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Calls for Artists: City is accepting submissions for several exhibitions

The Arts Commission is currently accepting submissions for their Juried Fine Art and Children’s Holiday Palette Exhibitions as well as their Council Chamber Banner and Holiday Palette Competitions. 

Calls for winners

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Winners of the 2017 Children’s Palette Contest: (L-R) Taylor Brook Jones, Emma Chi-Sing, Mia Gwin, Audrey Calef, Paige Laws, Reagan Hannus, Allie Borgerdring, Tessa Anderson, Lexi Breault and Addyson MacKay

Guidelines and entry forms are available via the “Calls for Artists” page at These arts opportunities are funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

For more information contact Arts Programs Coordinator Mike McGregor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Laguna Dance Festival: four exciting performances on an intimate stage October 4 - 7

As part of the Laguna Dance Festival’s 14th annual summer and fall program, the organization will bring to the local stage a variety of stunning dance performances between October 4 - 7 as well as two master classes. The program will also include a free backstage peek with Complexions, a one-night-only Bowie tribute, featuring international dance stars in their prime.

Prior to those dates, there will be two free performances at the Festival of Arts grounds on July 29 and August 26, and then a bonus show by an athletic Afro-Colombian contemporary troupe on October 25 at Neighborhood Congregational Church’s Bridge Hall.

Introducing the onstage festival on Thursday, Oct 4 at 7 p.m. is a free dance experience dubbed Backstage with Complexions, offering a unique opportunity for audiences to observe the rehearsal process, speak directly with performers, and gain a deeper understanding of the dances being performed during the Festival. In an onstage demonstration, the Director will work with star dancers from Complexions Contemporary Ballet, leading them through a live rehearsal.

laguna dance one

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Photo by Karolina Kuras

Laguna Beach native Skylar Campbell, a principal dancer with National Ballet of Canada, will return to his hometown to appear in Laguna Dance Festival’s “Stars of Dance” performances October 6 & 7 

On Friday, October 5 – one night only – Laguna Beach audiences will experience the brilliance of David Bowie with StarDust, Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s dance tribute to the late rock icon. This production will feature the rhythms, personas and musical drama of nine Bowie songs including “Changes,” “Rock and Roll Suicide,” “Heroes” and “Space Oddity.” StarDust takes the genre-crossing, gender-bending, boundary-breaking music of Bowie and translates it into powerful, poignant movement to create a tribute to his restless artistic invention.

StarDust made its West Coast premiere at the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on April 20. Included in the evening program are excerpts from Complexions’ contemporary repertory. Complexions Contemporary Ballet, founded in 1994 by master choreographers Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, mixes methods, styles and cultures to create groundbreaking movement.

Audiences will have the unique opportunity to see current and future stars share the stage in one spectacular program at the Stars of Dance shows on Saturday, Oct 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct 7, at 2 p.m. Onstage in dazzling duets and solos will be principal ballerina and Breaking Pointe TV reality series star Beckanne Sisk and soloist Chase O’Connell of Ballet West, Laguna Beach native Skylar Campbell and Jordana Daumec of National Ballet of Canada, and Dores Andre and Joseph Walsh of San Francisco Ballet.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet will perform excerpts by choreographer Dwight Rhoden, and America’s Got Talent finalist DIAVOLO/Architecture in Motion will present Knockturne by director/choreographer Jacques Heim. In addition, dancers from USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance’s inaugural BFA class will perform a variety of works choreographed by Barak Marshall, Aszure Barton and Laguna Dance Festival founder and artistic director Jodie Gates.

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Photo by Rachel Neville

Terk Waters of Complexions Contemporary Ballet will appear in the single performance of “StarDust,” a moving tribute to David Bowie on October 5, part of the Laguna Dance Festival

The festival’s four onstage performances will be held at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road. Tickets are on sale now at and will go on sale August 6 at Laguna Playhouse.

In addition to these shows, the Laguna Dance Festival will present free public dance performances by Entity Contemporary Dance and Contra Tiempo, both based in Los Angeles, on Sunday, July 29 and Sunday, August 26 at 1 and 2 p.m. at the Festival of Arts grounds’ outdoor stage. 

Entity, directed by Will Johnston and Marissa Osato, is a professional contemporary dance company that interweaves modern, jazz, and hip hop dance techniques to present dynamic repertory that explores the depths of human emotionality and connectivity. Contra Tiempo Urban Latin Dance Theater, founded in 2005 and directed by Ana Maria Alvarez, is rooted in salsa and Afro-Cuban movement and draws from hip-hop and contemporary dance theater. Contra Tiempo’s dancers create an invigorating blend of physically intense performance that pushes the boundaries of Latin dance as an expressive cultural and contemporary form.

Laguna Dance Festival, now in its 14th year, is regarded as one of Orange County’s major annual cultural events and continues to be an important showcase for new and established dance companies and artists. Its mission is to present world-class dance performance, increase public appreciation for the art, and provide quality dance education. Visit for more information.

Laguna Dance Festival presents free dance performances at the Festival of Arts

Laguna Dance Festival presents free public dance performances by bold, multilingual Los Angeles-based dance company CONTRA-TIEMPO on Sunday, Aug 26 at the Festival of Arts grounds’ outdoor stage. 

The company creates a new physical, visual and sonic vocabulary that collages Salsa, Afro-Cuban, hip-hop, and contemporary dance with theater, compelling text, and original music to bring dynamic multi-modal experiences to the concert stage.

laguna dance festival

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CONTRA-TIEMPO offers a stunning hybrid of styles

CONTRA-TIEMPO takes an uncompromisingly radical approach to the ways in which artists function within communities and create their work. The company members are professional dancers, artists, immigrants, educators, activists, organizers, and movers of all types, living and working across Los Angeles and across the country.

Each company member lives, expresses, and struggles within the varied and infinitely complex political and personal landscapes that Artistic Director Ana Maria Alvarez seeks to address in the work.

Join them on August 26 at the beautiful Festival of Arts grounds for a moving performance followed by an interactive dance class. Performances are at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., and they are free with FOA admission.

Sawdust guest artist Jwan Peres Ramos experiences the best of Laguna Beach benevolence

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

At the Sawdust Festival Benevolence Art Auction last Sunday, guest artist, 20-year-old Jwan Perez Ramos, saw his mural auctioned off at $800. 

Perez Ramos, who is from Puerto Rico, is attempting to make enough money this summer to put a roof back on his home, shared with his father, grandmother and aunt. Their home was leveled by Hurricane Maria last fall.

Perez Ramos and his father, Billy Joe Perez, painted murals depicting Aguadilla before the hurricane to help inspire the reeling community.

sawdust guest jwan

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Jwan Perez Ramos

“The customer had heard that the board was going to match the price of the mural up to $1,000,” explains Sawdust trustee Jay Grant. “When she came to pay, she gave us $200 more for the piece so Jwan would receive the full matching amount. Just so heartwarming for all of the trustees who facilitated the auction. And Jwan was so touched.”

The Sawdust Artists’ Benevolence Fund is a source of financial assistance for artists in Laguna Beach who have suffered a catastrophic event, leaving them unable to work. 

“Over the years, our art auction has raised over $150,000. It’s encouraging to see how much our community of art patrons values local artists,” said Monica Prado, president of the Artists’ Benevolence Fund board of trustees.

sawdust guest mural

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Mural depicting Aguadilla before Hurricane Maria

The auction featured an exciting selection of art created by Sawdust artists, including paintings, mixed media, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, photography, and more. These artists generously donated their work with the goal of raising funds for fellow artists in times of need. 

Professional auctioneer Tony DeZao, who presided over the live auction, packed the experience with lots of laughs and entertaining stories.

Perez Ramos has his own booth and is staying in a local home, organized by the Festival.

sawdust guest booth

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Jwan Perez Ramos working at his booth

“Our goal with this is to help somebody in distress,” Grant is quoted as saying. “We want to encourage him, his family and community. We will do everything we can to let him know there are people who care.”

Red Hot Art-To-Go: The sell-out auction will be August 26 at Festival of Arts

Art collectors who love red will enjoy the 2018 Art-To-Go fundraising sale at Festival of Arts. More than 100 exhibitors donated originals under the theme “Red Hot.” Works are available for purchase daily, now through August 26 while supplies last.

 A sell-out auction will take place on Sunday, August 26, from 6 - 8 p.m. 

“Bids open at 1/3 retail value, so it’s a great chance to start a collection from these prestigious artists,” said Curator Mike Tauber.

Red Hot Art

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Photo by Mike Tauber

Get ready – it’ll be a bidding war at Red Hot’s silent auction

Offerings include jewelry by Lance Heck and Linda Potichke, paintings by Susan Cox, Sue Thompson, David Milton, and Bruce Vanderwilt, plus drawings, photos, and mixed media.

 Proceeds from the Art-To-Go sales will benefit The Artists Fund at Festival of Arts, providing hardship and disaster relief grants for artists in need. Additionally, buyers qualify for a drawing to win a two-night stay at The Tides Inn.

View the online gallery at or call (949) 612-1949 for more information.s

Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Enjoy the Celebrity Benefit at the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters

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 on Saturday, Aug 25. 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, “Under the Sun.” Proceeds will support the Building Fund for renovations of the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters facility.

The event begins at 5 p.m. with a private viewing of the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show and Red Carpet arrivals, walked by attending celebrities, including the evening’s Pageant host actress Sarah Drew and musical performer Steve Tyrell. 

Other guest celebrities scheduled to appear are Patrika Darbo (The Bold and the Beautiful), Kate Flannery (The Office), Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds), Daniel Henney (Criminal Minds), Tricia Helfer (Lucifer), Kate Linder (The Young and the Restless), Erica Luttrel (Salvation), Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds), Mishel Prada (Vida), Dallas Raines (ABC7 News), Adam Rodriguez (Criminal Minds), French Stewart (NCIS), Vanessa Claire Stewart (Alex and the List), Tony Tantillo (CBS2 News ‘Fresh Grocer’) and many, many others.

Enjoy the Celebrity Benefit Pageant

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Enjoy a night under the stars with Steve Tyrell and Sarah Drew 

Guests will enjoy an intimate concert on the Festival green at 6 p.m., performed by Grammy-winning record producer and vocalist Steve Tyrell. Ever since his glorious surprise version of “The Way You Look Tonight” in the 1991 film Father of The Bride, Tyrell has been setting A New Standard (the title of his 1999 debut album) for interpreting the Great American Songbook. Nine of Tyrell’s own albums have reached top-five status on Billboard’s Jazz charts, with his most recent “A Song For You” hitting #1. He continually works to reinvent the American Standards Songbook and connect classic tunes to a modern audience, performing extensively with his band and with orchestras across the country and around the world – from the Hollywood Bowl to Carnegie Hall to Buckingham Palace. 

After the concert show, actress Sarah Drew 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).

Enjoy the Celebrity Benefit duo

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The Celebrity Benefit at the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters 

Culminating the evening, guests will enjoy a special performance of the 2018 Pageant of the Masters production of “Under the Sun,” introduced by the celebrity host Sarah Drew. Drew is best known for her roles as Dr. April Kepner on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Hannah Rogers on WB’s Everwood, and the voice of Stacy Rowe on MTV’s Daria. Other television credits include Nora/Demon on WB’s/CW’s Supernatural, Suzy Pepper on FOX’s Glee, Kitty Romano on AMC’s Mad Men, Rachel Rosenzweig on USA’s In Plain Sight, Chloe Richardson on ABC’s Castle, Judy on ABC’s Private Practice, and Suzie Keener on CBS’ Medium. Drew most recently starred as Cagney in the CBS pilot reboot of Cagney & Lacey. Film credits include Moms’ Night Out, Tug, Front of the Class, Reinventing the Wheelers, American Pastime, The Baxter, and Radio. Theatre credits include her Broadway debut as Eugenie Loyer in Vincent in Brixton (John Golden Theatre), and regionally as Emily Imbrie in Third (Geffen Playhouse) and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (McCarter Theatre).

This past year, Drew ventured behind the camera, making her directorial debut directing the six part web series Grey’s Anatomy: B-Team. She can next be seen in theaters this Oct starring in the feature film Indivisible, which she also produced. Drew resides in Los Angeles with her husband Peter, children Micah and Hannah, and rescue dog, Lucy. 

“August 25 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 Sarah Drew, Steve Tyrell, our celebrity supporters…and we look forward to welcoming our most enthusiastic Festival and Pageant fans!”

Tickets are on sale now and range from $50 - $240. There will be limited and open seating for Steve Tyrell’s performance and assigned seating for the Pageant of the Masters. The event is sponsored by Southern California Acura Dealers, KOST 103.5 and Yamaha. To purchase tickets, go online to or call (800) 487-3378. The Festival of Arts is a nonprofit organization that produces the Festival of Arts and the Pageant of the Masters. 

For general information, call (949) 494-1145 or visit The event is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road.

Annual Junior Art Awards Ceremony at Festival of Arts honors 2018 Junior Art Exhibit winners 

On Sunday, Aug 12, the Festival of Arts celebrated the talent and hard work of Orange County students at the annual Junior Art Awards Ceremony. The 2018 Junior Art Exhibit is sponsored by California First National Bank and Mark Porterfield of Laguna Beach. 

A jury made up of Mark Porterfield, Steve Chadima, Emma Patton, Pat Sparkuhl and Stephanie Cunningham selected 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners from the more than 300 Orange County students’ work of art on display in the Festival’s Junior Art Exhibit. The awarded categories were photography, two-dimensional works and three-dimensional artwork for each grade from pre-kindergarten through high school. 

At the ceremony on Sunday, the 2018 winners were acknowledged, honored and presented with gold, silver and bronze medallions and certificates by Leslie Jewett, Chief Financial Officer of California First National Bank and Festival of Arts President David Perry. Mark Porterfield announced the award recipients to hundreds of friends, family members and art instructors who turned out to support and congratulate the recipients of the Junior Art Awards. 

Annual Junior group

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Orange County art students receive awards from California First National Bank, Mark Porterfield and Festival of Arts 

“California First National Bank is proud to be a co-sponsor of the Festival of Arts Junior Art Exhibit,” said Leslie Jewett, a longtime Laguna Beach resident. “We feel it is important to encourage creativity in students and support arts education.” 

The 2018 Junior Art Exhibit is presented by the Festival of Arts and funded in part by California First National Bank and Mark Porterfield of Laguna Beach. The exhibit is produced in partnership with the Imagination Celebration, Arts OC and the OC Department of Education. The Festival of Arts is a nonprofit organization. Proceeds support the arts and art education in and about Laguna.

Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd, (800) 487-3378. For a full listing of events and ticket information, visit

Playhouse façade to be updated


The Laguna Playhouse will get a facelift. 

Plans for the updated exterior were approved by the City Council at the August 7 meeting. Approval had been recommended by the Planning Commission. 

“It will be a definite improvement,” said Commissioner Anne Johnson. 

The Laguna Playhouse is believed to the oldest continuing theater operation on the West Coast. It was established in 1920. The Moulton Theater inside the Playhouse opened in 1968 and was named for Nellie Gail Moulton who contributed to the funding for the project. 

It is home to the Laguna Dance Festival, the Youth Theater, and in the past to Laguna Concert Band and “Lagunatics” performances, as well as other theatrical productions. 

Laguna Beach owns the 1.3-acre site, but leases it to the Playhouse, which is an annual recipient of Business Improvement District funding from voluntary hoteliers in Laguna. The theater was awarded $240,000 this year and also has received a matching grant from the City for up to $250,000 for four years for a total of $1 million.

One of the goals for the matching grant was to determine whether or when to undertake a capital improvement plan to renovate the theater. 

The proposed building update includes the replacement of the existing textured stucco with a smooth finish, lowering the front screen walls, additions to the metal canopy, landscaping and new signage and color palette programs. 

Playhouse facade to

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Playhouse is the oldest continuing theater operation on the West Coast

Council approval of a conditional use permit required the commission recommendation to permit improvements on the canopy to exceed the 18-foot height limit in the Civic Arts District. The canopy, as approved, will stretch 26 feet above the adjacent grade. 

However, the Civic Arts District development standards recognize that art organizations and other art festival-compatible land uses may have special needs in terms of building height, according to the staff report submitted by Community Development Director Greg Pfost.

Five special findings must be made in addition to the standard CUP findings. 

Commissioners did balk at the street tree plan at the July 18 meeting. Commissioners requested substitutions for the proposed four red ironbark eucalypti proposed as complementary to the landscaping in the adjacent office building at 580 Broadway. The commission cited the recent failure of a eucalyptus as reason to be concerned about its suitability for the location.    

“Playhouse executives will have to work with Caltrans on some of the landscaping,” said Johnson.

The project is exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act, because there was no proposal to expand the building footprint and no expansion of use. Parking requirements will not be increased and the project, as designed and submitted by architect Mark Abel, does not have a negative effect on biologically sensitive resources.

Highlights at the Sawdust

Highlights at the Sawdust 1

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Sawdust Festival, a summer treat for locals and visitors alike, is at its peak with two weeks remaining. But a special treat for Laguna Beach residents is free admission on Thursday evenings and – new this summer – Monday evenings, too. Two more reasons to enjoy a little ‘Dust from now until September 2.

Highlights at the Sawdust 2

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

There is no shortage of things to do this month at the Sawdust. The calendar includes daily art classes and some special events, such as Beatles Day coming up on August 25, and two local musical favorites – James Clay Garrison, and John Heussenstamm Trio – both performing on August 19 at the Sawdust Tavern.

Highlights at the Sawdust 3

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust artist, Mary Hurlbut captured some wonderful moments of artists and visitors at the festival. Click on image at left to begin slideshow:

Festival Runway Fashion Show returns this Sunday

This Sunday, August 19, the Festival of Arts will hold its annual Festival Runway Fashion Show from noon to 3 p.m. Highlighting creativity, sustainability and innovation, the Festival Runway Fashion Show has grown in popularity year after year. Now in its tenth year, the competition is more exciting than ever as Festival artists compete to win the top prize.

Festival Runway Fashion

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Courtesy of FOA

Competing in this show “where fashion meets art” are Festival exhibitors Richard Bohn, Carla Bosch, Antje Campbell, Kate Cohen, Brad Elsberry, Carolyn Johnson, Elizabeth McGhee, Adam Neeley, and Kirsten Whalen. Utilizing reclaimed, reused or recycled material, each artist is encouraged to wow the judges with their talent and originality.

The Festival Runway Fashion Show offers cash prizes of $1,000 in four categories: Most Creative Concept, Most Exciting ensemble inspired by Pageant of the Masters theme “Under the Sun,” Most Innovative Use of Materials, and Most Glamorous & Elegant “Red Carpet” worthy creation. There will also be a “People’s Choice Award” to be voted on at the event.

The fashion show will be hosted by KTTV FOX11’s Entertainment Reporter Amanda Salas. She has been covering red carpets and award shows for over 10 years for Hollywood Today Live and the Orange County Register before joining the FOX11 team in 2017. Selecting the winners will be a panel of judges including Radar Online Entertainment Editor Alexis Tereszcuk, OK! Magazine Associate Publisher Shelley Fariello, LACMA Curator of Costumes and Textiles Kaye Spilker, costume designer Alex Jaeger, and film production designer Nelson Coates.

“The Festival Runway Fashion Show is one of the most popular events of the summer,” said Susan Davis, director of special events for the Festival of Arts. “The artists put so much effort and ingenuity into crafting these stunning one-of-a-kind runway looks. It’s not to be missed!”

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