museum Studies from California State University, Fullerton. 

In recent years, Laguna Art Museum has doubled its endowment and annual budget; expanded its staff, especially in the areas of education and development; and elevated its status and visibility by presenting critically acclaimed exhibitions, outstanding art education programs, and Art & Nature, the annual program centered on the theme of art’s engagement with the natural world. 

Laguna Art Museum building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Art Museum

Lee said, “I am energized by the board’s commitment to expand and strengthen the organization’s collection of art, its ambition to ensure the longevity of the museum by growing its endowment and financial standing, and especially by its driving vision to stand out as a museum that gets people excited about California’s rich artistic history.” 

LAM’s search committee engaged Koya Partners, a leading executive search and advising firm, to identify candidates who would continue to broaden and diversify the museum’s exhibitions and to expand its audiences. “Julie is perfectly positioned to achieve both of these goals,” said Hanauer. “With a strong academic background, and her experience and responsibility for collections and exhibitions, she left a strong mark at the Bowers and at Catalina Island Museum.” 

Lee added, “I feel so fortunate to be joining Laguna Art Museum at this time in its history. After one hundred years of achievements, we are in position to get started right away on new growth and success; I really see the opportunities as limitless.” 

Laguna Art Museum is the museum of California art. It collects, cares for, and exhibits works of art that were created by California artists or represent the life and history of the state. Through its permanent collection, its special loan exhibitions, its educational programs, and its library and archive, the museum enhances the public’s knowledge and appreciation of California art of all periods and styles, and encourages art-historical scholarship in this field. 

Laguna Art Museum is proud to continue the tradition of the Laguna Beach Art Association, founded in 1918 by the early California artists who fostered a vibrant arts community. The gallery that the association built in 1929 is part of today’s Laguna Art Museum. 

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

Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays, Closed Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day 

For more information, go to

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