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Artist Jenny Kallis and her new gallery Wax and Wood have ties to early Laguna Art Colony

By DIANNE RUSSELL 

Jenny Kallis, whose new gallery Wax and Wood is on the corner of Thalia Street and S Coast Hwy, has connections to early Laguna’s art scene in more ways than one. Not only is she related to an originator of the art colony, the location of Wax and Wood – her first gallery – circles back to that particular time and a house on Thalia Street.

Kallis says, “My maternal great-grandfather William Swift Daniell was one of the original Plein Air artists of Laguna. He arrived in Laguna around 1910 and built the old historic wood house that still stands on the cliff above the beach at Thalia Street. In a way, I am bringing back the art to the family’s original location on Thalia. I moved to Laguna last May to be with my mom who is 91 (and in great shape). She is very active in the Laguna community, theater, and museum. The Laguna Art Museum has a William Swift Daniell in their private collection.” 

After many years in the Venice Beach area, Kallis relocated to Laguna Beach in 2019. “Since I come from a family of artists including William Swift Daniell and my paternal grandfather Mischa Kallis, art was always present in our home and conversations. Although art has always been my first love, I built a career in architecture and design that spanned 30 years.”

Artist jenny exterior

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Location of Wax and Wood has ties to Kallis’ family

Unfortunately due to the timing of the opening of the gallery, many residents may be unaware of its debut.

“I did a soft opening in November but it was a cold winter followed by the shutting down due to the pandemic,” says Kallis.

However, she can now be seen in the window of Wax and Wood, creating pieces using an ancient technique called encaustic which involves using pigments mixed with hot wax that are burned in as an inlay.

“It has been challenging. But whenever I was open, I did sell (so that was encouraging) and I just remind myself that I am here for my mom and that I love sharing information about encaustic painting. Little kids love to learn about the bees and the history of encaustic. One day, I would love to do a demo session at the museum and maybe once a semester, do a demo at LCAD.”

The gallery is also Kallis’ studio and the storefront is set up as her ‘baker’s window’ where she creates in front of the public. “I am happy to answer questions about what I do and the history of encaustic which dates back to 800 BC and was used in the entombing of mummies,” she says. 

Artist jenny working

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Kallis works in the window

“I started with pyrography but due to a ‘happy accident,’ I began using wax to add color to my pyrography [the art or technique of decorating wood or leather by burning a design on the surface with a heated metallic point]. The unusual combination of wood burning and wax keeps me always diving into new ways of expressing my ever constant imagination and always trying to keep up with the abundance of ideas.” 

Kallis says that working with wax is a bit like being a scientist in the laboratory. “I mix my own colors from old oil paints I have both collected and inherited from my grandfather Mischa Kallis.”

“One of the beautiful characteristics of the wax is the suspension of the pigment molecules in the wax medium when it is cooled. When light shines on an encaustic painting the colors illuminate.”

“My artistic process using colored wax with burned wood was initially the result of a happy accident. When I was burning wood for an art piece, I used wax to camouflage a mistake in that process. That mistake soon became the doorway to the vast creative possibilities that the combined techniques of pyrography and encaustic offered.”

Artist jenny tower

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Lifeguard Tower by Jenny Kallis 

The wax could be colored, layered on in different textures, and then carved back out to reveal the wood burned image hidden below. 

“Though my subjects range from life in Venice, California to concepts from my imagination, the method of wax and wood speaks for itself. It is visual and tactile and engages directly with the viewer.” 

Kallis explains her process, “After laying out the image, I begin the burn. The hot pen essentially caramelizes the wood as it burns each line. The burning process takes time and patience. It is a web of fine lines taken together creating a story in image.

“I use 100 percent refined Beeswax and mix it with Damar (the crystalized sap of a trees found in India and East Asia). The Damar gives added hardness and luminosity. The beeswax is heated to approximately 180-220 F.

“Laying down the wax has to be done quickly before the wax cools. It can be manipulated while liquid or once cooled into its solid form. The methods of wax manipulation are endless.”

Curious about this technique? Walk by the window of Wax and Wood and wave to Kallis as she works, and remember, she loves to share information about encaustic painting, so just ask.

Wax and Wood is located at 899 S Coast Hwy, Unit #1.

For more information, go to www.jennykallis.com or call (949) 371-6081.

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LPAPA joins artist Peggi Kroll-Roberts in her new “Expanding the Universe Series 4”

LPAPA is delighted to announce registration is now open for Signature Artist Peggi Kroll-Roberts’ latest weekly Live Online Painting Class, “Expanding the Universe Series 4,” which kicks off on Thursday, July 9 and runs through Thursday, July 30.

Class prices (a portion of which is being donated back to LPAPA) have been greatly reduced as a way of giving back during these trying times. Peggi will lead live weekly discussions and painting demonstrations that explore fun and engaging topics such as: “String Theory,” “I’m Feeling Dizzy”, “The Space Between,” and “Upside Down and Turned Around.” After the class, students will have unlimited access to re-watch each week’s recording.

LPAPA joins monkey

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Peggi Kroll-Roberts’ art piece 

The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) and its participating artists are committed to not only survive the pandemic but to find creative ways to help artists as well as the community stay engaged and continue to find their artistic muse. 

Whether you’re picking up a paint brush for the first time or want to take your painting skills to the next level, studying with a professional artist is a great path to take. 

LPAPA joins cups

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Peggi Kroll-Roberts’ painting 

Award-winning artist Peggi Kroll-Roberts (b. 1954), was trained at Arizona State University and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. Peggi worked as a fashion and advertising illustrator before transitioning to fine art.  Using intense color and value to accentuate her subject, she moved into fine art with a bold palette, a love for small paintings, and a very loose style that achieves a lot with a few very energetic brush strokes. She prefers to suggest reality than render it. 

Peggi paints animated figures and breaks away from conventional still life with playful paintings of everyday scenes: cosmetics, the occasional coffee cup, or slab of butter. Peggi’s realist impressionist and expressionist styles are striking and she has won multiple fine art and plein air awards in addition to the Blackwell prize in painting.

The cost is $45 for the entire series of four weekly classes supporting LPAPA. Register at the link here.

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Laguna Art Museum partners with Laguna Beach Live! for a virtual concert featuring SAKURA on July 9

On Thursday, July 9, Laguna Art Museum will partner with Laguna Beach Live! for a “virtual concert” made possible by SAKURA.

The SAKURA cello quintet explores great music of the past through dazzling arrangements that offer fresh perspectives on familiar notes, and continually expands the five-cello repertoire into the future by commissioning new works. Join in from the comfort of home and click below for this concert’s program.

A unique and versatile cello quintet, hailed as “brilliant” and “superb” by Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times, SAKURA is built on the artistry and virtuosity of its members: Michael Kaufman, Benjamin Lash, Gabriel Martins, Yoshika Masuda, and Peter Myers. 

Laguna Art band

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SAKURA will perform a special virtual concert on July 9 

Drawing from the rich heritage of a repertoire that spans eight centuries, inventive programs are constructed around conceptual threads, with a commitment to opening new vistas of beauty and expression by showcasing the great warmth and scope of five cellos.

Performance highlights have included Brett Dean’s Twelve Angry Men in Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, a world premiere of Thomas Mellan’s Concerto for Five Cellos with the USC Symphony, and concert appearances across the country. 

SAKURA was awarded two prestigious grants to commission new cello quintets: a Tarisio grant for five young American composers and a New Music USA grant for Donald Crockett. This season includes performances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New Orleans. The quintet also serves as Young-Ensemble-in-Residence of the Da Camera Society.

SAKURA explores great music of the past through dazzling arrangements that offer fresh perspectives on familiar notes, and continually expands the five-cello repertoire into the future by commissioning new works. In the tradition of the great chamber ensembles, the quintet distills its interpretations through time, reveling in the pure sonic pleasure of a unified and colorful sound. Its name honors the great mentor and artist Ralph Kirshbaum, with whom all five members studied: sakura (Japanese) and Kirschbaum (German) have the same meaning –  “cherry tree,” a plant whose flowers have five petals.

To watch the virtual performance, visit www.lagunabeachlive.org.

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Gallery Q at the Susi Q launches virtual exhibition

Gallery Q isn’t letting the isolation of the pandemic hinder artistic expression. To help local community artists, the gallery is announcing its first “virtual show” that can be viewed from the comfort of home. 

Gallery-goers can “meet the artists” and view their work at www.galleryq.org now through August 10.

The online viewing room features 85 pieces of artwork by over 40 artists and includes a wide selection of paintings, textiles, photography, ceramics, mixed media, and more.

Gallery Q Gibson

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“Happy Hour” by artist Bill Gibson

Longtime artist and Gallery Q arts coordinator Judy Baker recognized the need to keep discovering and supporting the arts community, while social distancing remains in place. 

“I like the expression ‘art soothes the soul.’ What a difficult time for art galleries and art festivals to be closed – not only for the artists but for the community as a whole. We provided this virtual exhibit at no cost to the artists and for the pleasure of all art lovers, wherever you may be.”

Many of the art pieces in the show are available for sale. Purchases can be made by contacting the artist directly through their listed email.

Gallery Q masks

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Handmade custom face masks by artist Debra Covern

Gallery Q is a public exhibition space dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the talent of emerging, semi-professional, and professional artists of all ages in Orange County. Gallery Q is located at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Senior Center at 380 Third St. Five shows per year honor local artists and are kicked off with a public art reception. 

For more information about Gallery Q and Laguna Beach Seniors at The Susi Q visit www.thesusiq.orgor call (949) 715-8106.

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Grants for LB artists made possible by Wayne Peterson Fund of LB Community Foundation

Laguna Beach as a community has evolved with artists at its core. Artists are integral in shaping the city and are an economic driver. The City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission believes that in order to support resident artists they need to work here to remain here. As a result the Fostering Creativity Grants program has been initiated.

Thanks to the Wayne Peterson Fund of the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, grants will be awarded to Laguna Beach resident artists of amounts between $1,000 and $8,000.

Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl developed a proposal for a grant program for Laguna Beach artists to return to creative work. Poeschl shared the concept with the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, who have undertaken great work and have supported the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. A donation of $100,000 was awarded to the City of Laguna Beach, made possible by a gift from the Wayne Peterson Fund of the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, to support Laguna Beach artists. The grant program was unanimously supported by the City Council and Arts Commission.    

Grants for Sawdust

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           Photo by Scott Brashier

Fostering Creativity Grants will aid local artists; Sawdust Booth last year

Arts Commissioner Suzi Chauvel said, “Wayne Peterson, former Mayor and Arts Patron, would be so proud to support our culture of working artists in Laguna Beach. I’m so pleased his legacy will continue with the Fostering Creativity Grants.”

Poeschl said, “These grants will allow artists the opportunity to reimagine what changes they must make to sustain their future in uncertain times. Facilitating the opportunity for artists to create work that is shared with the community celebrates our healing to this pandemic and reinvigorates the economy. Artists define our community as a different and special place to visit and where we call home.” 

Arts Commission Vice-Chair Pat Kollenda added, “This is an Incredible and hugely appreciated opportunity for our talented and well deserved artists. A huge thank you to the generosity of former Mayor Wayne Peterson.” 

Grants for McGhee

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Work by local FOA artist Elizabeth McGhee

An easy online application is available by clicking here. Artists may submit a proposal for a creative project, by providing examples of their work and how it will be shared with the community. 

Arts Commission Chair Adam Schwerner has a video message about the application – to view, click here. 

The Arts Commission will also host a Zoom meeting on Monday, June 29 at 9 a.m. to assist artists on their applications and to answer questions.

To attend the Zoom meeting, click here or call (669) 900-9128 (meeting ID/password is 770677).

For questions, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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LagunaTunes scholarships honor Roxanna Ward

LagunaTunes Community Chorus has presented scholarships to five recent Laguna Beach High School graduates – in honor of popular retiring choral instructor Roxanna Ward. 

For nineteen years, Ms. Ward has brought the joy of group singing to Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School students with uncommon skill, enthusiasm, and humor. A successful singer, pianist, and comedienne, she was honored by the Laguna Beach Patriot’s Day Parade last year as Artist of the Year. She is also a former LagunaTunes director and has appeared with the group in concert as a guest performer. 

LagunaTunes Scholarship piano

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LagunaTunes has awarded five scholarships to LBHS grads in honor of Roxanna Ward 

Recipients of the $200 scholarships are Annamarie McIntosh, Gianna Morreale, Isadora Feinberg, Malin Glade, and Zoe Waters. Each recipient received a letter stating, “The mission of LagunaTunes is creating community through the joy of singing, and we believe that you personify that sentiment.”

LagunaTunes President Patti Jo Kiraly adds, “Ms. Ward is a very special person who not only is an amazing musician herself, but has that special ability to bring others into the world that she loves and make you love it too.” 

LagunaTunes rehearsals and performances are temporarily suspended because of COVID-19, but members look forward to the day they can safely resume. The chorus is led by Bob Gunn, popular director of Orange County’s MenAlive chorus and Laguna’s St. Mary’s choir. 

LagunaTunes is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides choral singing to everyone (no auditions). Funding is by the Festival of Arts Foundation and The Lodging Establishments and City of Laguna Beach. 

For more information, visit www.lagunatuneschorus.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Art is good for the soul: First Thursdays Art Walk returns on July 2

First Thursdays Art Walk announces the return of Art Walk from 6 - 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 2. With people ready to venture outside and enjoy a pleasant summer evening, participating Art Walk member galleries and sponsors will host a modified version of Art Walk with the goal of providing a unique opportunity to view amazing art while still incorporating all the safety protocols to meet city and state requirements. 

Art brings us joy, improves individual well-being, and is a foundation of a healthy community. As patrons of the arts, and by supporting First Thursdays Art Walk and its member galleries and sponsors, you are supporting a wide variety of skills and workmanship by local painters, sculptors, photographers, designers, glass blowers, gallery owners, framers, and students of the arts, just to name a few. 

Art is martin

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Courtesy of lumartingalleries.com

Martin Beaupre painting at Lu Martin Galleries during Art Walk on March 5

“We are happy to return to promoting art in a unique way by increasing the public’s exposure to the arts and providing the opportunity for local artists to display their art and have conversations and discussions with art enthusiasts during Art Walk,” said Dora Orgill, president, First Thursdays Art Walk. “Our hope is to be back on schedule with an Art Walk on the first Thursday of every month going forward, COVID-19 permitting. We truly appreciate all those who participate in and support this unique art community in Laguna Beach.” 

First Thursdays Art Walk is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation established in 1998 by a founding group of gallery owners and artists that included John Eagle, Peter Blake, Bill DeBilzan, and Sian Poeschl. Art Walk is a free art educational event held from 6 - 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. The event is funded by member galleries, sponsors, local lodging establishments, and the City of Laguna Beach. 

The primary objective of the organization is to support member galleries; provide the general public with demonstrations and exhibits for the purpose of enhancing the public’s appreciation of art; and provide a high quality educational experience for art students through the annual Mentoring Program with Laguna College of Art + Design. 

For more information, go to www.firstthursdaysartwalk.org.

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Arts Orange County partners with local funders to launch OC Arts and Culture Resilience Fund

Orange County’s nonprofit arts council, Arts Orange County (ArtsOC), has partnered with Charitable Ventures and the Orange County Community Foundation (OCCF) to launch the OC Arts and Culture Resilience Fund. The Fund will support creative artists and local nonprofit arts and culture organizations that offer essential community enrichment and education – and are facing significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent ArtsOC survey found that local arts organizations have lost an estimated $16M in revenue and donations since stay-at-home orders began in March. 62 percent of arts organizations view the financial impact of the pandemic as severe or extremely severe, while 52 percent report that they are depleting cash reserves to meet their obligations.

“This is a collective, purposeful action to support the Orange County arts community, which has experienced the most severe job losses of any segment of the economy in California,” said Richard Stein, president and CEO of ArtsOC. “Our creative sector directly employs more than 50,000 musicians, actors, dancers, filmmakers, and teaching artists, and countless others who support them behind the scenes. Their ingenuity and spirit give us comfort, enlightenment, and joy in the best of times; now it’s our turn to bring much-needed support to these selfless artists,” Stein continued.

The OC Arts and Culture Resilience Fund was launched with seed funding of $150,000 towards a goal of $500,000. The Fund will provide two types of response:

--Bridge grants to arts organizations so that they can retain essential staff and offer online programming and instruction.

--Financial assistance to individual creative artists.

“We are proud to advocate for the critical importance of the arts in our community,” said Shelley Hoss, president and CEO, OCCF. “Now, more than ever, we need the artists and nonprofit arts and culture organizations that enrich and educate our community. They are essential to the resilience and long-term health and economic well-being of Orange County.”

Creative artists and nonprofit arts organizations are invited to apply for bridge loans and grants, and community members are encouraged to donate at https://charitableventuresoc.org/resilience-fund-arts/.

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Laguna Beach artist James Thistlethwaite debuts mural installations at the Promenade on Forest

The City of Laguna Beach recently dedicated a new pedestrian promenade on Forest Avenue as part of the Business Economic Revitalization Plan, providing adequate space for social distancing and decks for dining and retail. Another addition to the Promenade has been public art installations including street murals by Laguna Beach artist James Thistlethwaite. 

 Thistlethwaite, who is originally from Britain, works in pencil and other dry mediums. He earned his BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia. Before starting his MFA in painting at the Laguna College of Art and Design, Thistlethwaite worked as a studio assistant with artists and mentors such as Kehinde Wiley and street artist Ben Eine. Since graduating from Laguna College of Art and Design, Thistlethwaite has called Laguna Canyon home and where he is pursuing his career as an artist and teaching at the College.

Laguna Beach sea lion

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Local artist James Thistlethwaite and his sea lion mural 

 His latest installations on the Promenade on Forest consist of six large-scale street-installed murals. The original pencil drawings have been reproduced and installed onto the street. Representing outdoor pursuits of our oceans and mountains, the installations are distinctly recognizable as Thistlethwaite’s work and energy.

Thistlethwaite said, “I’ve loved being involved with the Forest Avenue art installation and hope local residents and visitors see a little bit of themselves and the community of Laguna in the work.”

Arts Commissioner Donna Ballard said, “The installation is not instantly recognizable as a traditional public art piece because you have to experience the pieces as you walk up the street. It is a creative way to designate the fire lane that was required to run along the center of the street, and it is an exciting, beautifully executed, and innovative addition to the temporary public art program.”

Laguna Beach surfer

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Thistlethwaite’s surfer girl mural 

Arts Commission Chair Adam Schwerner added, “It is important to the City and Arts Commission to support our local artists. Marlo and son Jesse Bartels introduce the Promenade at Coast Highway and James takes you on a journey along the street. We hope to be supporting more local artists in the coming weeks and hope they feel the freedom to think outside the traditional realms, just like these artists have done.”

Thistelthawite’s work will be on display through September 7, 2020 and was funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.

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LOCA Arts announces Create a Heart Collage Challenge

LOCA Arts Education invites the community to engage in monthly arts challenges on Instagram. Creative types are encouraged to share photos of their artwork following LOCA’s fun and easy themes. 

“The intent is to create art that reads well when photographed,” said LOCA member Mike Tauber. “After taking the photo, the art can be disassembled or recycled.”

LOCA Arts Pencils

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Colored pencil heart by Mike Tauber (@miketauberstudios)

Last month’s theme was Floral Sea Life. Contributions included a lobster made from bottle brush tree seeds by Sheryl Seltzer, and a red snapper from plastic mesh by Vicki Orgill. Lynn Epstien created an underwater scene using dried scallions, succulents, and pink flowers arranged to read like a school of fish. 

“The designers are so imaginative – it’s great to see everyone having so much fun!” said Carla Meberg, LOCA President. Meberg used dried flowers to create an adorable baby octopus in a pink tutu. Many of the amazing art submissions can be seen on LOCA’s Instagram feed and in other communications.

LOCA Arts Tubes

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Paint tubes heart by Lisa Mansour (@lisamansourart)

The latest theme, Heart Collage, is running now through late July. To participate, gather favorite art supplies, collectibles, or beloved objects, and arrange them into an inventive heart shape. Photograph your work and upload to Instagram. Tag @locaarts in the photo and use the hashtag #locaartschallenge. 

For more information, follow LOCA on Instagram @locaarts or visit www.locaarts.org/news.

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