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Belly dancers perform at Sawdust Festival on Sunday

Jheri St. James, leader of JJ & the Habibis Laguna Beach Belly Dancers, is celebrating 38 years of art appreciation by the Sawdust Festival with a special performance on Sunday, Aug 25 starting at 6:30 p.m.

“The Sawdust is the first and maybe only venue to welcome belly dancing as the art form it truly is,” states St. James. 

Belly dancers Jheri

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Douglas Miller

Jheri St. James performing at Sawdust Festival in 1985

Featured in the 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. showtimes will be beautiful Ana, elfin Rabia, Turkish spitfire Nilay, classy Angelika Nemeth, the sparkling Black Diamonds, Tribe Roman Morga, and of course the local JJ & the Habibis.

More info about Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo classes as well as future shows can be obtained by contacting Jheri at her website www.JheriCo.net, at (949) 494-5031, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Sawdust Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd.


Belly dancers perform at Sawdust Festival this Sunday, Aug 25

Jheri St. James, leader of JJ & the Habibis Laguna Beach Belly Dancers, is celebrating 38 years of art appreciation by the Sawdust Festival with a special performance this Sunday, Aug 25 starting at 6:30 p.m.

“The Sawdust is the first and maybe only venue to welcome belly dancing as the art form it truly is,” states St. James. 

Belly dancers Jheri

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Douglas Miller

Jheri St. James performing at Sawdust Festival in 1985

Featured in the 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. showtimes will be beautiful Ana, elfin Rabia, Turkish spitfire Nilay, classy Angelika Nemeth, the sparkling Black Diamonds, Tribe Roman Morga, and of course the local JJ & the Habibis.

More info about Laguna Beach and Aliso Viejo classes as well as future shows can be obtained by contacting Jheri at her website www.JheriCo.net, at (949) 494-5031, or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Sawdust Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd.


“A Night Under the Stars with the Stars” at FOA and Pageant of the Masters set for Saturday

The Celebrity Benefit at the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters, the most entertaining and star-studded night of the summer art season, will be held in Laguna Beach on Saturday, Aug 24. 

This red carpet one-night affair will offer guests an evening of fine art, entertainment, and a special performance of this summer’s popular Pageant of the Masters, “The Time Machine.”

The event begins at 5 p.m. with a private viewing of the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show and re -carpet arrivals walked by attending celebrities, including the evening’s Pageant host actor John O’Hurley. 

A night John

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Pat Rogers

(L-R) Event host John O’Hurley, Brian Cranston, and Peter Bergman

Other guest celebrities scheduled to appear are Jonathan Adams (Last Man Standing), Ginger Chan (KTLA 5), Shawn Christian (Days of our Lives), Kate Flannery (The Office), Robert Hays (Airplane!), Gregory Itzin (24), Eva LaRue (All My Children), Jerry Mathers (Leave it to Beaver), Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds), Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), McKenzie Westmore (Face Off), Arianne Zucker (Days of our Lives), and many, many others.

“August 24th will be an incredible night,” says Sharbie Higuchi, Director of Marketing and PR for the Festival of Arts. “We can’t wait to share the evening with John O’Hurley, Melissa Manchester, and our celebrity supporters…and we look forward to welcoming our most enthusiastic Festival and Pageant fans!”

Guests will enjoy an intimate concert on the Festival green at 6 p.m., performed by Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated singer/songwriter Melissa Manchester and the Citrus College Blue Note Orchestra. Manchester’s career is remarkable not only for its longevity and accomplishments, but for its versatility. 

A Night Manchester

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Pat Rogers

Guests will enjoy an intimate concert performed by Grammy-winning Melissa Manchester 

Following her stint as a founding member of Bette Midler’s Harlettes, Manchester’s tremendously successful solo career brought her critical and commercial acclaim. 

The “Midnight Blue” singer received her first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance in 1979 for the Peter Allen/Carole Bayer Sager-penned “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” winning the Grammy in that category four years later for “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.” 

Two songs she performed, “Through The Eyes Of Love” and “The Promise,” were nominated for Oscars in the same year. She has recorded over twenty albums across her four-decade career, releasing her most recent album, The Fellas, in 2017.

After the concert show, award-winning actor, best-selling author and TV host John O’Hurley will draw the winning ticket for a 2019 Acura RDX ($38,295 value). This is the conclusion of a summer-long raffle. 

Since the Festival season opened on July 5, visitors have been purchasing their raffle tickets in hopes of being the lucky winner. Raffle tickets will continue to be sold right up until 8 p.m. that night: $5 for one ticket, $20 for five tickets (winning ticket holder need not be present to win).

Culminating the evening, guests will enjoy a special performance of the 2019 Pageant of the Masters production of “The Time Machine,” introduced by celebrity host John O’Hurley. He won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his role as “J. Peterman” on Seinfeld

O’Hurley has also won season one of Dancing with the Stars and named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” He has hosted The National Dog Show, Family Feud, and To Tell the Truth and voiced characters on Spongebob Square Pants and Phineas and Ferb. 

Tickets are on sale now and range from $50 - $240. The event is sponsored by Southern California Acura Dealers, KOST 103.5 and Yamaha. 

To purchase tickets, go online, visit www.pageanttickets.com.

The Festival of Arts is a non-profit organization that produces the Festival of Arts and the Pageant of the Masters.

For general information, call (949) 494-1145 or visit the website at www.lagunafestivalofarts.org.

The event is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd. 


Red Hot Chili Peppers making rare appearance

Story by Diane Armitage

Photos by Mike Altishin for The Best of Laguna Beach

Back in 1983, the Red Hot Chili Peppers came together in L.A. when high school buddies Anthony Kiedis (now infamous lead singer) and Flea (aka Michael Balary and now infamous bassist) decided it was time to create a band.

During that first year, the scrappy punk/metal/jazz/alternative rock band was all over the California map. RHCP experienced what can only be described as meteoric popularity and by 1984’s debut, they were touring all over the country. In 1988, they began touring globally. 

While California always remained popular in their tour schedule, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ semi-retirement these last few years saw their last performance in San Francisco all the way back in 2017. 

This has caused painful withdrawals for RHCP fans, I can assure you.

It was a banner moment, then, when September’s Ohana Festival announced the Red Hot Chili Peppers as the closing performance on Sunday night’s stage, September 29. It will be their first (and only) performance in California since 2017 and, in fact, their only U.S. performance this year.

Ohana Fest: A 3-Day Music Extravaganza

The giant three-day Ohana Festival at Doheny Beach takes place September 27-29. As you may recall, this festival came together when fellow surfer buddies Eddie Vedder and Kelly Slater decided to create a festival that primarily featured extraordinary talents that had not yet been discovered. 

Red Hot Ohana Fest

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Returning Ohana Fest will serve up 35 acts this year

Now in its fourth year, the Ohana Fest stays true to its school, offering up mighty (but lesser known) talent throughout the day. 

Note: When I say “lesser known” please understand that I’m referring to people like Lukas Nelson, who collaborated with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper on the blockbuster soundtrack A Star Is Born. This is the kind of talent you’re going to see and hear all the live-long day, for three straight days. 

Twilight and final performances, however, are loaded with global superstars. 

Friday’s Lineup

Friday, Sept 27 will feature seven singers and bands leading to the two evening’s performances. 

First to take the evening stage is Tash Sultana, a kid whose homemade recordings (compliments of a GoPro in his bedroom) went crazy viral. In that very same year, he was selling out major arenas and he hasn’t stopped since. 

He’s followed by the evening’s closing act The Strokes.

Saturday’s Lineup

Saturday, Sept 28 hands us eight phenomenal sets before popular bands Mudhoney and Glen Hansard perform before for the last two performances that day, Incubus (creators of one of my most favorite songs ever) and Ohaha Fest Co-Founder Eddie Vedder. In past years, Vedder has chosen to do a single-man acoustic event that takes down the house. 

Red Hot Eddie Vedder

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Former Pearl Jam fron man and Ohana Fest Co-Founder Eddie Vedder

Sunday’s Lineup

Sunday, Sept 29 will feature 11 phenomenal acts again, with my former hometown, Denver, offering up the fabulously talented Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats at twilight. 

And, then, it’s Red Hot Chili Pepper Time. 

Having sold more than 60 million albums worldwide with five albums at multiplatinum status and three Grammy-winning songs, I’m betting you might recognize a song or two. The band puts on one of the most energetic performances you’ll ever witness. Even if you purchase a single-day ticket and only attend this one event, it will be worth the investment. 

Check out general admission and VIP option details at my website, www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com.

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com.


Festival artists try hand at platters, charity auction to be held on Sunday

Ray Brown is among 11 Festival of Arts exhibitors who created signature designs on platters recently. “I can’t wait to see what they’ll look like,” Brown said. The finished fired ceramics will be auctioned to the public on Sunday, Aug 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. on the Festival grounds.

Glazing is a new medium for most of the artists, including Brown who specializes in wildlife in graphite on paper. Artists relied on color chips, since the glazes don’t show color until after firing. “It’s really challenging to paint, without being really sure how it will turn out,” said Anthony Salvo, who created an image of cherry pie.

Festival artists Anthony

Photo by Mike Tauber

Artist Anthony Salvo created an image of a cherry pie 

Vinita Voogd, a noted printmaker, created a map of Paris using the scgraffito technique of carving into a layer of dry glaze. Other artists included Sandra Jones Campbell, Kate Cohen, Monica Edwards, Kathe Madrigal, Hugo Rivera, Pegah Samai, Mike Tauber, and Yuri Kuznetsov. 

The platters, glaze, and firing were donated by Laguna Clay Company. Proceeds from the auction will support The Artists Fund at Festival of Arts. View the pre-fired platters on Facebook here.

Festival artists Sandra

Photo by Mike Tauber

Artist Sandra Jones Campbell displays her platter 

For more information on the Artists Fund, visit www.theartistsfund-foa.org or call (949) 612-1949. 

Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd.


“A Night Under the Stars with the Stars” at FOA and Pageant of the Masters set for Aug 24

The Celebrity Benefit at the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters, the most entertaining and star-studded night of the summer art season, will be held in Laguna Beach on Saturday, Aug 24. 

This red carpet one-night affair will offer guests an evening of fine art, entertainment, and a special performance of this summer’s popular Pageant of the Masters, “The Time Machine.”

The event begins at 5 p.m. with a private viewing of the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show and re -carpet arrivals walked by attending celebrities, including the evening’s Pageant host actor John O’Hurley. 

A night John

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Pat Rogers

(L-R) Event host John O’Hurley, Brian Cranston, and Peter Bergman

Other guest celebrities scheduled to appear are Jonathan Adams (Last Man Standing), Ginger Chan (KTLA 5), Shawn Christian (Days of our Lives), Kate Flannery (The Office), Robert Hays (Airplane!), Gregory Itzin (24), Eva LaRue (All My Children), Jerry Mathers (Leave it to Beaver), Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds), Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), McKenzie Westmore (Face Off), Arianne Zucker (Days of our Lives), and many, many others.

“August 24th will be an incredible night,” says Sharbie Higuchi, Director of Marketing and PR for the Festival of Arts. “We can’t wait to share the evening with John O’Hurley, Melissa Manchester, and our celebrity supporters…and we look forward to welcoming our most enthusiastic Festival and Pageant fans!”

Guests will enjoy an intimate concert on the Festival green at 6 p.m., performed by Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated singer/songwriter Melissa Manchester and the Citrus College Blue Note Orchestra. Manchester’s career is remarkable not only for its longevity and accomplishments, but for its versatility. 

A Night Manchester

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Pat Rogers

Guests will enjoy an intimate concert performed by Grammy-winning Melissa Manchester 

Following her stint as a founding member of Bette Midler’s Harlettes, Manchester’s tremendously successful solo career brought her critical and commercial acclaim. 

The “Midnight Blue” singer received her first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance in 1979 for the Peter Allen/Carole Bayer Sager-penned “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” winning the Grammy in that category four years later for “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.” 

Two songs she performed, “Through The Eyes Of Love” and “The Promise,” were nominated for Oscars in the same year. She has recorded over twenty albums across her four-decade career, releasing her most recent album, The Fellas, in 2017.

After the concert show, award-winning actor, best-selling author and TV host John O’Hurley will draw the winning ticket for a 2019 Acura RDX ($38,295 value). This is the conclusion of a summer-long raffle. 

Since the Festival season opened on July 5, visitors have been purchasing their raffle tickets in hopes of being the lucky winner. Raffle tickets will continue to be sold right up until 8 p.m. that night: $5 for one ticket, $20 for five tickets (winning ticket holder need not be present to win).

Culminating the evening, guests will enjoy a special performance of the 2019 Pageant of the Masters production of “The Time Machine,” introduced by celebrity host John O’Hurley. He won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his role as “J. Peterman” on Seinfeld

O’Hurley has also won season one of Dancing with the Stars and named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” He has hosted The National Dog Show, Family Feud, and To Tell the Truth and voiced characters on Spongebob Square Pants and Phineas and Ferb. 

Tickets are on sale now and range from $50 - $240. The event is sponsored by Southern California Acura Dealers, KOST 103.5 and Yamaha. 

To purchase tickets, go online, visit www.pageanttickets.com.

The Festival of Arts is a non-profit organization that produces the Festival of Arts and the Pageant of the Masters.

For general information, call (949) 494-1145 or visit the website at www.lagunafestivalofarts.org.

The event is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd.


Rollicking Reggae

Photos by Scott Brashier

Rollicking Reggae band

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Upstream brings the crowd to its feet at Music in the Park at Bluebird Park

Rollicking Reggae hooping

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Calypso hooping

Rollicking Reggae conga

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Is that a conga line? 

Rollicking Reggae young fans

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Music in the Park continues on August 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. Join Eagles fans for Boys of Summer, an Eagles tribute band. The series is a function of the Laguna Beach Arts Commission and is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. Please do not set up before 3 p.m. to allow children to enjoy the park prior to the concert. Bluebird Park is located at Bluebird Canyon Drive/Cress Street. Free trolley service is available to the park.

For more photos by Scott Brashier, see slideshow below:


Emerging artists showcased at Junior Art Awards ceremony at Festival of Arts 

Story by DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Jeff Rovner

On Sunday at the Festival of Arts, the Junior Art Exhibit Awards ceremony proved a young artist’s observation that, “art is the colors and textures of your imagination.” The imagery and creativity of these award winners took varied and unique forms, representing two-dimensional art, three-dimensional art, digital and graphic design, and photography. After touring the Junior Art gallery, it was evident that there are many talented up-and-coming artists in Orange County.

Emerging artists awards

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Awaiting presentation 

Since its inception in 1947, the Junior Art Exhibit has come to be regarded as one of the highlights of the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show. Selected by art authorities from thousands of submissions representing schools throughout Orange County, works by over 300 students (PK-12) are on display in the Junior Art Gallery.

Emerging artists group

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Junior Art Exhibit winners and presenters

Winners were presented with gold, silver, and bronze medals as well as certificates of appreciation. A jury made up of Mark Porterfield, Steve Chadma, Emma Patton, Pat Sparkuhl, and Stephanie Cunningham selected first, second, and third place winners from the Orange County students’ incredible works of art on display. 

Emerging artists menorah

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Pre-K second place winner Talia Coelrubi for “Menorah” – posing with her mother 

The exhibit has become not only a showcase for new generations of young Orange County student artists, but also a testimonial to the value and importance of continuing arts education in our school systems. The 2019 Junior Art Exhibit is sponsored in part by California First National Bank and Mark Porterfield of Laguna Beach. It is a collaboration of the FOA Board of Directors and the Orange County Department of Education.

Emerging artists Devan

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Devan Brajevich for “Perspective” – Second Place, grade 11 

President of the FOA Board of Directors David Perry welcomed the crowd and congratulated the bright talented artists and artists to be. “Since the first Junior Art Exhibit, it was a hit and continues to be a highlight of the Festival. Thanks to the parents, staff, and teachers and California First National Bank.”

Emerging artists postcards

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(L-R) Winners Molly Manser, First Place, second grade, “The Red Flower,” and Olivia Herrera, Third Place, Pre-K, “Love Pig” were chosen to have their works made into postcards (with Leslie Jewett and David Perry)

Three former Junior Art exhibitors have come full circle: Watercolorist Molly Hutchings, oil painter Anthony Salvo, and photographer Cheyne Walls remember their first showings in the Junior Art Exhibit many years back, and this summer, they’re all featured exhibitors in the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show.

Anthony Salvo, who is in his third year of exhibiting – and still has the wood block print shown in the Junior Art Exhibit – said to the upcoming artists, “Your talent is a gift, not everyone can do what you do.” 

Emerging artists teacher

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(L-R) Mark Porterfield, Leslie Jewett, Bri Harb, and David Perry with two students. A special collaborative award was presented to Bri Harb’s 5th grade class and The Sounds of Color Studio in Irvine for their group piece entitled “Emotions & Feelings.”

In addition to Porterfield and Perry, presenters included Leslie Jewett, who is the Chief Financial officer of California First National Bank and a co-sponsor of Junior Art Exhibition with Porterfield. She is also a Laguna Beach resident. 

The artwork by Orange County students, grades PK-12, never ceases to inspire with its originality and evidence of emerging talents. This year was no exception.

Congratulations to all the winners!

For a complete list of the award winners, click here.

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere”

… Albert Einstein

For more photos by Jeff Rovner, see slideshow below:


Laguna Beach Chamber Singers receive FOA Foundation grant

The Laguna Beach Chamber Singers recently received a $2,000 grant from the Festival of Arts (FOA) Foundation. The choir is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Laguna Beach, performing a spring and holiday concert every year. 

The Laguna Beach Chamber Singers successfully blend historic and anecdotal context into their performances, accomplishing their mission which is to entertain and educate.

Laguna Beach singing

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Courtesy of lbchambersingers.org

The talented Laguna Beach Chamber Singers 

The group’s eclectic repertoire ranges from classical to contemporary, popular to obscure. As venues and outlets for small choral groups continue to dwindle, the Chamber Singers place an emphasis on reviving the classics, resurfacing great yet forgotten pieces, and introducing new compositions. 

The Laguna Beach Chamber Singers is looking for new singers to join the choir by audition. Visit www.lagunabeachchambersinger.org for more information, including rehearsal and performance times.


Laguna Art Museum announces exclusive trip auction for Gala 2019

 On Saturday, Sept 21, Laguna Art Museum will launch its second century with its Gala 2019 event from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at the Festival of Arts grounds. More than 350 guests will enjoy performance art, dancing, exquisite wines, and fine dining. A live auction will add to the excitement of the evening.

The live auction offers a once-in-a-lifetime private art and travel experience hosted by artist Lita Albuquerque and LAM Executive Director Malcolm Warner for four guests to New York from May 6 to May 9, 2020. 

This exclusive trip will include hotel accommodations for three nights and four days of VIP visits personally arranged by Albuquerque and Warner at galleries, artists’ studios, museums, and private collections. 

The trip will also include attendance with Albuquerque and Warner at the invitation-only preview of the Frieze New York art fair, and time for personal exploration. 

The successful bidder will enjoy an exclusive and rare opportunity, while the proceeds from the event ensure operating support for Laguna Art Museum to continue its mission to be the premier museum for California art and a center of culture for Laguna Beach.

Laguna Art balls

Submitted photo

“Lita Albuquerque,” Stellar Axis: Antarctica, 2006, photograph by Jean de Pomereu

Lita Albuquerque is Laguna Art Museum’s Wendt Award recipient for 2019. Albuquerque has created an expansive body of work that ranges from painting, sculpture, poetry, and multimedia performances to large-scale ephemeral projects in sites around the globe. 

Active since the early 1970s, and often associated with the Light and Space aand Land Art movements, she has developed a unique visual and conceptual vocabulary using astronomical images, the earth, the body, color, motion, and time to explore human identity in its relation to the universal. 

Albuquerque was the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant for her Stellar Axis: Antarctica project, which culminated in the first ephemeral artwork created on that continent. 

In 2014 her outdoor performance An Elongated Now was the centerpiece of Laguna Art Museum’s Art & Nature, complementing the installation Particle Horizon inside the museum. Since 2015, Albuquerque has served on the museum’s Board of Trustees.

Malcolm Warner joined Laguna Art Museum as Executive Director in January 2012. Previously he was Deputy Director at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas; Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; and Curator of European Art at the San Diego Museum of Art. 

Warner was born in Aldershot (UK) and pursued both undergraduate and graduate studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. He received his Ph.D. from the Courtauld in 1985. His doctoral dissertation was on the British Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. He remains the leading authority on Millais and, as a long-term project, is preparing a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s works.

For more information including tickets to Gala 2019, visit www.lagunaartmuseum.org

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

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