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Village Entrance Ribbon Cutting

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Village Entrance council

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The completed project stretches along Laguna Canyon Road from Forest Avenue to Art-A-Fair and was dedicated by the Laguna Beach City Council with a virtual ribbon cutting on Friday, May 22 at 9 a.m.

Village Entrance bike racks

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The two-year construction project focused on enhanced pedestrian safety and circulation, improved traffic flow, and new public open space located at the gateway to the City

Village Entrance walkway

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Additional Village Entrance Project elements include decorative lighting, extensive landscaped planting areas, new vehicular and pedestrian bridges, and water quality features such as basins and permeable pavers

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2020 Fête de la Musique of Laguna Beach has been canceled

The City of Laguna Beach has officially canceled or postponed City-sponsored summer events to comply with the mandated stay-at-home orders and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In light of the city’s announcement, Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association (LBSCA) will align with the Pageant of Masters, The Laguna Playhouse, and other summer traditional events, and is canceling the Fête de la Musique Laguna Beach for 2020, which was scheduled for Saturday, June 20 from 12 - 4 p.m.

The LBSCA released the following statement: “With sincere disappointment the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Board of Directors officially announces the cancellation of the Fête de la Musique scheduled for Saturday, June 20, 2020. As large gatherings are discouraged around the country, ‘Stay at Home’ orders and ‘Social Distancing’ guidelines are the prevailing wisdom.

“However, in the French tradition and spirit of the Fête, we invite you to take the opportunity to share a DIY musical moment, using your voices and instruments to echo all over your neighborhood, bringing joyful attention to World Music Day at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 20. What a lovely way to participate in global understanding and friendship.

2020 Fete de La Musique Mime

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Photo by Charlie Dickerson

A colorful mime leads the Children’s Parade on the Main Beach boardwalk during the 2019 Fête de la Musique

“We have every reason to look ahead with hope and confidence, and we look forward to seeing you at the Fête de la Musique in Laguna Beach on Saturday, June 19, 2021.”

Originating in France in the 1980s, the Fête de la Musique, also known as the International Day of Music, celebrates the beginning of summer and the close affiliation Laguna Beach has with its sister city, Menton, France. The day’s events are free, and promote the lively arts through music by a variety of musicians, singers and performers.

To view photos and videos from past Fêtes, visit www.lagunabeachsistercities.com/fetedelamusique.

Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association has three sister cities: Menton, France; San Jose del Cabo, Mexico; and St. Ives, England. Since its inception, Laguna Beach Sister Cities, established in 2008, has been focused on cultural, educational, and social exchanges. It is a broad-based, Laguna Beach City Council approved, all volunteer, nonprofit organization (Federal Tax ID #80-0188779). It is a membership-based organization, with renewals beginning in May/June. Contact information: P.O. Box 1011, Laguna Beach, CA 92652. Call 949.715.7241, visit www.lagunabeachsistercities.com, and view the organization’s Facebook page.

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Laguna Playhouse celebrates 100th anniversary with creation of limited edition wines

Although at the present time patrons are unable to toast each other during intermission at the Laguna Playhouse, they can now toast each other at home or virtually with two limited edition wines created just for the Playhouse. The “shows can’t go on,” but the commemoration of Laguna Playhouse’s 100-year anniversary can – with Laguna Playhouse wines.

Branded and curated by Laguna Playhouse and produced by McClain Cellars (located in The Hive), the name of each wine and the artwork reflects the essence of theatre and the many layers that go into producing something really great.

Whether one is cooking or enjoying takeout at home, the special wine is sure to liven up the evening. Not only is it an amazing deal for a third of the price of wines of its quality and complexity, but by buying a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, 100 percent of the sales go directly to support Laguna Playhouse.

Laguna Playhouse building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Celebrate the Playhouse’s 100th anniversary with limited edition wines

Laguna Playhouse says, “While you may not be able to join us at the theatre during this time, we hope that you will enjoy our Curtain Call Cabernet Sauvignon or Ghost Light Chardonnay and raise a toast to our 100th anniversary and a bold and bright future ahead! Your purchase of our wine helps support us during this challenging time.”

Curtain Call Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold red wine with very dark fruit and plenty of rich tannins. Grown in the warm sun of Paso Robles, this wine is deep and dark with flavors of ripe plum, blackberries, and a rounded mocha finish. Although good on its own, this wine goes great with pork chops, barbecue, and is truly amazing with anything chocolate. Whether you enjoy before the main act or with dessert, we are confident that you will find this wine worthy of applause.

Laguna Playhouse wine

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Courtesy of Laguna Playhouse

One hundred percent of the cost of wine goes to support the Playhouse

Ghost Light Chardonnay is a bright well-balanced California style Chardonnay with a good structure of orchard flavors and a subtleness of French Oak. Fresh slices of pear and green apple on the forefront, with citrus blossom, and a smooth Crème Brûlée finish. Named after the ghost light that every theatre keeps on each night to ward off evil spirits and keep in the good, we hope our Chardonnay keeps you in good spirits during this time and many months to come.

Laguna Playhouse is currently offering free delivery with a minimum order of four bottles of wine and 25 percent off on all cases of wine. Feel free to order a mixed case of wine to enjoy both the Curtain Call Cabernet and the Ghost Light Chardonnay and hold a virtual tasting party with your friends. Don’t miss this opportunity to purchase this limited edition wine produced specifically for the Playhouse’s Centennial year celebration. 

To order wine, click here. 

Shipping included on all orders – minimum four bottles per order.

Save 25 percent per bottle when 12 bottles are purchased in one order.

Shipping available in AK, CA, DC, ID, NE, NV, NH, NM, ND, OR, WV, and WY.

For more information, go to www.lagunaplayhouse.com or call (949) 497-2787. 

Laguna Playhouse is a 501(c)(3) public benefit organization (Federal Tax ID #95-1509841).

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LPAPA artists raise money for programs and artists

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association raised almost $25,000 from an online art auction at which buyers bid on artists – not what they had yet to paint. 

Each of the 109 participating artists from around the country pledged to paint and personalize an original 5” x 7” LPAPA Strong & Positive Postcard that will be created and mailed to the winning bidder. Each postcard is a special paintable “canvas” that will be mailed in a protective envelope.

The auction began May 5 as part of the global #GivingTuesdayNow, conceived as an emergency response to the unprecedented needs caused by COVID-19. It proved that people can show their generosity and kindness in a variety of ways even while practicing physical distancing. Bidding ended May 15. 

“Fifty percent of the funds raised will go into LPAPA programs,” said Rosemary Swimm, executive director of the association. “The other fifty percent will be divided between the 109 participants or if they choose, they can donate it back to the association.”

LPAPA artist beach

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Photo by Scott Brashier

2019 LPAPA Invitational – Main Beach

Swimm called the response to the auction amazing. 

“People made bids without knowing what the art would be,” said Swimm. “Some of the bids were more than $500.” 

LPAPA was founded in Laguna Beach in 1996 when painter Saim Cagalayan invited other local outdoor painters Ken Auster, Jacobus Baas, Cynthia Britain, and John Cosby to join him in forming the organization. They made it the mission of the organization to preserve the history of the plein air movement of 19th-century California, to support the tradition as it exists today, and to foster a network among plein air painters nationwide.

Local events include art shows throughout the year – the most celebrated being the annual Invitational, a weeklong painting extravaganza culminating in the Gala, at which the artwork is judged, awarded, and sold.

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Enjoy more Sunset Serenades from your sofa

The City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission Sunset Serenades series has been postponed due to COVID-19. Scheduled to perform today, Friday, May 22, was classical pianist Chiacheng Sen, who has filmed a special performance and message to the Laguna Beach community from her home.

Chiacheng Sen is a multi-talented pianist and violinist and works with the Orchestra Collective of Orange County. She also holds her master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music and won the American Protégé International Piano and String competition, which led to her Carnegie Hall debut.

Enjoy more Sen

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Multi-talented pianist and violinist Chiacheng Sen will serenade you from your sofa 

“Sunset Serenades hosts the performances of talented artists in a spectacular location,” said Arts Commissioner Suzi Chauvel. “Although we may not be at the concert physically together, the music brings our souls together to enjoy the talents of this astounding pianist. 

“These concerts are curated and are funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. They are a real treasure.”

“This is the twelfth season of Sunset Serenades,” said Siân Poeschl, Cultural Arts Manager, adding, “The season is not over yet. We hope to present some concerts in the fall, some virtually, and some in alternative and new locations. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know”

To watch the performance, click here.

Sign up for the newsletter here.

Sunset Serenades is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

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FOA Foundation grants $6K to Boys & Girls Club for free art programs in Virtual Clubhouse

The Festival of the Arts Foundation has granted the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach $6,000 for art programs. In any other year, this money would help provide materials for engaging art projects, exhibitions, summer camp, and field trips. 

However, this year, standing in the midst of a global pandemic, the funding from the Festival of the Arts Foundation is helping Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach Art Director Mar Stash have the ability to provide Art 4 the Heart in the Boys & Girls Club’s Virtual Clubhouse. 

FOA Foundation member

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Member Participating in Art 4 the Heart

Stash describes Art 4 the Heart as “a live, interactive program where members will be introduced to therapeutic, fun art projects that will help connect members to their inner self, emotions, and learn how to express themselves. We have made homemade playdough and sculptures, done origami, made worry boxes, painted, and have so much more instore! With everything that is going on in the world right now, it is so fun to be able to work with our members and teach them how to express themselves through art. We are so grateful to be able to run this program for free thanks to supporters like the Festival of Arts Foundation. It’s amazing to watch our members personal growth through art expression.” 

FOA Foundation Facetime

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Virtual Clubhouse in progress 

Art 4 the Heart runs every Wednesday from 3 to 4 p.m. via Zoom in Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach’s Virtual Clubhouse. 

To register for free and to see a complete calendar of live, engaging free programs, visit www.bgclagunabeach.org and click on the link for the Virtual Clubhouse.

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Enjoy this week’s Sunset Serenades from your sofa

The City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission Sunset Serenades series has been postponed due to COVID-19. Scheduled to perform on Friday, May 15 was musician Jake Chapman, who filmed a special performance and message to the Laguna Beach community from his home.

Chapman specializes in vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, and piano. With a background in Jazz and Classical music and training at Julliard, Chapman has a varied musical palette. Although based in New York and Los Angeles, the Arts Commission was able to secure his performance in Laguna Beach and hopes to reschedule his performance for later in the year.

Enjoy this Chapman

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Jake Chapman performs Sunset Serenades concert virtually 

Arts Commission Vice-Chair Pat Kollenda says, “Jake Chapman is a multitalented, amazing musician and singer-songwriter, and a gift to our Sunset Serenades. What a perfect way to start the weekend…enjoy!”

Arts Commissioner Michael Ervin adds, “This special performance is exclusively for you; it gives us all a chance to enjoy great music while picnicking in our living rooms. Cheers!”

Arts Commission Chair Adam Schwerner explains, “We are here for you and want to help the community recover in an appropriate manner, taking into account physical and social distancing, and present our Sunset Serenades series to you virtually in the safety of your homes.

“We hope to be together again with an exciting series in September.”

To watch the performance, click here.

Sunset Serenades is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

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Neighborhood Jazz Concert in Bluebird Canyon backyard brings sounds to soothe the soul

By DIANNE RUSSELL

It’s been said that, “Music does more than soothe the soul, it brings balance to the mind, body, and spirit.” With the world so off-kilter, there’s no doubt that we are all currently in need of a little balance. 

So, on Saturday afternoon, Craig and Ellen McKessar invited their upper Bluebird Canyon neighbors to enjoy a jazz concert featuring saxophonist Henry Alexander, but this was a concert with a twist. The venue was the McKessar’s backyard on Regatta Road and the audience members were comfortably situated at home on their own properties. 

Craig says, “With many stuck at home, we decided to invite an amazing musician from Los Angeles to play from our temporary ‘COVID garden’ backyard. Two 1,000-watt speakers carried sound to hundreds of neighbors in our mountainous setting, while we all socially distanced ourselves on our own properties. It turned out better than we envisioned as neighbors texted input and song requests throughout the performance and applauded from all over. We wanted to give back to our community with the sound of music and to support artists who are hit hard by these challenging times.” 

Neighborhood Jazz playing

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Courtesy of the McKessars

Henry Alexander plays for sequestered audience

With the breeze blowing through the trees on the McKessar’s beautiful property, and the delicious sound of the saxophone, it was the perfect venue. 

Henry Alexander grew up in Los Angeles and has been playing music since he was 16 years old and has decades of experience as a performer, a sought after studio session musician, and private instructor. He has played all over the United States: the Coach House, B.B. King’s, the House of Blues, and our own Laguna Beach Concert in the Park. The instruments he prefers to play are the saxophone, clarinet, and flute. Craig became friends with Henry when he was playing at another event.

Craig says, “Neighbors were given my cell number so that they could text song requests and share input prior and during the performance.”

A neighbor above the McKessars called Henry’s flute playing “majestic.” 

To prevent any neighborhood ruffling of feathers, the concert ended at 8 p.m. 

Craig says, “The feedback has been 100 percent positive thus far. There was a posting done by someone we do not know on Nextdoor. There are numerous pictures and video clips of the event. We heard applause as far away as one-fourth of a mile.” 

Neighborhood Jazz backyard

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Courtesy of the McKessars

Backyard venue 

After the concert, the neighbors showered the McKessars with complimentary messages. Craig says that there wasn’t one negative text or comment.

 “What a nice neighborhood gesture! Thank you from Scott and Carol Moore! We’ll be listening! ‘Satin Doll’ is our request, if possible. Thanks again and may you and all your family be safe and healthy!” 

“Thanks for filling the canyon with music!” 

“Hi there, this is your neighbor, Dawn Knepper, I live right above you on Bluebird Canyon. The music was delightful.” 

“We sat out and enjoyed it all the way through. Thank you very much!  Hopefully you can do it again!” 

“Thank you. Your offering is so lovely. Even the goats and coyotes in the Canyon are dancing.” 

 “Craig and Ellen, thank you so much, what a lovely concert. Our whole family has been really enjoying the music. Great idea, please do it again soon. The Stedman family”

“We love it! Sounds perfect throughout the canyon. Thanks for organizing!” 

“Thank you for brightening up our quarantine day!” 

“Hello! Yes it was amazing! My Dad was so happy to hear him play. He plays beautifully! It was a joy and the happiest thing that has happened in many weeks. Thank you so much for that. What can we do to have him back?  Can we donate? Pay? I can’t tell you how much joy it brought to us. It sounded like many people were listening and enjoying too.” 

Karin Klein said, “One of our neighbors in Upper Bluebird hired a jazz saxophonist to serenade the canyon for a couple of hours. I’m not even a jazz fan but it’s making for such a delightful evening. Thank you!”

Craig says, “I just wanted to do something nice, and it turned out so cool. It was better than I ever imagined.”

Thanks to the McKessars and Henry Alexander, for one glorious evening, the hills of Bluebird Canyon were alive with music that was savored by everyone within hearing distance – and a bit of balance was restored during our topsy-turvy times.

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Laguna Art Museum presents monthly Film Night from home

On Thursday, May 21 at 6 p.m., Laguna Art Museum will host its monthly Film Night virtually, so that guests can experience the monthly series from home. Hear the director’s commentary and stream the biographical drama At Eternity’s Gate, a film on the final years of Vincent van Gogh’s life.

Julian Schnabel, the director of the film, will discuss Vincent van Gogh’s undying appeal. Schnabel is both an artist and a filmmaker. His paintings, sculptures, and works on paper have been exhibited all over the world. 

Laguna Art film

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Laguna Art Museum will present its monthly Film Night virtually on Thursday, May 21, featuring “At Eternity’s Gate”

Schnabel has written and directed the feature films Basquiate (1996), Before Night Falls (2000), Berlin (2007), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) – for which he won Best Director at both Cannes and the Golden Globes –and Miral (2010). At Eternity’s Gate (2018) is Schnabel’s most recent film.

At Eternity’s Gate is a 2018 biographical drama about the final years of painter Vincent van Gogh’s life. The film dramatizes the controversial theory put forward by Van Gogh biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, in which they speculate that Van Gogh’s death was caused by mischief rather than it being a suicide.

The film is directed and co-edited by Julian Schnabel, from a screenplay by Schnabel, Jean-Claude Carrière, and Louise Kugelberg, and premiered at the Venice International Film Festival. For his portrayal of van Gogh, Willem Dafoe was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 75th Venice International Film Festival.

To select an option to view the film at home, visit www.lagunaartmuseum.org/events/at-eternitys-gate.

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JoAnne Artman Gallery presents online exhibition Begin Again featuring Brooke Shaden

Currently available and continuing through May 20, JoAnne Artman Gallery is featuring Brooke Shaden’s Begin Again exhibition online at www.joanneartmangallery.com. 

Imaginative, versatile, and a master of concept, Brooke Shaden is a fine art photographer specializing in staged photography that combines allegorical symbolism with personal narrative. Utilizing props as well as commonplace objects, Shaden transforms the world around her into compelling, intricate dreamscapes that combine the strange with the familiar. 

Yet despite some of the darker elements, Shaden’s new body of work maintains resounding optimism and hope. Aptly titled, her series Begin Again depicts a rebirth of self. Alluding to a reimagined future, reevaluated preconceptions, and a reinvention of the artistic process, Shaden thoroughly explores humanity, renewal, and evolving with change. 

JoAnne Artman Contain

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“Contain” – photograph on velvet fine art paper, edition 1 of 2, 44 x 44 inches, framed

“Change – the most difficult of human experiences, and we do it over and over again. A new job, a new partner, a death, a life...all changes, all bittersweet. We call them different things – grief, joy, excitement, anxiety – but it’s all change. 

Metamorphosing is not a single experience. At any given time, we are exploding with butterflies and decay. We are constantly letting go of old and ushering in new,” Shaden explains. 

Capturing her subjects with vulnerability in their poses, Shaden’s portraits are unusual, emotional, and transformed, exposing the beauty and darkness of human nature to establish a real human connection. Metaphorically rising from the darkness to be born anew, the compositional focus of her photographs is placed on the figure’s relation to their environment and the implied narrative, rather than on human likeness or facial expression. The relationship between the background and the figures highlights the difficulties of navigating a decidedly modern and confusing world and how it can overwhelm a sense of self. 

JoAnne Artman Release

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“Release” – photograph on velvet fine art paper, edition 1 of 2, 44 x 44 inches, framed

While each figure in the series is Brooke Shaden (sometimes with 80 clones of herself), ambiguity of the figures’ identities provides unity and inclusivity to the viewer – two invaluable mindsets during times of uncertainty or change. Printed on a velvet paper, the soft texture lends the appearance of a diffused watercolor painting, adding further mystique and intrigue to the already ambiguous location, era, and ethnicity of her figures. 

Chronicling the human condition, she concludes, “We need art right now. We always do, but now especially. We need it to feel connected, to find something beautiful in darkness, to find darkness in something beautiful, and to see ourselves reflected in ideas bigger than us as individuals. That is how we find connection – when we see a piece of who we truly are mirrored back through fragments of the world.” 

For more information, contact gallery owner JoAnne Artman at (949) 510-5481 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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