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Laguna Art Museum presents Lunchtime Lecture on Dec 4 

On Wednesday, Dec 4 from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Laguna Art Museum presents its next Lunchtime Lecture. 

Julia Friedman will discuss “Impressionist Landscape: 1860s to 2019” in this lecture in a series on landscape in Western painting from the 1800s to the present day.

Laguna Art painting

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Claude Monet, Impression, Sunrise, 1874, oil on canvas, Muse Marmotton, Paris

The impressionist revolution that began sometime in the late 1860s showed a whole new way of representing nature. Optical perception and observation-based painting took over memory and concept.

Cutting edge and controversial at first, impressionist technique turned into a style as the century turned, creating a school of plein air landscape that continued to thrive alongside unceasing innovations within the genre.

Tickets are $25, or $20 for museum members. Advance tickets are recommended.

To purchase tickets, visit

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

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Community Chorus to present Holiday Lights concert


LagunaTunes will perform its second concert of the year at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec 15 at the Artists Theatre on the Laguna Beach High School campus.

Admission to “Holiday Lights” is free. Concertgoers might want to find a seat early. The audience at the spring concert overflowed onto the steps leading down to the stage. 

 “Holiday Lights” will include familiar and newly arranged holiday favorites and some off-beat tunes such as “Ugly Christmas Sweaters,” said soprano Diane Kloke, a member of the chorus since 2009.

The performance will be directed by Bob Gunn, artistic director of MenAlive Gay Men’s Chorus since 2018, who also serves as music director at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Park Avenue and has directed LagunaTunes since 2012. 

LagunaTunes has been providing entertainment for music lovers since 2003. The group’s mission is to provide local residents with the opportunity to learn and perform music together. All ability levels are welcome. No auditions are held. Fast-paced, mood-lifting rehearsals are accompanied with laughs.

Community chorus 2018 performance

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Courtesy of LagunaTunes

Previous LagunaTunes Holiday Concert

The group gives two concerts a year. The limited number is understandable when you learn an estimated 26 rehearsals were held for the spring concert. 

Sawdust Festival jeweler Patti Jo Kiraly was the founding president, an office she still holds.

 Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda, Lisa Morrise, and No Square Theatre performer and music teacher Roxanna Ward were founding members. Ward was the first director. 

“We began with seven members,” said Kollenda. “Only one of them was a man, and we couldn’t let him quit.”

Three of the 13 current board members are men: Jacoby Hickerson, Jay Recherter, and Ed Hanke. Hanke’s wife Kathy is also a member of the board. They are the only married couple in the chorus.

Also on the board: Angela Irish, Rebecca Bishop, Robin Casselman, Patti Columbus, Rebecca Lyles, Alice Harmon, Kathy Robbin, and Regina Hartley.    

The group rehearses at 7 p.m. Mondays at Thurston Middle School. 

LagunaTunes is a nonprofit organization and is sponsored by the Festival of Arts and the Business Improvement District, a collaboration of Laguna’s lodging establishments and the city.

Artists Theatre is located at 625 Park Ave.

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Laguna Canyon Artists will hold holiday open studios and art sale Dec 7 & 8

Dozens of artists who work in the studio spaces at Laguna Canyon Artists will open their doors for conversation, refreshments, and sales of original art on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Laguna Canyon Judi

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Painter Judi Smolin is among featured artists 

Visitors are invited to stroll through 27 art studios to talk with artists and view their works that represent a wide range of mediums: drawing and painting, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, photography, assemblage, and more. 

Admission and parking in the building’s courtyard are free. Most of the artists accept credit cards as well as cash and checks.

Laguna Canyon Tom

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Artist Tom Swimm will also be featured 

Artists opening their doors for the weekend include: Elizabeth Bridy, Cynthia Britain, Lyn Burke, Bruce Burr, Hedy Buzan, Sandra Jones Campbell, Marianne Champlin, Elaine Cohen, Lani Emanuel, Michael Ervin, Shelley Evans, Adrienne Fayne, Paul Gardner, Vicki Gumm, Teresa Hill, Phillipe Horvath, Kathy Jones, Michael Obermeyer, Lorraine Passero, Sheryl Smith Seltzer, Betty Shelton, Michael Situ, Judi Smolin, Tom Swimm, Cheyne Walls, Wendy Wirth, and Karin Worden.

Laguna Canyon Artists is a creative collective of private studio spaces where artists can work and interact as a community. Follow Laguna Canyon Artists on Facebook for updates.

Laguna Canyon Artists is located at 3251 Laguna Canyon Rd.

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Help artists in need by staying at the Surf & Sand

Surf & Sand Resort is offering a special promotion that supports local charity The Artists Fund at Festival of Arts. Guests will enjoy 40 percent off the best available rate for bookings purchased on Giving Tuesday, December 3. Ten percent of each purchase will be donated to The Artists Fund. 

Top rated by Conde Nast and Travel + Leisure Magazine, Surf & Sand Resort is noted for its spectacular shorefront setting, easy beach access, soothing Aquaterra Spa, luxury amenities, and walkable Laguna Beach location.

Help artists outside

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Surf & Sand presents special promo to support The Artists Fund at FOA 

 The Artists Fund provides aid to artists suffering hardship from disaster, medical necessity, or other unforeseen hardships. “We are extremely grateful to Surf & Sand Resort, and all those who buy on Giving Tuesday,” said Wendy Wirth, Artists Fund President. “This campaign will help ensure that our working artists stay healthy and productive and honor the legacy of Laguna Beach as an artist’s colony.”

To purchase on December 3, call (844) 679-4689 or visit

The promo is valid on stays through March 31, 2020. Blackout dates and some restrictions apply.

To learn about The Artists Fund, visit

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Festive Festival 

Festive Festival outside

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Festival of Arts gets in the holiday spirit

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Sawdust Festival dons its holiday duds and transforms into a Winter Fantasy


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Everywhere you look, there’s magic. For 29 years, the Sawdust Winter Fantasy has been a holiday tradition, and the enchantment hasn’t waned.

A little boy runs past me, eyes wide, exclaiming with delight, “There’s a Christmas tree, there’s another one. There are Christmas trees everywhere!”

In the newly designed Towne Square area, there are trees galore, decorated in bright ornaments of every color and design – along with Santa’s House, a sleigh, a gingerbread house, and even snow. It’s as if a wizard has cast a spell on the Sawdust Festival, restaging it into a Winter Wonderland.

Have your picture taken with Santa or in his sleigh, and listen to music from three different stages, dine at the numerous restaurants, or participate in a workshop. There is something for everyone.

Sawdust Festival sign

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Sawdust Festival has a new window

The Winter Fantasy features 180 artists from all over the country. Unlike the Summer Festival, the Winter Festival doesn’t require that exhibitors live in Laguna.

Right next to the Santa pavilion area, with a ringside seat to the excitement, is Trevor LePenske’s Jewelry booth with boxed gift sets on display. He’s been exhibiting for five years at both the summer and winter events.

Trevor says, “Opening weekend of Sawdust Winter Fantasy was fantastic. It’s a wonderful feeling walking through the gate to find Laguna’s own winter wonderland, a beautifully decorated marketplace filled with holiday cheer, great entertainment, and artisans working on their craft. I’m looking forward to four more weekends of this magic.” 

Diane Valentino of Mysdiva Designs has been exhibiting for several years. Her hats and purses are favorites. She says, “Our first weekend was so good...thankful for all who came out to enjoy and support us as artists and very small business owners. Winter Fantasy is a fabulous way to share the spirit of the holidays with friends and family. Four more weekends to go!”

Sawdust Festival Towne Square

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Newly designed Town Square 

Linda Ward, who does ceramic sculptures, has a wide variety of Christmas ornaments, every animal you could think of, and if she doesn’t have it, she’ll make it for you. She’s paid for two trips to the Amazon with the sale of her unicorn ornaments. 

It’s the fourth year for jewelry designer Alejandra Velazquez, who has painted an array of giant poinsettias on her booth. “I’ve won twice for best decorated booth. I want to win again to make it three.” 

Robert Holton, whose public art installation Changing Station is in the red phone booth downtown is exhibiting next to his wife Marita of AristoKrown (custom headpieces and accessories). Holton says, “This is my sixth year at the Winter Festival and my wife’s third time. We love it.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit. Winter Fantasy is open November 29, 30, December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 20, 21, and 22 from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. at the Sawdust at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd.

For all activities and information, go to

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Local artists host Artist Studio Sale on Nov 30

On Saturday, Nov 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., local artists Maggie Spencer, Sian and Troy Poeschl will host their annual studio clearout sale. 

Customers can complete their holiday shopping on time, without the stress, at discounted prices at the alternative Laguna Beach Black Saturday shopping experience. The sale will offer an array of different works from jewelry, mixed media, sculpture, ornaments, and fused glass – all original works of art handmade in the Laguna Beach Canyon. 

Local artists Maggie

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Glass art from Maggie Spencer will be on sale 

Located in the artists’ studios on Laguna Canyon Road, the sale will open promptly at 11 a.m. with a “gone a little wrong” table of goodies starting at $8. Shoppers will also experience newly created works, a preview to the 2020 season. 

Local artists Maggie Troy

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Troy Poeschl’s art makes for special holiday gifts

Maggie Spencer and Sian Poeschl, both glass fusion artists, will have an array of different work available, while Troy Poeschl will share his mixed media, sculpture, and photographic works – ideal and unique gifts for friends, family and yourself! 

All three artists have exhibited at the Sawdust Art Festival and Troy is a Festival of Arts exhibitor. This is an annual holiday tradition amongst these three artist friends, so please join together and get the holiday season started. 

Local artists Maggie Sian

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Sian Poeschl will offer her pieces at discounted prices at studio sale on Nov 30

The sale will take place at 2707 Laguna Canyon Rd. 

For more information, contact Maggie at (714) 264-5617.

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Winter Wonderland at the Sawdust 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Winter Wonderland Santa

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Santa Claus arrives at the 29th Annual Winter Fantasy, which continues on November 29, 30, December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 20, 21, and 22 from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. at the Sawdust at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd

Winter Wonderland house

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Santa’s House, have your photo taken with Santa yet?

Winter Wonderland snow

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Delight in late afternoon magic with snow flurries, and enjoy 180 artists and makers, three stages of music, glassblowing, marionette puppet shows, a petting zoo, cafes and a saloon. For all activities and information, go to

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, see slideshow below

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LB Seniors Community Needle Arts Guild gives back to the community

“Many hands make light work” has been the mantra of the Laguna Beach Seniors’ Community Needle Arts Guild since its inception eight years ago at the Susi Q Senior Center. 

The Needle Arts Guild’s mission is to provide beautiful and practical knitted or crocheted gifts to those in need – children in pediatric hospitals or neonatal wards, individuals and families in emergency shelters (homeless, domestic violence), seniors in need, developmentally disabled young adults, and veterans/active military families.

Susi Q group

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Guild members join together to knit and crochet for those in need

Guild member Stephanie H. Masaki-Schatz first became aware of the group when she was recruiting adult knitting mentors for a Knitting For A Cause Initiative she started with the Laguna Beach Girl Scouts. 

She was so impressed by its members’ enthusiasm for their mission and hospitality to our Scouts that she became a Guild member even though she wasn’t a senior.

This summer, generations came together when members and volunteer Girl Scouts knitted baby items, garments, and yarn toys for several “stork deliveries” to Camp Pendleton for 190 new moms at the Marine’s Fall Baby Showers. These deliveries were facilitated by Helping Hand International’s Mobile Food Pantry trips to the Marine base.

Guild Member Roberta Luque was “happy to see many parts working towards this project and continuing our help to the military at the Long Beach Veterans Hospital and active military families.” 

Now with the holiday season fast approaching, member “elves” are getting ready to package over a hundred gifts of blankets, scarves, gloves, hats, shawls, and sweaters to donate to local charitable organizations including Human Options, Glennwood House, Age Well Senior Services, Susi Q Care Management, Friendship Shelter, and Wayfarers Youth Shelter.

The Guild meets the last Friday of each month from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Susi Q Senior Center. New and experienced crafters are welcome to join. 

For more information, contact Maureen Buffington at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the center at (949) 464-6645.

The Susi Q is located at 380 Third St.

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FOA Board of Directors previews 2020 Pageant and honors volunteers and board members


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

It’s 230 days until the Festival of the Arts (FOA) opens on July 6, and after attending the FOA Board of Directors meeting and preview of the 2020 Pageant of the Masters, Made in America, I can’t wait. As always, there’s much to look forward to at FOA – which will celebrate its 86th anniversary next year – Family Day, the Junior Art Exhibit, music, workshops, celebrity night, the runway show, art discussions, and so much more. Each year just keeps getting better and better.

President of the FOA Board of Directors David Perry said, “The Festival and Pageant are always evolving, and the bar keeps getting higher, it always has – to meet growing challenges. This last year, we integrated digital imaging into the Pageant to attract the younger audience and added lasers and holograms to the storyline. At a time when audiences desire more immersive engagement with stories, Pageant of the Masters Director Diane Challis Davy and her creative team succeeded in blending the very traditional art form of living pictures with new technology.” 

FOA board Perry

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FOA Board of Directors President David Perry

Pageant audiences are the fortunate beneficiaries of Challis Davy’s vision, one that has been widely recognized. She was recently honored as a female industry visionary by the Advanced Imaging Society @3Dsociety at its 10th Annual Entertainment Technology Awards.

As part of the Festival’s evolution, they’ve upgraded the music, and enhanced the workshops, resulting in a more vibrant and extraordinary experience. The Art, Jazz, Wine & Chocolate events have expanded for which Perry credits Member Services and Special Events Director Susan Davis.

“It’s all about raising the bar,” Perry said. 

And they certainly have, with significant results. 

Together, the 2019 Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters attracted over 200,000 people, and Perry is encouraged to see a younger demographic. The Festival employed over 400 people during the summer and created career and income opportunities for artists. FOA has been rated in the top five Art Festival Destinations and top five Art Festivals in the nation by USA Today

FOA previews Challis

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Pageant of the Masters Director Diane Challis Davy

Perry said, “The top notch renovation of the FOA has resulted in the grounds being used by some of the local nonprofits this past year such as Laguna Art Museum, The Taste of Laguna produced jointly by the Laguna Beach Chamber and KX 93.5, the Laguna Plein Art Painters Association, and Glennwood Housing Foundation.”

Ex-officio member of the Festival Board and Mayor Bob Whalen said, “The Festival of Arts is such an important part of the community tradition. It’s a big bragging point in this town.”

Since the Festival leases the land from the City of Laguna Beach, it’s truly a community collaboration, which Mayor Whalen called “a wonderful partnership.” 

FOA gives back to the community as well. FOA donated $58,500 to the Masters at Giving program to provide Pageant tickets to veterans, seniors, military personnel, and youth groups. Life member and former Pageant volunteer Jackie Ludlum generously donated funds for the Pageant’s new digital sound board, renovation of showers in the wardrobe department, student art scholarships, and Pageant tickets for veterans. 

FOA Board Whalen

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Mayor Bob Whalen

Further, FOA Board Member and Secretary Pat Kollenda announced that the Festival of Arts awarded $79,600 in scholarships for the academic year 2019-2020. There were 17 freshmen awards in the amount of $27,600. Two scholarships were in Dance, two in Film, seven in Music, one in Theater, and five in Visual Arts. The freshmen average high school GPA was 3.36, and there were a total of 28 freshman applicants that applied in 32 areas. In addition, there were also scholarships awarded to 28 returning scholarship recipients. The returning average GPA was 3.60.

On this evening, FOA was on the receiving end as well – Julie Kirchen, a nine-year Pageant of the Masters volunteer and the Wellness Strategy and Integration Manager at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, presented the Festival of Arts and Perry with a check $5,000 from the Disney VoluntEARS Community fund to support community outreach art education programs. 

Reporting on finances, Board Member and Treasurer Fred Sattler stated that the “assets continue to grow at an acceptable pace. We are able to continually show value to visitors.”

FOA board volunteers

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Fifteen-year Pageant volunteers who were awarded Lifetime Memberships 

Perry also commended the multitude of volunteers who have proven to be the backbone of the FOA and the Pageant. “Our strength is in our volunteers, without which it would be impossible to present the FOA.” 

To honor those who served 15 years, 14 Pageant volunteers were presented with Lifetime Memberships by Challis Davy and Kollenda. They included: Mark Bartleman (runner), John Brant (head piece), Jim Caverly (cast), Linda Fry (makeup), Richard Gething (cast), Joe Hernandez (cast), Maryam Kavousi (makeup), Mackynzie Miller (cast), Mark Porterfield (cast member and longtime supporter and sponsor of Junior Art Exhibit), Crystal Regan (makeup), Kenneth Solomon (runner), Kathy Steinfeld (wardrobe), Vicki Trotter (runner), and Megan Valles (cast).

Perry recognized and congratulated employees David Talbot (Construction Foreman) and Jill Harris-Sturdy (Director of Finance) for their ten years of service and commitment to the organization. 

FOA board retiring members

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Retiring Board members Scott Moore and Kathy Jones

Perry bid a sad farewell to retiring board members Kathy Jones and Scott Moore, acknowledging their exceptional service and many contributions to the Festival of Arts: “Each moved the organization in a significant way. Kathy was not only a creative dynamo in her painting, she was the first female Vice Chancellor at UCI and Vice President at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. They both created a positive collaborative environment. Scott was the official artist of the OC Marine Corps, spent 38 years exhibiting at FOA and 30 years at the Sawdust Festival.” 

Two of Moore’s paintings appeared in the Pageant, the first Big Catch in 1981.

The new 2020 Board election results were announced. David Perry (incumbent), Treasurer Fred Sattler (incumbent), and Jeff Rovner were voted as the new three-year terms. There were five candidates, and 470 ballots were cast to determine the winners.

FOA board new

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New Board: (L-R) Jeff Rovner, Fred Sattler, Anita Mangels, Pat Kollenda, Tom Lamb, David Perry, Bob Moffett, and Wayne Baglin

During a sneak preview, Challis Davy presented a slideshow of the artwork to be presented in the 2020 Pageant of the Masters, Made in America, including works by Norman Rockwell, John Trumbull, Edmonia Lewis, John Neito, N.C. Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and Leonardo da Vinci. 

Challis Davy said, “I spent a couple of months working with screenwriter Dan Duling, and there were many research volunteers behind this production.”

After the video – which went from the Passage of the Delaware and George Washington to the Old West, to ragtime, vaudeville, the jazz era, migrants, and the development of the car industry – Challis Davy said, “We’ll find a way to work in The Last Supper. You’ll have to come next year to find out.”

You can bet on that. I’m counting the days.

The Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach® is a 501(c)(3) with a mission to promote, produce, and sponsor events and activities that encourage the appreciation, study and performance of the arts.

For more information about FOA and Pageant of the Masters, go to

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