Breathing life into art: Rehearsals for Pageant of the Masters are heating up

The Pageant of the Masters, presented by Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts, is heating up the beachside community with preparations and rehearsals underway for the highly-anticipated 2018 production of “Under the Sun.” 

Celebrating its 85th anniversary, the 2018 Pageant of the Masters will amaze audiences nightly July 7 - September 1 with 90 minutes of tableaux vivants. These “living pictures” are re-creations of classical and contemporary works of art with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. Tickets are available now at

“We started work on pre-production for “Under the Sun” in October 2017. Currently we are building different sets each week, and conducting dress rehearsals every Thursday night for 3-4 set pieces,” said Richard “Butch” Hill, Technical Director and Lighting Designer for the Pageant. “This will be my 34th year with the Pageant and the passion and dedication from the designers, volunteers, make-up artists, Pageant Director, and everyone involved truly shows in the masterpieces created.”

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Pageant Sculptor Daniel Stonebreaker (far right) helps volunteer cast members (left to right) Sunshine Iller of Lake Forest, Ferne Ames of Laguna Beach and Caroline Reese of Ladera Ranch, into their poses at a rehearsal for the 2018 Pageant of the Masters

Since opening in 1933, the Pageant has welcomed approximately 500 volunteers each year who eagerly contribute more than 60,000 hours of their time in total. Many staff members, like Butch, have worked with Pageant of the Masters for decades, creating a family-reunion-like environment that attracts mass numbers of volunteers and crowds to learn, appreciate and perform in the fine arts. The volunteers vary in ages with the youngest volunteer at just four years old, and the oldest in his late 80s.

Every Thursday night through June, staff and volunteers gather in the Irvine Bowl studying details from stage lighting to specific pose placement, and unique make-up art to complicated set designs. Volunteer actors fill the backstage area during rehearsals, along with Allyson Doherty, Makeup Director, who coaches the make-up volunteers with step-by-step tutorials on how to transform the actors into living art. To complete the final picture, Costume Director Reagan Foy and her team help cast members into their costumes and make final adjustments.

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Scene from Under the Sun: Garden Wall

The Director, Diane Challis Davy, selects the pieces in the Pageant and oversees pre-production and each rehearsal to perfect the living pictures and transform their presentation, with help from the Pageant staff, into a full production with music, narration and backdrops.

In the 2018 Pageant of the Masters, “Under the Sun,” theatrical magic, live music and light-hearted storytelling will honor masterpieces including work by Leonardo da Vinci, Kleitsch, Rosenthal, Monet, Kuntz, Sargent, and Wasil. Staying with tradition, the finale of the Pageant will feature Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

The Pageant of the Masters runs July 7 - September 1 with advance tickets now available starting at $15 per person. A Pageant ticket is also a season pass to the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show. 

The 2018 Festival of Arts Fine Art Show will take place in conjunction with the Pageant of the Masters, July 5 - September 1, with general admission tickets starting at $10 per person. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Suzie’s ARTiculation

The 2018 Pageant of the Masters, “Under the Sun,” delivers an endless summer of Laguna-style fun


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Everything “Under the Sun” in Laguna has been considered for this year’s Pageant, with the theme a tribute to our town’s creative heritage as an artists’ colony as well as a recognition of its contributions to the surf culture – and the show features the quintessential origins of the Missions in addition to some of the most iconic works throughout time. 

It doesn’t get any better than this. Now celebrating its 85th anniversary of masterfully bringing works of art to life, the Pageant of the Masters is a true treasure. 

Laguna’s history as an artist colony will take center stage, illustrated in works by some of the founders, including creative masters William Griffith, Edgar Payne, Anna Althea Hills and Joseph Kleitsch, to mention a few, spanning to a work by current Festival exhibitor, Jorge Fernandez, a 2010 bronze piece, “From the Beginning,” which aptly opens Act I.

I can’t count how many years I’ve been to the press preview event of the Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, but it’s truly magical, unique, and awe inspiring. 

To experience the behind-the-scenes action, see the inner workings of each specific department and all the different facets and detail that go into each recreated artwork and each Pageant – it’s fascinating beyond belief. 

the 2018 Flag Festival

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A recreation of “Flag Raising Over Irvine,” kicked off the evening a 1946 Pageant tableaux, which symbolized this year’s return of the American flag at the Festival

Technical Director Butch Hill in his 34th year puts it all together with his choreography of lights and movement – a major challenge, as all moving pieces must be synchronized just right.

“We have some beautiful colorful pieces this year and a lot of landscapes, very impressionistic local work,” Hill said. “The whole story that we’re going to tell in the first act is awesome. Just the history of Laguna and art. It’s super colorful.” 

The Pageant is featuring a lot of paintings this year. 

“So the lights are tied into the set design. When I am thinking of the set design I have to think of how it’s going to work within the set,” Hill said.

To get the lighting down for all the pieces Hill said it takes about two rehearsals for each piece; which is what they’ve been doing since February.

Reagan Foy, Costume Director, explained that the costumes are all made out of muslin, a finely-woven cotton fabric, introduced to Europe from the Middle East in the 17th century. The costumes are all painted using a textile paint to look like the pieces, and fit both sets of cast members.

the 2018 cool orange crates

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Seeing the cast in the living pictures up close is always exciting, “The Orange Crate Labels” are deliciously fantastic, a sure crowd pleaser

“With the ‘Under the Sun’ theme, we have a lot of sunbathers, and people at the beach,” Foy said. “One of the most challenging pieces we did this year for costumes was ‘Surfriders’ because we had to manipulate the body shapes to be a little bit different than the average person. So it’s a lot of foam pieces that we cut and created those extreme shapes on the bodies.”

Each costume is about a week’s worth of work between cutting the patterns, building the costumes, fitting a cast member, making alterations, and bringing a cast member back in for a second fitting.

 “It’s a challenge in and of itself. It becomes a lot of manipulating and draping on our cast members and once they’re in the set, figuring out where we need to manipulate the fabric either by putting in darts or putting Velcro in pieces to something on the set or other pieces of the costume so we really get that movement,” Foy explained. “Plus in addition to that our painters really help us out with all of those paintbrush strokes in there to really get that movement as well.”

Director extraordinaire Dee Challis Davy said her favorite works this year are, “Pleasures of the Beach-Mosaic by Millard Sheets. Public Mural art in Santa Monica. A very challenging piece to reproduce. The music to accompany is “Surf’s Up” by Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks.”

She enjoys some of the short vignettes in this year’s show, and “a very fun and rousing end of Act 1.”

Watching the sculptors work, I can tell the completed Serra Chapel Retablo is going to be sensational.

“We have recreated it twice in the past,” Challis Davy said. “This time it is presented on our turntable stage and is preceded by a procession of Father Serra on the “Camino Real.”

the 2018 rymar scenic

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David Rymar (pictured) and David Cooke are just remarkable at recreating the original works into sets

Scriptwriter Dan Duling is also masterful at his work.

“Themes make the research just that much more fun because even if we were to select a piece we’d done before, we’d be looking at presenting it in a different context, perhaps from a completely different angle, and always with a vision of its place within the entire production,” Duling said. 

He explained that much must be taken into account since every second of the Pageant involves so much work by every department. 

“It’s a daunting task that’s still fun after all these years (this is the 38th Pageant script I’ve written) because of my pride in what we’ve managed to accomplish and the thrill of being part of such a unique production,” Duling said. “Dee and I remain united in our commitment to making the show as theatrically exciting and fresh as possible for both our returning audiences and a new generation of audiences we hope will want to come back again.”

the 2018 builder POM

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Showing how the works are put together with the cast, and how it’s assembled, is called “the builder” and is a definite fan favorite

He added, “But, as always, the Pageant remains a win-win, because by being able to celebrate their works and in many cases introduce them to audiences who may not have known about them before, we’re adding to their creative legacies.”

Creative indeed.

Not only was the sun shining on the Irvine Bowl, the evening also threw a spotlight on the new Terra restaurant, which is phenomenal. 

“I saw this hidden treasure and I fell in love with it and I said I have to do something to show this magnificent piece of art in the City. [We looked around for historic items only] to find we had this beautiful, magnificent artwork just sitting and hidden [right here]. And I am so happy to bring it out and show it,” said Mo Honarkar. “And that’s my gift to the city.”

the 2018 terra

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The extraordinary new Terra restaurant is a phenomenal feast for the senses 

“Dora [Wexell Orgill] is part of the team, so is my daughter Hasty, so is Mark [Orgill], and you know I couldn’t be successful without a good team. I am very appreciative of them,” Honarkar added.

The juried Festival of Arts features 140 artists who work in a spectrum of art mediums. Plus guests enjoy a chockfull menu of art workshops, classes, concerts, and special events at the Festival.

The Pageant of the Masters runs nightly at 8:30 p.m. from July 7 to September 1. Advance tickets are $15 to $260. Tickets sell fast so it’s best to get them early.

The Pageant is located on the Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. For information and tickets visit or call (949) 494-1145 or (800) 487-3378.

Suzie’s ARTiculation

Music in the Park – the community’s favorite summer concert series says sayonara for the season Sunday


Photos by Scott Brashier

Last dance, last chance to enjoy Laguna’s best kept secret, the favorite Sunday summer ritual know as Music in the Park will end another sensational season this Sunday with SantanaWays, a Santana tribute band, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bluebird Park.

For many locals, the popular community concert series is a highlight of the summer, a shared tradition for friends and family since 1983, established as a passion project by the late Doris Shields when she served on the City’s Arts Commission.

That first year, Shields had a month to put the inaugural concert together. To facilitate, she called on Leigh Unger, a harpsichordist and music professor at Fullerton College at the time. He was able to gather some of his students and fellow musicians to perform in the first concert.

A lot has changed from those days. Now, the community can thank the Arts commissioners, the Cultural Arts Department, and namely Siân Poeschl, the City Cultural Arts Manager, for making the popular series what it is today. 

“I feel incredibly fortunate to work and live in a community that appreciates the importance of music to our lives. But Music in the Park goes far beyond that, it’s an opportunity to see friends and neighbors, share food, stories, to dance and hang out as a community,” Poeschl said. “That’s very rare and should not be understated as to its importance.” 

music in the one

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Families and friends love to gather at Music in the Park, a local favorite summer tradition since 1983

In 1994, Music in the Park Inc. formed and entered into a public private partnership with the City in 1995 through 2005. The Arts Commission has funded the concerts through the Business Improvement District since 2005.

The concert series started with three concerts at Nita Carman Park. Only four bands played and 30 people came that first summer. Traffic noise was an issue, so the next year, Bluebird Park became its fitting home. 

After the new digs were found, a berm was built for performers. Poeschl kindly gave me a bit of music history, Music in the Park history:

--From 1984 – 1987 the number of concerts increased to four and were held from late June through September.

--In 1986, a sound system was introduced for amplified sound.

--Two years later concerts increased to five with an estimated 800 – 1,000 attendance.

--From 1989 – 1990 the concerts increased to six.

--The following three years the concerts were increased to seven and ran from late July through September.

--The following decade, from 1994 – 2004, eight concerts were held each summer.

--But in 2005, the number of concerts was reduced to seven.

“The concerts are a community orientated event, in a community park setting,” Poeschl said. “Since 2000 a professional audio company has been hired to do the sound. Decibel levels are recorded every 15 minutes throughout the concert.”

Both funded by the City, the beloved sculpture “Laguna Tortoise” was installed by Michele Taylor in 2003 and “Bluebird Park Gate” was installed by Jon Seeman. 

music in the tortoise

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Michele Taylor’s ‘Laguna Tortoise’ is a favorite public art piece adored by people of all ages at Bluebird Park

To find the best entertainment, the Arts Commission reviews hundreds of bands starting in January. Although some concerts are more popular than others, attendance has remained the same over the last five years around 800 to 1,000.

“We are very appreciative to the Bluebird Park neighbors and because of this we encourage audience members to be respectful of where they park,” Poeschl said.

The rules: No dogs are ever allowed at Bluebird Park; there is no smoking in any Laguna Beach park; no set up before 3 p.m.; no open alcohol is allowed outside the park; alcohol is allowed with a meal; no umbrellas are allowed up; and bring only low beach chairs, so that everyone can enjoy the concert. 

“Facilitating Music in the Park requires the collaboration of the Public Works, Police and Cultural Arts Departments,” Poeschl said. “Although the concerts look effortless, it takes months of planning and organization.”

Poeschl has been working with Rick Weirs from Public Works since she started running the series 20 years ago. Last year, Mike McGregor, Arts Program Coordinator, was added to the team.

music in the dancing

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Dancing, laughing, fun and merriment abound at Music in the Park

“Every concert is attended by a member of the Arts Commission, you will see them at the gate handing out the schedule, or hear them introduce the band,” Poeschl said.

Longtime Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda lauds the series and what it brings to our community.

“MIP is a gift to our wonderful town. I’ve been involved for 25 years and been amazed at how it has grown and how much it is cherished by our ‘Lagunatics,’” Kollenda said. “I am also very proud of the collaboration between City Departments and the support of our City Council! and, of course, much gratitude to Sian Poeschl.” 

The concerts follow the rules of the City’s noise ordinance. To address the concerns of neighbors, the City guaranteed the concerts would be concluded by 7 p.m. with no exception. Although, at every concert, Poeschl or staff get guff from people wanting the bands to play longer. But that’s not an option if locals want the series to continue as they are.

“It is important to retain the community feel of the event, to have generations of family and friends spend two hours together enjoying a variety of live music,” Poeschl said.

music in the musician

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Catch the final Music in the Park Concert on Sunday to savor the sounds

The City funds and presents 16 free concerts – two World Music, seven Music in the Park, and seven Sunset Serenades, which kicks off for the fall with jazz vocalist Valerie Geason at Heisler Park Amphitheater on Friday, Sept 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Until next time…so many City concerts to enjoy, so little time!

Newest public art installation “Changing Station” inspires viewers to “Be a hero any way you can”


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

On one side of the Forest Avenue art installation “Changing Station” by local Artist Robert Holton is a list of inspirational quotes, one being, “There is a Superhero in all of us, we need the courage to put on the cape.”

Newest public Holton

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Artist Robert Holton 

Holton says, “I pitched this idea to the Arts Commission because of the connection of the phone booth and Superman, that’s where he changed and emerged as a superhero. I applied to the Arts Commission two years ago, and I came in third out of 20. So this year, I pitched it again. The sayings on the side are positive affirmations. There is so much insecurity and drama in town, this is an inspiration that each of us can be a hero in the smallest of ways.”

Newest public quotes

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Inspirational quotes

Holton has owned his sign business, One Day Signs, Inc. for over 20 years. He has exhibited for five years at the Sawdust Festival – Drizzle Art by Robert Holton depicts pop culture icons that are digitally printed onto stretched canvas, then hand-painted using Robert’s “drizzle” technique. The final paintings are bright, colorful, fun, and often very meaningful to viewers who find their own unique links to the friendly imagery.

Newest public dog

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Robert with his dog dressed as a superhero, Heidi Miller, and Robert’s wife Marita

Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl says, “It is important to have a diversity in the temporary art installation experience, both in content and duration and the combination of national and local artists. It is this diversity and opportunity that brings an energy and uniqueness to the experience of public art, and just for a fleeting moment you get to enjoy it, before it is gone. Robert Holton’s proposal was one of 25 submitted designs and I am excited for him to have had this opportunity to participate in his own community.”

Newest public Whalen

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Mayor Bob Whalen and Robert Holton 

In attendance for the dedication of the installation, Lorraine, who is visiting from London where phone booths are a staple, says, “The use of British phone booths with the comic superheroes is amazing, a good juxtaposition.”

Super Eddy, owner of Melrose Place just up from the phone booth, said the installation is “powerfully endowed.”

With a crowd of enthusiastic onlookers in attendance, Arts Commission Chair Michael Ervin dedicated the booth to the beauty of superheroes.

Newest public Heidi

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Heidi Miller, a true Wonder Woman 

Dressed as Wonder Woman, Heidi Miller, owner of Tight Assets, said, “I think it’s all about superheroes, but all of us are heroes in our own way. We forget that sometimes. This installation reminds us that we are.” Spoken as a true hero who donated one of her kidneys last year to save a life. 

In congratulating Holton on this vision of the phone booth, Mayor Bob Whalen said, “This is the first local artist selected. Holton sells at Sawdust. It’s great to have a local artist represented. Including this one, there are 18-20 temporary installations. The Arts Commission is on a roll.”

Newest public food

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Reception courtesy of Ashley Johnson of Visit Laguna Beach

In response to being honored, Holton said, “Thanks to the City and Arts Commission for choosing me. I moved here years ago, and when I would drive by the booth, I pictured Superman changing and then flying out. Although I’ve come from the sign making background, I’ve never made a fist like this before. It represents superheroes flying out of roof. It’s especially important in this time of negativity. We all need to be kinder or be a hero, even in a small way. My wife Marita says, ‘be a hero in any way you can.’”

So, hopefully, when passing the phone booth, we will all be inspired to “put on the cape” and be a hero in some modest way.

Courtesy of President & CEO of Visit Laguna Beach Ashley Johnson, following the dedication, a reception was held in the Visitors Center.

LCAD’s art takes center stage at the 28th Annual Collectors’ Choice (not so) Silent Auction


Photos by Jeff Rovner

No one stayed silent about their love of art – and appreciation for LCAD – at Laguna College of Art + Design’s 28th Annual Collector’s Choice Silent Auction last Friday night. Artists, patrons and community members poured into [seven-degrees] for a festive night of live jazz, seasonal bites, cocktails and, of course, lots of art. The proceeds benefited the college, supporting its students and programs, and helped fund the $2.5 million in scholarships the school awards each year.

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Not only the art was colorful at the Collectors’ Choice Gala

LCAD faculty, alumni and other celebrated professional artists offered up oils, charcoals, photographs and sculptures. There were watercolors, wooden boxes, and blown glass. As guests gathered, sipped and ate, one woman painted another’s portrait onto her canvas in the corner of the room. 

There’s plenty to love about Laguna Beach, but the LCAD event summed up one of my favorite things about our town: this community is authentically passionate. Art auctions have the potential to feel pretentious. For someone like me, who barely knows her Jasper Johns from her Jackson Pollocks, that can be intimidating. Yes, this town appreciates art. But, more importantly, people just dig it. You can feel the difference between folks who are politely supportive and those who are sincerely passionate. 

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Artist in action at the Collectors’ Choice Gala

I pulled LCAD’s president, Jonathan Burke, aside to talk about this. Burke has been with LCAD for 38 years, serving in various capacities as professor, dean and president. He embodies passion, and he’s focused on making LCAD one of the premiere art institutes in the United States. He explains that recently, the live auction (held this year at Montage Resort) is now separate from the silent event, giving guests on each occasion an entirely different experience. For serious collectors, or donors looking for a more extravagant evening, Montage Laguna Beach provides that ambience. But Burke is committed to making art available to everyone.

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LCAD’s president, Jonathan Burke, addresses guests

“We wanted to have a party in town and make it more accessible,” says Burke. “We brought the price point down to embrace more of the community. The artists here love the college and want to donate.” Burke himself donated a piece, as he does every year, often to both the silent and live auction, and sometimes more than one. 

As the evening wound down, I watched people pick up their art. Couples talked about where new pieces would hang. A man was hurrying to bring the car around, having won three wooden boxes. He’d lost a few paintings he wanted, but he still looked like a little boy on Christmas morning, triumphant and giddy. The artists watched their work going off to new homes, elated they made someone happy. 

And LCAD is now able to do more of what it does best . . . produce another generation of artists who instill this passion and carry the torch for art. 

That circle of love for art sums up what it feels like to live in Laguna.

To view more of Jeff Rovner’s outstanding photographs, click on the gallery below. Jeff will be exhibiting his fine art photography at the Festival of Arts for the second year this summer. The theme of his exhibit is Cirque Noir.


Art Museum publishes tribute to artist Marcia Hafif, 1929-2018

The news of Marcia Hafif’s death has saddened us all. She was a good friend to the museum, and in 2015 we had the privilege of presenting an exhibition of her paintings. 

Marcia considered an exhibition to be a work of art in itself, and the experience of discussing, designing, installing, and lighting the show, along with the production of the accompanying book, was an education in the aesthetics of perfection. 

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Courtesy LAM website

Exhibition of Marcia Hafif’s work

Knowing and working closely with an artist of her stature was an honor made all the more memorable by her graciousness, her humor, and the sheer liveliness of her mind. 

Although she made her reputation on the east coast and in Europe, we have reason to be proud of this celebrated artist who grew up in Laguna Beach and returned to live here, largely under the radar, for the last twenty years of her life. She loved Laguna, and the natural beauty of the place was an important source of inspiration for her art. 

“Walking often on the shore,” she wrote, “I was influenced by the colors of the sea, the sky and the sand, by the seashells and seaweed, the dark clouds over the horizon in the evening, the shining colors reflected in the sand as the waves fell back.”

Laguna Beach Live! presents Live Music Insights with Dr. Robert Istad at Mozambique on May 22

On May 22, Laguna Beach Live! presents Live! Music Insights with Dr. Robert Istad who will explore “The Grass is Blue: America’s Legacy of Bluegrass and Spirituals.”

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Dr. Robert Istad

Dr. Istad is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at California State University at Fullerton, and has been serving as Pacific Chorale’s Artistic Director since July 2017. Demonstrating the musical highlights of his talk will be Denean Dyson, mezzo-soprano; Jeff Askew, guitar and banjo; and Chris Booke, bass.

The evening takes place in the Boma Room at Mozambique where guests are invited to come starting at 5:30 p.m. to enjoy social time and the Happy Hour menu. The talk and music will begin at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are $10 and can be made online at or by phone at (800) 595-4849. Seating is limited.

Coming up on June 10 is the Great Bluegrass music by the Barefoot Movement at Laguna College of Art & Design.

Doheny Blues Festival rocks it May 19 and 20


Right down the road there’s a little something to get you on your dancing feet. Looking for lively music fun? Go no further than Dana Point for the Blues Festival. 

Dana Point’s Doheny Blues Festival returns with a rockin’ lineup May 19 and 20. Participating musicians include legendary blues rocker George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Buddy Guy, Blues Traveler, Jimmie Vaughan, Beth Hart, Larkin Poe, The California Honeydrops, and many others. There will be more than 20 performers, on three stages.

The Blues event is Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at and also available for purchase at Wahoo’s.

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Buddy Guy will be performing at Doheny Blues Festival

By the way, this year’s festival has found a new home. The event producers, Omega Events state that, “After 20 successful years of bringing the world’s finest Blues musicians to Orange County, we are also excited to announce our new venue, Dana Point’s Sea Terrace Park. The award-winning festival will be reimagined at its new seaside home, with more intimate stage areas, elevated food and beverage offerings, and involvement from many local businesses.”

The new location means that the Laguna Beach trolleys can take visitors and locals all the way to the festival entrance this year.

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There will be a Blues Festival pre-party on Thursday, May 17 at Mozambique.  Featured will be international artist from Sweden, Knock-Out Greg and the Jukes, pictured here.

Dance Festival dazzles and Lagunatics a hoot


Last weekend was a bonanza in Laguna Beach.

The Laguna Dance Festival awed the audiences and Lagunatics made us chortle. What more could anyone ask? Oh, maybe the Angels playing in the post season, but let’s not be greedy.

For 14 years, the Festival has brought top dancers to Laguna Beach, enriching our lives and helping to keep alive Laguna’s identity as an art colony. All three performances were sold out. 

“We are so lucky to live in Laguna and get to see performances of this caliber,” said Betsy Jenkins who was in the audience both Friday and Saturday night.

Festival board member Bob Braun called the opening night’s tribute to the late David Bowie “transcendent,” Jenkins said and couldn’t have agreed more. 

“It was incredible,” said Joy Dittberner, executive director of the Festival. “It took us to another level. After the performance the dancers said they could feel the energy from the audience.” 

The Saturday night audience was equally enamored. And there was an added attraction for long-time Laguna residents, National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Skylar Campbell, who grew up in Laguna and is the grandson of the late Lida Lenney, who was instrumental in the acquisition of Laguna Canyon in the 1980s.

Dance Festival Skylar

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Photo by Karolina Kuras

Skylar Campbell wows crowd

“He was the best male dancer,” said former Mayor Cheryl Kinsman.

 It’s been more than 15 years since a group of dance-lovers met in Stuart Byer’s North Laguna home to hear retiring ballerina Jodie Gates propose some kind of dance performances in Laguna Beach. The meeting gave birth to CA Dance, which was the cradle for the Dance Festival. Rocking that cradle were Byer, Janet Eggers and Christine Rhoades, all three emeritus Festival board members; Nancy Meyer and Kathy Conway, current board members.

“It is Jodie who brings this quality of dancers to Laguna,” said Rhoades on Saturday. “She danced with many of them.”

Gates was a principal dancer with the Joffrey, Frankfurt, and Pennsylvania ballet companies and with Complexions Modern Ballet. She has choreographed and directed dance performances. She is also an educator of some renown. 

Gates began her academic career as an associate professor at UC Irvine. In 2012, Gates was appointed professor of dance and the inaugural vice dean and director of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, the university’s first new school in almost 40 years. 

Among the audience at Saturday’s performance: Eggers, Byer, Karyn Philippsen, Randy Kraft, Chris Quilter, Beth Majors and Bobbi Cox, a Festival donor, who also ponied up funding for one of the dance studios at the Third Street Centers. 

In addition to providing an extraordinary weekend of dance, the Festival also raises funds for educational programs and scholarships for young dancers, several of whom attended Saturday’s performance. 

The 2018 Festival also honored the late Lila Zali, who was born in 1918. Zali moved to Laguna in 1959 after a career in dance that included classical ballet and appearances in films such as “An American in Paris” and “Silk Stockings.”

She founded a dance school in Laguna and a group that became known as Ballet Pacifica, which performed at the Playhouse and later at the Center for Performing Arts. Skylar Campbell’s early training was at Zali’s school.

Dancers Chase O’Connell and Beckanne Sisk of Ballet West performed the classic “White Swan,” dedicated to Zali.

Dance lovers will have to wait a whole year before the Festival returns to Laguna. So sad. 

But lovers of satire and just plain fun have three more opportunities to attend Lagunatics’ annual Roast of the Coast: weekends through October 28.


The 2018 show opened on OctOBER 5. Bree Burgess Rosen conceived Lagunatics about the same time she conceived her son – the show that year had to be rewritten to accommodate her bump. 

Dance Festival Rosen

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bree Burgess Rosen welcomes the crowd on opening night of Lagunatics

For the seriously impaired or who come from another planet, Burgess Rosen directs, stars and writes parody lyrics for the show, complemented by writers Rufino Cabang, Bridget English, Rebecca M. Lyles (who showed up at the opening costumed as Minnie Mouse – which ought to tell you something), Paul Nygro, Chris Quilter and Ella Wyatt

Quitler also contributed dialogue, some of it spoken by Musical Director Roxanne Ward, tongue in cheek. 

As always, the dialogue and parodies are designed to puncture the pompous, pinpoint the ridiculous and make the audience laugh even when their own pet projects get skewered. 

There was no lack of subject matter for this year’s show. Jennifer Zieter particularly laughed at “Underground/I will survive,” performed by Ella Wyatt, Burgess Rosen, English, Charlee Rubino, Rebecca Butkivich, Jay Rechter and Rob Harryman

Dance Festival parody

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Parodies Galore

Other topical parodies included “Hotel Laguna/There’s a Small Hotel,” sung by English and Mark Marger; “The Village Entrance/It’s DeParking,” performed by Eric T. Anderson and Yvonne Browning; “The Public Garden, Help Our Garden Grow,” featuring Fernando Acevedo and Butkivich; “Accessory Dwelling Units/A Town that Can’t Say No,” soloed by Kristen Matson; “Trees/Less is More,” performed by Anderson and the cast – and that was just Act One. 

Act Two featured “Parking Fees/The Rates Go Up,” sung by Harryman; “Nest Door/I Feel Petty,” soloed by Ward; “Pop Up Public Art/A Waste of Money;” featuring Marger, English, Butkivich and Harryman.

The entire cast performed the closing number: “The Candidates for City Council/Tap your Troubles Away.”

In the audience: former Mayor Jane Egly, Carolyn and Dr. Tom Bent, Dee Perry (costumed as Medusa), Pageant of the Master’s Director Diane Challis Davy, and No Square Theatre President Rick Gold.

The show is sponsored by the Business Improvement District, the City, the Festival of Arts Foundation, Laguna Board of Realtors Charitable Assistance Fund, Ketel One, Rodney Strong Vineyards and Pavilions.

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading Contributions are welcomed.

One way or another, Hollywood Blondie entertains old and young at Bluebird Park

Photos by Scott Brashier 

One way vocalist

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Diana Grace of Hollywood Blondie captures the audience at Music in the Park on Sunday with her voice, performance, and energy. The band’s musicians were exceptional and entertaining too!

One way bubbles

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Blondie and bubbles, something for everyone 

One way crowd

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Not an inch of ground to spare for music fans on a beautiful Sunday at Bluebird Park

One way dancers

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Tiny Blondie dances to tunes…

On Sunday, Aug 4, Bill Magee plays the blues at Music in the Park from 5 to 7 p.m. The series is a function of by the Laguna Beach Arts Commission and is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. Please do not set up before 3 p.m. to allow children to enjoy the park prior to the concert.

For more photos by Scott Brashier, see slideshow below:

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.”

Laguna Dance Festival Gala takes on a musical theme with tribute to legacy of West Side Story on May 18

Laguna Dance Festival’s 2018 gala will celebrate the launch of the festival’s 14th season with a West Side Story theme in honor of the centennial birthdays of two of the production’s artistic luminaries, composer Leonard Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins. 

The gala will be held at [seven-degrees] on Friday, May 18, and includes a live auction, fine dining, wines donated by Hall Winery of Napa, and dancing into the night. 

The program will include live music and dance from West Side Story and vocal renditions of select songs, and an iconic dance excerpt from “America,” performed by dancers from the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. There will also be several new commissions performed by professional artists - each inspired by the musical, but with their very own “west coast story” flair. 

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Jerome Robbins with George Chakiris during rehearsals of West Side Story

Additionally, Clifford Williams from Complexions Contemporary Ballet will perform a solo as well as the three recipients of the 2017 Laguna Dance Festival scholarship – Emily Eckert, Jocelyn Magana, and Marcus Sarjeant. 

“This year’s gala event not only marks the centennial of two great artists, it also celebrates Laguna Dance Festival’s commitment to quality education and innovative programming. The night will be full of glorious music and dance that represents the brightest stars of today and tomorrow,” says Artistic Director and Founder, Jodie Gates. 

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Submitted photo

West Side Story dance number - America

Laguna Dance Festival offers world-class dance on a theatre stage, art galleries and site-specific outdoor venues throughout Laguna Beach and Orange County. Since its inception in 2005, Laguna Dance Festival has presented companies such as Complexions Contemporary Ballet, The Parsons Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, BalletX, and Ballet BC, among others. In addition, the festival is committed to providing quality dance education to the west coast through master classes, a summer intensive workshop, and scholarships for young dancers.

Go to for tickets and more information.

Suzie’s ARTiculation

Sawdust sizzles at 52, gets better with age


Sawdust Art Festival seems to get better with age. If Tuesday’s Preview Night is any indication, a barometer of this summer’s show, well, it’s my fave to date!

While checking out all the spectacular new art, the live music always adds to the cool vibe. Truly there are so many incredible artists, so little time…

To kick off my Sawdust ARTiculation, I interviewed two freshmen and two seasoned artists to get their perspective on the opening, preparation, their booth and their work.

Lisa Mansour, painting, first-year exhibitor

“I have wanted to be in the Sawdust for a very long time. Every summer I would bump into Tom Klingenmeier on the grounds and he would say “are you applying for next year?” Lisa Mansour said. 

Fast forward to this year her “Yes, I think so!” reply became definitive.

“I decided to take a leap of faith and submit my application last November for the 2018 Summer Festival,” Mansour said. “My preparations began from that point on.” 

Graduating last December from LCAD’s Post-Baccalaureate program, Mansour said she’s building on a series of paintings that she completed while studying at LCAD. 

“I tried to paint everyday, and finish at least one painting a week,” Mansour said. “Right now I have about 30 pieces of original art hanging in my booth, and about a dozen in the wings.” 

The charming tagline on her booth sign says “Donuts, Dress Forms, Other Delights.” 

“I love exploring the playful side of fine art and finding a balance between classic technique and exuberant expression,” Mansour said.

Sawdust Sizzles Mansour

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Photo by Scott Brashier 

Recent LCAD grad Lisa Mansour, excited to finally say yes to exhibit at the Sawdust, pictured joyfully with her husband John on opening night

Regarding her booth, “I chose my booth because it was on a shady corner on one of the main paths of the Sawdust, the one that leads to the glass blowing booth.”

She had it built with a triangle wall at the open corner and angled the wall so that when people are entering the Sawdust and walking down the path, they can readily see her work. 

“The great thing about the Sawdust is we can paint in our booths – in fact six hours a week of demo time is required of Sawdust artists,” Mansour said. “I plan on painting all summer long.”

Leading up to opening night, Mansour admits she was a little stressed out, but it turned out well. 

“My longtime dream to be in the Sawdust had arrived and I had art on the walls and donuts as my snack,” said Mansour. “So many friends and well-wishers were there – really the whole community of Laguna Beach – and it was such a warm and wonderful evening. It flew by.”

Catherine Reade, jewelry, 18-year exhibitor

Preparing for the Sawdust is not so literal – she does shows all spring, as well as the winter shows including Winter Fantasy. While she is preparing for the other shows she’s also preparing for the Sawdust summer show, with the end of May to the end of June, of course, the big push.

“I’m also making a lot of custom work, most people don’t buy ready to wear, they want something custom,” Reade said. “They want something that’s different, within my style more personalized to them, more intimate detail.” 

Sawdust Sizzles crowds

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Artist Catherine Reade loves the energy and the crowds, like on opening night

As for her booth, she’s coveted the same spot 14 of her 18 years in the show.

“The importance is to always have a corner booth and have my counter space, so people can walk up and have room to look at my work and spread out and talk to me,” Reade said. “My whole interest is to educate clients and prospective clients about what the materials are, how I’ve created this, what goes into it. I want them to walk away with a really positive feeling about my work.”

Because she is a fabricator she creates every piece from start to finish.

“Nothing is prefabricated. I make all my links, all my settings, I have to cast wax…so it’s all individually made, everything is a one-of-a kind piece,” Reade said.

Her booth is sort of minimalist. Reade said she just wants it to be clean and industrial like her jewelry.

“I love that space because it’s very energetic. I have all the energy from Studio One, across from me, with all these children and adults creating all these art projects,” Reade said.

“It’s very energized in that neighborhood. I love the energy, excitement and openness.”

Lisa Rainey, oil painting and painting, first-year exhibitor

“I started preparing last year before I submitted my artwork for review. I knew that I wanted to be in the show this year building a body of work the past few years since I moved back here from Chicago in 2015,” Rainey said. “There is a lot that goes into it. I always want to grow and I want my work to be authentic to who I am every moment I create.” 

Currently she has about 35 pieces and will be working in her booth all summer in oils and mixed media to create new work. 

“I choose the pieces that speak to me and make me feel something when I look at them,” Rainey said. “I constantly bring work home from my studio so that I can live with them for a while to see how they speak to me.”

She added, “Meditating on my subjects, I’ve learned more and more about color and finding techniques that were new and different.”

Sawdust Sizzles Rainey

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Photo courtesy of the artist

Lisa Rainey can’t wait to share her work as a new exhibitor at the Sawdust

Her large paintings, created within this last year, sparked something new in her. Rainey calls them dream-scapes.

“I mainly have worked in a style that I call impressionistic realism. I work from life so that I can really see the nuances of color and light in flowers and nature,” Rainey said. “I also have recently gone back to working in watercolors, I don’t want people to only see a pretty still life, I paint to tell a story.”

For her booth, Rainey wanted to have a light roof so the sun would shine through. 

“I wanted this space to be light and bright, a nice backdrop for the color in my work and choosing colors to help the work to stand out,” Rainey said.

“Opening night, I was nervous knowing how many people come to preview night, but once it got going I was feeling comfortable and having a great time,” Rainey said. “My friends came to support me, see my booth and my artwork. It was truly a celebration.”

Doug Miller, painting and photography, 48-year exhibitor

“This is my 48th summer at Sawdust – I got out of the Navy in 1971 and got a booth – I bought my booth space from a girl who was moving to San Francisco for $70, which was what she paid,” Miller said. “That was in the early Sawdust days before rules were adopted that would not allow such a transaction to take place.”

He’s been at the same location for 21 years, perfect to be near the music since Miller plays violin and with various musicians during the show. 

“I paint every day – I have painted every day without missing a day for 24 years. I number my paintings and record them in a book,” Miller said. 

His self-imposed rule is to at least begin a painting every day. 

A friend suggested that he record his pieces in a daily journal, that was the impetus he wanted to see how many days he could go in a row…24 years.

Sawdust Sizzles Miller

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Doug Miller is a staple at the Sawdust always wanting to make others smile

“I’m up past 17,500 paintings. There are days I have painted more than one. in fact, I painted an average of two pieces per day most of the time,” Miller said.

He paints about 400 to 1,000 acrylic paintings per year, mostly the small canvasses up to 6 x 8 inches. “I sell an average of about 500 pieces per year. My best year was 2008 when I sold 651 pieces, mostly beaches,” Miller explained.

Larger pieces go on the walls. “I finished painting of Crystal Cove in one evening, two days before the Opening party. A big quick piece that is a real attention-getter,” Miller said. “Opening night party, I sold five pieces and saw so many Laguna friends – several will come back and purchase during the show. They always do.”

Here’s the skinny on locals’ nights – interestingly, 15 places not Laguna Beach, such as Dana Point, the other Lagunas, and the surrounding cities, get in free on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, from 5 to 10 p.m., whereas Laguna locals only get in free Mondays, Thursdays, also after 5 p.m., and the First Friday of the month all day.

To check out Sawdust central, including the live entertainment schedule, art classes and workshops, theme days, special events and more, visit Sawdust Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Road. For information, call 494-3030.

Until next time…so much Sawdust art, entertainment, socializing, and so little time!

Snow and Santa

Sawdust Winter Fantasy

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Snow and arriving

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Santa arrives at 10:30 a.m. to waiting crowd

Snow and snowfalling

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Yes, it does snow in Laguna

Snow and Skipper

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Naughty or nice, Skipper’s been nice!

Santa’s hours: Available for photo ops in Santa’s cottage 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 

2 to 5 p.m. all days of the show. Remaining days of Winter Fantasy: December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre opens classic tale of A Little Princess on May 5 at Laguna Playhouse

The award-winning Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre opens A Little Princess on Saturday, May 5 on the Moulton Stage at The Laguna Playhouse. Adapted by June Walker Rodgers, from the story Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess tells the story of young Sara Crewe, privileged daughter of a wealthy diamond merchant. 

All the other girls at Miss Minchin’s school treat Sara as if she truly were a princess. But when Captain Crewe’s fortune is sadly lost, Sara’s luck changes. Suddenly she is treated no better than a scullery maid. Her own fierce determination to maintain her dignity and remain a princess on the inside has intrigued and delighted readers for over a hundred years.

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Little Princess runs from Saturday, May 5, through Sunday, May 13

Actors include; Bridget Phillips as Sara Crewe, Claire Day as Miss Minchin, Cassidy Morgan as Becky, Erin Sawyer as Amelia, Grace Hahn as Ermengarde, Bethany Klause as Lavinia, Lyndsey Grace Stradwick as Jessie, Sienna Voisin as Lottie, Abigail Williams as Anne, Elisa Rodriguez as Marie and Mrs. Perrens, Ella Thimons as Janet, Charlie Grace Goubran as Nora, Carson Kubelun as Guy Lawrence, and Chloe Lawson, Fiona McCue, Sophia Pachl and Raquel Temesvary as School Girls. Terry Christopher will perform as Captain Crewe and Mr. Carrisford, Charles McClung as Mr. Barrows and Mr. Michaels, and Aaron McGee as Monsieur Thibault and Ram Dass. 

A Little Princess is directed by Kelly Herman with costumes by Kaitlyn Kaufman, set by Jim Prodger, lights by Glenn Powell, and sound by Mike Ritchey, and includes a cast of 20.

Performances will be: Saturday, May 5 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday, May 6 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Thursday, May 10 at 10 a.m.; Friday, May 11 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 12 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and Sunday, May 13 at 1 p.m.  

Tickets are $20 for Adults and $10 for youth and can be purchased by calling (949) 497-2787 x1, or going online to

Laguna Canyon Artist’s Spring Open Studios celebrates Cinco de Mayo on Saturday, May 5

On Saturday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Laguna Canyon artists (LCA) open their studios to the public. LCA suggests that the public celebrate the Cinco de Mayo edition of the Laguna Canyon Artist’s Spring Open Studios by visiting these talented artists’ workspaces and viewing their unique art.

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Dynamic Color Abstract by LCA Paul Gardner

The work of these artists, representing a diverse mix of styles and mediums including drawing and painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking and ceramics, will be on display.

Attendees can start the Cinco de Mayo holiday festivities by taking a drive to beautiful Laguna Canyon for this rare opportunity to visit these artists in their studios to see how the work is created. 

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Laguna Canyon Artist’s Studios open for Cinco de Mayo on Sat, May 5

Parking is free; refreshments will be served. Drivers should look for signs at the Laguna Canyon Artists complex.

The studios are located at 3251 & 3275 Laguna Canyon Rd.

No Square Theatre presents A Little Night Music

Love under the chandeliers! This is the delightful musical that gave us the popular and haunting “Send in the Clowns.” A Little Night Music is based on the book by Hugh Wheeler and features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. This production, opening on May 11, is directed by Joe Lauderdale, with music direction by Diane King Vann, choreography by Ellen Prince, and costume design by Brigitte Harper.

Performances will be May 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m., May 13 at 6:30 p.m., May 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m., and May 20 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 (VIP seating $35) and can be purchased at

A Little Night Music is the witty, delicate, sophisticated, and occasionally heartbreaking story of actress Desirée Armfeldt and the men who love her – a lawyer from her past and a Dragoon from her present. Both men, as well as their jealous wives, agree to join Desirée and her family for a weekend in the country at Desirée’s mother’s estate. With everyone in one place, infinite possibilities of new romances and second chances bring endless surprises under the magical chandeliers floating above.

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The cast in rehearsal for A Little Night Music

The talented, veteran cast includes (in order of appearance): Gary Greene, Alexandria Goforth, Rebecca Butkivich, Eric T. Anderson, Chloe Lovato, Olivia Tewksbury, Karen Rymar, McKay Mangum, Marisol Zamora, Rob Harryman, Ashley Montgomery, Alexis Acevedo, and Chelsea Vann. Audience members will be delighted to see many of their favorite actors from touring companies, area theater shows, and past No Square productions (including Annie, Chicago, Rocky Horror Show, and Lagunatics).

Award-winning director Joe Lauderdale has directed or produced more than 70 productions for both youth and adults.

No Square Theatre is generously sponsored by The Lodging Establishments & City of Laguna Beach, Patrick Quilter, Dorene & Lee Butler Family Foundation, Yvonne & John Browning, The City of Laguna Beach, Stella Charton in Memory of Lloyd Charton, Ann & Charlie Quilter in Honor of Joe Lauderdale, Carolyn & Tom Bent, Festival of Arts Foundation, Laguna Board of Realtors Charitable Assistance Fund, and Patrick Quilter/Quilter Labs.

No Square Theatre is in Historic Legion Hall, 384 Legion Street, two blocks south of the High School. The High School has ample free parking. Seating is extremely limited and the theatre has enjoyed a long run of sold-out events, so tickets must be purchased in advance.

Laguna Playhouse open during facelift

Laguna Playhouse construction

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Renovation continues on Laguna Playhouse with building updates

which include 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. The Playhouse remains open with Driving Miss Daisy, which runs from January 9 - 27, and Forever Motown from Jan 30 - Feb. 2. The groundbreaking took place on Nov 5, and the project will take six months, which puts the completion date in April.

ART4KIDS, INC. receives $2,000 Grant Award from Festival of Arts Foundation

The Festival of Arts Foundation has awarded $2,000 to ART4KIDS, INC. to provide art materials for Laguna Beach children in distress. Since 2001, ART4KIDS, INC. has donated supplies of art materials to various Laguna Beach nonprofits that aid children. 

This year’s grant funds will be used to provide art materials to Waymakers Teen Shelter, Even Start Boys & Girls Club preschool, Laguna Beach Community Clinic, Laguna Art Museum’s children’s program, and Laguna Food Pantry. 

Funded by private donations and grant awards, ART4KIDS, INC., serves social service agencies in Orange County. Since its inception, ART4KIDS, INC. has helped 50,000 children – ill, hospitalized, abused, orphaned, or homeless children facing major life challenges.

ART4KIDS INC painting

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Photo by Pam Schader

A two-year-old chemotherapy patient carefully creates her first painting, using materials supplied by ART4KIDS

The value of the program is supported by research showing visual art to be one of the most effective modalities for processing trauma. 

Founder Pam Schader, M.A., has directed the nonprofit for 18 years. She commented, “ART4KIDS serves children at more than 50 Orange County social service agencies each year. We are striving to meet the demand for donated art materials. The message of ART4KIDS is that art is a life skill available to all at difficult times. Therefore we hope to increase our capacity to include ‘to go’ artpacks for the teen clients at the Waymakers shelter to take with them when they leave. We currently supply one Laguna agency with 45 artpacks per year but they have expressed their need for 250 per week!”

ART4KIDS provides workshops for children at the Braille Institute, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, and special needs classrooms. 

ART4KIDS, Inc. welcomes donors and volunteers to assemble artpacks, work at art booths and workshops, make handmade cards, and identify children in distress.

Learn more at

Coastal Eddy, A Gallery, is five years young and ready to celebrate the milestone 

Coastal Eddy, A Gallery, celebrates five years in Laguna this month. Since May 2013, the gallery has showcased many exciting artists’ ceramic works. Laguna Beach has a rich history in ceramic art and needed a gallery to represent both the past and present in ceramic techniques. 

Starting with local artists, the gallery has grown to 32 artists, including artists from around the country and Canada. From functional ware to abstract sculpture, the ever- changing collection is meant to inspire. 

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Submitted photo

The vibrant storefront of Coastal Eddy

Over the last five years Coastal Eddy has hosted over 30 exhibitions, including several installations, with the idea that “art for art’s sake” is just as important as the sale. If you have creative, edgy art that is evocative, people will connect and find a place for art in their lives. 

Owner Robin Lee Riddell plans a Cinco de Mayo party to celebrate this anniversary and to thank the residents of Laguna Beach for their support. The party is Saturday, May 5 from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Visit the gallery for an evening of art, music, food & fun. 

Coastal Eddy, the only ceramic art gallery in Laguna Beach, is located at 1417 S. Coast Highway, in the HIP district of Laguna. 

For more information or to RSVP, contact (949) 715-4113 or visit

Laguna schools to reopen in November


The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education voted 4-1 to reopen the city’s middle and high schools on November 23.

Reopening with a modified format coincides with the end of the first trimester, established this year as a means to more safely transition from all-distance learning to a combination of in-person and online classes.

“A group of teachers, staff, and administrators worked for weeks on the trimester plan,” said School Board Member Jan Vickers. 

The plan reduces the chance of spreading the virus by keeping Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School students in cohorts – meaning they will have the same classmates, probably for the entire school year.

The idea is that if a cohort member contracts the virus, the cohort will be quarantined, but the whole school will not be required to shut down.

Laguna schools building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

City middle and high schools will reopen on November 23

Designated as the hybrid model, secondary school students will be in classrooms for two days per week – either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. All secondary students will remain at home for distance learning with their teachers on Friday.

District teachers recommended the November start date, Vickers said.

The teachers felt that the distance learning was going well – they had trained for it in the summer – and opined that being brought back onto the campus at the end of the trimester would be less disruptive for the students, Vickers said.    

Board Clerk Carol Normandin opposed the reopening because testing cannot be mandated for students before going to class. 

She said the district puts Laguna’s aging population at risk by sending the children back to school without testing. 

Elementary school students returned to classrooms earlier this month, cleared by a state waiver.

Plein Air artists paint their hearts out at the Great Paint Out hosted by LPAPA at Heisler Park


At any given time of day or evening, walkers never know what they will come across at Heisler Park; a bearded lizard or a bevy of monks in orange garments (and I didn’t have my phone to document it that time), or a wedding held on rose petal hearts spread across the grass.

Plein air guy with moustache

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Plein air artists enjoy the beautiful day as they paint their hearts out

On Saturday morning, I came across a long line of people with painting gear waiting to sign in for a plein air competition, and of course, I had to investigate. Artists had already set up their easels all along the walkway, so something was obviously in the air.

President of The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) Toni Kellenberg explained that it was the Grand Paint Out, and later provided additional information along with photos of the winning pieces.

Plein air on rock

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Submitted by LPAPA

LPAPA Artist Member Will Thompson perches on the rocks to create his painting

“LPAPA sent out an open call to all artists to come out and paint en plein air with LPAPA Members at Heisler Park from 9 a.m. to noon. The community was treated to exciting demonstrations of plein air painting by more than 70 artists of all levels. The artwork created by a number of LPAPA’s artists at the Grand Paint Out were entered into the Centennial Paint Out Exhibition being held at LPAPA in Residence located at Forest & Ocean Gallery, 480 Ocean Ave, and will be available for viewing and purchase through Sunday, Sept 2, 2018,” Toni explained.

Plein air popular area

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Photo by Scott Brashier

A popular area for painters

LPAPA Artist Member Erich Neubert received the 1st Place Award, LPAPA Signature Artist Member Durre Waseem received 2nd Place, and LPAPA Artist Member Steven Grieco received the 3rd Place Award. 

Kellenberg continued, “Additionally, LPAPA was delighted to be one of Laguna Art Museum’s community partners in commemorating the Centennial Birthday celebrating the official day on which the original Laguna Beach Art Association was founded in 1918.”

Plein air Neubert

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Submitted by LPAPA

LPAPA Artist Member Erich Neubert wins First 1st Place Award for “High Tide”

On Saturday, the museum hosted a free day with art activities, docent-guided tours, community partner programs, and a birthday cake. At the celebration event, LPAPA invited visitors to become part of the legacy of plein air paintings by being photographed putting themselves into the actual paintings. Two of these photos are included in this edition of Stu News. 

Plein air Waseem

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Submitted by LPAPA

LPAPA Signature Artist Member Durre Waseem wins 2nd Place for “On the Bench”

For more information about LPAPA, or to become an artist or supporter member, visit

Fun for everyone

Sawdust Winter Fantasy

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Fun for marionettes

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Rene’s Marionettes will be back Dec 1 and 2

Fun for poinsettias

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Experience Sawdust’s magical 3-acre art village during the holiday season, transformed into a picture perfect winter wonderland in the heart of Laguna 

Fun for bakers dozen

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This Baker’s Dozen says, “Don’t forget to come back for Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec 8 at 8:30 a.m.”

For tickets, go to

LagunaTunes performs Christmas Letters

LagunaTunes performs Kollenda

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Photo by Scott Brashier

What exactly was Pat Kollenda reading at the LagunaTunes production on Sunday? A long Christmas Letter? Details in the story on our Front Page II

Joseph and his talented technicolor cast wows the audience during matinee performance at LBHS


Photos by Johanna Ellis

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is based on the story of Joseph from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. However, that’s where the similarity ends. Nowhere in the Book of Genesis does one encounter a Pharaoh/Elvis Presley impersonator, Joseph’s brother Reuben wearing a beret and dancing like a Beatnik, or the brothers wearing leis and rocking to Calypso music.

Joseph and emsemble

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Ensemble cast

Sunday’s performance at Laguna Beach High School (LBHS), while not “biblical” in terms of religious significance, was nevertheless “biblical” on the entertainment scale. Originally created by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, this production was masterfully brought to the stage by LBHS staff members Alexis Karol (Producer), Calena Marie DelPizzo-Howell (Hair and Makeup Design), and Peter Roche (Technical Director). Guest Director and Choreographer Paul Nygro, a professional theater veteran, is thrilled to be back at Artist’s Theatre, and Music Director Tim Nelson, a leading force in OC Theatre for 30 years, welcomes the opportunity to work with Alexis Karol. 

Joseph and prisoner

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Tanner Burton as Joseph and the narrators, (L-R) Claire Tigner, Rylee Bullington, and Zoe Waters 

Lexie LeFevre, a sophomore from Yorba Linda, who attended the performance said, “The play was great! The actors were spot-on when portraying the story, and amazing at bringing the right emotion to the audience!”

In a nutshell, the story unfolds – among his 12 sons, Joseph is most favored by his father who bestows on him a technicolor dream coat, his brothers are jealous, get rid of him (they think), but Joseph is taken to Egypt, becomes a slave, works his way up to running the household, but the Potiphar throws him in jail (mistakenly thinking he’s involved with his wife). 

Joseph and Elvis

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Nick Reardon as the Pharaoh

Soon after, his reputation for deciphering dreams brings him to be right-hand man for the Pharaoh. Meanwhile, Joseph’s family back home is struggling due to the famine, with his brothers regretting what they did to him, and they travel there to beg for supplies. In Egypt, the brothers request food, not realizing who he is. Joseph gives them sacks of food, but puts a golden cup in the one belonging to Benjamin, his youngest brother, whom he has never met. When the brothers attempt to depart, Joseph stops them, accusing them of theft. 

Joseph and calypso

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Noah Novick, (middle) leads brothers in "Benjamin Calypso"

Each brother empties his sack and when the cup is found in Benjamin’s sack, Joseph accuses him of stealing. The other brothers beg Joseph to take them prisoner instead and let Benjamin go free. Ultimately, Joseph sees that his brothers have changed and reveals who he really is. Joseph sends for his father, the pair is reunited, and he wears his coat of many colors again. Granted, that’s a lot of territory to cover.

Bringing this story to life is a company of versatile and talented performers, many of whom interchange parts seamlessly. The company includes more than 50 LBHS student cast and crew members and 12 students from El Morro Elementary, Top of the World Elementary, and Thurston Middle School in the children’s choir. 

Joseph and beatnik

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Luka Salib as Beatnik brother – Reuben

Presented entirely in song, the story’s three narrators guide the audience on the journey. Rylee Bullington, Claire Tigner, and Zoe Waters do an excellent job. All of the players wonderfully populate the Artist Theatre’s stage. Tanner Burton does a fine job of portraying Joseph as the vulnerable dreamer who has lost his way. His final song, “Any Dream Will Do,” is one of his best. 

There are a few numbers that can’t help but be standouts. Nick Reardon as the Pharaoh “wannabe” Elvis, does an admirable impersonation and fully inhabits his character with “Poor, Poor Pharaoh & Song of the King.” Isadora Duskin-Feinberg brings the Potiphar’s wife to life with her seductive dance number. 

Joseph and coat

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Joseph, cast and the amazing technicolor coat

As brother Reuben, Luka Salib gives it his all in the number “Those Canaan Days,” both singing and dancing like a true ‘60s Beatnik. Noah Novick was also memorable for his “Benjamin Calypso” performance. Drew Fink as the Potiphar was great as well.

The impressive cast worked together to bring this legendary story to the stage for a fun and engaging afternoon. Don’t miss the chance to see one of the remaining performances. (Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 24 at 2:30 p.m.)

For tickets, go to Tickets are $22 for Premium, $17 for adults, and $12 for students. 

LBHS is located at 625 Park Ave.

Local artists host fourth annual Art Show and Open Studio on June 1

Award-winning sculptor Ron Whitacre and author/artist Kathryn Lang-Slattery will be hosting their fourth annual Art Show, Open Studio, and champagne reception on Saturday, June 1, from 4 to 9 p.m. 

This exhibition will be held at their private residence on the intimate and historical Fredrick M. Lang estate in South Laguna. 

Local artists toast

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Submitted photo

Ron Whitacre and Kathryn Lang-Slattery will host the fourth annual Art Show and Open Studio in their beautiful home on June 1

In Laguna Beach, Ron Whitacre’s best known work is “Harmony,” a large steel sculpture of a man, woman, and child, installed in 1998 over the entrance to the Art-A-Fair. 

Ron Whitacre will be available to discuss his process and his inspirations. His welded steel sculptural works are unusual in their fluidity and movement. 

Classic legends, mythical creatures, and the human figure in motion such as dancers, acrobats, musicians, and contortionists inspire him. In addition, his humorous greeter figures are popular with art collectors. 

Pen and ink drawings and pastel paintings by Kathryn Lang-Slattery will also be on display. 

Sip champagne, nibble chocolate treats, and enjoy the art. RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive address.

Festival of Arts cancels 2020 shows; Council to review Sawdust plan for modified festival


For the first time since World War II, there will be no summertime Pageant of the Masters or Festival of Arts exhibit in Laguna Beach. 

Festival officials announced the cancellations on Monday, blaming COVID-19. 

Based on state, federal, and local guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, mass gatherings this summer, such as the crowds attracted to the Festival of Arts each year, are not plausible, according to the announcement. 

“We were hopeful and tried our best to open our doors this summer, but sadly our shows have become another victim of COVID-19,” said David Perry, Festival of Arts Board President. “The decision to cancel our shows was not taken lightly. But given these unprecedented times, we believe it is the right thing to do.” 

The statement continued: “The Pageant of the Masters’ highly anticipated performance of Made in America has been postponed to the summer of 2021, with dates and details still to be announced. Artists juried into the 2020 Festival of Arts Fine Art Show will be guaranteed a spot in the 2021 exhibit. The Festival of Arts team is exploring the possibility of a virtual art exhibit that could be available later this summer, as well as other art initiatives. Details will be announced on the Festival’s website ( and on social media when available.”

Festival of Arts

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Courtesy of Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters

The Festival of the Arts and Pageant of the Masters have been canceled for the first time since World War II

Pageant ticket holders for 2020 will be contacted by email regarding ticket cancellation options. Anyone who donates their tickets back to the organization may not only be eligible for a tax benefit but will also be automatically entered into a drawing for a walk-on role in the 2021 Pageant. 

The drawing is scheduled for September 4, 2020; 10 winners will be selected. More information can be found at 

To support the Festival of Arts, for more information, and to stay up-to-date, visit

The Sawdust Festival is proposing sweeping modifications to its annual show to allow it to open. The proposals will be reviewed by the City Council at tonight’s meeting. 

“Nine board members, three committees, and our staff worked for two weeks on the proposals in an effort to safely open this summer,” said Sawdust President Monica Prado on Monday. “We are very fortunate that the grounds allow us to be nimble in how we configure the layout of the show.” 

In a letter to Sawdust artists, Prado wrote, “The Governor has established stages for reopening. These modifications are designed to position the Sawdust for approval to open by strategically reducing crowd size and addressing social distancing by widening aisleways and creating more open space.”

The plan stipulates that should restrictions relax in the coming months, modifications will be relaxed.

Festival of Michael

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Michael Minutoli at the 2019 Sawdust Festival

Tentative dates in order of preference: 

--July 18 - August 30 with an option to extend to September 5 

--July 23 - September 5 

--August 1 - September 5

Proposed modifications: 

--50 percent reduction to maximum crowd capacity 

--33 percent reduction in daily operational hours 

--33 percent reduction of concessions 

--33 percent reduction in live stage areas (no public access for audience seating or dancing) 

--25-30 percent reduction in overall exhibitor space (fewer booths, no mini- booths) 

--No interactive art classes (demonstrations only, with social distancing)

 Additional Safeguards:

--Plexiglass barriers at ticket stations, and sales and information booths 

--At this time, the use of plexiglass in individual artists’ booths and the wearing of face coverings is at the artists’ discretion

--Hand sanitizing stations throughout 

--Continual sanitizing of restrooms 

--Creative social distancing signage 

--Adhering to separate entries and exits

Also of note: 

--While there will be no mini-booths, there will be “gallery” locations on the grounds where artists’ creations can be displayed for sale through the sales booth. 

--City staff is not recommending the city oblige the festival’s request for limited trolley service as officials are considering the suspension of the summer service.

In her letter to the artists, Prado said the board understood how severe the proposed changes are and difficult to embrace.   

“In our hearts, we know that the Sawdust is both loved by its artists and beloved by the community,” she wrote. “Therefore, we are pressing into the challenging work of finding a path forward, knowing that many artists rely on income generated directly or indirectly by this show and that what we offer, even in this scaled-back form, is of great value to our community.”

The 2020 Laguna Plein Air Painting Invitational is scheduled for October 3-10. 

“We haven’t been told we can’t do it,” said Executive Director Rosemary Swimm. “We have to get the Governor’s permission and city permission. But we are proceeding as if it will happen.

“The word of the year is ‘reimagining.’ We are right up there, and it’s not just for the Invitational. We have moved the show planned for this month to July, which will go forward either as a physical show or virtual.

“We are Zooming ‘webinars’ – talk, classes, and interviews to keep our artists out there and energized.” 

Art-A-Fair has not yet presented a plan to the city but is expected to follow the lead of the Sawdust Festival.

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.

Opening night of Driving Miss Daisy at the Playhouse driven by a splendid cast and powerful storytelling


Photos by Ed Krieger

The brilliance is in the details, and the opening performance of Driving Miss Daisy at Laguna Playhouse on Sunday certainly proves that adage to be true. Fine-tuned by an incredible cast of Michael Learned (Daisy Werthan), Lance E. Nichols (Hoke Colburn), and David Nevell (Boolie Werthan), each actor superbly grounds and propels the story over a span of 25 years. 

Together, they form a trifecta of remarkable talent.

Michael Learned won a record four Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in The Waltons (1973, 1974, 1976) and Nurse (1982).

Lance E. Nichols is a veteran character actor, best remembered for his starring role as dentist Larry Williams in HBO’s critically acclaimed Treme.

David Nevell returns to Laguna Playhouse, having previously appeared in Twelve Angry Men and The Odd Couple

Opening night three

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(L-R) Michael Learned, Lance E. Nichols, and David Nevell star in the Playhouse production of “Driving Miss Daisy” by Alfred Uhry, directed by Michael Bloom

To most, this is not an unfamiliar story. Playwright Alfred Uhry’s groundbreaking Pulitzer-prize winning story chronicles the decades-long relationship between a strong-willed, well-to-do Jewish woman and her black chauffer in the Jim Crow South. Set against the backdrop of changing world events between the late 1940s and the early 1970s, what begins as a hostile pairing blossoms into a life-altering friendship that transcends all the societal boundaries between them.

Driving Miss Daisy has absorbed audiences since its off-Broadway opening in 1987, productions meandering their way from three national tours, to an Oscar-nominated film, to London’s West End, and a Broadway opening – finally – in 2010. 

Clearly, covering a wide range of subjects like aging, race, class, and religion, particularly in an iconic play and Academy Award-winning movie, is tricky, but this production handles it with delicacy and heart.

Opening night Daisy

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Michael Learned as Daisy Werthan

As directed by Michael Bloom, who is the former artistic director of Cleveland Playhouse, it is masterfully orchestrated in all respects. 

Learned has perfected the look, voice, accent, and prickly personality of Daisy as well as the hard shell that barely hides her vulnerability. Measuring every scene with subtle yet profound nuances, Daisy’s brittle nature is reflected in the stiffness of Learned’s movements, and the quavering of her mouth and chin in the last scenes, underscoring that she’s no longer in control of even her own body. I challenge anyone over the age of 60 not to tear up during the scene in which Daisy thinks she’s still a teacher and can’t find her papers. That interaction with Hoke is worth the price of admission. 

Nichols approaches Hoke’s character with confidence and calm resolve, and the humorous jockeying with Miss Daisy is a delight to witness, although one of the best scenes is when they have a disagreement over his need to stop the car to go to the bathroom. He is a strong entity on stage and a formidable counter to Learned.

Opening night in car

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Michael Learned and Lance E. Nichols star in “Driving Miss Daisy,” now playing at the Laguna Playhouse through Jan 27

In one moving scene, Miss Daisy finds out from Hoke that her temple has been bombed, and although she doesn’t want to believe it, when Hoke relates the story of his friend’s father being hanged, there’s a moment of quiet revelation that these two characters are more alike than different. 

Nevell’s “Boolie” is less stereotypical than the son in the movie version, and however disturbed the audience might be about his beliefs, we do care about him. Nevell has great command of his character and he’s a pleasure to watch. One of his best scenes is when he’s trying to talk his mother out of going to the Martin Luther King dinner.

Adding to the overall atmosphere is the minimal setting, which never changes. It serves to emphasize the aging of the cast as time passes. And the benches (standing in for the automobile) make audience members feel as if they’re riding in the car with Miss Daisy and Hoke.

Opening night Boolie

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Michael Learned as Daisy Werthan and David Nevell as Boolie Werthan

Each aspect of the production adds to its authenticity. The entire design team should be commended: Scenic Design by James Fouchard; Lighting Design by Martha Carter; Original Sound Design by Aerick Harbert; Sound Design by Kate Weeker; Original Costume and Wig Design by Jackie Rebok; and Production State Manager Karen Schleifer.

Even though Uhry’s play was first performed in 1987, neither the story or the production is dated in any way. (He has the distinguishing honor of being the only American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar, and a Tony.) The moment Learned, Nichols, and Nevell take the stage, they fill the theater with their presence and take us back to marvel again at the timeless impact of Driving Miss Daisy

Laguna Playhouse Executive Director Ellen Richard says, “We are thrilled to ring in 2019 with this powerful and still vitally important play.”

As evidenced by the long-standing ovation on Sunday, it’s a “not to be missed” event.

Driving Miss Daisy will run through Sunday, Jan 27 with performances on Wednesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m. There will be added performances today, Jan 15, at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan 20, at 5:30p.m., and Thurs, Jan 24, at 2 p.m.

Tickets range from $55 - $85 and can be purchased online at or by calling (949) 497-2787.

For complete biographies of the actors and director, go to the Playhouse website listed above.

The Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Sawdust opening delayed, some artists cry foul


Sawdust Festival artists expected to be open for business on Friday. They learned last week that the city had delayed the opening of the pared-down arrangement proposed by festival officials.

City officials are scheduled to review the situation on Wednesday, based on state guidelines and Governor Newsom’s orders related to COVID-19, said Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis on Monday. 

Festival officials learned of the delay in an email on July 9 from Dupuis: 

“In light of recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Orange Country and the Governor’s recent order to close certain sectors, we would like to inform you that we can no longer authorize you to proceed with your planned events to start on July 17.

“We will be evaluating your plan based on the state guidelines on July 27 and will let you know that day if you can proceed with opening on July 31.

“We are very concerned about the number of guests at each location and recommend that you consider reducing the number of guests previously approved in your plan by half.

“I truly appreciate your understanding as we work through these difficult and ever changing times.”

The email was followed by a telephone conversation between Dupuis and Sawdust President Monica Prado in which Prado was informed that the first two weekends the festival lost from its normal beginning on the 4th of July weekend will not be permitted to be tacked onto the normal end of the show in September. 

Sawdust opening outdoor sign

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust “Outdoor Marketplace” opening postponed

However, Prado was also told that the city is very open to working with the festival on a Fall Marketplace based on the model devised for the 2020 summer show that limited the number of participating artists and the number of people allowed at one time on the grounds. 

“While the delay is unfortunate on many levels, our artists have for the most part received the news with grace, understanding that we have a duty to care for each other, our staff, and our patrons,” said Prado.

However, some artists are claiming the city isn’t playing fair by letting the Promenade on Forest stay open while keeping the festival closed.

“It’s not fair if one is open to all and not the other,” said longtime Sawdust artist Robert Holton.

Artist Karen Petty asked the City Council for an explanation of its policy. 

“Our show was cut down almost 75 percent and was scheduled to open July 17,” Petty wrote. “It is now postponed while the Promenade has become a popular gathering place, utilizing all festival gaieties including our ‘stilt people’,” wrote Petty. 

“For the record I am in total support of the Promenade and have been for many years. My hat is off to you all who pushed this project through. On the level of the business of City Council, the artists are looking for help to guide us and/or appeal to the County/State for advocating equal exhibition space.”

Laguna Art Museum’s reimagined Gala 2020 Virtual Benefit Bash raises $331,000


On Saturday evening, September 26, Laguna Art Museum’s Gala 2020 Virtual Benefit Bash raised $331,000 – with $300,862 provided by sponsors, benefactors, and patrons of the benefit; as well as $30,940 given during the public online Bash. 

This highlight of Orange County’s gala calendar each fall supports LAM’s exhibitions and far-reaching art education programs. For 2020, the gala was re-imagined as a virtual event to embrace the possibilities of an online art experience and to welcome audiences from around the world.

LAM Executive Director Malcolm Warner and Laguna Beach Arts Alliance’s 2019 Artist of the Year Jason Feddy served as emcees for the benefit portion of the evening – a special program for sponsors, benefactors, and patrons of the event. 

Then after the Bash, Feddy and Mad Dogs and the Englishmen raised the virtual roof with over an hour of the rocking sounds provided by this Joe Cocker tribute band. 

The Gala 2020 committee was led by co-chairs Carla Meberg and Kristin Samuelian; and included members Kathleen Abel, Wendy Aird, Nikki Bostwick, Susan Davis, Jason Feddy, Michelle Fisher, Chuck Fry, Kate Mathis, Chris Quilter, and Deborah Schlesinger. 

Laguna Art Warner and Feddy

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Courtesy of LAM

Malcolm Warner (on left) and Jason Feddy

Entertainment for the virtual “cocktail hour” at 5:30 p.m. was provided by The David Witham Group with classics such as the “Shadow of Your Smile” as scenes of Laguna, nature, and works of art from the museum served as a backdrop. It proved to be a mellow prelude to the main event.

During the next segment, Warner presented Greg and Barbara MacGillivray, Honorary Chairs for Gala 2020, with the museum’s Anna Hills Award (a bronze plaque created by Raymond Persinger) after a tribute to their accomplishments and philanthropy. 

MacGillivray has been producing and directing award-winning films for more than 40 years. Today, he has more than 50 films to his credit, including over 35 IMAX productions. He has shot more 70mm film than anyone in cinema history and is the first documentary filmmaker to reach the $1 billion benchmark in worldwide ticket sales. 

A passionate ocean conservationist, Greg and his wife Barbara founded the One World One Ocean Foundation, a nonprofit public charity dedicated to educating and inspiring the public through giant-screen films and companion programming about the need to take action to protect the world’s ocean. 

Laguna Art MacGillivrays

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Courtesy of LAM

Greg and Barbara MacGillivray 

Barbara has worked for 30 years in Children, Youth Services for the Orange County Health Care Agency as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She has also worked multiple capacities with production and post-production of the films, doing what she loves: making films with messages about conservation and education.

Before accepting the award, MacGillivray said, “Laguna means a lot to Barbara and I. It goes all the way back to when we were deciding where to locate our film company. Laguna Beach, because of its art colony reputation, was our first choice. We love that aspect. We’ve been here for the last 60 odd years. It’s the institutions and art festivals, the beauty of the downtown area, and the wonders of nature – the green belt and blue belt – all moving together in an artistic way to make our city one of the most artful in the world.” 

Barbara recalled when she first met Malcolm eight years ago, “You were talking about the interaction between art and nature and the installations. It was so exciting. We filmed that first one to get it some notoriety, and now it’s going into the eighth year.”

Masters of Ceremonies

Warner and Feddy offered entertaining performances as the Masters of Ceremonies – at one point Warner appeared in a red knee-length lounging robe and Feddy in a Hawaiian shirt and pajama bottoms, and both were barefoot. 

There was also a preview of the museum’s commissioned outdoor aerial installation for Art & Nature 2020, and cameo appearances by artists Lita Albuquerque, Billy Al Bengston, Laddie John Dill, G. Ray Kerciu, Kristin Leachman, Dan McCleary, Matthew Rolston, Adam Silverman, Phillip K. Smith III, Wayne Thiebaud, and Elizabeth Turk. 

Warner (on the ukulele) and Feddy (on the banjo) sang a spirited Happy Birthday to Wayne Thiebaud, who will celebrate his 100th birthday on November 15.

Laguna Art red robe

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Courtesy of LAM

Quarantine attire? 

Following the Benefit – from 7 - 10 p.m. – the free online Bash community event offered exclusive experiences behind the scenes of the museum with leadership, staff, artists, and volunteers from the museum community. Feddy and Mad Dogs and the Englishman, gave an outstanding one-hour performance just for virtual guests; Warner led viewers inside the museum’s vault to reveal recent acquisitions; caricature artist Nolan Harris drew the founders of the historical Laguna Beach Art Association; artist Raymond Persinger showed the bronze casting process for the Anna Hills Award that was presented to Greg and Barbara MacGillivray; and video messages were given by the immediate past board chair, Advisory Circle members, and docents.

In the online Paddle Raise Room, audiences learned about the history of Laguna Art Museum’s Art & Nature, now in its eighth year; and saw a preview of the outdoor aerial installation for Art & Nature 2020, on view from November 5 to 15.

Art and Nature 2020

LAM commissioned Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics for an outdoor installation titled Sunset Trace that will be suspended from the palm trees near the museum. Shearn said it was inspired by the movements of starlings and schools of fish when they all turn together to change direction in unison, a form of communication that is mystical. It gives a sense of something happening outside our own bubble.” 

Cultural Arts Manager for the City of Laguna Beach Siân Poeschl thanked museum patrons for their support and expressed her excitement about Stearn’s upcoming temporary Arts & Nature installation in Heisler Park. 

Laguna Art mad dogs

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Courtesy of LAM

Jason Feddy and Mad Dogs and the Englishmen

For donations during the event, supporters were entered into one of two opportunity prize drawings. The fabulous prizes were Toy Counter (1970) by Wayne Thiebaud, a signed artist’s proof of a classic 8-color serigraph kindly donated by the artist himself; and a weekend getaway prize package that includes a complimentary vehicle from Aston Martin Newport Beach and a two-night stay with dinner for two at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. The lucky prize winner will be drawn at random during the week of September 28.

Mike Johnson, of Compass Laguna Beach, is the winner of the Wayne Thiebaud Toy Counter print!

Director of Advancement Bernadette Clemens shared, “We are pleased and grateful for this year’s results in such unprecedented, challenging circumstances. Laguna Art Museum supporters came through for this virtual gala – and actually exceeded the number of pre-event donors from last year’s live gala. Even more importantly, we exceeded our budgeted net income from the event, thanks to returning and new museum donors.”

The museum is proud to continue the tradition of the Laguna Beach Art Association, founded in 1918 by the early California artists who fostered a vibrant arts community. The gallery that the association built in 1929 is part of today’s Laguna Art Museum. 

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr, on the corner of Coast Highway and Cliff Drive. 

For more information, go to

Laguna Playhouse Gala will feature Davis Gaines, Phantom of the Opera star, on May 12 

The spotlight will shine bright at the Laguna Playhouse’s annual gala on May 12, with special performances by “Phantom of the Opera” star Davis Gaines, a tribute to the Moulton Theatre’s 50th anniversary, and a host of highlights celebrated throughout the much-anticipated, elegant affair.

The nearly sold out 2018 Laguna Playhouse Gala will once again be held at Fashion Island Hotel, Newport Beach, featuring an elegant cocktail reception, fine dining, and live and silent auctions with exotic trips and Lugano Diamonds jewelry.

An intimate VIP experience with Davis Gaines, Los Angeles’ longest running Phantom star, special performances by the talented Playhouse Youth Theatre Conservatory kids and a performance by Davis are some of the evening’s highlights, followed by dancing to the sounds of a nine-piece band.

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Submitted Photo

Special performances that night will include Davis Gaines 

“Honoring the Moulton family on the 50th Anniversary of the Moulton Theatre is such a wonderful time to share the story of Lewis and Nellie Gail Moulton. Nellie Gail Moulton generously contributed to building the Laguna Moulton Playhouse in 1967,” said Event Co-chair and Season Producer Lisa Hale. “The Playhouse opened with its first performances in 1968 and the same structure continues today as The Laguna Playhouse and Moulton Theatre.”

“Nellie Gail loved Laguna and she loved The Playhouse. Our family helping to protect its history and secure its future is the right thing to do,” said great grandson and Playhouse Board Member, Jared Mathis. “This wonderful season at the Playhouse is the result off a huge increase in underwriting. Executive Director Ellen Richard and Artistic Director Anne Wareham said if we can get $250,000 in underwriting we can produce this season,” explained Hale. “I believed in them and the season, so I wrote the check.”

Popular actor Richard Burgi lauds the Moulton family and the Playhouse. He recently performed in back-to-back Laguna Playhouse hits, “The Graduate,” with Golden Globe winner Melanie Griffith, and “12 Angry Men.”

“Any family that puts their heart and resources into the arts I have a lot of admiration and gratitude for,” Burgi said. “I think there’s not enough of that in the world.”

Burgi added, “The resources at the theater, it’s just incredible. They put on incredible shows. I just encourage people to go out and support their local arts.” 

The Gala is the Laguna Playhouse’s biggest fundraising event of the year. “Last year’s Gala, under co-chairs Glenn Gray and Kathryn Burton Gray, grossed more than $600,000. It is a very large part of our annual fundraising number,” said Hale.

For more information on this upcoming event, contact Doug Vogel at (949) 204-5341.

Laguna Craft Guild will hold Art Show this Sunday from 9 a.m. – sundown at Main Beach

This Sunday, January 20 from 9 a.m. – sundown, the Laguna Craft Guild will hold an Art Show at Main Beach featuring local artists. There are always many treasures to be found at the show, you really never know what you’ll find. 

Laguna Craft table

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Submitted photo

Stop by the Main Beach cobblestones on Sunday for local handmade goods

Laguna Craft Guild is a small group of local Laguna Beach artists that sell their handmade goods on the cobblestones at Main Beach one to two times a month. Many of them are also Sawdust Festival artists.

The show is very special and a fun way to spend a Sunday strolling along the boardwalk with friends, family, and pets while gazing at the ocean. The Art Show is kind of like looking for that perfect seashell along the shoreline. 

For more information, visit or follow on Instagram at @lagunacraftguild.

LagunaTots is a hilarious show on what the next generation faces…with a serious edge


It was my first show at No Square Theatre on Saturday, and from the moment I got there, I felt the excitement all around. Once we entered the theatre, smiling faces greeted us from every corner.

The show kicked off with an exciting entrance and performance, “Main Event,” led by Jonah Goldstein. Once the kids came out with the level of talent and passion that they did, I knew it was going to be a show our whole family would remember. 

LagunaTots Tower

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Lula Buckle shines in “YouTube Star” 

Kids today have serious things to worry about: dress codes, vaccinations, phones, lice, social media…this original musical parody portrays these things they are facing with hilarious results. 

The highlight of the show for me was “Fortnite,” led by Chase Benson and Mason Bruderer, an amusing dance and song written to “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart, replaced with lyrics on the youth’s obsession with Fortnite.

LagunaTots Fortnite

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 “Fortnite” was a crowd favorite

“Adopt this Feline,” a skit on Laguna’s cat café Catmosphere, had me in tears from laughter. We had actually just been to the café that morning so it made it all the more relatable.

“Better Man,” a take on the Me Too Movement, set to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” highlighted the show’s second act.

No Square’s Youth Theatre Director Ella Wyatt wrote and directed the show (what a talent!), with additional lyrics by Rufino Cabang and some of the kids in the cast. Music direction for the show is by Susan Thoren. The show is choreographed by Ella with Rylee Bullington, a LagunaTots alumnus and senior at Laguna Beach High School. Rylee is featured in the high school’s current production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

LagunaTots Better Man

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“Better Man” highlighted the second act

The talented cast of LagunaTots includes Katie Baker, Chase Benson, Tatum Brennan, Will Briggs, Mason Bruderer, Lula Buckle, Story Bullington, Quinn Butler, Elisa Camacho, Nicolas Camacho, Harlo Cozzens, Sarina Doshi-O’Neil, Chloe Flaherty, Anna Gabriel, Laird Garcia, Grace Gilchrist, Jonah Goldstein, Lila Goldstein, Kate Hennessy, Hadley Hunt, Piper Hunt, Hannah Kaiser, Lauren Kimball, Lydia Kimball, Marco Lapayese-Calderon, Jude Lifeset, Sienna Mason, Maris Morgan, Douglas Nottage, Chloe O’Kane, Karina Pitz, Nathan Ryan, Kate Storke, Allie Swellen, Lila Tacklind, and Leah Turner.

Shows will continue on Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at 2 p.m., and Sunday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Go check it out and prepare to do some serious laughing. 

Tickets are $12 for kids (ages 12 and under) and $25 for adults. All seats are reserved, and this show always sells out. So plan ahead and get your tickets now at

No Square Theatre is located in Historic Legion Hall, 384 Legion St. It is a small venue and all seats are good.

Sawdust Festival sets up for summer

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust Festival poppies

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Cliff Wassmann’s finished mural for the 2019 Summer Sawdust – 

California poppies with painted lady butterflies, bees and dragonflies 

Sawdust Festival outside

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Opening Day is June 28 and soon there’ll be lines outside

Sawdust Festival sycamores

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Three new sycamore trees were planted along the main aisle of the Sawdust Art Festival, part of the ongoing plan to reestablish a natural shade canopy and restore the original grove with native trees

Sawdust Festival booths

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Sawdust exhibitor’s Andrew Soliz, Carrie Rae Woodburn, Nevada Silva (with his son), and Beau Donnan stand in their booth spaces for the summer 2019 show.

Booth Picking Day was May 7th – each person picks his/her space according to years spent exhibiting in the show. Now they have a little over a month to get the main structures built before inspections and then finishing details and art hung for Opening Day!

Laguna Beach Live! Blues is a Woman hits it out of the park with sensational show at [seven-degrees]

Story and photos by DIANNE RUSSELL

Blues is a Woman, described as “a mix of performance and history, with a cracker-jack all-woman band” blew it out of the water in a sensational musical show on Wednesday evening at [seven-degrees] in the Canyon. 

“Blues are the rhythm of life,” said one of the band members. And true to that statement, there was a lot of rhythm and blues going on for two jampacked hours. 

The show channeled storytelling and music to bring to life the contributions of generations of women to the blues, an art form too often associated with a man and a guitar. The musicians covered singers from Ma Rainey to Bonnie Raitt so authentically that the crowd might as well have been dancing in Congo Square in New Orleans.

Lustily-sung lines like “Don’t you feel it in your blood – don’t you feel it in your hips” reflected the energy in the packed room, a mix of men and women equally mesmerized. The musicians themselves vibrated with electricity, red hair bouncing, dreadlocks shaking, ponytails swinging to the beat.

Laguna Beach band

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(L-R) Pamela Rose, Ruth Davies, Pat Wilder, Kristen Strom, and Daria “Shani” Johnson

Each band member in her own right was a standout and together, they melded into a powerful combination that epitomized the “blues.”

Vocalist/author Pamela Rose has performed for decades both in and out of the country and has six recordings; Tammy Hall, music director/pianist/vocals has acted as music director and accompanied many acclaimed performers; Pat Wilder on guitar and vocals, has spent the past 30 years as guitarist in the Bay Area; Ruth Davies has lent her upright bass stylings to many internationally touring artists; Kristen Strom on saxophone and vocals has performed with many well-known artists; and Daria “Shani” Johnson on drums and vocals is one of the most sought after drummers in the Bay Area.

“Why wasn’t this on the stage at the Playhouse?” an attendee was overheard to say. True that the show deserved an even larger audience, but the intimacy of the venue and the packed crowd suited the show better.

Laguna Beach room

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Packed room for Blues is a Woman

“I’m loving it,” trustee Cindy Prewitt said. “Sold-out shows like this one hopefully get the message across that Laguna Beach Live! isn’t just about jazz – we bring Laguna a wide variety of high-quality musical performances, from a cappella to chamber music at the Art Museum to bluegrass at LCAD. And stay tuned for a truly international concert next year. We’re still working on the venue.”

The crowd left with favorite lyrics buzzing in their ears, from “If I only had my way, the graveyard is where my man would lay” to “If you don’t like my ocean, don’t fish in my sea.”

An awesome evening!

For more information on Laguna Beach Live!, go to

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


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.

Sawdust Festival debuts Outdoor Marketplace

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

The Sawdust Art Festival has a 54-year legacy and is recognized across the nation for its unique offerings. This year, due to the pandemic, it has transformed into an Outdoor Marketplace, which opened on Saturday, Sept 19, and will continue on weekends only, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Outdoor Marketplace offers a safe and intimate environment within Sawdust’s historical three-acre eucalyptus grove where patrons can shop, and enjoy outdoor dining and live music.

Nearly 100 local artists will rotate through 48 spaces every weekend over the course of the event, providing a rare opportunity for patrons to shop art directly from some of their favorite artists.

Sawdust Festival building

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Sawdust Festival’s Outdoor Marketplace is open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Sawdust Art Festival has taken precautions to provide a safe experience for guests with an extensive implementation of safeguards and preventative standards. 

The following measures are in place during operating hours: Masks are required for all staff, artists, and guests. Visual cues will be present throughout the grounds to ensure social distancing is taking place. Continuous sanitization of restrooms, dining areas, and high touch areas will be implemented. Maximum capacity will be limited to 250 guests at one time.

Sawdust Festival pumpkins

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Paintbrush sign post

Visitors will enjoy art demonstrations in various media, including glassblowing. Live music will also be featured on two entertainment stages. 

(Festival classes and ceramics will not be offered during the Outdoor Marketplace.)

The entertainment schedule for next weekend is as follows: Saturday, Sept 26, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Selly at the Grill; Saturday, Sept 26, 12:30 p.m. to 4:50 p.m., Kelly Fitzgerald at the Deck; Sunday, Sept 27, 12:30 p.m. to 4:50 p.m., Kalama Brothers at the Deck.

Sawdust Festival ceramics

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Michael Brennan’s ceramics

Outdoor dining includes four delicious and satisfying concession options: GG’s Mediterranean Grill, Evan’s Gourmet, Tacos Durell, and the Sawdust Saloon. 

Visit the Sawdust Festival’s FAQ page for important information on tickets. Admission is $10 for adults and free for kids 12 and under (if bringing a child, select a ticket for kids 12 and under). Tickets are required for entry.

Sawdust Festival’s Outdoor Marketplace is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

The information line is (949) 494-3030.

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, see to slideshow below

Lunar Tides, a new Art in Public Places installation by local artists, graces Heisler Park


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Funded by donations from John W. Wolf and the City of Laguna Beach, Heisler Park now has another beautiful creation by local artists Scott and Naomi Schoenherr. Lunar Tides occupies the stage floor at the amphitheater.

Other public city-funded Art in Public Places installations at Heisler Park by the Schoenherrs include: Little Treasures, Time Connected, Continuous Rotation, Tidal Pull, and The Divers.

Their projects range from public art, private commissions, to one-of-a-kind artworks.

Explaining their inspiration for Lunar Tides, Naomi says, “We’ve always been interested in nature’s cycles as a theme for our artwork. It’s about how we observe the cycles of nature and our relationship to them.”

They chose the name Lunar Tides because, “The moon affects the tide, and the ocean creatures are affected too. It’s all a part of nature’s cycle,” she says.

Lunar Tides trees

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“Lunar Tides” was funded by donations from John W. Wolf and the City of Laguna Beach

The Schoenherrs have exhibited at both the Sawdust Festival and the Festival of the Arts. FOA visitors may remember their Commuter exhibit, a series of hand-sculpted ceramic artworks with a wonderfully playful outlook on people’s characters and their cars. 

The Commuter series was born after observing the lives in Southern California where the automobile was a necessity and also an extension of people’s personalities. 

Scott and Naomi are both graduates of Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design (now Otis College of Art and Design) in Los Angeles. They have been working together for the past 30 years and have created a strong team with a multi-influenced sense of design, combining each other’s ideas and aesthetics.

Naomi, 54, was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, and also studied in Amsterdam while still in high school. To broaden her cultural experience further, she came to the U.S. in 1985 to study architecture but switched to fine art and ceramics. “The switch came easily since I’ve always been interested in fine art,” said Naomi, who graduated from Otis in 1989.

Lunar Tides whale

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“Lunar Tides” and “Breaching Whale” by Jon Seeman

Scott, 59, was born in Anaheim and grew up in Corona before moving to Laguna Beach in the 70s. Art became his passion at an early age. He traveled extensively and developed an interest toward other cultures and their arts while reflecting on his own. He graduated from Otis in 1990 and has exhibited his ceramics throughout the United States. 

They have a multimedia art studio, with projects ranging from site-specific public art installations to sculpture and custom artworks for residential as well as commercial applications. After graduating, they started working together on art projects, bringing together each other’s ideas and aesthetics. 

Lunar Tides closeup

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The cycles of nature are reflected in “Lunar Tides”

“We believe strongly in the importance of well-executed artworks that engage and connect with the audience at many levels. Further, we work individually, which we find necessary and essential to keep our ideas fresh and exciting. Our work has been exhibited and collected all over the world. Our studio and home is located in a quaint canyon setting in Laguna Beach. We live with our hens and dog, Milo”

Once the Heisler Park concerts resume at the amphitheater, this will be a wonderful setting for the musicians. In the meantime, stroll by and marvel at the beauty of Lunar Tides.

“We wanted to make it a piece that would complement the environment but not overwhelm it,” says Naomi. “We paid attention to the color and composition so that it would fit in and anchor the coast. We feel it’s a nice addition.”

Lunar Tides joins their other artwork at Heisler Park – as another  magnificent reflection of nature and all its wonder.

A visual dedication will be held on Thursday, Feb 25, at 4:30 p.m. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

For more information, go to and

Opening night of Lagunatics brings out locals in outlandish costumes who laughed the night away

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

This year’s Lagunatics festivities began with an opening night costume party, “Pimp My Premiere.” Attendees wore creative garb, the sillier the better, while enjoying nibbles and libations.

Opening night Bree and friend

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No Square Theatre Founding Artistic Director, Bree Burgess Rosen, and friend

Opening night Buckle

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Laura Buckle and daughter Lula

Opening night goats

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Goats crossing Laguna Canyon Rd

Opening night community garden

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South Laguna Community Gardens

Opening night summer breeze

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Spoof of Summer Breeze

Opening night councilmembers

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Grand Finale – Council Candidates – “Someone just dropped out”

Lagunatics runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October, and closes on Sunday, Oct 28 with a FinalaGala party catered by Pavilions Newport Coast, and beverages provided by Absolution Brewing Company. 

Snacks and beverages are available at all other performances as well.

For ticket prices and more information, go to or call (949) 715-0333.

No Square Theatre is located at Legion Hall, 384 Legion St.

Laguna Beach Live! announces entertaining spring concert lineup to benefit kids

Laguna Beach Live! is pleased to present two unique and entertaining concerts coming this April and May to [seven-degrees]. The concerts benefit the award-winning Live! Music & Kids program. 

The program gives students the opportunity to connect to the joy and creativity of music, critical to their academic, social, and emotional growth. 

Laguna Beach Live! presents outreach programs, at no charge, to Laguna Boys & Girls Club and Laguna public schools. 

Laguna Beach guys

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Submitted photo

M-PACT will take the stage on April 17

On April 17, M-PACT, hailed as “one of the best pop-jazz vocal groups in the world” by the San Francisco Chronicle, will take the stage. Imagine the smooth soul of Sam Smith, the percussive power of Stomp, the funk and groove of Bruno Mars, the sophisticated harmonies of Take 6, and the brass bite of the Michael Bublé Big Band…all created by the human voice alone.

Laguna Beach girls

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Submitted photo

Blues is a Woman plays on May 15

On May 15, Blues is a Woman takes the stage. This ensemble of six talented musicians blurs the boundaries between concert and theater, using storytelling and music to bring to life the colorful history of the bold and singular women who wrote and popularized the blues. The voices of these women are vibrant, challenging, inspirational, and dynamic. 

Concerts are from 6 - 8 p.m. A full bar and buffet menu is available for purchase starting at 5 p.m. when doors open for dinner and social hour. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. VIP tickets are $100 and include preferred seating, Meet & Greet with artists, and a signed CD. 

Reservations can be made at or by phone calling (800) 595-4849. 

[seven-degrees] is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Rock on down to Avenue Q as quickly as you can, only six performances left at No Square Theatre

Story and photos by DIANNE RUSSELL

This is not Electric Avenue, Electric Company, or Sesame Street. And just because they look like Muppets, the Avenue Q creatures are not your average kid-rated puppets, not by a long shot. These lovable mouthpieces watch porn on the internet, couple on bar tables, and might be just a little racist. Adorable, but raunchy, like Amy Schumer. 

What comes out of their mouths is unexpected, poignant, and timely – and made for a rollicking good time for the opening night audience, who showed their appreciation with a standing ovation. 

Bree Burgess Rosen, founding artistic director of No Square, introduced the play, which is based on the original concept. Created by Book of Mormon’s Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, this infamously dirty puppet-musical won Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score at the 2004 Tony Awards. Because of the audience’s close proximity to the cast, No Square Theatre is the perfect venue for this production. 

Rock on Kate

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Kate the Monster (Ella) 

After six years on Broadway, the show moved Off Broadway to New York’s New World Stages, where it has played since October 2009, spawning two national tours and a ton of international productions. 

How these No Square puppeteers sing, act, and manipulate the puppets – all at the same time – is an incredible feat. This endeavor is masterfully intertwined, often blurring the lines between the live and inanimate actors. It’s all so believable that it’s easy to forget where the human ends and the puppet begins. And it’s not often that puppets can elicit such a spectrum of emotions. 

Rock on Princeton

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Princeton (Eric)

During the performance, the audience gets to meet an array of characters like Princeton, a bright-eyed graduate who comes to New York City with big dreams and a tiny bank account. With a strong singing voice and stage presence, Eric Anderson brings Princeton to life as he tries to “find his purpose.” No Square attendees will remember Eric from My Ridiculous Valentine.

The puppets include Kate Monster, Princeton, Lucy the Slut, Nicky, Rod, Trekkie Monster, Mrs. Thistletwat, and the Bad Idea Bears.

Ella Wyatt as Kate Monster, a darling kindergarten teacher, possesses a beautiful vulnerability. Ella is also Lucy the Slut – the opposite of Kate in every way. Nicky (Jonathan Haidl) is a kind-hearted slacker, and he has a closeted gay roommate called Rod (Eric). 

Rock on Trekkie monster

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The internet porn watching Trekkie Monster (Jonathan Haidl) 

Mrs. Thistletwat is played by Sarah Loya who also is one of the Bad Idea Bears.

Filling out the puppet cast is an internet “sexpert” called Trekkie Monster and two Bad Idea Bears, who often present Princeton with some very bad ideas. Puppets shouldn’t drink!

McKay Mangum brings his puppeteer expertise to the show as Puppet Master. Rylee Bullington and Lila Goldstein serve multiple roles as puppeteers and dressers.

The human cast of characters also includes Brian, played by Richard Wayne Kilgo II, an out-of-work comedian who is engaged to a therapist called Christmas Eve, played by Gloria Henderson. Eileen Goodwin does a formidable job as Gary Coleman.

Rock on all group

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Talented cast: (L-R) Brian played by Richard Wayne Kilgo II, Gloria Henderson as Christmas Eve, Kate Monster, Ella Wyatt, Lucy the Slut, Princeton, Eric Anderson, Rod, Bad Idea Bears with Sarah Loya, Nicky, Jonathan Haidl, Trekkie Monster, Eileen Goodwin as Gary Coleman, and Lila Goldstein, puppeteer

A couple of the obvious audience pleasing songs are “If You were Gay,” “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” “The Internet is for Porn.” On the poignant side, Ella superbly sings “There’s a Fine, Fine Line.”

The band, comprised of Music Director/Pianist/Conductor Roxanna Ward, Carlos Rivera, Lou Savage on Bass, Mark Sproull on Guitar, David Page on Drums, and Chris Carbjal – Woodwinds, provided adept accompaniment.

Off stage, many others contributed to this wonderful evening of entertainment: Director Joe Lauderdale, Stage Manager/Scenic Artist Marley Oyen, Sound Artist Danny Rios, Set Designer Tim Mueller, and Lighting Designer Benedict Conran, with costumes by Brigitte Harper, Bree, and Company.

Rock on Lucy and Princeton

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Lucy the Slut and Princeton with Christmas Eve in the background

Don’t waste time, rush to Ave Q. It’s described as “The Tony-Award winning musical that’s part flesh, part felt & packed with heart.” The puppets – and their humans – will capture your heart in more ways than one. There’s still time to catch the show on Friday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m.

For tickets, go to

No Square Theatre is located at 384 Legion St.

Festival season ends, trolley hours cut back, work resumes on Village Entrance


Regardless of calendars or temperatures, summer is over in Laguna when the three art festivals close. Starting September 3, trolley service is cut back and the next phase of construction on the Village Entrance resumes. 

Weekend Coastal Trolleys will be in operation from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays; from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays; and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Festival Season trolley

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Starting today, trolley service is cut back

Neighborhood Trolleys that service Arch Beach Heights, Bluebird Canyon, and Top of the World will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays; from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays; and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. 

Routes that service North or South Laguna will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays. It was announced there will be no service on Sunday for these routes. 

Real-time location of all the trolleys is available on the Visit Laguna Beach app. The “Trolley/Bus Tracker” function will provide arrival times. 

For more information, visit

Village Entrance

Phase 2A of the Village Entrance begins today. 

The City Employee Lot and the parking area behind City Hall will be closed for this phase of the project.

Festival Season trolley

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Phase 2A of Village Entrance begins 

A portion of newly constructed Lot 11, located at the intersection of Laguna Canyon Rd and Forest Ave, will remain open to the public. Lot 10, located next to Art-A-Fair, and Lot 12, adjacent to City Hall on Forest Ave, will be reserved for city vehicles and employee parking Monday through Friday. 

Lots 10 and 11 will be available for public parking on weekends. 

For more information, visit the Village Entrance website at

Compiled from city reports.

Jonathan Burke, president of LCAD, announces retirement

Forty years at Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD). Ten years as President and CEO. The “Lucky 13th” President of the College. Five leadership roles on his journey to the top. 

There’s something oddly comforting and natural in celebrating milestone numbers for leaders. But the truth is that the real markers of Jonathan Burke’s success are not tied to rounded numbers or anniversaries. They are tied to the intangibles: the strategic relationships he cultivated along the way, the community-centric culture that he propagated throughout the organization, the academic rigor for which he held everyone accountable, and the leadership that successfully guided the college and its people to achieve the international standing that LCAD has today.

As he formally announces his retirement (effective December 31, 2020), members of the LCAD community reflect on the profound impact his leadership has had on the institution, its people, and the communities it serves.

Jonathan Burke Jonathan

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Jonathan Burke delights in taking visitors on tours of the LCAD campus

Jared Mathis, current Chairman of the LCAD Board of Trustees, speaks of the enthusiastic and undying affection that the Board collectively shares for Burke. “His infectious smile, great warmth, and unassuming brand of leadership will be sorely missed. His spirit is woven into the fabric of the college.

“Under his leadership, LCAD has transformed into a premier art college with global recognition. From breathtaking advancements in LCAD’s facilities and technology to the creation of cutting-edge majors, Jonathan Burke implemented his vision for LCAD with a steady hand. Jonathan’s remarkable reputation in the industry, his love of the arts, and great connection to our Laguna Beach community will be impossible to replace,” Mathis adds.

Burke joined LCAD, then known as Laguna Beach School of Art, as a Fine Arts instructor in 1980. His rapport with the students and his extraordinary artistic talents positioned him for growth and leadership within the organization. He soon took on the responsibilities of Chair of Fine Arts, then Dean of Fine Arts, Interim Dean of Visual Communications, and Co-VP of Academic Affairs, which led him to his role as President and CEO.

During Burke’s tenure as President, the school experienced unprecedented evolution and improvements that positioned LCAD for strategically-minded and responsibly-managed growth that allowed the college to provide the state-of-the-art facilities and extensive services to its staff, faculty, and, most importantly, its students. 

Jonathan Burke door

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Forward-thinking programs were added under Burke’s leadership

The college added East Campus, which houses the Suzanne Chonette Senior Studios and the Administration Building; South Campus, home to campus housing, AR/VR, graphic design, fine arts photography classrooms, and photography and recording studios; the LCAD Gallery in downtown Laguna Beach; and expansion of the Big Bend Campus, home to classrooms and studios for animation, graphic design, and game art.

“Jonathan has been the heart and soul of this institution since its early days and his commitment to excellence and creativity will long endure at LCAD. I am grateful for the many years we worked together and I know that he will be missed,” stated Hélène Garrison, Chief Operating Officer and Provost of LCAD, who has worked alongside Burke for 35 years.

 With Burke at the helm, the school also added the MFA programs in Drawing, Painting, and Game Design, a Post-Baccalaureate program, and new majors including Entertainment Design and Experimental Animation.

A constant voice and advocate for the students, Burke is a driving force behind the development of a capital campaign to build a new student center at the Big Bend Campus, designed to enhance the student experience.

Terry Jones, Mathis’ successor as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, says, “As Jonathan Burke embarks on his well-deserved retirement, he can find solace in knowing that the LCAD community will carry on this legacy in every aspect of the institution. His heart and soul are – and always will be – embedded deep within the DNA of the school.

Laguna Art Museum Executive Director Dr. Malcolm Warner announces his retirement

Dr. Malcolm Warner, executive director of Laguna Art Museum since 2012, has announced his retirement. He will continue to lead the museum through December 2020, following the eighth annual Art & Nature and the opening of the exhibition Wayne Thiebaud: Clowns. 

“From the start, I wanted to play up the museum’s commitment to California art, which I felt should be even more emphatic than it already was,” said Warner of his aims. “I thought we should position ourselves as strongly as possible as the place to see the best of all kinds of California art, from the early twentieth-century landscape painting with which the museum was so closely associated to contemporary works. I’m pleased that our exhibitions have ranged so widely, from Anna Hills to Wayne Thiebaud, Granville Redmond to Tony DeLap. During my time we’ve recognized the extraordinary flourishing of landscape painting in Laguna with the founding of the Laguna Beach Art Association while presenting installation and performance pieces by progressive contemporary artists as part of the annual Art & Nature festival. It has been interesting for me, as a relative newcomer to the field, to see commonalities emerge – a reverence for nature, a fascination with light.

“When I arrived, there was no one on the staff devoted full-time to education or development, which was an obvious opportunity for growth. Now these are thriving departments. I have been extremely fortunate throughout in working with a staff who have been as collegial, professional, and dedicated as any I have known in my museum career. The museum building looked very much in need of some TLC when I arrived, and I’m proud to have had the chance, thanks to the City’s support, to renovate the previously all-too-basement-like lower level to the designs of the talented architect Anders Lasater. If I have a regret, it’s not to see the facelift of the exterior that I hoped to see through. May that come about soon!

Laguna Art Warner

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Photo by James Cant

Dr. Malcolm Warner, executive director of LAM, has announced his retirement

“My priority on leaving the museum is to finish the catalogue of the works of John Everett Millais on which I’ve been working for more years than I care to remember at this point. Hopefully, I’ll also be returning to curatorial work with some freelance exhibition projects. Meanwhile I’ll be watching the museum continue to thrive, as I’m sure it will under the leadership of our stellar board of trustees and the new executive director.” 

Before joining Laguna Art Museum, Dr. Warner was Deputy Director at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas; Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut; and Curator of European Art at the San Diego Museum of Art. He received his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, and his doctoral dissertation was on the British Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. The leading authority on Millais, he has been compiling a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s works, a long-term project he intends to complete in retirement.

With Warner’s leadership, the museum has doubled its endowment, doubled its annual budget – from approximately $1.5 million to $3 million – expanded its staff, especially in the areas of education and development, and elevated its status and visibility, presenting critically acclaimed exhibitions and outstanding art education programs for children and adults. The museum’s excellence in exhibitions and education has helped garner between $2 and 3 million per year in contributed income, including over $300,000 in grants from the Getty Foundation, multiple grants in excess of $100,000, a $1 million challenge grant for the endowment, and a $1 million challenge grant over four years from the City of Laguna Beach. The City grant has funded capital improvements, including the renovation of the historic lower-level galleries.

Thanks to generous donations by collectors, foundations, and artists, the museum’s permanent collection has grown by over 250 works of art during Warner’s tenure. They include Wayne Thiebaud’s Jolly Cones (2002), William Wendt’s Laguna Coast (1930), an untitled composition by Helen Lundeberg (1960), Lorser Feitelson’s Bathers (1942), three paintings and 33 drawings and prints by Frederick Hammersley, 42 works on paper by Stanton Macdonald-Wright, and major works by Billy Al Bengston, Alson Clark, Dan Douke, Claire Falkenstein, George Herms, Kenton Nelson, Manuel Neri, Nancy Rubins, and Peter Shelton.

Laguna Art building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Art Museum

Among the Laguna Art Museum exhibitions Warner curated himself were Artemio Sepúlveda (2020), Dan McCleary: Prints from Oaxaca (2017-2018), and California Printmakers, 1950–2000 (2015). He contributed forewords to numerous exhibition catalogues published by the museum, including Tony Delap: A Retrospective (2018), California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820-1930 (2017), Helen Lundeberg: A Retrospective (2016), and Marcia Hafif, The Inventory: Painting (2015). He also authored the lavishly illustrated commemorative book Laguna Art Museum: A Centennial History, 1918–2018 (2018), part of a successful year-long celebration of the museum’s founding organization, the Laguna Beach Art Association.

With Warner’s appointments of a curator and assistant curators of education, the museum has developed an active program of outreach to teachers and community organizations in Laguna Beach and Santa Ana, with school tours, family art studios, family festivals, and summer camps. The team has initiated successful adult programs, including popular music and dance performances in the galleries, film screenings, and lectures. 

In 2013 Warner launched the most widely-attended initiative in the history of the museum, Art & Nature, an annual program centered on a large-scale, commissioned work of art and public programs on the theme of art’s engagement with the natural world. The annual commission, undertaken by leading California artists including Lita Albuquerque, Laddie John Dill, Phillip K. Smith III, and Elizabeth Turk, has expanded the museum’s reputation while celebrating the identity of Laguna Beach as a city of art, love of nature, and environmental awareness. The Art & Nature keynote lecture has featured such renowned speakers as California historian Kevin Starr and Leonardo da Vinci expert Martin Kemp. 

“Malcolm has been so critical in advancing the mission of the Museum,” said Joe Hanauer, Chair of the museum’s Board of Trustees. “Long thought of as solely a place for early California landscape painters, today the Museum is highly acclaimed as a center to enjoy important works of California art and artists from the early California period to contemporary. Similarly all art forms can be seen in the Museum’s exhibitions. While the Museum has launched an international search for its next executive director we look forward to Malcolm’s continuing engagement from time to time as a guest curator and for his valuable counsel.  Most important, we are deeply grateful for the legacy he leaves Laguna Art Museum and wish him and Sara all the best.”

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

For more information, go to

Artists Fund at FOA exhibits Board members’ work at City Hall now through May 22

The Artist Fund at Festival of Arts is exhibiting a Board of Directors’ show at City Hall, located at 505 Forest Ave, now through May 22, during regular hours. Exhibiting board members include Geraldine Cropser, Anne England, Roger Folk, Elizabeth McGhee, Rick Graves, and Wendy Wirth.

Founded by Anne England in 2000, the organization provides financial aid to Festival artists suffering hardship due to disaster, medical or unfortunate circumstances. A separate scholarship fund provides grants to artists for professional growth. 

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Elizabeth McGhee’s portraits are among The Artists Fund show at City Hall 

The non-profit organization recently received a donation from the Gross Family Charitable Foundation, which will increase funding of both grants for artists. 

“We are extremely grateful to the Foundation for this generosity.” said Shirley Rush, President. Additional board members include Karen Alvarado, Angela Goodwin, Roseanne Nolan, and Hugo Rivera.

To contact The Artists Fund, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call (949) 612-1949 or log onto

coastal eddy a gallery presents annual holiday party on Dec 9

On Sunday, Dec 9 from 3 - 6 p.m., coastal eddy presents #ThisIsNotNormal…still Holiday Party. The event will feature new art, a raffle drawing, music, food and fun, and will benefit Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation.

coastal eddy window

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coastal eddy is Laguna’s only ceramic art gallery

Laguna Beach has a rich history in ceramic art and needed a gallery to represent both the past and present in ceramic techniques, and coastal eddy does just that. 

Starting with local artists, the gallery has grown to 32 artists over that past 5 years, including artists from around the country and Canada. From functional ware to abstract sculpture, the ever-changing collection is meant to inspire. 

coastal eddy is located at 1417 S Coast Hwy, in the HIP district of Laguna. 

For more information or to RSVP, contact (949) 715-4113 or visit

Laguna Playhouse presents The Skivvies including special guest Jason Feddy on Dec 10 & 11

Laguna Playhouse brings back last year’s sensation in an all-new outrageous holiday event, The Skivvies: I Touch My Elf, with two performances only on Monday, Dec 10 and Tuesday, Dec 11 at 7:30 p.m. This year’s guests include: Jason Feddy, Laguna’s resident rock star; Nick Adams from the Falsettos national tour; Nicole Parker from the Wicked national tour; Seamus Dever from Castle; and Kirsten Vangsnes who plays Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds. 

Laguna Playhouse Jason

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Laguna’s own rock star Jason Feddy will be a guest star in the show

Broadway’s Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley return to the Laguna Playhouse for two nights of the most outrageous holiday show of the season. This undie-rock, comedy pop, award-winning duo perform stripped down, mashed up versions of holiday favorites and more. Expect to see ukulele, electric cello, and an array of zany instruments as well as many special guest artists performing along with, and some even in their own “Skivvies.” 

Tickets range from $51 - $56 and can be purchased online at or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787). Group discounts are available by calling (949) 497-2787 ext. 229. Prices are subject to change.     

Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Jazz Wednesdays presented by Laguna Beach Live! features acclaimed guitarist Will Brahm on Feb 27

On Wednesday, Feb 27, acclaimed guitarist Will Brahm and the World Music All-Stars, featuring vocalist Adryon de Leon, will take the stage for another fantastic night of Jazz Wednesdays with Laguna Beach Live! at [seven-degrees]. 

Jazz Wednesdays Will

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Acclaimed guitarist Will Brahm 

Guitarist and composer Will Brahm tours extensively within the United States and has also toured to Asia, Canada, and Europe with his music. He also plays with the critically acclaimed New West Guitar Group and has worked with artists including The Gordon Goodwin Phat Band, Kim Richmond, Jimmy Branly, Otmaro Ruiz, Gretchen Parlato, Sara Gazarek, and Jane Monheit. His new album “Venture Atlas” is to be released in the spring of 2019. 

Jazz Wednesdays Leon

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Guest vocalist Adryon de Leon

Jazz Wednesdays concerts are from 6 - 8 p.m., with doors opening at 5. A full bar and buffet dinner menu are available for purchase starting at 5 p.m. 

Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Seating is assigned. Reservations are accepted until noon on day of concert or until sold out. The last two concerts have been sold out so buying your tickets early is recommended. 

For more information, visit www.lagunabeachlive.orgor call (949) 715-9713.

[seven-degrees] is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Arts Alliance Forum: Council candidates vow support for art and artists


The 22-member Laguna Beach Arts Alliance hosted a virtual City Council Candidates Forum on Saturday.

All five City Council candidates expressed support for the arts and Laguna Beach artists in their opening statements, substantiated by their involvement in arts organizations and events. Filmed from their homes, all had local art in the background. 

Laguna Playhouse hosted the forum. Former Mayor Jane Egly moderated. Alliance members supplied the questions.

Question 1: What is the main reason you decided to run for City Council?

Ruben Flores: He is not happy with the way in which City Council meetings are being run and the lack of civility. “I decided I would like to be a more active player,” he said. 

Larry Nokes: His issues include parking and empty storefronts. He stated he works well with City staff and he thought he could do some good.

George Weiss: “The City Council is making decisions that affect residents in a negative way,” he said. He cited the approval of Urth Caffé in North Laguna.

Mayor Bob Whalen: “We are not out of COVID-19 yet and I have been a steady hand in that,” Whalen said. 

His issues include the implementation of the Wildfire Mitigation and Safety Plan on which he worked, and restorations of the estuary at Aliso Creek and Laguna Canyon Creek.

Arts Alliance Nokes

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Photo by Leslie Cunningham

Larry Nokes 

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow: “We need to solve problems, not just identify them,” he said. 

He stated he has been an effective council member, helping to preserve the Digester, the Temple Hills Trail, the Pepper Tree, and supporting the police department.

Question 2: What Laguna Beach arts organizations are you active in or otherwise support?

Nokes: Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Playhouse, Festival of Arts, and purchasing art.

Weiss: He mentioned LAM, the Festival, “Lagunatics,” and Laguna Beach Live! He would like to see more public/private art organizations. 

Whalen: He supports the Festival of Arts, LOCA, Laguna College of Art and Design, the Playhouse, and LAM. He said he attends Alliance events and supports all the ones to which he is invited.

Dicterow: He is a past member of the Festival of Arts Board of Directors, attends every opening at the Playhouse and First Thursday Art Walks, and subs for No Square Theatre. 

Flores: He is working on LAM’s upcoming auction and on LOCA events. He has worked on LCAD graduations and the campus landscape. He adores music scheduled by Susan Davis at the Festival and the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.

Question 3: If you become a City Council member, how do you see the council supporting the arts in Laguna Beach, especially in light of the devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Weiss: He recommended energizing the private sector to create organizations to support the arts and create collaborative art spaces that allow artists to work.

Arts Alliance Weiss

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George Weiss 

Whalen: He supports more money for the arts, direct artist grants, and work space for artists such as tenting an undeveloped lot the city is buying in South Laguna.

Dicterow: Direct artist grants. More live/work space.

Nokes: For now, find a way to handle the debt obligation for the (city-owned) Festival of Arts Grounds remodel to tide it over during this year of no revenue, due to COVID-19. He said the city should consider expanding next year’s festival season.

Question 4: What new ideas or initiatives related to the arts would you like to see explored or moved forward?

Whalen: More work space on city property. More direct grants from the community or from private sources. Help the Playhouse and festivals get through the COVID-19 hit. Continue to look for outdoor display areas.

Dicterow: Lower boundaries for display, find more live/work space, and expand the Festival season. 

Flores: Put pop-up art on vacant city lots and take over vacant buildings to create excitement in town.

Nokes: Affordable space for artists, use empty stores to display art, public/private cooperation.

Weiss: Support the Cultural Arts Plan. Get more use out of existing art venues. Lower the financial and red tape barriers for the use of the Festival of Arts Grounds.

Question 5: The arts organizations face specific parking issues. What ideas do you have to address the ongoing parking issues that are affecting the arts organizations?

Dicterow: The new structure (approved by the council this month) is a start, but the city needs more parking facilities around town, Dicterow said. 

Arts Alliance Dicterow

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Steve Dicterow 

Flores: Peripheral parking and shuttles to bring folks into town, included in online ticket purchase.

Nokes: He supported the parking structure at the Village Entrance. 

Weiss: He opposed the parking structure at the Village Entrance and is concerned about who will pay for it. He said scattering lots all over town won’t solve the problems. Parking should be outside the city. 

Whalen: He pointed out that the Alliance supported the Village Entrance parking structure, which will be paid for by parking fees, of which 90 percent comes from visitors. He suggested a tram be run from the structure.

Question 6: Do you support the Village Entrance parking structure proposed by the City Council at its September 8th meeting?

Flores and Weiss: No

Whalen, Nokes, and Dicterow: Yes

Question 7: Should the opportunity arise, would you support pursuing the Wells Fargo Bank building at 260 Ocean Ave to become a cultural arts center, surrounded by a parking garage covering the existing Wells Fargo and Laguna Drug parking lots?

Nokes: “I’m in favor of any space that is practical and adds parking,” he said. 

Weiss: It would be okay if it was a public/private development. 

Whalen: Great location. He would support green space around the building, with all parking underground. It would have to be a public/private project, he said.

Dicterow: My dream is a Cultural Arts Center out past the Sawdust Festival. 

Flores: Incredible building and it could make a beautiful statement on seedy Ocean Avenue, he said.

Arts Alliance Whalen

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bob Whalen 

Question 8: Visitors to Laguna are vital to the success of nonprofit arts organizations. How would you balance the needs of the arts and the residents?

Weiss: He passed. 

Whalen: “I don’t see them as mutually exclusive,” he said. “I think there is a concern of residents that visitors have gotten the upper hand, but it is not about the arts, it’s more about the beach.” 

Dicterow: “The arts bring money to town” he said. “Day-trippers are the problem.” 

Flores: Bring locals to see outside art.

Nokes: $95 million (estimated from arts patrons who also dine and shop here) benefits us all. The city should make parking easier and provide mass transportation.

Question 9: What portions(s) of the Cultural Arts Plan do you think should take priority?

Whalen: Work with temporary art installations. Focus on direct support for artists. Partnerships with other organizations are important and the city is seeking an American Disabilities Act grant.

Dicterow: We need to concentrate on artists living here and working here. 

Flores: He recommended smaller and outdoor art venues.

Nokes: “I love display areas in empty structures,” he said. He also supports more affordable space for studios. 

Weiss: The city should concentrate on artist live/work and collaborative spaces and better use of the facilities we have.

Arts Alliance Flores

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Ruben Flores

Question 10: What do you know about the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance? 

Dicterow: I have worked closely with it over the years, he said. “I agree with its objectives.”

He opined that the organization is necessary for the future of arts in town. 

Flores: He said he has worked with different organizations within the Alliance. “I am looking to make it stronger.” 

Nokes: It makes sure art continues to thrive and what it does for children’s art instruction is very impressive. 

Weiss: Hasn’t worked with the Alliance, but supports all 22 members, particularly LOCA.

Whalen: He said that a lot of residents are members and he recommended involvement in city affairs. “I appreciated the Alliance speaking in favor of the [Village Entrance] parking structure,” said Whalen. 

Closing statements, as did opening statements by the candidates, reflected their support for the arts.

In summation: 

Nokes: He said arts in Laguna define where we have been and where we are now. He supports providing venues, keeping the community invigorated, expanding the use of the Festival of Arts Grounds, and musical events.

Weiss: Supports housing for artists, collaborative spaces, and creation of nonprofit/public entities. 

Whalen: He said he has asked the Cultural Arts Manager to look into murals created in England with paints that eat greenhouse gasses. And he will continue to look for state and federal money for the arts. 

Dicterow: “We all love art,” he said. “What we learned today is that we all agree about art.”

Flores: He recommended marketing LCAD with T-shirts in every store in town, more use of the Festival of Arts Grounds, and a return to civility.

Arts supporters get an early call, coffee and snacks provided


The Laguna Beach Arts Alliance (LBAA) will host a forum this Saturday, Sept 29 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Laguna Playhouse. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and doughnuts served on the terrace. Seating is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

 Former Mayor Jane Egly will moderate the forum, which will address arts and cultural issues in Laguna Beach.

“The forum is a great opportunity to get to know the candidates and learn where they stand on arts and cultural issues,” said LBAA Marketing Coordinator Deena Harros. 

 Candidates will be asked to respond to pre-selected questions, including the need for performance space, artist work live and affordable housing, parking needs in the Civic Art District and comments on public art. They will also be questioned on whether the City should require arts supporting elements in the design of artists’ affordable housing, exhibit space, performance space, and meeting space in any major new or remodeling construction in the Art District.

Questions were selected by the Forum Committee: LBAA President Rosemary Swimm, past President Wayne Baglin, Arts Commissioner Pat Kolllenda, Laguna College of Art and Design President Jonathan Burke, Laguna Dance Festival Executive Director Joy Deitberner, Laguna Playhouse Marketing Director Dee Dee Irwin and Harros.

No questions will be taken from the audience. 

Candidates will have the opportunity to give opening and closing statements, limited to one minute. If time allows, five questions will be posed, with a one-minute limit on responses.

Sawdust Art Festival embraces holiday spirit with 28th Annual Winter Fantasy starting this Saturday

Sawdust Art & Craft Festival is pleased to announce the official start of its 28th annual Winter Fantasy this Saturday, Nov 17 with a community tree lighting ceremony featuring local students from Top of the World Elementary Honor Choir and over a dozen trees decorated by local organizations. 

Sawdust Art outside

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Walking in a Sawdust winter wonderland

For five weekends, through Sunday, Dec 16, event-goers of all ages can experience a festive wonderland aglow with thousands of lights and decorations, featuring 182 artists and makers, live holiday performances, glassblowing demos, festival classes, and satisfying offerings from various eateries, cafes and saloon.

Breakfast with Santa

An extra special occasion this year will be Breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec 8 with the Laguna Beach Firefighters Association. All proceeds of the pancake breakfast will go towards Spark of Love, and Sawdust Art Festival will also be a drop-off location for the Spark of Love toy drive throughout the festival season. 

To further encourage the giving spirit, attendees will receive free admission on Sundays with the donation of an unwrapped toy.

Sawdust Art santa

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Say hi to Santa at a special pancake breakfast and toy drive 

Community Tree Night

Another highlight of the season is the Community Tree Night on Saturday, Dec 1 at 5 p.m., an evening honoring the 12 local organizations participating in Winter Fantasy’s annual community tree program. 

There will also be an enchanting Towne Square featuring daily photo opportunities with Santa at his cottage, in addition to a host of other magical moments with puppeteers, a balloon diva, falling snow, and the beloved gingerbread playhouse.

Lastly, there will be three stages of holiday music and entertainment, with food and refreshments from Deb’s Deli, Espresso on the Go, Fran’s Popcorn, Sawdust Saloon, Evan’s Gourmet Bistro, Tacos Durrell, and GG’s Mediterranean Express.

Presale tickets are available and the cost is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors (65+), and $4 for children (6– 12). Admission is free for children five years and younger. Season passes are $12. 

For more information, as well as a comprehensive list of events and special features at this year’s Winter Fantasy, visit

No Square Theatre’s Annie is one of the best shows you will see in Laguna all year

No Square Annie 1

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It’s a Hard Knock Life: No Square Theatre’s Annie production receives five stars and a standing ovation from Stu News Laguna

No Square Annie 2

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I Don’t Need Anything But You: Rob Harryman (Oliver Warbucks) and Tessa Espinola (Annie) shine in this heartwarming tale of father-daughter love, hope, and redemption

No Square Annie 3

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Easy Street: Laura Buckle (Lily St. Regis), Karen Rymar (Miss Hannigan), and Tyler Below (Rooster) executed their parts to perfection

No Square Annie 4

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Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow makes a cameo appearance as Judge Brandeis

For tickets to Annie, go to

7-year-old FOA Youth Art ceramist wins multiple national honors

The Festival of Arts is thrilled to announce that Fitz Gfeller, a 7-year-old ceramics student from the Festival of Arts Youth Art Classes, received multiple national honors and recognition for his piece titled “Master Fish.” 

The Orange County student was selected from hundreds of entries nationwide and received Honorable Mention from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), the ICAN Elementary Award, and a Bailey Pottery cash award.

“The Festival of Arts youth classes are a summer favorite for my children because of the amazing instructors,” commented Erika Gfeller, Fritz’s mother. “Fritz really connected with Marty because Marty encourages the kids to push limits, be creative, and to not be limited by what something ‘should’ look like. As the youngest of my four children, this experience has really made Fritz feel special and we thank Marty and the Festival of Arts team for that.”

Gfeller’s imaginative “Master Fish” mask is a ceramics piece he made in the Festival’s Youth Art Classes last summer (2018) with instructor Marty Barth. The class was Gfeller’s third ceramics class and he shared that his mask was inspired by “fish big and little and all colors of the rainbow.”

7 year old winner

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7-year-old FOA Youth Art ceramist Fitz Gfeller wins top national honors

Gfeller’s piece was awarded the NCECA Honorable Mention award and the 2019 ICAN Elementary School Award (given out to only one student out of over 500 entries). His mask stood out among the hundreds of art pieces submitted across the nation, and was also honored with a cash award from Bailey Pottery. “Master Fish” will be on display for the public to enjoy in the Junior Art Exhibit at the Festival grounds this summer.

In addition to the young artist’s enrollment in the youth art classes, the Gfeller family are regular attendees to the Festival of Arts and the different art programs offered each summer. Erika Gfeller recalled her son’s first Festival of Arts hands-on art experience when he was three years old, making prints at the Art Center 

“As a family, we love how art can grow us,” stated Gfeller. “The visual manifestation of imagination is the best part of the children’s art classes at Festival of Arts. We get to see what our kids dream about.”

Erika Gfeller adds, “Fritz will absolutely be returning to the Festival of Arts this summer, along with his three siblings. We are considering the new unlimited program (Art Explorers), because he is just so excited to make art.”

The Festival of Arts is now accepting reservations for Youth Art Classes, available July 8 - August 17, Monday through Friday from 1 - 3 p.m., open to children ages 5-12. In addition to ceramics, classes are available in painting, printmaking, assemblage, and more. Each youth art class is $20 per student. Ceramic classes are $30. Space is limited and reservations are required.

New this year is the Festival of Arts Art Explorers program. Purchase online for unlimited youth art classes all summer long. Other perks of the Art Explorers program include special VIP entrance passes, a kid’s art apron, gift shop discounts and more.

To sign up for Youth Art Classes or Art Explorers at the Festival of Arts, visit or call (949) 464-4234. 

The Festival of Arts Fine Arts Show will take place July 5 through August 31, at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd.

LagunaTunes brings the Beatles to LBHS Artists’ Theatre – along with a yellow submarine 


On Sunday afternoon, LagunaTunes Community Chorus, under the direction of Bob Gunn, took the audience on a joyous and sentimental journey down memory lane – and “Penny Lane” along with 21 other tunes – recreating the music of the Fab Five. The chorus sang with heart and a considerable amount of talent, and it was impossible not to want to sing along.

LagunaTunes brings submarine

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Photo by Scott Brashier 

This yellow submarine was only a small part of the glorious show. For the full melodic story, tune in to Barbara Diamond’s Column on Friday.

Rock for the Cause to benefit Friendship Shelter features local duo Ruby Haunt on Feb 12


Rock for the Cause, which benefits Friendship Shelter, is always a great evening of fun, wonderful food, and amazing live music. This year’s event will be held at Mozambique on Wednesday, Feb 12 from 6 - 10 p.m., and tickets are now on sale.

Each ticket will include entry into the event, two hosted drinks, and appetizers. Additionally, Mozambique is generously donating 20 percent of all food and beverage sales back to Friendship Shelter. 

Rock for the Cause is a festive and raucous event to aid Friendship Shelter’s work ending homelessness in south Orange County. Stu News Laguna owner Shaena Stabler and local architect Marshall Ininns are co-hosting the event. The two are on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit together and have been co-hosting the event for almost a decade.

“I think this is the eighth year I have co-hosted with Marshall,” says Stabler. “Marshall asked Stu if we might want to get involved together. Stu told me ‘we’re doing it,’ and thus began my journey with Friendship Shelter. Stu had no idea of my first-hand experience with homelessness at the time.”

Asked what her connection to homelessness is, Stabler says, “I experienced homelessness – as a young child and in my early 20s. It’s something that impacted me personally. But it doesn’t define me anymore – I have a home, a community, and a very good life – in a way, it feels like an echo for me now.”

Rock for the Cause Shaena and Marshall

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Photo by Lisa Farber

(L-R) Marshall Ininns and Shaena Stabler at past Rock for the Cause event; together they have hosted almost a decade of events to benefit Friendship Shelter

Featured at the event will be Frank Turner Simes, who is a Grammy-nominated and platinum-record awarded musician, guitarist, songwriter, composer, and record producer. Simes is the musical director for Roger Daltrey, and has recorded and performed with Mick Jagger, Don Henley, and Stevie Nicks. As The Who and Roger Daltrey’s musical director and multi-instrumentalist, he has brought fresh elements to the sounds and arrangements for the world tours of Tommy, Quadrophenia, and The Who Hits 50!, as well as the 2012 Olympics performance. 

At this year’s Rock for the Cause, there will be an added musical bonus. Ruby Haunt – made up of two Laguna born and raised musicians, Wyatt Ininns and Victor Pakpour, will be performing in their hometown for the first time. They have joined the show to kick off the event before Frank Simes’ band.

Stabler is especially excited that Ruby Haunt is performing this year. “I have been listening to Ruby Haunt for five years; I was first exposed to them through Marshall (Wyatt’s father). I was immediately hooked to their music, they are so talented. Honestly, they could be future Grammy winners. I am just so excited to see where their path takes them and can’t wait to listen to them live on February 12th at Rock for the Cause.”

Marshall Ininns says, “I am very  proud of my son and his fast growing music career. I am even more proud of him for his willingness to give his time and talent to help resolve homelessness in southern Orange County.”

Rock for color duo

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Wyatt Ininns (on left) and Victor Pakpour

Ruby Haunt is an American musical project conceived by childhood friends Ininns and Pakpour sometime in 2015. The duo wrote their first three EPs while in school via opposite ends of the west coast (Los Angeles and Portland), exchanging musical ideas over email. During this time, they received support from Nowness, Henrik Purienne, Vogue Italia, and various taste-making YouTube channels for their unique songwriting and self-produced music videos.

They now have produced five albums: Sugar, 2016; Nevada, 2017; Blue Hour, 2018, Bully, 2019, and Middle of Nowhere, 2019.

The duo became close friends in middle school and found they were inspired by the same music. Ininns sings and writes lyrics, and Pakpour composes the songs and produces. 

Evidently, the match is working, as they have received rave reviews.

Their music has been depicted as alternative/indie, which by definition, means it doesn’t fit into any particular genre.

A review introducing Ruby Haunt on in August of 2016 says, “Currently based in L.A., this duo is making some of the best minimal pop I’ve heard in a long time. Ruby Haunt takes after more of an aesthetic than a genre.”

Aesthetic is the perfect word. I agree, no matter the song – whether pop, a ballad, or one with a nostalgic melody – it’s all gorgeous and artful.

In a review in Honey Punch Magazine, Emma Watts says, “What I love so much about music is that the simplest of sounds put into an interesting pattern can affect your emotions and what you’re visualizing in your head. With these songs you can feel on top of the world, out of this world, or the smallest thing in the world.”

After listening to their song “Honey,” I would describe their sound as silky and smooth as honey. It’s liquid, and lush, and haunting at times. 

Rock for playing

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Ruby Haunt performing

A 2019 review of the their album Middle of Nowhere on janglepophub.home says, “This Los Angeles based two piece, consisting of Wyatt Ininns and Victor Pakpour, certainly know how to develop the aural soundscapes within their songs with ‘Cobwebs,’ ‘Answering Machine’ and the impeccable ‘Breather displaying a somewhat unnerving ability to attach a musical picture to an initial isolated jangle-gaze riff and then creating subtle and multiple layers of sound upon this foundation of beauty.”

I have no idea what a jangle-gaze riff is, but it sounds as if it’s a good thing.

Asked about their appearance at Rock for the Cause, Ininns says, We have always admired what the Friendship Shelter does, and we are super excited to be able to take part in such a great event. Victor and I both grew up in Laguna but this will be our first time playing a concert in town. We are thrilled to be able to join this year and get to play alongside some amazing musicians for a good cause.”

Pakpour agrees, “We are really humbled to be included in the cause. My band member Wyatt and I have lived in Laguna our whole lives and have seen first-hand the impact that homelessness has had on those individuals. We are happy to support this fundraiser and are excited to be playing for members of our hometown trying to make a difference.” 

Giving back 

Stabler says of her time homeless, “With that experience comes a responsibility to give back. I’ve definitely had angels along the way, people who have mentored me and lifted me up. I feel it’s my responsibility to ‘pay it forward’ and help others too.

“With Friendship Shelter, I am able to give back and support a nonprofit that is doing the work to end homelessness – which means literally getting people off the streets and into housing because then they are no longer ‘homeless’. From there, the services and ‘path up’ can happen. It all starts with housing – get a roof over your head, and then anything is possible. Without housing, without the stability of knowing that you have a place to rest your body and mind for the night, it’s almost impossible to do be the best version of yourself that you were meant to be.”

So come out and join the fun, enjoy the food and fantastic musical entertainment – and celebrate Ruby Haunt’s first time playing in Laguna – all for a good cause.

Tickets start at $75 and are available on Friendship Shelter’s website at

For more information on Friendship Shelter’s programs and services, visit

Mozambique is located at 1740 South Coast Hwy.

President of Laguna College of Art and Design Jonathan Burke says goodbye

Dear LCAD Community, 

I will be stepping down after ten years as President of Laguna College of Art and Design, effective December 31, 2020. I’ve pondered this decision and feel this is the right time. I leave with great love and devotion for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the Board of Trustees. 

Forty years ago, I came to LCAD as a faculty member with a dream to establish the finest of art colleges. The history of this college is a success story and I’m so pleased to have participated in making that vision a reality. As I reflect on our accomplishments, I am grateful for what we have achieved while I have been president, and I’m confident the college will continue to be a creative and inspiring place to learn, create, and grow as an artist and global citizen.

President of closeup

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Jonathan Burke

Through collective efforts, we developed a road map for the future that enhances the student experience. In the final six months of my presidency, there is much to be done to continue supporting our students. To that end I will continue to focus on the planning phase for a new Student Center. The spirit of this project is to create a supportive learning environment for all students, and will offer services to any student who has unique learning challenges. I thank everyone involved and have been touched by your efforts. 

As I think about my future, I am eager to return to my first passion: spending valuable time in the studio drawing and painting, as well as a desire to return to the wonderful community of representational artists. More than ever, I firmly believe in the value of an art and design college. LCAD continues to provide the best conditions for a creative person to transform and communicate their passion to be an artist into a relevant and fulfilling life and career. 

I will sincerely miss all of you. I trust that LCAD will continue to make the world a more beautiful and meaningful place for all of us.

Film Night at LAM: Dr. Strangelove will be shown on Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m. – free admission

Artist Jorg Dubin will introduce a personal favorite at Film Night at Laguna Art Museum on Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m.: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

More commonly known as Dr. Strangelove, the film is a 1964 political satire/black comedy that satirizes the Cold War fears of a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. 

In it, an insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop. The film was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick, and is loosely based on Peter George’s thriller novel Red Alert.

Advance tickets are recommended. Reserve tickets online at or call (949) 494.8971 x203.

Don’t miss exciting new LAM exhibit, Self-Help Graphics

Laguna Art Museum announces the opening of Self-Help Graphics, 1983-1991, an exhibition of prints from the large Self-Help Graphics collection purchased by the museum in 1992 with the help of Charlie Miller, René and Norma Molina, and funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, on exhibit through May 27.

Self-Help Graphics is an East Los Angeles printmaking workshop and arts center that emerged from the Chicano movement of the 1960s. It was founded by Sister Karen Boccalero, who was inspired by the committed social and political commentary she saw in the silkscreen prints made by her fellow nun, the celebrated Sister Corita Kent. In 1982, Boccalero launched the Screenprint Atelier program, which provided Chicano and Latino artists of the Los Angeles region with studio facilities, materials, and the technical guidance of a master printer. The result was an extraordinary and exuberant flowering of the silkscreen print.

Check out LAM

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Ricardo Gonsalves, “Don Juan’s Got the Blues,” 1988, silkscreen (18 colors) is on display at Laguna Art Museum

Self-Help Graphics, 1983-1991 includes 16 works by Glenna Boltuch Avila, Alfredo de Batuc, Yreina Cervántez, Sam Coronado, Alex Donis, Ricardo Gonsalves, José Lozano, Delilah Montoya, Malaquías Montoya, Raoul de La Sota, Gilbert “Magu” Luján, Miguel Angel Reyes, Frank Romero, Eloy Torrez, and Patssi Valdez. The exhibit is on view through May 27.

In conjunction with the exhibition, on May 23, the museum will host Victor Hugo Viesca, Cal State LA professor and co-producer of the Self-Help Graphics oral history project, for a talk titled “Creating Our Own World Where We Belong: The Cultural Value of Self Help Graphics & Art.”

Admission is free for members and students 17 and younger, $15 for adults, and $5 for students 18 plus and seniors 60 plus. 

For more information, call (949) 494-8971 or visit

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

53rd Annual Summer Sawdust Art Festival kicks off festivities with the expected and unexpected


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Just inside the gates of the Sawdust Festival, gold stars and a space ship greet visitors. It makes perfect sense, as the Sawdust, by all rights, is its own universe. One anticipates entering another world – the sights and sounds are exclusive to this particular space – and that’s the wonder of it.

53rd Annual mad hatter

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Mad Hatter – Robert Holton – welcome to the world of the Sawdust Art Festival 

Walking under the gold stars was the perfect introduction to the 53rd Annual Summer Sawdust Art Festival. “Expect the unexpected” is the theme this year, and who imagines looking up and seeing stars among the trees when it’s still light. But then who expects to see – the Mad Hatter, a fairy princess, a dragon, puppets, and a clothes designer doing a whirling dervish? Those are only a few of the delights among the 192 artists and makers (9 are guest artists) represented.

One always expects the work of the Sawdust artists to be unique, but this year seems particularly innovative. It’s a wonderful blend of seasoned and new exhibitors.

53rd Annual puppet

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Artists Natasha and Sandra Weir – mom and daughter dressed to match their booth themes

Heidi Miller, owner of Tight Assets downtown, said, “A little mist couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Preview night at Sawdust. Everyone kicked it up a notch this year, with themed booths and even an Avenue of the Stars and a spaceship to welcome all. With the new artists complimenting the seasoned veterans, fabulous décor, and a huge dragon watching over the festival, this year is out of this world! As I exited I overheard several people clutching purchases exclaim, “this is the best ‘Dust in years! Wow!”

53rd Annual artists

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Artists Katlin, Emily, Reem, Makaila, and Ora

Jane Slowsky is celebrating her 50th year exhibiting. She said of preview night, “Yes, I really enjoyed the evening. 50 years and planning more as I am now 91 working on 100. I was on the board when we created the Sawdust Festival and am one of the original exhibiters for our first year. My daughter Patty Slowsky has been my partner all these years as she made macramé keychains, that was the time we could sell our children’s artwork, and she has stayed with me all these years. We share our booth space with Patty’s husband, John Enfield, he does wood. Patty and John have combined their skills a few times. Patty and I try to make our glass fun and exciting and a new idea for glass each year.”

53rd Annual Slowsky

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Janet Koelle writing up a sale for Jane Slowsky, who is celebrating her 50th year in the Sawdust

Once local band Party Foul began to play, it was difficult not to gravitate toward the deck. The Sawdust continually hosts great musicians, and they were a terrific choice to usher in the summer season. 

The Sawdust Festival brochure explains, “During the process of making art, unexpected things will happen, and that is what makes it unique and beautiful. This year is about tapping into the creative power of art, which changes how we view the world.”

53rd Annual Evans

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Alex Evans, Father of dragons

After experiencing the 53rd Summer Sawdust, you can’t help but see the world a little differently. 

The Sawdust opens today, Friday, June 28, and runs through Sunday, September 1. It is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.

Upcoming special events for the next week include Live Art Demos, every Monday at 5 p.m., Tropical Tuesdays beginning on July 2, Mardi Gras Day on July 6, and docent-led tours of the grounds every Wednesday at 3 and 5 p.m.

The Sawdust Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd.

For more information on events, workshops, and music, go to

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, see slideshow below

Open casting call for Pageant of the Masters Made in America draws a crowd of hopefuls


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

As a kid, if you ever played the game “freeze,” you remember what it’s like to stay completely still – no twitching, no blinking, no scratching – it’s challenging to say the least. As most everyone knows, because the Pageant of the Masters’ cast re-creates famous artworks and sculptures known as “tableaux vivants,” or living pictures, the cast members must remain perfectly still for 90 seconds. 

No theater experience is necessary to attend the casting call. The only requirement is the ability to stand still and have fun, and the cast must have a lot of fun, since many return year after year.

According to Marketing Coordinator for Festival of the Arts Meghan Perez, over the past weekend, there were about 900 people who attended the three-day casting call for this year’s Pageant, Made in America. “We are expecting more sign-ups over the next couple weeks with people coming in for appointments. We’re encouraging anyone who was interested and couldn’t make it over the weekend to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule a time to get measured.”

Open casting Bainbridge

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First time at casting call – (L-R) Katy Bainbridge, age 9, Gaby Bainbridge, age 11, and mom Michelle Bainbridge

Granted, it’s not a small commitment – seven days on and seven days off (Monday - Sunday) from July 8 - September 3 for at least two and a half to three hours a night. (Those not chosen go onto a summer substitute list of around 200.) Plus there are rehearsals every other Thursday beginning earlier in the year.

Of the approximately 1,000+ men, women, and children who sign up during a three-day casting call, 150 will be picked for the A team and 150 for the B team. Two cast members of similar (if not identical) height and body type are chosen for each part, a necessity since the cast has alternating weeks off. Ages range from 5 years to 85 years of age. As the sets are developed (two to three at a time), selection of cast members continues throughout the months of January to June. 

Construction Foreman David Talbot, who has been with the Pageant for 10 years, says, “We have eight sets built already. We’re ahead of the game.”

Standing still is only a part of what each potential cast member goes through during Pageant of the Masters. Quite a bit happens well before that first step on the set in July. 

Open casting Butch

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Technical Director Richard “Butch” Hall

Once the prospective cast members climb the stairs and enter the backstage area, paperwork is handed over to The Pageant’s Technical Director Richard “Butch” Hall, who directs them to the next step. Throughout the process, each will be measured 35 times (at different stations all manned by volunteers). They will also be photographed and meet the behind-the-scenes Pageant staff.

Pageant volunteers are also needed for the wardrobe, make-up, and headdress departments, as well as cast area coordinators and refreshment servers, among other positions. About 300 people are expected to be included in the pageant cast (two groups split into 150 volunteers each) and an additional 200 will help behind the scenes.

Brittany Clark Charnley, who started as a youngster in the Pageant, and was on the program cover in 1996, continued to be a cast member for quite a few years. She says, “I love the show, every art form is indescribable.” Her niece tried out this year.

Brittany’s mother Michelle Clark, who has been in the Pageant since 1995, said, “I am the only one who can say that I went to a bar with Jesus.” (Referring to the volunteer who played Jesus in The Last Supper.)

Open casting Michelle

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Michelle Clark, a longtime volunteer in the Pageant 

“It takes over 500 volunteers, both onstage and behind-the-scenes, to put on the Pageant. We wouldn’t have a show without our volunteers! They have so much fun backstage and many volunteers return year after year to participate,” says Pageant Director Diane Challis Davy.

Trying out for the makeup department for the second year in a row, Monica Thompson and Chris Lins agreed, “It’s just great to be part of it, we had so much fun last year.” This year, they’re also hoping to be substitutes for the cast.

As she was recording measurements, Bettye Murphy shared that she has been a volunteer for 46 years. That’s got to be some kind of a record!

Judy Flanders, who has been with the costume department for 28 years, met her husband Bob while he was volunteering at the Pageant in 2010, and now they volunteer together. 

Judy says of the casting call, “As always, we have a wonderful time saying hello to old friends and meeting potential ‘teammates.’ The atmosphere is always so upbeat and fun…to me, it’s one of my favorite places on earth! Also, as always with the Pageant of the Masters, everything ran like a well-oiled clock.”

Open casting measuring

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Chris Simich, in his fourth year, measures Benjamin Webster. Simich creates all the headpieces.

In this summer’s production of Made in America, audiences will meet the artists – revolutionaries, innovators, dreamers – who not only made this country their home, but let their creativity be inspired by the freedoms upon which this nation was founded.

The show will include acknowledged masters of American art: N.C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Norman Rockwell, Daniel Chester French, Luis Jimenez, and John Nieto.

Anita Mangels, FOA board member and pageant volunteer for 30 years, says, “Bizarre Bazaar is ‘our side show.’ The proceeds of sales from pieces from the Pageant are sold and go to the Student Volunteer Recognition Fund. The money goes to help kids who have volunteered in the Pageant and are now moving on to higher education. The funds are used for books and such.” 

Open casting bazaar

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Bizarre Bazaar sells donated items from past Pageants to aid the Student Volunteer Recognition Fund

“This is a fun thing, something outside of normal, and gives the kids a head start. The donated props and materials are very eclectic and in keeping with the Pageant vibe. As part of the casting call, volunteers really look forward to seeing something from a scene they might have been in last year. It’s an opportunity for pieces from the Pageant to go on and have a new life. They have sentimental value to a lot of people.” 

The ultimate goal for those attending the casting call is a phone message stating, “We think you’re perfect for Pageant of the Masters, do you have the desire to make a commitment?” 

The Pageant’s extended family of volunteers continues to grow, as does the excitement and enthusiasm for each new production. 

It’s going to be a spectacular show, so don’t miss it.

The Pageant of the Masters production Made in America will be presented nightly from July 8 - September 3. Advance tickets are now on sale starting at $20 per person. 

To stay up to date on all things Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, visit

Sawdust Art Festival set to open Outdoor Marketplace on September 19

The Sawdust Art Festival has been approved to open its Outdoor Marketplace on Saturday, Sept 19. The Outdoor Marketplace will offer a safe and intimate environment within the Sawdust Art Festival’s historical three-acre eucalyptus grove where patrons can shop art, and enjoy outdoor dining and live music.

“We’re thrilled to announce the opening of our Outdoor Marketplace. Local artists can begin to rebound from the economic impact of the pandemic, and it’s a wonderful way for friends and neighbors to safely shop and socialize on our beautiful grounds,” stated Monica Prado, president of the Sawdust Board of Directors.

Nearly 100 Sawdust artists will rotate through 48 spaces every weekend over the course of the event, providing a unique opportunity for patrons to shop art directly from some of their favorite artists. 

Sawdust Art sign

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Sawdust Art Festival’s Outdoor Marketplace will open on Saturday, Sept 19

“I want to commend the Sawdust Board of Directors for their creativity in developing a plan that will allow a great Laguna tradition to continue this fall,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen. “Our community was founded by artists and the marketplace will provide an opportunity for many local artists to sell their art to support themselves and their families.”

The Sawdust Art Festival has also taken every precaution to provide a safe experience for guests with an extensive implementation of safeguards and preventative measures. 

Shohreh Dupuis, assistant city manager of Laguna Beach, added, “I’m so pleased that we were able to work collaboratively with the Sawdust to develop a plan that can safely bring the artists back to the Sawdust grounds.” 

Sawdust Art Festival Presents an Outdoor Marketplace will be open on Saturdays and Sundays only beginning September 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and free for kids 12 and under. Advance ticket sales will be announced online soon. 

Sawdust Art Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd.

For information, go to

LAM’s 8th Annual Art & Nature Festival brings dazzling airborne installation to Heisler Park


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

The Laguna Art Museum’s (LAM) Art & Nature Festival has been described as a multidisciplinary exploration of art’s many and various engagements with the natural world. With the installation of Sunset Trace at Heisler Park, this journey continues – in a breathtaking way.

The theme of Art & Nature specifically speaks to the identity of Laguna Beach, which for over a hundred years has fostered art, the love of nature, and environmental awareness. 

Over the eight-year course of Laguna Art Museum’s Art and Nature events, there have been a wide variety of installations – in 2013, Nocturnal Drawing with solar lanterns; in 2016, the Quarter Mile Arc composed of 10-foot mirrored poles; and then in 2018, the Shoreline Project featuring 1,000 luminous umbrellas. Last year was the only time in the festival’s history that the installation was inside instead of outside.

LAM's 8th closeup

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Artist Patrick Shearn

However, this year, the installation has gone back outside, and without a doubt, it’s something remarkable to behold. Anchored inconspicuously, the artwork sways and undulates as if floating in midair, offering a peaceful and mesmerizing experience to all who encounter it.

LAM Executive Director Malcolm Warner says, “This will be the most spectacular Art & Nature happening ever, and I can’t tell you how excited we are to unveil it. It’s been a pleasure to work with the city on the project, and above all with our artist, Patrick Shearn, and his team. What a marvelous combination of creativity and professionalism!”

In collaboration with the City of Laguna Beach, the museum commissioned a site-specific, multicolored, kinetic installation (a “Skynet”) off Main Beach over Main Beach Park. Entitled Sunset Trace, it seamlessly weaves through the palm trees along the shoreline, traversing sections of the walkways and cliffs between the gazebo and Main Beach in a stunning, windborne display. Sunset Trace will be on view from November 5 through November 15, 2020.

LAM's 8th long view

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“Sunset Trace” traverses walkways and cliffs between the gazebo and Main Beach

Shearn says, “I first saw the Laguna Cliffs at sunset and was struck by myriad of colors between the sky, sea, and lush foliage. The next day, I walked the same path in the cool fog of dawn and imagined some of the brilliant colors of the night before lingering behind, flowing like watercolor paint between the palms in the mist. It is an exciting challenge to create something to complement the natural coastline, already so dynamic and inherently beautiful, but I think we have risen to the call. I am thrilled to have been invited by the Laguna Art Museum to create Sunset Trace. I truly hope all the people have a chance to walk the path in different light with various wind to experience this artwork to its fullest impact.”

LAM's 8th wavy

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Moves with the breeze

Inspired by the graceful murmuration of birds flocking together, or schools of fish coalescing and moving simultaneously, Shearn’s signature Skynets are a constant reminder of nature moving around us. Suspended using transparent monofilament netting and rigged inconspicuously, the waving forms appear to levitate in midair, finessed by the wind patterns of each site, revealing unseen natural elements in unusual, dramatic ways.

An L.A.-based artist, Shearn specializes in larger-than-life, immersive public art installations. The artist’s signature Skynets earned him international renown after the debut of Liquid Shard enamored the City of Los Angeles. Shearn’s expertise in animatronics, robotics, and visual effects – gleaned from a 30-year tenure in the film industry as a creature maker and visual effects supervisor – has lent traction to a prolific career as creative director for his studio Poetic Kinetics.

LAM's 8th gazebo

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“Sunset Trace” will be up until November 15

Under Shearn’s guiding vision, Poetic Kinetics has designed, fabricated, and implemented a wide range of projects that encourage audience participation –from interactive projection mapping and pyrotechnics to enormous mobile sculptures. Notably, Poetic Kinetics’ projects both engage the immediate public through interactivity and reach viral notoriety on social media.

Shearn has brought Skynet installations to various locations in the U.S. and abroad where viewers are invariably compelled to slow down and take time to follow the rolling movement of the artworks, which appear to hang in thin air.

“I am so excited that the Laguna Beach Arts Commission was invited by the Laguna Art Museum to bring a Poetic Kinetics project to the Laguna Beach,” said Adam Schwerner, chair of the Laguna Beach Arts Commission. “This will be yet another project brought to Laguna Beach that reinforces our town’s long and illustrious history as an arts city. And, given health and safety protocols, is perfect for the moment.”

LAM's 8th blue

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Close up view of “Sunset Trace” 

LB Cultural Arts Manager Siân Poeschl expresses her admiration for the installation. “Patrick Shearn and his talented team at Poetic Kinetics have transformed our relationship to the stunning coastline, for just a brief moment. It exemplifies and frames how important the natural environment of our city is. It is also an opportunity for the community to celebrate who we are and where we are,  and what better way to do that, than through the Arts. The installation continuously moves, it rustles in the wind, you can walk beneath it and beside it, creating a sense of flight or shoal of fish as they swim together. The experience is a feeling of being part of a bigger community, so needed as we continue to keep our distance during the pandemic. I hope the collaboration between the museum and city continues, as it brings out the best in us for all the community to enjoy.” 

So take a walk along the pathway and sit in one of the benches under Sunset Trace and prepare to be captivated. This unique and ever-changing viewing experience should not be missed.

On Saturday, Nov 7, at 7 p.m., Shearn will discuss his work including Sunset Trace in an Artist’s Lecture virtual event. To register, click here.

Additional Art & Nature 2020 events include a keynote lecture by artist, designer, and thinker Dan Goods on Friday, Nov 6 at 7 p.m. To register, click here.

On Sunday, Nov 8, LAM offers a virtual Art & Nature Family Festival with art, nature, and science activities for all ages. To view activities, click here.

Lagunatics opens this Friday at No Square Theatre

The latest edition of Lagunatics, a locals favorite send-up of everything loved (and not) about our beloved city, opens this Friday, Oct 5 at 7:30 p.m. Performances continue every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in October.

Lagunatics opens Oct sign

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This year’s parody of all the goofy stuff that happens in Laguna, directed by founding Artistic Director Bree Burgess Rosen, opens on Friday

This year’s targets include goats, the City Council, undergrounding the power lines, Prop P, pocket parks, the Village Entrance, LBPD, Accessory Dwelling Units, public art, tree trimming, Laguna Art Museum, parking fees, Gay Pride, and the return of the echinoderms. 

Festivities begin with an opening night costume party, “Pimp My Premiere.” Attendees are encouraged to enjoy great hors d’oeuvres and beverages in creative garb, the sillier the better. 

The show’s run closes on Sunday, Oct 28 with a FinalaGala party catered by Pavilions Newport Coast, and beverages provided by Absolution Brewing Company. Snacks and beverages are available at all other performances as well.

Tickets are $60 for the Pimp My Premiere and party, $35 and $40 for Sunday performances, $45 and $55 for Fridays and Saturdays, and $100 and $110 (VIP) for the final night FinalaGala.

For additional information on events, auditions, classes, and to purchase tickets, visit

Laguna Playhouse to present “Beauty and the Beast: A Christmas Rose,” starting Dec 5

Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham and Executive Director Ellen Richard present “Beauty and The Beast: A Christmas Rose,” with performances from Wednesday, Dec 5 through Dec 30 at Laguna Playhouse. 

The production is written by Kris Lythgoe, directed by Sheldon Epps, choreographed by Mandy Moore, with musical direction by Keith Harrison and musical supervisor Michael Orland.

It will star Ashley Argota, Thomas Hobson, Heath Calvert, Andrew Jackson, Riley Costello, David Engel, and more.

Laguna Playhouse Rose Ashley Argota

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Ashley Argota to star in Laguna Playhouse production of “Beauty and the Beast: A Christmas Rose” starting on December 5 with other key actors

For information or tickets, visit or call 497-2787 ext. 229. Tickets range from $41 - $76.

Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.

2018 FOA/POM season is a big success reporting $10.6 million in revenue

At the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters annual membership meeting on November 14, members were updated on recent achievements and given a glimpse of the future. The event, held at the Festival’s Forum Theater, featured reports on the past fiscal year’s activities, an overview of the Pageant’s 85th anniversary, recognition of longtime volunteers and staff, and a preview of the 2019 Pageant of the Masters.

Festival President David Perry began the meeting reporting the 2018 season an enormous success for both the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show and Pageant of the Masters. After his opening remarks, Perry presented an upbeat and entertaining video that captured the 2018 season and the Pageant’s 85th Anniversary. It featured the fine art show, the junior art exhibit, art education programs, special events, Pageant of the Masters, and the recent Pageant of the Monsters.

Perry then introduced City Council member Bob Whalen to remark on the season in the absence of Kelly Boyd, Laguna Beach mayor and ex-officio member of the Festival Board.

Julie Kirchen, an eight-year Pageant of the Masters volunteer and the Wellness Strategy and Integration Manager at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, presented the Festival of Arts and Perry with a $5,000 check from the Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund to support community outreach art education programs.

FOA Festival Board

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Festival of Arts board members report a successful year

The 2017-2018 year was a fiscal as well as an artistic success, according to Treasurer Fred Sattler, who presented the unaudited annual financial report. Sattler reported unaudited revenues of roughly $10.6 million, and expenses $9.8 million, resulting in a net income of about $802,000. 2018 unaudited Festival of Arts net assets were reported at $26.3 million with liabilities at $8.2 million, resulting in net assets at $18 million.

Board member Pat Kollenda proudly announced that the Festival of Arts awarded $87,400 in scholarships to college students in 2018. There were 17 freshmen awards in the amount of $29,800. There were two scholarships in Dance, six in Music, one in Theater, seven in Visual Arts and one in Writing. The freshmen average high school GPA was 3.56. There were a total of 31 freshman applicants that applied in 33 areas. In addition, there were also scholarships awarded to 31 returning scholarship recipients.

Pageant Director Diane Challis Davy presented a slideshow of artwork to be presented in the 2019 Pageant of the Masters, The Time Machine, including works of art by Norman Rockwell, Paul Manship, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Johannes Vermeer, Georges Seurat, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Perry recognized and congratulated employees Reagan Foy, Costume Director, for her 10 years of service; Michelle Reindl, Accounting Assistant, for her 15 years of service; Sharbie Higuchi, Director of Marketing, Public Relations and Merchandising, for her 20 years of service; and Caryn Werfelmann, Director of Guest Services, for her 25 years of service. He thanked them for hard work and commitment to the Festival of Arts.

There was no election for the Board of Directors this year as the three incumbents ran unopposed. Tom Lamb, Pat Kollenda, and Anita Mangels will each serve new three-year terms on the board. Elected board officers for the 2018-2019 season are David Perry, president; Scott Moore, vice president; Fred Sattler treasurer; and Pat Kollenda, secretary.

The Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road. For more information, visit

LBHS Drama and Park Avenue Players present Little Shop of Horrors in concert

On Friday, May 24 at 4 p.m., Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26 at 2:30 p.m., LBHS Drama and Park Avenue Players present Little Shop of Horrors in concert. A deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical, Little Shop Of Horrors has devoured the hearts of theatregoers for over 30 years. 

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, and Aladdin) are the creative geniuses behind what has become one of the most popular shows in the world.

LBHS Drama cartoon

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Submitted photo

Feed the need for musical hilarity with this delicious sci-fi smash about a man-eating plant

The meek floral assistant, Seymour Krelborn, stumbles across a new breed of plant, which he names “Audrey II” – after his co-worker crush. This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn as long as he keeps feeding it blood. Over time, though, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s out of this world origins and intent towards global domination. 

One of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows, Little Shop Of Horrors, the charmingly tongue in cheek comedy, has been produced worldwide to incredible success.

This LBHS Drama presentation is performed in concert style with live on-stage musicians at Thurston Middle School’s Black Box Theater.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults.

To purchase tickets, visit

Thurston Middle School’s Black Box Theater is located at 2100 Park Ave.

Laguna Beach Chamber Singers presents Spring Concert on Sunday at Laguna Presbyterian

Laguna Beach Chamber Singers is ready to wow audiences once again with a Spring Concert this Sunday, June 2 at 4 p.m. at the Laguna Beach Presbyterian Church.

LBCS will be presenting one of the most eclectic concerts that they have offered, featuring the totemic, challenging yet intoxicating Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (I, II, III).

Laguna Beach choir

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Courtesy of

The talented Laguna Beach Chamber Singers will perform their Spring Concert on Sunday 

This is of particular interest to pianists of all ages, as the Stravinsky is not usually performed as 1-piano/4 hands with chorus – it’s a first, certainly in the SoCal area. They take on Verdi, and the choruses they will be singing are wonderfully representative of his genius. 

The Bernstein Broadway tunes are both familiar and not so familiar, with a piece specially arranged for the Chamber Singers, and will be a fun way to end this wide-ranging concert. The singers are planning a special intermission event so that concertgoers can emphatically say “the intermission’s great!”

For more information on the LBCS, visit

The Laguna Presbyterian Church is located at 415 Forest Ave.

Artists get ready to welcome the public for 53rd Sawdust Summer Festival season 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

For nine weeks during the summer, Sawdust Art Festival draws more than 200,000 visitors. Guests are invited to shop along sawdust-covered paths in a hand-built village of fine art and eclectic craftsmanship. Summer artists are Laguna Beach residents. Sawdust also offers a robust year-round art program onsite, Sawdust Art Classes, featuring a comprehensive array of art and studio workshops taught by working Sawdust artists.

Preview night is Tuesday, June 25; Opening day is June 28.

Artists get Patsee

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Looking for a little shade, photographer Patsee Ober builds her booth around a pomegranate tree

In the mid 1960s, personal freedom of expression broke out and with it, a vibrant arts and crafts movement. In Laguna Beach, that creative energy brought together an influx of young artists and craftspeople, as well as talented local artists who had been juried out of the only summer art festival in town. Fueled by a passionate desire for artistic independence and wanting something fresh and exciting, the Sawdust Festival was born.

Artists get David

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A warm welcome from artist David Nelson

In 1965, the very first show was held in a vacant lot across the street from present-day Laguna Beach Public Library, but it wasn’t until ‘67 at another locale on Coast Highway that sawdust was used along the grounds to help keep dust down. It was then the press coined them the Sawdust Festival.

Artists get Star

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Tree booths are popular; Star Shields builds his booth around the pepper tree again this year

When the show reformed the following summer at what would be its permanent home, 935 Laguna Canyon Rd, the founding artists erected the first official Sawdust Festival sign.

The Sawdust Art Festival is open daily Friday, June 28 – Sunday, September 1, 2019.

Summer Festival Hours are 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

(Festival will close early at 6 p.m. on July 4th.)

Tickets to the 53rd Annual Sawdust Art Festival are available for purchase before arrival. Allow two to five hours for online ticket sales to process. If planning to attend the same day, purchase tickets at the box office.

For tickets, go to

Laguna artist Jorg Dubin installs sculpture in front of his studio to support Black Lives Matter


No one would call Laguna artist Jorg Dubin conservative in his approach to art – he was kicked out of the Festival of Arts and the Sawdust Festival for life. His work is provocative and, at times, disturbing – and he readily admits that it’s not for everyone – but there’s no denying it evokes strong emotions. 

“Since the beginning of my career, creatively, my work has been socially, politically, and environmentally focused, particularly during the last three-and-a-half years in terms of my painting. It’s meant to be thought-provoking,” he says. 

Since Dubin – a painter, sculptor, ceramist, and production designer – arrived in Laguna in 1976, his work has consistently documented what was happening at that particular time in history. (Dubin taught at LCAD and is on Laguna’s Planning Commission.)

Dubin created Semper Memento, the 9/11 memorial dedicated in 2011 at Monument Point in Heisler Park that includes two beams from the fallen World Trade Center towers. Not much controversy there.

However, last week, Dubin installed a sculpture in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM) in front of his studio on Laguna Canyon Road. “It was self-funded. I really believe in the cause. The owner of the studio gave her blessing.”

Laguna artist with sculpture

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Dubin with BLM sculpture on Laguna Canyon Road

Dubin is passionate and outspoken about the BLM cause and finds it impossible to be silent. “The main reason behind the statue is that I’m outraged at the country’s systemic racism, as well as its environmental disregard, and socio-economic disparity. I feel like we’re collapsing as a country instead of progressing.

“What’s happening now with the protesting and police and federal government’s response is what was happening during the 60s civil rights movement. Six decades later seems nothing has changed.”

Although not everyone appreciates his art, the feedback for the BLM sculpture has been favorable.

“The piece has gotten a lot of support,” says Dubin.

Dubin feels that art should evoke thought and move people to action particularly in a place that was founded by artists and progressive thinkers.

“I don’t understand what people are afraid of. Public art should be thought-provoking. I’m angry because of what’s going on in the country, and cities like Laguna Beach should be at the forefront of the conversation. We’re a privileged community and as such we can’t ignore social, racial, and economic issues.

Laguna artist at door

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Dubin at the door of his studio

“When I moved here, Laguna was a hotbed of art. It was a time when there were a lot of edgy artists, writers, actors, and people into social issues, and it’s changed from the progressive nature it was founded on. Now we don’t want to offend anyone. We’re too worried about our branding. Does Laguna want to be an art colony or a beach resort with cute shops? 

“Still to this day, parents of African and Hispanic American kids have to teach their kids how to behave when they are in public for fear every day that when they leave the house they may not return. ‘You have to be on guard, beware of police, and if you’re stopped by a cop,’ well, we have all seen how those encounters can end.

“We live in a place that’s safe and privileged and because of that, we should be even more engaged in what is happening in our country. It affects all of us. We need to understand what’s going on and take the time to understand that the systemic problems are deeply rooted in our history. Why is our government responding in such a militant way? Most of the people protesting are peaceful.”

Laguna artist orange stand

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Photo by Scott Brashier

“The Orange Stand” – a depiction of the widespread protesting throughout the country and police and federal government’s response

In an attempt to bring these issues to the forefront here in town, earlier this year, Dubin submitted two concepts for temporary public installations through the Arts Commission Fostering Creativity Grant Program. They were seeking brave and creative works in the fields of art, performance, or music. 

“Since it was to be a temporary two to three-month installation, they were looking for submissions with content and edge. They knew what I had been working on, and they knew it would be in that vein,” says Dubin. 

“Both concepts were reality, content-based, and compelling. The first piece depicted the silhouettes of two cops in riot gear – one cop in full swing with a billy club – in between was a protester on his knees, hands raised high in the air. 

“However, the response from the Arts Commission was that it was too controversial, and I understood, I had known there was a 50/50 chance the Arts Commission would approve the concept.”

Asked to resubmit, the second concept was more unifying. There were five silhouettes of kneeling protesters, and the colors graduated from black, to brown, to white, with the title UNITY.

That concept was also rejected by the Arts Commission.

Laguna artist fist

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Photo by Jorg Dubin

Dubin’s hope is that by the time the sculpture disintegrates over time, racism and social injustice will be a thing of the past

It’s apparent Dubin is impassioned about the cause, and he doesn’t mince words.

“I wouldn’t normally apply for such programs but instead leave the grants for other local artists, however it was important for me to get the message out in public view. We should be invested in this. As a community, we need to comment on what is going on around us. Local artists need to say something about the times we live in.

“I don’t understand the provincial reaction to my work. Seems to me that if art is not ‘cute and colorful’ then there is no place for it here in the art colony.”

Dubin believes the sculpture, which is made of fabricated metal sheets, has a message beyond the obvious. 

“It is a temporary piece. I made it knowing that if it stayed outside, it would rust through and disintegrate over time. Perhaps by then the country may have progressed enough that these kinds of statements may not be necessary. That the message of Dr. King and John Lewis would be fully realized and systemic racism and social injustice would be a thing of the past forever.”

Virtually inspired 22nd Annual Plein Air Painting Invitational continues through October 11

The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) and the Laguna Beach community continue celebrating our plein air legacy. LPAPA is determined to not only survive the pandemic, but to find creative ways to sustain itself and help its artists so that they can care for themselves and their families. LPAPA believes that in these challenging times we all need to stand together to support one another. The nonprofit says, “Together we will get through this. Together we will keep LPAPA Strong!”

Despite all the challenges of this year due to the pandemic, LPAPA is convinced that “the show must go!” The organization is determined not to let its artists or its collectors down. And so, LPAPA is making history by presenting its first virtually inspired invitational, now through October 11.

Virtually inspired Demers

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Submitted photo

Don Demers, “Light in the Cove”

LPAPA invites everyone to “join them” (virtually) in Laguna Beach and enjoy art exhibitions, sales, and auctions, watch their nationally recognized artists at work, hear “Plein Talks,” and participate in special activities. LPAPA will bring all the excitement directly to viewers right in the comfort of their own home. 

LPAPA says, “We continue the tradition that was started in 1999 with the first Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational. This year we will virtually present our 22nd Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational, enabling all to enjoy the many events so loved by all but in a safe and socially distanced environment.”

LPAPA’s mission, as a nonprofit art organization, is to preserve Laguna’s rich artistic legacy established by our early plein air artists – who are honored today with LPAPA’s mission and dedication to the plein air painting tradition in Laguna Beach, across the nation, and around the world.

Virtually inspired Obermeyer

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Submitted photo

Michael Obermeyer, “Lazy, Hazy Sunday”

As LPAPA honors these milestones in history, the organization has planned a Plein Awesome celebration for the 2020 Laguna Plein Air Painting Invitational. This year LPAPA has invited 25 of the top plein air artists from across the United States to join together virtually. The participating artists will be painting from a collection of photos taken exclusively for this year’s event from around Laguna Beach and surrounding communities capturing the breath-taking ocean vistas, historic neighborhoods, rolling hillsides, and lush gardens of Laguna’s beautiful region. 

Event details can be found by clicking here. 

Sunday October 4: Quick Draw Competition at Treasure Island. For an event recap, click here.

Saturday October 10: 22nd Annual Collectors Virtual Galan & Art Show Sale/Auction. Advance ticket purchase is needed for online access – click here.

This year, LAPA will be bringing the Gala to you! Plan to spend an enchanting evening from the comfort of your home with 25 of the nation’s top award-winning artists and fellow art lovers. LPAPA’s 22nd Annual Laguna Plein Air Collectors Gala will be a virtually inspired experience hosted online along with a Gourmet Reception Gift delivered for you and your guest to enjoy during the Gala. 

Virtually inspired Marshall

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Submitted photo

Daniel Marshall, “Singular Satisfaction”

Sunday October 11: Invitational Art Show & Online Sale/Auction 

Advance ticket needed for virtual access – click here.

Plan to join for some just plein awesome fun with a full day access to the Laguna Invitational Art Show & Virtual Events that will include access to the Invitational Art Auction, Plein Talks with the Award Winners, and more! One registration will give full access to the day’s programing for Sunday’s Virtual Experience. 

Participating Artists: Joe Anna Arnett, Cindy Baron, Carl Bretzke, Saim Caglayan, Bill Davidson, Rick J Delanty, Don Demers, Jed Dorsey, Bill Farnsworth, Mark Fehlman, Kathleen Hudson, Debra Huse, Calvin Liang, Daniel Marshall, David Marty, Jim McVicker, Terry Miura, Michael Obermeyer, Jason Sacran, Anthony Salvo, Aaron Schuerr, Jeff Sewell, Michael Situ, Barbara Tapp, and Michele Usibelli.

For additional information about the 22nd Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational or the LPAPA nonprofit art organization, contact Rosemary Swimm, LPAPA’s executive director, by phone at (949) 376-3635, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by visiting

Festival of Arts, the premier showcase for the arts, runs from July 5 – September 1

Laguna Beach Festival of Arts will let creativity run wild this summer with the prestigious Fine Arts Show on Thursday, July 5 – Saturday, September 1 and Pageant of the Masters’ “Under the Sun” Saturday, July 7 – Saturday, September 1. 

Celebrating its 86th year, the Festival of Arts’ prestigious juried Fine Arts Show showcases original artworks from 140 of Orange County’s finest artists and offers interactive art workshops, demos, special events, live music, wine and chocolate pairings, guided art tours, and more. 

In conjunction with the Fine Arts Show, the Pageant of the Masters world-famous theatrical celebration of art recreated in tableaux vivants – “living pictures”– will awe audiences nightly with spectacular stage illusions choreographed to original, live orchestra performance and engaging narration.

Festival of Arts Fine Art Show runs from July 5 – September 1, weekdays noon – 11:30 p.m., weekends 10 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. There will be early closing on August 25 at 1:30 p.m. 

Pageant of the Masters runs from July 7 – Septemger 1, with performances nightly at 8:30 p.m.

Festival of Arts Painting

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Franz A. Bischoff’s painting, Catching Fish at the Beach, at the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show

Festival of Arts Fine Art Show tickets are available online at General Admission tickets are $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends; Student tickets are $7 on weekdays and $11 on weekends; tickets for Children 6-12 are $5 daily; admission is free for Children 5 and under, Military, and Laguna Beach Residents.

For Pageant of the Masters ticket information and to purchase tickets, visit Tickets start at $15 per person. Pageant of the Masters ticket grants access to the Fine Arts Show.

Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

Laguna Art Museum presents One Night/One Painting

Author and critic Peter Clothier invites participants to spend a full hour in front of a single work of art at Laguna Art Museum on Thursday, Feb 28 at 6 p.m. Participants are encouraged to practice meditation and contemplation during the hour.

Laguna Art green

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Courtesy of

Join Laguna Art Museum for a night of contemplating art

Clothier is an internationally-known writer, speaker, and creative consultant who specializes in writing about contemporary art and artists, including the popular “Slow Looking: The Art of Looking at Art.” He has given talks for TEDx Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, and many other venues.

Advance reservations are recommended.

For more information, visit or call (949) 494-8971 x203

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

LCAD Bi-Annual Art Market Sale 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna College of Art + Design’s (LCAD) hosted its Bi-Annual Art Market Sale last weekend. Julian Velarde, Assistant Dean of Students at LCAD, says of the sale, “This [year]…forty talented students showcased paintings, prints, jewelry, pins, stickers, t-shirts, totes and other handmade unique creations…the event was a great success and the atmosphere was festive throughout. A special thank you to 4G Ventures for the generous use of their venue.”

LCAD Bi Annual shopping

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LCAD students Rachel Villanueva (left) and Angeline Chen

LCAD Bi Annual Mo

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Mo Honarkar (on right) greets shoppers at 4G Ventures showroom

LCAD Bi Annual chatting

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Festive atmosphere 

LCAD Bi annual table

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One-of-a-kind merchandise

Laguna Beach Live! Bluegrass and BBQ 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach Miskey

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The Miskey Mountain Boys perform live to a sell-out crowd at LCAD on Saturday for Bluegrass and BBQ presented by Laguna Beach Live!

Laguna Beach at tables

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LB Live! partnered with three local companies to deliver a great hometown experience: Laguna Beach Beer Company and Purple Corduroy offered libations to the happy crowd, while Gnarly Q served up smoked meats and veggies.

Laguna Beach trio

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Cindy Prewitt (middle) of Laguna Beach Live! is joined by two Laguna Beach Live! volunteers

Fete de la Musique 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Fete de parade

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Boardwalk parade – Elvis (David Gorgie) on left

Fete de Chutney

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Love Chutney at Areo 

Fete de Mike

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Mike DeBellis, jazz saxophonist at Pepper Tree Lane 

Fete de Tamara

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Sandro and Tamara, multilingual vocalists at LCAD Gallery parking cave

Fete de Blacktongue

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Blacktongue Bells, a real crowd-pleaser at the Water District…But the music never stops, so tune in on Friday to get the rest of the melodic missive from Barbara Diamond

Laguna Dance Festival artists dazzled at The Promenade last night

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Dance Wilkerson

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Lenai Wilkerson – Every Thursday through September 3 from 7 - 8:30 p.m., Laguna Dance Festival presents “Dancing Solo Together,” a series of free live dance solos at The Promenade at Forest with professional dance artists from across the country performing for shoppers, diners, and pedestrians

Laguna Dance Flynt and Stern

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Ardyn Flynt (in background) and Amaria Stern – Each performance is unique, highlighting solo dancers and their creative work. The four performers last evening were all from USC’s Kaufman School of Dance.

Laguna Dance Walton

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Rachel Walton – The dance presentations are intended to enhance the artistic experience embedded in the Laguna Beach lifestyle by offering dynamic and thought-provoking dance performances, while practicing social distancing and promoting the health and safety of all guests on The Promenade on Forest

Halloween at the Sawdust Outdoor Marketplace bound to be a spooktacular event

Calling all Gremlins and Goblins, the Sawdust Art Festival Outdoor Marketplace will host a family-friendly Halloween event on Saturday, Oct 31. Patrons of all ages are encouraged to dress up and join in on the spooktacular festivities. Children will receive individually wrapped goodie bags upon entry, and the beloved Balloon Diva will be onsite to entertain youth with themed balloon artistry. 

The Sawdust Art Festival Outdoor Marketplace will run every weekend through December 20, 2020. Patrons can support their local artists this holiday season by shopping for handmade gifts from an array of media including jewelry, ceramics, glass, textiles, and more. 

Halloween at pumpkins

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Submitted photo

Don’t miss the Halloween festivities this weekend at the Sawdust Outdoor Marketplace

Guests can also expect entertainment during their visit with live music scheduled all day on two stages, and outdoor dining provided by three restaurants and a saloon. 

The Sawdust Outdoor Marketplace offers a safe and enjoyable experience within its three-acre eucalyptus grove for the public to enjoy a day of the arts. Masks are required for entry and stringent safeguards are in place to ensure the safety of all guests, artists, and staff. 

The Sawdust Outdoor Marketplace is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $10 per adult and free for children ages 12 and under. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call (949) 494-3030. 

The Sawdust Outdoor Marketplace is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Shana Morrison performs her special brand of music at The Cliff this Friday, May 11 from 7 – 10 p.m.

Shana Morrison will perform her special brand of music at The Cliff this Friday night, May 11, from 7 - 10 p.m.

Shana Morrison with her band

From the release of her 1996 debut CD Caledonia, to the recent recording of “Rough God Goes Riding” on father Van Morrison’s “Duets: Re-working The Catalogue,”Shana makes music on her own terms. 

In the process of recording five original CDs, touring with her band, and being a featured guest artist touring with her father Van spanning over 25 years, Shana has developed a unique and wide-ranging vocal style, bending the blues and R&B to make for a powerful performance that proves family talent runs deep.  

Starting out as a pop/rock artist in the ‘90s, she has always incorporated American roots music into her live shows.

Shana will be joined by a stellar group featuring Bob Hawkins on guitar, Dave Batti on bass, John Hoke on drums, and Andy Hill on “everything else”.

The Cliff is located at 577 S Coast Hwy.

Peter Blake Gallery celebrates 25 years of fine art with exhibit and reception on June 30


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

To commemorate its 25th anniversary, Peter Blake Gallery presents an exhibit aptly named “Twenty Five Years,” which incorporates both historic and recent West Coast Abstraction. Blake invites the community to join the opening celebration at a reception on Sunday, June 30 from noon to 2 p.m.

To date Peter Blake Gallery is the longest-running gallery exhibiting West Coast Minimalism and has become internationally known as a gallery that has carved a niche. The Gallery honors this longevity with a presentation of works by Lita Albuquerque, Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Ron Cooper, Mary Corse, Tony Delap, Laddie John Dill, Joe Goode, James Hayward, Scot Heywood, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken, John M. Miller, Marcia Hafif, Ron Nagle, Helen Pashgian, Hadi Tabatabai, and De Wain Valentine. 

Over half of the pieces in the exhibit are on loan from major collections and Blake says, “This gives visitors the opportunity to view works they might never have had the opportunity to see.” At the close of the exhibit in August, they will go back to their owners. 

Peter Blake sign

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Peter Blake Gallery relocated to the current location in 2008

When entering the gallery, it’s immediately apparent that it is an extraordinary space – three to be exact. It has a serene and almost sacred feeling, as if stepping through the door of a church. This peaceful aura wasn’t created by happenstance.

Blake says, “Some contemporary fine art is politically driven, everything has a strong message. These works are peaceful and quiet, they reflect and absorb light like the ocean and sand.”

A shift to minimalism

In 2008 when Blake moved his gallery from North Laguna to Ocean Ave – it was a beauty supply store and before that The Diane Nelson Gallery – he shifted exclusively into minimalism. He gutted the interior and divided it into three areas, the first with natural light, the second with natural and controlled light, the third contains totally controlled light. “The pieces capture the traveling of light. Sometimes the shadows are as beautiful as the work itself,” he says.

The snow-blink white walls are hung with a scattering of works, some have their own “nooks and crannies” as he describes them. Blake has the opinion that less is more, and the austere quality only adds to the mystique of the space. 

Peter Blake Alexander

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Work by Peter Alexander 1-10-14

Blake explains, “West Coast Minimalism originated in the 1960s and 1970s. Artists visiting the California Coast weren’t interested in brushes to capture the white light of the beaches and ocean. They were using resin and metal with auto paint.”

Blake brings together the sub-categories of West Coast Minimalism – Light and Space, Finish Fetish, Cool School, and Hard-Edge – in the installation, and it appears as a wonderfully cohesive whole.

Each work of art is strategically placed. Blake says, “The installation is done over time. As works come in, they are placed in composition with the other pieces, so they form a collage. Each new show presents a challenge.” 


Milestones often bring reflections on the past, and as Blake observes the occasion of the Gallery’s 25th anniversary, he contemplates his history in Laguna, his 55th birthday on Thursday, his first six months as a Council member, and his recent purchase of the building that houses the Gallery, the first property he has owned in Laguna.

As exquisite as the Gallery is, Blake says, “A brick and mortar location isn’t necessary, most of my business is done online and at art fairs, but I love Laguna and being part of the community and its rich artistic history.”

Peter Blake interior

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Blake recently purchased the building that houses the Gallery

He and his wife Stephanie Bachiero travel all over the world for the art fairs – London, Paris, Sydney. 

The Gallery has been accepted into this year’s edition of Salon Art + Design New York, and this fall, they will be highlighting Brazilian Design and California Minimalism in their booth at the fair. They have also applied the Antoine Philippon & Jacqueline Lecoq solo presentation to Design Miami. 

Art fairs

Some of the recent fairs they’ve attended are: Seattle Art Fair 2017, Peter Alexander Solo Presentation at Expo Chicago 2018, and Fred Eversley Solo Presentation at the Armory Show 2018.

“I’m very proud to represent Laguna Beach at these art fairs,” Blake says.

When he came here in the 1980s, he said, “I’d never lived in a small town.” But he was smitten once he drove past the house on top of the ridge at the south end of Crystal Cove. He was born in Long Island, NY, lived in Dallas and Washington, D.C., and when he arrived here, worked as a waiter at Romeo Cucina. 

Peter Blake Valentine and Miller

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On left, De Wain Valentine, “Concave Circle Rose,” 1968; on right, John Miller, “Untitled,” 1995

With the new Gallery location came a different artistic direction, which he felt intuitively he should focus on, but it wasn’t without its downsides. The move took place just as the recession hit in September of 2008.

“It was a huge transition,” he says. “But as an art dealer, I couldn’t realize my full potential, so I made a dramatic shift. It took a while to get the Gallery off the ground. I worked at Romeo Cucina for five years until it became profitable. Now a lot of my business is buying and selling and remarketing of works we sold in the 1990s.”

Highs and lows

Blake and his wife, artist Stephanie Bachiero, have entered another artistic realm, incorporating design into collectible pieces. They have recently shown at Palm Springs Modernism Show Spring Edition 2019, KEM Weber Walt Disney Studio Designs at Design Miami 2018, and The Tendency of the Moment | International Deign: The Bauhaus Through Modern, Peter Blake Gallery 2017.

He has also survived through three recessions. “People stop buying art,” he says.

Even though there have been lows, Blake says the best part of being an art dealer is “doing exactly what you love to do, knowing you won’t get rich, but it’s rewarding.”

Peter Blake Lita

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Lita Albuquerque, “Untitled,” 2019, 24K gold leaf on resin, pigment on panel

“We do most of our business online and at fairs, so we could live anywhere in the world, but we choose to live in Laguna because we love this place. By purchasing this building, I’m saying I’m going to be here for the rest of my life.”

Excerpted from an essay written for the anniversary by prominent collector/Gallery friend Gisela Colon, she says, “Peter Blake falls into this category of the classic quintessential old-fashioned gallerist. He is one of them, not because he has been in the art world for twenty-five years – though this in and of itself is a feat of endurance and undeterred presence – but most importantly because he has the eye. By any tangible metric, Peter possesses the intangible asset of seeing the aesthetic of the future.”

Peter Blake Gallery is located at 435 Ocean Ave.

For more information, go to or call (949) 376-9994.

Timeless wonder of Festival of Arts electrifies large crowd at Preview Party


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

On Wednesday evening, the buzz in the air was palpable as the crowd mingled among artist booths during Preview Night at the Festival of Arts (FOA). No matter how many times one goes to the Festival of Arts, the anticipation never wanes. Each year is different and the raw excitement of seeing the unique and innovative creations of longtime exhibitors and new propels visitors among the maze of booths. 

The Festival’s prestigious juried art show includes a wide variety of media such as paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, handcrafted wood and furniture, ceramics, glass and more – all by 140 of Orange County’s finest artists. 

The timeless costumes

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Lisa M. Berman and artist Kathe Madrigal with time travelers Stacey and Benjamin 

Of course, the Pageant of the Masters theme of The Time Traveler echoed throughout the grounds. Attendees were asked to dress up in their favorite time period and many did, to the delight of all. Steampunk costumes were a favorite and added a wonderful whimsy to the night. 

Part of the overall party atmosphere was the fun of spotting friends and then enjoying the beautiful weather, food, libations, and music that played throughout the evening.

First-time exhibitor Lisa Kijak describes her pieces: “My textile work explores texture and its ability to illustrate the passage of time. I use layers of fabric and stitch to recreate the peeling paint and chipped surfaces of neon signs left in disrepair.”

The timeless Lisa

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First-time exhibitor Lisa Kijak and her textile works

After her first night at FOA, she said, “The experience of exhibiting at Festival of Arts for the first time has been magical and exciting. This is a community of supportive, brilliant, fine artists, who have welcomed me as a newcomer with open arms. I am truly honored to be the only fiber artist exhibiting this year. I can’t wait for the rest of the summer and look forward to sharing my work with the festival attendees.”

Jeweler Lance Heck has been exhibiting for 34 consecutive years and was juried in when he was just 18 years old. (He admits he misses the lawn and surrounding booths of the old FOA grounds, but is getting used to the new arrangement.) “While working mostly in 18k gold, platinum and fine gemstones, my pieces are contemporary in design with craftsmanship that is ‘old world.’”

The timeless Lance

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Jeweler Lance Heck has been exhibiting for 34 consecutive years

Accolades for the event came from first-time and return visitors as well.

Kristine Thalman, president of Laguna Beach Seniors says, “This is the most all-encompassing event in Laguna! Beautiful art, good friends old and new, expressive and fun dress, fantastic music, uninhibited dancing, and all in an extraordinary setting. I never take this for granted! We are truly blessed!”

The booth of photographer Jeff Rovner, who has been exhibiting since 2017, drew quite a bit of attention. This year he’s exhibiting a portfolio of six photographs that merge his passion for photography with his work experience in the field of artificial intelligence. Each photograph of a vintage toy represents an application of artificial intelligence. The lucite pane protecting each photograph is laser-etched with an excerpt of a machine learning computer code for that application. The etched letters cast a shadow on the photograph behind them.

The timeless Jeff

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Jeff Rovner (on right) and booth visitor

Bree Poort, who works in mixed media, is a first-time exhibitor and one of the youngest to ever exhibit at the Festival. “I never thought I’d be one of these artists. It’s so cool.” In a description of her work, she says, “My artwork is deeply inspired by the ocean and the power and peace she brings. Using resin and acrylics, my work is like flying over the ocean and getting the bird’s eye view perspective.”

Rachelle Weir’s figurative sculptures are “introspective and expressive.” She says of her work, “I take inspiration from vintage materials that are rich, tactile and authentic, most of which come from treasure hunts in dusty barns, wood piles, and flea markets.” She uses many diverse materials and construction techniques in her work and is especially drawn to woodcarving and the use of found elements in her sculptures. 

The timeless Glori

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No Laguna event is complete without Glori Fickling – with Harry Huggins at the booth of Rachelle Weir and her figurative sculptures

After attending on Wednesday, Joan Gladstone, artist and trustee of Laguna College of Art and Design, said, “I feel very fortunate to live in a town that values art and artists and offers exceptional venues like the Festival of Arts. I was impressed by the wonderful new works by longtime Festival artists as well as intriguing artwork by many new exhibitors. There were so many friends to talk to at the preview party, and so much to see, that I’m going to return very soon to take it all in.”

That seemed to be the general consensus – it requires more than one visit to take in all the incredible works of art. Time to go back.

Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd.

It runs from July 5 - August 31, 2019.

Festival hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 11:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. There is early closing on August 24 at 1 p.m.

For more information, go to

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, see slideshow below

LAM’s Seventh Annual Art & Nature Festival celebrates nature-inspired art this weekend


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Executive Director of Laguna Art Museum (LAM) Malcolm Warner describes the Seventh Annual Art & Nature Festival as “a celebration of art inspired by nature,” and the four featured artists –Thomas Hunt, Laurie Brown, Mildred Bryant Brooks, and Yorgo Alexopoulos – each represent that theme in vastly different ways.

The festival is a multidisciplinary exploration of art’s many and various engagements with the natural world, and this journey continues all weekend through Sunday, Nov 10. For the first time in the event’s history, the commissioned work of art – this year by Yorgo Alexopoulos – will be inside the museum rather than outside and will be on view after Art & Nature weekend through January 5, 2020.

On Wednesday, members of the media had the unique opportunity to preview the artists’ works and view the multimedia installation by Alexopoulos –with the added treat of an explanation of the work provided by the artist himself.

LAM's Seventh Mildred

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Malcolm Warner explains “The Last Tree” etching by Mildred Bryant Brooks 

The works of Hunt, Brown, and Brooks have been on exhibit at LAM since October 13, and each artist has a unique approach to the issue of landscape and environment.

A preservationist, Mildred Bryant Brooks is known for her landscape etchings, many of which depict trees – such as her piece The Last Tree. 44 of her etchings from the 1930s and 1940s are on display.

Warner says, “She often portrayed nature under threat and the danger of it being undermined by development, as represented by the oil derricks in her work Black Mirror.”

Thomas Hunt is best known for his colorful coastal scenes. His exhibit Thomas Hunt: California Modernist features 50 paintings characterized by his distinctive style, which involves broad brushwork and the bold effect of light and reflection. Hunt was an active member of the LB Art Association. 

LAM's Seventh Thomas

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Thomas Hunt is known for his colorful coastal scenes

Displayed in the museum’s beautifully renovated basement, photographer Laurie Brown’s work depicts mankind’s relationship to the landscape in less comfortable ways, “dwelling in the zones that form a no-man’s land between the man-made and the natural.” Periphery #11, Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, 1995 shows the patterns left by bulldozers on the hillside during the development of Newport Coast. 

LAM's Seventh Laurie

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Photographer Laurie Brown depicts man-made impact on the natural world

As the riveting centerpiece of the event, Art & Nature presents 360° Azimuth, a specially commissioned work by Alexopoulos for the festival. The site-specific installation is on view inside the museum through January 5, 2020. 

A mesmerizing experience, Alexopoulos’s large-scale installation features a two channel video projection with sound and invites the viewer to be part of it. As described, “the landscape symbols become metaphoric ‘characters’ in an animistic meta-narrative where reality and constructs of our collective subconscious seem to co-exist. Using landscape symbolism as a point of departure, he combines Euclidean geometric shapes with a multiplicity of moving images, whether filmed, photographed, painted, or drawn, that unite representation and abstraction into a common aesthetic.”

An American-born artist of Greek descent, Alexopoulos graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in Los Angeles. He creates paintings, time-based media artworks, and installations. He often synchronizes multiple monitors or projections in a dynamic ensemble to create an ever-changing immersive spectacle. 

LAM's Seventh Yorgo

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Yorgo Alexopoulos in front of “360° Azimuth”

Alexopoulos says, “Throughout history, nature has been constantly interwoven in religion and other cultural aspects, and I’m sensitive to how humans interact with landscape. Thirty thousand years ago, humans personified landscape/nature, and the sun and other elements became gods. They’re all different methods of landscape as symbol.” 

Inspired by various types of landscapes, he says, “It’s not the content or where it was filmed, but how landscape is being presented. Everything was shot at same angle using motorized dollies.” 

The photographs are from all over the world and drawn from his collection of 25 years of photography. He adds, “But there is CGI [computer-generated imagery] in the installation.”

Addressing the question of the various landscapes – deserts, oceans, mountains, and streams – in his installation, Alexopoulos says, “The body of work is like a narrative with the landscapes as different chapters. It has open-ended meaning. This is very liberating and experimental, something new and fresh, and I’m part of the pioneer process.”

His work is captivating and shouldn’t be missed. 

Activities throughout the weekend

 Throughout the weekend, there are many other activities for visitors to experience. There will be a keynote lecture by Professor Alan Braddock; a film screening; a panel discussion; and a free family festival exploring art and the natural world. 

Friday, Nov 8: 

6 - 9 p.m. – Keynote Lecture: On November 8, Alan Braddock, Ph.D. will give the keynote lecture, From Nature to Ecology: The Emergency of Ecocritical Art History

Saturday, Nov 9: 

11:30 a.m. – Film: LAM screens A Boy’s Dream, a documentary about the artist Theo Jansens, who creates large-scale “beach animals” that move independently, powered by the wind.

12:30 - 2:30 p.m. – Book Signing: Elizabeth Turk signs copies of the recently-published book documenting Shoreline Project, the 2018 Art & Nature commissioned work. 

2:30 - 4 p.m.Art in a Time of Climate Change: Professor Victoria Vesna leads a conversation with Linda Weintraub, the author of To Life!: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet.

4 - 5 p.m. – Educators discuss how the idea of art inspired by environmental consciousness can be applied in the classroom.

6 p.m. Reception, 7 p.m. Lecture: In Person: Yorgo Alexopoulos: Yorgo Alexopoulos discusses his work, including this year’s Art & Nature commissioned piece.

Sunday, Nov 10 – Family Festival: LAM offers a day of free admission on November 10, plus family yoga with Bala Shala, hands-on art and science activities with partner organizations, and a family-friendly concert by Birdsong and the Eco-Wonders.

10 - 11 a.m. Family Yoga

11 a.m. - 2 p.m. – Hands-on Art & Nature: Art, nature, and science activities by Laguna Ocean Foundation, Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, LB Laureate Lojo Simon, Ocean Institute, Pacific Mammal Center, Newport Bay Conservancy, Center for Art Education and Sustainability, and the Art Division. 

2 - 3 p.m. – Birdsong and the Eco-Wonders

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Dr, on the corner of Pacific Coast Hwy and Cliff Dr.

Admission: General admission: $7, Students (18+) and Seniors (60+): $5, visitors aged 17 and under: free, museum members: free.

For more information, click here.

Local artist installs sculpture COVID Crisis to promote hope during pandemic


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

In South Laguna, there’s an art installation that is both eye-catching and thought provoking. Laguna Beach glass and multimedia artist Leslie Davis recently installed a new glass and steel sculpture, COVID Crisis, as a symbol of much-needed optimism in these trying times.

“I was motivated to make this sculpture to promote hope rather than fear of the virus,” says Davis. “We are a close community of family, friends, and neighbors that can protect each other with our masks up.”

The orange color on the COVID-19 virus symbolizes its constant mutations.

Local artist cropped

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The intersection of art and science

Davis has a long history of marrying art and science in her work. 

Her first show on viruses, Worlds in Collision, was exhibited at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art Gallery in 2005. The intent of the show was to raise public awareness about emerging diseases and gave recognition to unsung medical researchers who fight for cures and treatments through lifetimes of dedication. 

In that exhibition, Davis became redirected to use her visual art as a voice for stem cell research: to advance hope for paralyzed veterans, Parkinson’s disease, and treatment for blindness. The Art of Stem Cells show featured conceptual works by 29 artists. Their themes addressed debilitating diseases and injuries and the work of scientists trying to find cures. 

Local artist closeup

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Color orange on the COVID-19 virus symbolizes its constant mutations

In a blog post in 2014 for the UCI Stem Cell Research Center, Davis explained how the Art of Stem Cells brought together the two distinct worlds of art and science.

“I first became interested in using my art for medicine and education after reading the work of a ‘young Harvard med student’ in the book Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracey Kidder. The novel told a story told of how one determined man helped the plight of people in Haiti living with Tuberculosis. He was successful in bringing first world treatment to third world citizens through his worldwide organization, Partners in Health.” 

Local artist sign

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Work by artist Leslie Davis

“From this inspiration, I created the ‘virus’ show, World in Collision, in 2005, with conceptual metal and glass sculptures on HIV, TB, malaria, and breast cancer. I interviewed the researchers and painted 4’ x 5’ portraits of them, banded with images of the viruses. I wanted to bring recognition to these dedicated scientists who give so much of their lives to saving ours and to educate the public about their work.”

The interweaving of science and art also appears in three of her other works: Gastrulation, which combines a glass base with finely sanded circles and ovals from Manzanita branches, representing growing and dividing cells; Vanishing Point, a glass and metal sculpture dedicated to her stepmother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s; and Born Again, Renew, a tribute to stem cell’s possibilities.

It’s been said that, “The commonality between science and art is in trying to see profoundly – to develop strategies of seeing and showing.”

Davis is doing just that, and what a gift to our community she is.

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Wine Gallery’s hidden gem menu

By Diane Armitage

For years now, I’ve been extolling the cooking virtues of Chef Josh at our locals’ favorite Wine Gallery. While most folks are more than happy to partake in his wings or various creatives pizzas, I always like to try something from the “real” menu of entrées every time I visit. His food is such a great treat!

Wine Gallery's Josh

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Chef Josh Mason, Wine Gallery

Courtyard Patio Adds to Charm

This Tuesday, I popped into Wine Gallery to meet one of my dear buddies, Ali North, from nearby Surf and Sand Resort. We opted for the courtyard patio just behind the restaurant, though the restaurant is now open to 25 percent capacity inside. 

Business partners Chris Olsen and Paul Spiegelman have toed the line on following the safest protocols since our COVID outbreak, and there’s no exception here with the latest indoor seating protocols. The menus are also available via QR code scan to your phone. 

In March, Chris and Paul took on a leadership role with a handful of other Laguna Beach restaurateurs, establishing an alliance that worked in weekly mastermind and idea swapping. Thanks to their efforts, and with help from the City and – particularly – City Councilmember Sue Kempf, restaurants throughout Laguna Beach received “TUPs” (Temporary Use Permits) to expand their outdoor seating options.

Wine Gallery's patio

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Courtesy of Wine Gallery

Wine Gallery enjoys expanded patio dining on two levels

Wine Gallery was not only able to snake its way onto larger patio space on its first-floor courtyard, but also add seating to the second level hallways above. As a plus, most of that seating has awesome ocean views.

As Chris chatted with us, he told me that the TUPs are set to expire at the end of October. 

“These permits were our saving grace this summer,” Chris said. “With the weather as great as it is, I’m hoping the City will be willing to expand our TUPs past October. There are still so many people who just feel better about dining outside, and it’s created a real ‘Euro-feel’ with all these sidewalk cafes,” he added. 

Two little known entrées you have to try 

Foregoing the usual appetizers and salads, we opted to start and end with entrées.

Apparently influenced by the “Euro-feel” comment from Chris, I chose Steak Frites. 

Everyone I know who’s traveled somewhere in France (including me) has a great Steak Frites story. I first tried Steak Frites in Paris, and then became an ardent fan of the same dish at Mon Ami Gabi at Las Vegas’ Paris Hotel. Every few weeks, when I’d visit my Michelin-starred French cuisine restaurant clients, I’d try to make a casual lunch stop for myself on that restaurant’s cafe patio facing the Bellagio fountains. Because I try to reserve both steak and french fries to an “occasional” treat, Steak Frites does a lovely job of solving both hankerings.

Chef Josh’s version is no exception. The 8-ounce flat iron steak is perfectly seared with a dollop of classic demi glaze, and the fries are fresh and cooked to perfection with just a hint of herbs and salt. 

Wine Gallery's steak

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Wine Gallery’s Steak Frites

Ali opted for Calabrian Shrimp, so named for the famed Calabrian hot chili pepper paste that originated in Italy’s toe-of-the-boot town, Calabria. The dish lived up to its name, a spicy and hearty meld of jumbo shrimp, roasted peppers. and seared tomato in a truly splendid sauce.   

Wine Gallery's shrimp

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Wine Gallery’s Calabrian Shrimp

Of course, our server suggested lovely wine companions for each dish. Years ago, Chris originally created Wine Gallery as a retail hub for great wines. He started in Corona del Mar, eventually expanding to “light bites,” and then a larger menu, and then another restaurant in Laguna Beach altogether. A few years ago, he closed the CdM location to focus his efforts on his own hometown, and Chef Josh circled back to join him once again in the kitchen. 

Although Chris’ business plan has markedly changed over time, he still serves up some of the rarest finds and offers more than 25 wines by the glass on a daily basis. 

In the initial weeks of COVID when Wine Gallery chose to close its doors, Chris kept very busy delivering bottles of wine to Laguna neighbors. The restaurant continues to provide its entire menu and wine menu on a “to go” basis. 

Truly one of the friendliest local “watering holes,” Wine Gallery is a stellar treat every time I mosey my way there. The restaurant recently closed for Monday nights, but is open the remaining six nights of the week at 4:30 p.m. Wine Gallery is at 1833 S. Coast Highway, #110, just below our local radio station, KX FM Radio. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).

Food and festivities continue at Sawdust Outdoor Marketplace

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Fun was had by all during the past weekend at the Sawdust Outdoor Marketplace. Along with the wonderful artists and artisans exhibiting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekend until December 20, there is also a wonderful variety of food choices and exciting entertainment to make visits a top-notch experience.

Food and tacos

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Tacos Durrell is known for its tasty tacos, fat burritos, fresh salsas, mouthwatering nachos, hand-rolled taquitos, and an awesome breakfast burrito – also scratch soups and homemade seasonal pies, too

Libations can be found at the Sawdust Saloon – which features one of the largest and coldest draft selections in town, great wine, and other refreshing libations. 

Evan’s Gourmet Bistro serves healthy, fresh, and organic gourmet specialties, from salads to fried asparagus. The eatery’s culinary creations are made with quality ingredients and a lot of love.

Food and Salty Suites

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The Salty Suites entertained on October 18

The entertainment schedule for the upcoming weekend includes Upstream on Saturday, Oct 24 from 12:30 to 4:50 p.m. at the Deck; Andrew Corradini on Sunday, Oct 25 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Grill; and Kurtis & Alisa on Sunday, Oct 25 from 12:30 to 4:50 p.m. at the Deck.

Food and GG's Bistro

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Serenaded by guitarist, visitors dine at GG’s Mediterranean Express, which features fresh Mediterranean appetizers, soups, salads, pita sandwiches, kebabs, fish & fries, breakfast items, and baklava 

The Outdoor Marketplace offers a safe and intimate environment within Sawdust’s historical 3-acre eucalyptus grove where patrons can shop and enjoy outdoor dining and live music.

Nearly 100 local artists will rotate through 48 spaces every weekend over the course of the event, providing a unique opportunity for patrons to shop art directly from some of their favorite artists.

For ticket information, safety guidelines, exhibiting artists, and details, click here. 

For more photos by Mary Hurlbut, see the slideshow below

LAM recommends signs that recall the City’s history as an art colony – informative rather than directional

As part of the museum’s centennial celebrations, and in celebration of the Laguna Beach’s artistic legacy, Laguna Art Museum earlier this year proposed that the City install informational signs above existing street signs on several streets that are named for the great early artists who lived and/or worked in Laguna Beach. 

LAM recommends Wendt

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Submitted photo

Example of signs pointing to Laguna’s historic and artistic heritage

The museum’s curator of historical art, Janet Blake, identified six artists whose names became the following street names:

Cuprien Way (Frank Cuprien)

Galen Drive (William Galen Doss)

Griffith Way (William Griffith)

Hill Street, originally Hills (Anna Hills)

Hinkle Place (Clarence Hinkle)

Wendt Terrace (William Wendt)

With great support from Centennial Executive Committee co-chair Betsy Jenkins (Woman of the Year 2018) and City Council member Bob Whalen, and a sign design by Bill Atkins, the city has approved the signs. 

The signs are set to be installed soon, and will be a nice way to educate visitors and residents about this history, show pride for the city’s heritage, and help reinforce Laguna Beach’s legacy as an artist colony.

Laguna Beach Music Festival kicks off tomorrow, Feb 6 and continues through the weekend

The 2019 Laguna Beach Music Festival kicks off tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb 6, featuring Festival Artistic Director and Grammy-nominated pianist Joyce Yang, Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Conrad Tao, and Grammy-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich.

The world-renowned Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Peter Jay Sharp Prize winner cellist Efe Baltacigil, and violinist/violist Yura Lee, who was the only first prizewinner across four categories at the prestigious ARD Competition in Germany, will also be performing at the festival. 

Laguna Beach Joyce

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Photo KT Kim

Festival Director Joyce Yang

The concerts take place at the Laguna Playhouse and the outreach events take place at various venues in Laguna Beach. Join Laguna Beach Live! and the Philharmonic Society for this week of discovery and celebration of outstanding music.

On Wednesday, Feb 6 at 6 p.m., the festival starts with a prelude featuring Joyce Yang on the piano at the Laguna Art Museum. 

Festival supporters will meet the musicians and mingle with fellow music lovers for a festive evening of delicious food, fine wine, and incredible music. Attendees will enjoy an exclusive performance by Joyce Yang and experience her vision of the synergy of music and visual art as multimedia artist Tripp Derrick Barnes creates a masterpiece to Yang’s performance. 

On Thursday, Feb 7 at 10:45 a.m., Laguna Beach High School students are invited to a private lecture and piano performance with festival Director Joyce Yang. 

Cellist Efe Balticigil will perform and talk to guests on Friday Feb 8 at 10 a.m. at the Susi Q. Space is limited.

The Opening Night Concert on Friday, Feb 8 starts at 8 p.m. at the Laguna Playhouse and features Joyce Yang and cellist Efe Baltacigil in a program of dance-inspired musical works. The second half features Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in “Dream Play,” a work by acclaimed choreographer Fernando Melo. (This performance is co-presented and in collaboration with Laguna Dance Festival.)

On Saturday, Feb 9 at 8 p.m. at the Laguna Playhouse, a duo recital built around André Previn’s “Tango, Song, and Dance,” Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich and Joyce Yang showcase dance-inspired pieces from various cultures influenced by tango, jazz, and folk melodies.

The Laguna Beach Music Festival ends on Sunday, Feb 10 at 3 p.m. with a Finale Concert: Romantic Masterworks at the Laguna Playhouse. The Festival culminates in a passionate musical exploration of romance-themed masterworks by Ravel, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev. In this pre-Valentine’s Day concert, violinist/violist Yura Lee, pianist Conrad Tao, and cellist Efe Baltacigil join Joyce Yang.

For tickets to Laguna Beach Music Festival concerts, visit

Local favorite 133 band performs at Mozambique on Monday

On Monday, June 3, join together with friends for a night of rockin’ fun at Mozambique, as local favorite 133 band performs from 7 - 10 p.m.

The 133 band includes music director Steve Wood and his wife Beth (also of Honk), Jason Feddy, Missiles of October’s Poul Pedersen, lead guitarist Bob Hawkins, drummer Frank Cotinola, bass guitarist Alan Deremo, Nick Hernandez, and songwriter Clay Berryhill.

Local favorite 133 band

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Photo by Traci Pedersen

The 133 band putting on a lively show 

The band represents a mixture of diverse genres such as reggae, rock, and “Mad Englishmen.” They have an album in the works, and a video of them making it.

Mozambique is located at 1740 South Coast Hwy.

LCAD main campus to stay at present site


The main campus of Laguna College of Art and Design will not be moving closer to town.

College President Jonathan Burke informed Stu News on Wednesday that school officials decided after due consideration to keep the main campus where it is, rather than relocating to property owned by the Laguna Beach Company on Laguna Canyon Frontage Road.

“We did have conversations with the city and with the company,” said Burke. “The proposal was appealing, but we decided to stay where we are.

“Everyone loves the present location. It is so uniquely right for our Fine Arts Campus. It is our legacy.”

LCAD main campus

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Submitted photo

LCAD main campus will remain at its present site, according to President Jonathan Burke

The college is bound inextricably with the city’s history as an art colony, a legacy not to be taken lightly, said Burke, the 13th president in the school’s history.

Laguna was discovered by artists in the late early 1900s, drawn by the light and the terrain. Plein air painters such as Edgar Payne and Anna Hills founded the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918.

However, Laguna’s artists were hard hit by the Depression. In 1932, they made a desperate attempt to bring visitors to Laguna – visitors hopefully with money. 

To attract those visitors, the artists hung paintings on fences and other unlikely places. The community organized activities such as tours of artist homes and an outdoor pageant. 

That gave birth to the Festival of Arts on which grounds the Laguna Beach School of Art was founded in 1961.

The school was moved in 1977 to its present site at 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd despite grumblings from environmentalists who lamented any construction that intruded into the open space.

Through numerous name changes and tumults in the administration, the college has survived and now thrives. 

According to college records the school offers 10 undergraduate majors, three graduate degree programs, eight minors, and a Post-Baccalaureate program.

Known since 2002 as the Laguna College of Art and Design, the school now boasts a student population of more than 600 full-time students, accommodated on seven sites, including the Main Campus, throughout Laguna Canyon and Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach Live! brings the spirit of music to Glennwood House

The residents of Glennwood House, a locally supported living community for adults with developmental disabilities, were treated to a rousing performance of Beatles songs and holiday music on Thursday, Dec 18 by the talented musician Jason Feddy.

The interactive concert was the first presentation at Glennwood House coordinated by Laguna Beach Live!, a local nonprofit that brings professional musicians to Laguna Beach and provides free music educational outreach to local organizations. 

Laguna Beach dancing

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Submitted photo

Glennwood residents enjoying interactive concert with Jason Feddy 

“Performances where musicians and audience members get to interact and experience the pure joy of music are at the heart of what we do,” says Sara Warner, Education Director for Laguna Beach Live! 

“Musicians like Jason understand the value of that and seek to create it whenever they perform. Presenting music at Glennwood House was a joy for us and we hope to collaborate again soon.”

Thanks to the generous grants provided by the City of Laguna Beach, Assistance League of Laguna Beach, Ebell Club of Laguna Beach, and the Festival of Arts Foundation, Laguna Beach Live! continues to present rewarding musical experiences throughout the community. 

For more information about musical educational outreach or Laguna Beach Live!’s many upcoming classical and jazz concerts, visit or call (949) 715-9713.

Sculptor Tom Fruin brings feeling of home to Laguna with Camouflage House at City Hall


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

For three months, residents and visitors will have the unique pleasure of experiencing sculptor Tom Fruin’s Camouflage House, which was just installed on the lawn of City Hall. “Experience” is the perfect word, since it’s not just visual involvement, but an interactive encounter as well – visitors can enter the Camouflage House and view it from the inside. 

Just after sunset on Monday, Fruin unveiled his temporary art installation to onlookers by lighting the mosaic patchwork, illuminating the vivid colors like individual gems. In the daylight, the viewing experience constantly changes and evolves as the sun moves. Fruin’s sculpture, constructed of recycled materials, is an exploration of light.

He described the process, “It was about taking mundane things and making them into stained glass. It’s all recycled materials. It has a warm side and a glassy side.”

One side is orange and red, the other is blue tones.

Sculptor Tom house

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Patchwork design gives stained glass effect

The Camouflage House sculpture is created of welded steel, salvaged signage, bits of plexiglass sourced throughout New York City, and other found materials. Fruin has been constructing these houses for years, the first one was in Copenhagen.

Chair of the Laguna Beach Arts Commission Adam Schwerner opened the event, “The sculpture just came from Descanso Gardens. We’re so pleased it’s here now.”

Giving kudos to the Arts Commission, Mayor Bob Whalen said, “The Arts Commission members continue to do fun pieces that engage visitors and residents. Thanks to Adam and Tom. We’re thrilled to have the piece here. Driving up the street, people will talk about it. The Arts Commission has done an outstanding job. They are central to the community and an inspiration.” 

Sculptor Tom close up

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Tom Fruin and his “Camouflage House”

Mayor Whalen then recognized Councilwoman Sue Kempf for her part in the endeavor.

To evoke the feeling of home in Camouflage House, Fruin said, “The pattern is all derived from the pattern of a quilt, making scraps of material into a larger whole. It’s an analogy for the safety and security of home.” 

Nationally acclaimed for his iconic Watertower sculptures in Brooklyn, where Fruin now lives and works, he moved to New York one month after graduating from University of California, Santa Barbara in 1996 (he we born in Los Angeles). 

“I had to go to New York. It was an art mecca in the 90s,” he said during the artist’s talk with Schwerner following the installation. 

Sculptor Tom Adam

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Adam Schwerner interviews Tom Fruin

Part of Fruin’s internationally recognized Icon series, Watertowers, of which there are nine in New York, he said, “I felt they were organic – being made of water and wood – in a hard-edged world.” 

How Fruin began collecting trash is an interesting story. “When I moved to Brooklyn there was always trash on my doorstep. I started picking it up – coffee lids, cigarette packages, drug bags, candy wrappers. They were indicators of human behavior. I wanted to turn it on its ear. In stitching the items together, I wanted to integrate them into a whole.”

In doing his found drug-bag quilts and flags, for which he is well known,

Fruin describes the process, “I picked geographic locations, then went through the physical process of collecting what was unique, what stood out, to make my own narrative.” 

He did that for a number of years and then moved into more purist forms.

Sculptor Tom audience

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Audience includes Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl (front row) and Arts Commission Vice-Chair Pat Kollenda (on right)

Schwerner asked if Fruin sees Camouflage House as a church. “It’s meant to be semi-dramatic, as influence and referencing.”

Clearly, some may view it as a church as there have been spontaneous weddings inside some of the houses.

Whether you see Camouflage House as an analogy for home or a sacred space like a chapel, it beckons you to come inside.

Camouflage House will go to Santa Barbara after this installation.

Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl thanked public art advocate and specialist Kady Yellow for her participation in the event.

The program was funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

For more information on the artist, visit

City Hall is located at 505 Forest Ave.

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Documentary Tuscany Beyond Expectations fills that travel yearning

By Diane Armitage

Three years ago, a Laguna-based financial advisor friend introduced me to Brian Gendece. My friend was a giant foodie fan, and Brian had recently retired with the idea to expand his cooking hobby as “The Showbiz Chef.”

Brian and I hit it off like age-old friends. Brian had been a longtime, top-flight talent agent for Broadway and Hollywood, and we’ve had plenty of masterminding sessions that span the gamut of topics. 

Several weeks ago, Brian’s first documentary on Tuscany, Tuscany Beyond Expectations, went live on Amazon Prime. Anyone who knows Brian knows that this is hardly a surprise – this guy lives at such a high frequency of life that he chews and digests big goals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Documentary Brian and Brunello

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Courtesy of Brian Gendece

Filmmaker Brian Gendece, right, chats with Brunello Vintner Annibale as they sit in wheelbarrows that Annibale hand-painted

After a truly chaotic week last, I flumped myself down on my couch last Friday evening to watch Brian’s show. I was so exhausted. It was only moments later, though, that I was mesmerized. In just the opening sequence, I felt my blood pressure drop. 

“See Tuscany through our eyes”

The last time I met Brian in person, he was days away from leaving for Tuscany for this very trip. Out of the blue, one of his followers on Facebook had invited Brian to come to Tuscany to “see it through their eyes.” Having just been through a personal loss, Brian simply shrugged, purchased plane tickets, and started researching film cameras. 

“I didn’t have a plan or a script or a story, and I didn’t know a thing about my host,” said Brian. “I just decided to be present and see what happens.”

He wasn’t disappointed. The morning after his arrival, Brian was right in the middle of the annual wine barrel races between the eight historical neighborhoods of Montepulciano.

Documentary Tuscany barrel race

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Courtesy of of Brian Gendece

Montepulciano’s wine barrel races

From there it was interviews with the 90-year-old famed godfather of suit-making, hanging out with wine-making families, preparing dinner with a Michelin-starred chef, and more. 

Documentary Tuscany chef

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Courtesy of Brian Gendece

Preparing dinner with a Michelin-starred chef

My favorite had to do with Vintner Annibale Parisi, one of the better-known Brunello di Montalcino creators who releases just 5,000 bottles a year. I’ve never observed a man more passionate about his craft. 

Documentary Tuscany Brunello

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Courtesy of Brian Gendece

Vintner Annibale Parisi’s annual Brunello release

A different time and pace

Brian’s stories roll on and on as these short vignettes tell a tale of a world that lives far from chaos, bustle, and stress. 

It brought back memories of my own solo travels to Italy when I simply trusted strangers to pick me up at a tiny train stop, insert me in their Michelin kitchen for a “hands on” cooking school, and buzz me around in the afternoons (in a really tiny Fiat) to similar meetings of uncommonly memorable people. 

Documentary Tuscany bookcover

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Courtesy of Brian Gendece

“Tuscany Beyond Expectations” is currently on Amazon Prime

Brian’s filming is impeccable, and he weaves each story beautifully. My only complaint is that the entire documentary is just 30 minutes long! 

As the 90-year-old tailor reminds us in the film, “These people give you threads. It’s up to you to weave these threads into something beautiful for your life.” Thanks to Brian, the rich result adds beauty to all of our lives, just when we need it most. 

Take a few moments to watch Tuscany Beyond Expectations on Amazon Prime by clicking here and please leave your ratings. You can also join me in following Brian’s fabulous rustic-to-decadent cooking on Facebook at @theshowbizchef and on his YouTube channel, Brian Gendece. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at and follow on Instagram @BestofLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).

Laguna Beach Arts Alliance to host City Council candidates forum at Laguna Playhouse

The Laguna Beach Arts Alliance (LBAA) will hold a candidates forum on Saturday, Sept 29 from 9 - 11 a.m. at the Laguna Playhouse. The public is cordially invited to attend in addition to all city council candidates. 

Laguna Beach Arts Playhouse

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBAA will host a candidates forum at the Laguna Playhouse on Sept 29

This year’s city council candidates include: Peter Blake, Ann Christoph, Sue Marie Connolly, Sue Kempf, Cheryl Kinsman, Toni Iseman, Lorene Laguna, Judie Mancuso, Allison Mathews, Paul Merritt, and Rob Zur Schmiede.

The discussion will be moderated by former Mayor Jane Egly and is generously hosted by the Laguna Playhouse. LBAA has prepared a series of questions that address the arts in Laguna Beach on topics that range from the need for performance space to parking in the Arts District. The arts community is encouraged to participate and show their support for the arts, which is responsible for generating substantial City revenue. 

The Laguna Beach Arts Alliance was established in 2002 as the result of an exciting partnership among more than 20 Laguna Beach organizations. The mission is to serve as an advocate for the arts, promote collaboration and networking among the arts organizations of Laguna Beach, and to serve as a united voice for the arts in the city. 

Doors will open at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and doughnuts served on the terrace, and the forum will begin 9 a.m. Space is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. For more information, contact Rosemary Swimm at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Don’t miss No Square Theatre’s amazing production of “Annie,” starting this Friday

No Square Theatre presents “Annie” starting this Friday, Nov 30. Performances will run Friday through Sunday, through December 22, and will include both matinee and evening showings.

This wildly popular, Tony Award-winning musical “Annie”, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, is directed by Joe Lauderdale and choreographed by Ellen Prince. Vocal Music is directed by Roxanna Ward and the band is directed by Christopher W. Smith at the piano. David Cowan is the Stage Manager, and costumes are done by the brilliant Brigitte Harper. Costumes for this production are underwritten by a generous grant from FOA Foundation.

Little Orphan Annie, played but Tessa Espinola, embodies human optimism at its best, as she rises from humble beginnings in 1930s New York City. The show treats audiences to one of the best musical scores ever composed including favorites like “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” and the ultimate anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”  With a heartfelt and positive message, the show is the perfect entertainment choice for the holiday season.

The show stars Tessa Espinola as Annie, Rob Harryman as Warbucks, Rebecca Butkivich as Grace, Karen Rymar as Miss Hannigan, Tyler Below as Rooster, Laura Buckle as Lily St Regis, and Kipling as Sandy the dog. The orphans are played by Lula Buckle, Grace Gilchrist, Ava Madison Gray, Raegan Larson, Alexandra Nottage, and Libby Rue, while all the other roles are played by a talented ensemble including Lulu Arundale, Chase Benson, Lori Freeman, Rick Gold, Jonah Goldstein, Gary Greene, Jay Kramer, Ari Paltin, and Bridget Rago.

Shows are for adults and children 6 and older with evening performances at 7 p.m. on November 30, December 1, 8, 14, and 21, and 2 p.m. matinees on December 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, and 22. Tickets are available at and are $12.50 for children 6-11 and $25-$35 for adults. Seating is extremely limited and the theatre has enjoyed a long run of sold-out events, so tickets must be purchased in advance. There will be no late seating, so come early.

No Square Theatre is located in Historic Legion Hall at 384 Legion St.

LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program makes a difference in young artist students’ careers

One of the nation’s top colleges of art and design, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) announced that 16 students from its BFA program in Drawing + Painting will exhibit their art as part of LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program, an annual collaboration between the College and participating Laguna Beach First Thursdays Art Walk galleries. 

The 2018 LCAD Professional Mentoring Program exhibition will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on December 6, during the December First Thursdays Art Walk. Everyone can view student artwork at participating galleries that are listed at, or

LCAD’s Professional Mentoring Program pairs LCAD BFA Drawing + Painting seniors with local galleries. For two months, gallery owners and managers mentor students through the fundamentals of exhibiting their work and educate them about the business side of operating a gallery. For many students, this will be the first time they exhibit their work in a professional gallery. Proceeds from art sales go to the student artists and LCAD student scholarships.

LCADs Professional Benajmin

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Submitted photo

Benjamin Askevold is one of the LCAD students involved in the mentoring program with local Art Walk galleries. His piece Public Transportation, seen here, will be on display at Todd Kenyon’s Pure Laguna Beach.

Now in the 16th year of their collaboration, First Thursdays Art Walk and LCAD received the 2018 Outstanding Arts Collaboration Award for the Professional Mentoring Program. The award, from the Laguna Beach Art Alliance, recognized the program’s excellence in outstanding achievements and contributions in the Laguna Beach arts community.

After 14 years of teaching the Professional Studies course, Robin Fuld, director of LCAD’s Career Services, is handing the reins to Charity Oetgen, an alumna of LCAD’s BFA program in Drawing + Painting (2014) and its MFA in Painting (2017), who, last year, co-taught the course with Fuld. 

“As an alumna of LCAD, of the course, and of the Professional Mentor program, Charity brings a unique and refined perspective,” Fuld said. “She is a successful working artist and is perfect to mentor LCAD Drawing + Painting majors as they prepare for careers as professional artists.”

For more information about the December 2018 LCAD + FTAW exhibitions, visit

No Square to hold My Ridiculous Valentine auditions tomorrow by appointment

No Square Theatre is looking for talented adult singers to audition for My Ridiculous Valentine. Auditions will be held tomorrow, Saturday, Jan 5, by appointment from noon to 3 p.m.

My Ridiculous Valentine, a not-so-romantic concert of dysfunctional love and laughter, is directed by Bree Burgess Rosen, with music direction by Roxanna Ward.

No Square My Ridiculous Bree

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bree Burgess Rosen will direct No Square’s production of “My Ridiculous Valentine” with auditions by appointment tomorrow, Saturday, Jan 5

No Square is seeking strong adult singers. Limited rehearsal schedule requires every performer to be a self-motivated quick study. The concert will consist of solos, duets, and group numbers. Forms and auditions for this nontraditio