Volume 15, Issue 75  |  September 19, 2023SubscribeAdvertise

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A Visual Experience thanks to the Community Art Project


This past spring, Laguna Beach’s newest outdoor mural – Beneath the Waves – joined many other murals throughout the Downtown area and along Laguna Canyon Road. Hard to walk even a short distance and not pause to enjoy art, whether paintings or sculpture, in parks or gracing streets. Art that stands up to the vigor of weather even if it is Southern California weather. All of this is counterpoint to “indoor” art exhibited in museums and available in more than 100 galleries throughout our village.

And then other venues – public and private locations that are not primarily there to showcase artists or support the art community, but given the opportunity, would do so. Places like libraries come to mind. Hotels featuring local and seasonal art in guest areas. I have seen mobiles delightfully turning in quiet corners of community centers. Building entrances, airy bank lobbies, restaurants all have the space, and many the desire, to display art.

This is where the Community Art Project or CAP, established in 1998, makes a difference. I had a chance to talk with CAP’s President Charlie Ferrazzi. As she summarizes it, CAP partners with artists, organizations and locations to install two and three-dimensional art in less-conventional places for public viewing without charge. CAP is part of the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance that brings together 22 art-based organizations.

You may not have heard of CAP. They prefer to work behind the scenes and let the art speak for itself. “We have a lot of talented artists, and their work deserves to be seen,” Ferrazzi said.

A Visual Experience, CAP’s most recent exhibit, is installed at Gallery Q and Susi Q on Third Street, a short walk from the art scenes on busier Forest and Ocean avenues. The synergy between Gallery Q and Susi Q is evident. Susi Q has well-lit spaces; they offered their library with its fine fireplace to accommodate the nine CAP juried artists.

The opening reception was May 12. I was greeted with live music, wine and a table laden with plates of appetizers. But the art was the whole point, and I was not disappointed.

In addition to those juried artists, more than two dozen local artists who sculpt, paint in acrylic and oil and watercolor, mix their media, fuse their glass, and photograph their world had an opportunity to show and share their talent.

a visual Andrew Petterson

Courtesy of CAP

Artist Andrew Petterson (left) talks to CAP visitors

Here’s a summary of what I saw in the library, and a bit of what I learned about the artists and their art.

I admire people who work in glass; the stuff is hot and seems unpredictable, which might be part of its fascination. Jill Cooper has overcome those concerns. Impossible to get from a tube of paint, the rich blue/purple colors of irises she gets from glass. Side note: Some of you may be familiar with two of her pieces permanently displayed on Mermaid Street.

After starting her art career in sculpting, Elaine Cohen expanded to two-dimensional abstract. For her, the mix of media and textures is “freeing because there are no rules.” I liked the way she broke the rules in her floral painting.

Mixed media often finds a home in abstract art. Multiple layers, textures and colors translate into emotions in Elizabeth Bridy’s paintings. She works best when outside the limitations of order and the insistence of perfection.

I enjoyed the way Yuri Keznetsov brings a touch of humor to his art. Or as he puts it, “…for one brief moment, all the chaos that is our modern way of life slips away and you are smiling.” I did smile at his piece depicting three elongated elephants stacked atop each other, a woman astride the top one.

a visual Adrienne Fayne

Courtesy of CAP

“Fiftyish” by Adrienne Fayne

Adrienne Fayne gravitates to brilliant colors and bold strokes in her paintings, large blank spaces giving her plenty of room to express. Her creativity also is evident in her three-dimensional work.

In contrast, Andrew Petterson plays with layers of light and color that are the hallmarks of the impressionistic style. His painting pulled me through a door in a stone wall and into a quiet village worth exploring. Art should draw you in.

Speaking of places, Mitch Ridder captures the essence of a cliff-clinging collection of homes and shops and restaurants that, if we haven’t already been there, we want to go. Photography is his medium which serves him well in capturing the nuances of a town on the Amalfi Coast.

a visual Mitch Ridder

Courtesy of CAP

“Amalfi Coast” photograph by Mitch Ridder

Sherry Salito-Forsen is another artist comfortable with glass, in this case, vibrantly colored pieces fused in a kiln to create shapes that have a meditative Zen quality. I was drawn to her freestanding piece, a merging of geometric shapes, but she also creates wall art.

Lesli Bonanni has perfected a process that is new to me called GritScript®, which she developed, trademarked and teaches. Her body of work is both abstract and organic, a combination that suggests nature at its finest.

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I wish we had room to mention all the other artists, but we don’t and that is even more of a reason for you to see for yourself the breadth of art our creative community tirelessly produces. The Visual Experience is at Gallery Q and Susi Q until July 12, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

a visual Gratitude and Awake

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Photo by Nancy Carpenter

In foreground: “Gratitude,” mixed media ceramic and “Awake” (non-juried piece) by Roya Mahdavi Hassas

I asked Ferrazzi what makes for a good location. Physical space that can accommodate a mix of media is important. She went on to say, “Three-dimensional works bring art off the walls and into the room. Space that allows people to move about and interact with the art from a variety of distances and angles.”

Light is another consideration. That can vary throughout the day, and that can be a challenge. As for the night, if the venue is open then good ceiling light is a must. Scouting to identify locations is an ongoing project.

There’s never a shortage of artists, whether from art-focused special interest groups to artists who deserve exposure. CAP also looks for hands-on art projects that appeal to any and all age groups.

a visual woven 1

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Courtesy of CAP

For the “Woven” exhibition from LBUSD students

a visual woven 2

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Courtesy of CAP

Student art for the “Woven” exhibition

a visual woven 3

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Courtesy of CAP

An artwork from the “Woven” exhibit

Ferrazzi, along with CAP board members Adrienne Fayne, Faye Baglin and Sarah Elizabeth Fogel, is keeping busy with their next exhibit, Woven. This time, they are collaborating with the Laguna Beach Unified School District. As of this writing, 28 works by students in elementary and high school were selected for the show.

Art education shouldn’t be limited to classroom experiences or a specific approach or formula. Sarah Woolsey, arts coordinator at LBUSD, puts out a challenge to her students. “How do you weave multiple ideas, subjects, moments, materials, experiences and textures into your work?”

Woven will be at the Laguna Beach City Hall for six weeks, from July 3 through August 10. The opening reception is July 6, from 6-7 p.m. Start your perfect evening with First Thursdays Art Walk before heading to City Hall.

And after that? CAP has identified two potential sites for exhibiting: a gallery on Forest and a church. Do you have space and are you interested in getting involved? CAP would love to hear from you.

A visual coral

Courtesy of CAP

“Coral Study #1” by Lesli Bonanni (GritScript®)

Membership is another easy and rewarding way to get involved. Dues and contributions support ongoing artistic and educational programs as well as the identification of new venues for the enrichment and enjoyment of everyone. Artists love to talk about their art, something that CAP helps facilitate. And finally, as members, you can participate in art-themed field trips and open houses that give access to private collections.

Membership and donations are easy. Go to and click “Membership.”

Member or not, mark your calendar for the reception for Woven on July 6. And don’t miss A Visual Experience at Gallery Q and Susi Q’s before it closes on July 12.

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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