Laguna Beach

Ace photographer Mary Hurlbut will offer a class on The Art of Photography at Bluebird Canyon Farms


Beware of palm trees! That’s just one of many terrific tips that I, and our Stu News team, learned last Friday at one of Mary Hurlbut’s classes on the Art of Photography.

Why were we there? Because those of us who write for Stu News are often pressed into service as photographers – Mary and Scott (Brashier), who both contribute amazing images to our newspaper, simply can’t be everywhere. And we do try to cover as many community events as we possibly can. 

Photo by Steve Henry

Mary Hurlbut, ace photographer

Some writers are good photographers also, but some of us are decidedly not. So it was that the team gathered at Mary’s house to learn some basics, using our iPhones as our primary tools.

We learned the supreme importance of The Rule of Thirds in composition (fascinating!); why we should avoid taking photographs in the noonday sun (and it’s got nothing to do with mad dogs and Englishmen); and how to use a white truck to help brighten up our subjects (without, by the way, using the headlights).

These are tips that few would-be photographers will learn in their lifetimes…

Unless they are fortunate enough to take Mary’s class. Which I strongly recommend.

Mary is engaging, empathetic and experienced. Not only does she teach the basics (I found out where the flash icon is on my iPhone!), but, as a Fine Arts graduate, she shares wonderful advice on creative composition.

And, given the location of Mary’s next class, students will get a twofer – the opportunity to explore Bluebird Canyon Farms, a uniquely Laguna place, while learning the tricks to becoming an excellent photographer. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Palm tree’s trunk makes an unwelcome appearance

The workshop is a walking tour with hands-on instruction, meaning that participants will learn by doing.  Students are asked to bring digital cameras and sling bag or backpack to carry water for drinking, a notepad and pen, and camera manual, if available. Casual clothes and walking shoes are recommended.

I guarantee you’ll have a great time and learn a lot of information, some of it quite counterintuitive.

Oh, why beware of palm trees?

Because their long, slim trunks have a bad habit of getting into scenic photos, providing unwanted lines or angles in the midst of an otherwise balanced picture  (see photo above) – and once in a while, they sprout from people’s heads…

Mary’s next class takes place on Jan 27 from 2 – 4 p.m. at Bluebird Canyon Farms, 1085 Bluebird Canyon Drive. Cost is $35 and there is a limit of 12 students per class. Thirty percent of the proceeds go to the Growing Skills program.

Mary Hurlbut’s website is

Be in on the Bash, LAM’s Centennial Bash – Help with the artist installation & you’ll be a special guest

Want to be more involved in the arts? Ever think about helping create a large-scale art installation? Well, now’s your chance.

Laguna Art Museum is kicking off the year with the Centennial Bash and has commissioned internationally-acclaimed artist Megan Geckler to install a site-specific piece that will transform the museum’s lobby into a colorful wonderland. 

To help prepare Megan’s piece, the Museum is sharing a unique opportunity: they are looking for volunteers to join and assist Megan in creating her site-specific work. It’s an exclusive chance to work alongside a renowned artist in the production of what is bound to be a spectacular piece. 

While LAM believes the prospect will be particularly enticing to art students, there is no former experience required- anyone and everyone is welcome to join.

Submitted photo

Click on photo for a larger image

Megan Geckler art installation

Volunteers will be needed for two shifts from Tues, Jan 16, through Thurs, January 25 – shift one from 11:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. and shift two from 3:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. 

Megan Geckler creates large-scale, site-specific installations using construction flagging tape, mathematical calculations, and color theory. Her installation at Laguna Art Museum will activate the museum’s lobby and provide a spectacular entrance for the Centennial Bash.

Volunteers will be invited to attend the Centennial Bash on Jan 27 at 8 p.m. as special guests of the museum. The Centennial Bash will be the ultimate art-lover’s late-night party with live music by Matt Costa and DJ Nina Tarr, as well as a craft beer tasting by Laguna Beach Beer Company, specialty cocktails, and delicious bites by Las Brisas, and installations by Elizabeth Turk, FriendsWithYou, and of course Megan Geckler.

LAM is located at 307 Cliff Drive. 

 Learn more about the Centennial Bash at Contact Kristen Anthony to sign up for volunteer shifts at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

City lights up our lives with new perspectives


Downtown is much brighter with the installation of “Light Beam” on the grass in front of City Hall.

Los Angeles-based Stereo-bot, which specializes in “immersive experiences,” completed the temporary artwork on Saturday. It is scheduled to remain in place for eight weeks, until March 10.

The colorful interactive installation is composed of six nearly 12-foot-tall metal frames draped with fabric, measuring approximately 39 feet in length. It is designed to feel like walking into a kaleidoscope. 

LED lights provide illumination, the brightness level controlled by a computer. 

“This installation is about looking at art and space differently. It is a short experience, it can be ever changing, a discovery – we hope the installation experience creates a conversation of what art can be or should not be,” said Sian Poeschl, cultural arts manager. “Diversity is important: a variety of experiences is what make the arts in our community unique. I hope the conversation goes beyond ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it.’”

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Tom Berndt

Tom Berndt’s photo illustrates the variety of perspectives offered by the Light Beam installation: with this view, the “eye” has it

The Arts Commission voted 4-2 to recommend “Light Beam” over “360 Beacon,” described as a brightly colored spatial ribbon 40 feet long, 32 feet wide and 20 feet high.

 Both proposals were made by Adam Schwerner. The artist is Alexis Rochas.

A unanimous council approved the proposal in December.

The project meets the goals of the city’s Cultural Arts Program, which encourages temporary art installations throughout the year. 

Rental and installation of the sculpture will cost approximately $30,000, which will come out of the commission’s Special Projects Budget, funded by Laguna Beach Business Improvement District.

Click on photos for larger images

Photos by Lynette Brasfield

Light Beam changes colors at night

The BID was established in 2001, an agreement between the city and lodging establishments in town, with the goal of promoting off-season cultural events and encouraging overnight hotel occupancy.

Funding comes from a voluntary two percent addition paid by hotel owners over the Bed Taxes charged by the city.

Dr. Willie Parker’s book makes the Christian case for reproductive rights: he visits LB Books on Jan 18

On Thurs, Jan 18 at 6 p.m., Laguna Beach Books (LBB) welcomes Dr. Willie Parker, who will be discussing his new book, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice. Dr. Parker, an outspoken OB/GYN, Christian reproductive justice advocate, and abortion provider (one of the few doctors to provide such services to women in Mississippi and Alabama) pulls from his personal and professional journeys to reveal how he came to believe, unequivocally, that helping women in need, without judgment, is the Christian thing to do. 

Dr. Parker grew up in the Deep South, lived in a Christian household, and converted to an even more fundamentalist form of Christianity as a young man. But upon reading an interpretation of the Good Samaritan in a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he realized that to be a true Christian, he must show compassion for all women regardless of their needs. 

Photo by Chad Griffith

Dr. Willie Parker appears at LBB on Thurs, Jan 18

In 2009, he stopped practicing obstetrics to focus entirely on providing safe abortions for the women who need help the most, often women in poverty and women of color, and in the hot bed of the pro-choice debate: the South. 

In Life’s Work, Dr. Parker reveals a thought-provoking narrative that illuminates the complex societal, political, religious, and personal realities of abortion in the US from his unique perspective. He also looks at how a new wave of anti-abortion activism, aimed at making incremental changes in laws and regulations state by state, are slowly chipping away at the rights of women to control their own lives. 

A unique and thought-provoking narrative on abortion in the US

In revealing his daily battle against mandatory waiting periods and bogus rules governing the width of hallways, Dr. Parker uncovers the growing number of strings attached to the right to choose and makes a powerful Christian case for championing reproductive rights. 

Dr. Willie Parker sits on the board of institutions at the forefront of the fight for reproductive justice, including as the chair-elect of the board of Physicians for Reproductive Health. He is the recipient of Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award, an honor also bestowed upon Hillary Clinton and Jane Fonda, and appeared on Ebony’s Power 100 list. 

A fascinating profile on Dr. Parker in Esquire sparked national interest in 2014, and he is now the subject of Trapped (Trilogy Films), a documentary about the legal battle to keep abortion clinics in the South open.

LBB is located at 1200 S Coast Hwy, Ste 105, 949-494-4779. For more information, go to

“Falafel and Film” series features In Our Hands, Jan 28 at the Chabad Jewish Center: all welcome

On Sunday, Jan 28, at 7 p.m., Chabad Jewish Center, in its Third Annual Movie Series “Falafel and Film,” will screen In Our Hands - The Battle for Jerusalem, directed by Erin Zimmerman. For six days, surrounded by enemies, Israel stood alone, and changed history. 

In Our Hands tells the story of Israel’s 55th Paratrooper Brigade, and how Israel Defense Forces risked everything for the sake of their homeland. With firsthand interviews and historical reenactments, this powerful docudrama focuses on the commitment and sacrifice of the soldiers who reunited Jerusalem.

In Our Hands screens on Jan 28

“One of the best, most moving films I’ve seen this year...Handsomely produced, historically responsible, and emotionally satisfying” - Michael Medved, Nationally syndicated talk -radio host, bestselling author of The American Miracle.

Whether one vividly recalls the historic declaration by the IDF that “The Temple Mount is in our hands,” or would just like to learn more about this stunning victory by Israel, In our Hands will captivate and compel each member of the audience.

The cost is $15 for unlimited falafel and the movie.

RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or (949) 499 - 0770.

Chabad is located at 30804 S. Coast Hwy in LB, across from the Montage Resort.

For more information, go to

Fashion, Fantasy, and the Future: the work of Costume Artist Phillip Boutte

Laguna College of Art + Design will present their new BFA program on Illustration and Entertainment Design on Thurs, Feb 1 from 6 - 9 p.m. inside the LCAD Gallery at 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Fashion, Fantasy, and the Future is an exhibition featuring works by costume concept artist and production designer, Phillip Boutte, Jr. Boutte. He is the costume concept artist for blockbuster hits including Captain America, Ghost in the Shell, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Inception, Justice League, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Pitch Perfect 2, A Wrinkle in Time, and most recently, the upcoming Marvel Studios film, Black Panther and 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted Photo

Anne Wheeler from the film The Greatest Showman designed by Ellen Mirojnick  

Boutte also is production designer on several music videos for artists such as Ariana Grande, The Black Keys, The Blackout, Fefe Dobson, Hot Chelle Rae, Panic at the Disco, Saint Motel,Tiesto (feat. Busta Rhymes), and Travie McCoy. Boutte currently lives in Valencia, CA with his wife Jessica, their daughter Alina, and their miniature Australian Shepherd, Cherry.

For more information on this upcoming exhibit, visit

Fingers of fog creep into Laguna, early morning on Martin Luther King Day

Photo by Scott Brashier

Click on photo for a larger image

Fabulous photo of early morning fog in our fine town

Guest column

What happened to being good stewards of the beach?

By JAMES PRIBRAM, Founder, ECO-Warriors

Being raised on Pearl/Agate Street Beach. I looked up to the older locals almost like brothers. They were a tough group of surfers – and they taught me to respect the beach and ocean. Which, in a nutshell, meant not only did you not litter, but heaven forbid you walked past a piece of litter without picking it up. These guys were willing to fight every day for the beach they loved. There was a pecking order to every set of locals on every beach. That was the culture I grew up in.

Part of being a local meant being a good steward of the beach. Caring for it. Respecting it. Loving the beach.

I would not consider the Agate Street Beach staircase renovation project being an example of good stewardship of the beach. This project was started nearly four months ago. On a good day, there are maybe two or three guys working on it for one or two days a week, and that’s being generous. There is a huge rusty ramp now descending down from the cliff and into the water at high tide. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by James Pribram

Rusty ramp descends down the cliff at Agate

Workers have dumped approximately 37 Lego cement blocks onto the beach, which have already toppled over twice. In their words, “[They] have been put there to keep the ocean out.” 

Haven’t we learned by now that it is simple impossible to keep the ocean out?!

With two major swells forecast for this week and tides nearly reaching into the six-foot range, we (the locals who know the power of the ocean and tides) are extremely worried that all of these construction tools will end up in the ocean and be lost out there for good. This project is a nightmare waiting to happen and quite honestly, it looks as if it has been abandoned. 

In case anyone doesn’t remember, Laguna Beach is a Marine Reserve. It is an absolute no-take zone. No fishing, no nada. You are not even supposed to remove dead seaweed from its natural habitat – the beach. How in the world is such a mismanaged project happening like this in Laguna Beach?

In a town that is supposed to be so environmentally conscious?

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by James Pribram

Eyesore on the beach, Monday January 15 

It’s one thing to be picking up metal stakes out of the tide pools and nails with pink ribbons off of the beach. But who is going to pick up the concrete blocks, and the rusty ramp if it goes into the ocean?

What if someone is seriously injured or worse?

When I raised this issue, I wasn’t looking for a fight with the City or the Coastal Commission. In fact, the ECO-Warrior Foundation is a partner of the Coastal Commission and the Adopt-A-Beach program.

The first phone call I made was to the code enforcement officer at the Coastal Commission, who asked me to document everything and send it to him in an email

Which I did. He never replied back regarding the email and didn’t return subsequent phone calls.

The same day I sent a similar email to the mayor. No reply. Then I called her and left a voicemail. She never returned my call.

So then I called the city manager and left a voicemail. No returned call. However I did get a call from Henry Hovakkimian, Assistant Construction Manager, because of my call to the City Manager. 

The only City employee who actually took my call was the chief lifeguard.

I went through the proper channels. Yet no one bothered to get back to me to explain what was going on.

At least someone came and picked up the rusty drills that they left discarded there. 

But is this good stewardship of the beach? Not a chance.

Lagunan James Pribram is the founder of ECO-Warrior, a grass roots organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, beaches and sea life. With the help of 994 volunteers, ECO-Warrior has picked up approximately 2,567 pounds of trash off Laguna beaches.

Woman’s Club announces annual Mayor’s luncheon


The Laguna Beach Woman’s Club will honor outgoing Mayor Toni Iseman at luncheon on Feb 2.

Iseman, the only candidate elected for five consecutive terms on the Laguna Beach City Council, served as mayor for the fourth time in 2017.

As of the November Laguna Canyon Conservancy Dinner, at which Iseman was the guest speaker, she had not made a decision on a sixth run for council. Nor did she answer the final question of the Q and A after her talk: What can we do to get you to run again?

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Former mayor Toni Iseman

Among the many concerns Iseman addressed at the LCC dinner: development on Coast Highway overwhelming the neighborhoods and city employees who can’t afford to live in Laguna. She also has long expressed dismay about the installation of communication facilities, and sober living houses, neither of which the city has control over. 

Iseman, who has long been an advocate for trees, as seen in her opposition to the removal or chopping to the ground of the City Hall pepper tree, praised efforts to protect Laguna’s urban forest. 

She was preaching to the choir.

Iseman’s mantra and goal as an elected official has been and still is to keep Laguna “the same, only better.” 

Reservations to the Outgoing Mayor’s Luncheon must be in by Jan 29, but faster responses are recommended. Eighty tickets had already been sold by Sunday. The club holds 170 seats for luncheons. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m.

Tickets are $40 for club members, $45 for non-members and $320 for a sponsor’s table of eight.

To reserve a seat, visit or respond to the mailed invitation.

Planning Commission meeting on Jan 17 focuses on

Downtown Specific Plan Section III, Civic Art District

The City of Laguna Beach will continue their efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan Update on Wed, Jan 17, during the Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

City staff will present the public input received to date regarding Downtown Specific Plan Section III, Topic 10 – Civic Art District, for further consideration and discussion by the Planning Commission.

Click on photo for larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Downtown Specific Plan Section III topic of Jan 17 Planning Commission Meeting

Additional meetings will occur in 2018 to review draft amendments to other sections of the plan. This meeting and future meetings play an essential role to obtain input from the community and direction from the Planning Commission, and to identify the City’s priorities for the future of the downtown.  

The City Hall is located at 505 Forest Ave.

For more information on the Downtown Specific Plan Update, contact: 

Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at (949) 497-0321; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or visit:

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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