“Wine and Sign” cabaret at No Square Sept 9

Laguna’s No Square Theatre will host a cabaret and book-signing event on Sept 9 at 7 p.m., highlighting “From the Errors of Others: How to Avoid Embarrassing Mistakes in Writing and Speaking” by local author Rebecca Lyles. 

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The evening includes dinner, followed by original parody songs performed by popular entertainers Saif Eddin, Rufino Cabang, Kathi Gillmore, and Chloe Lovato, readings from the book, Q&A with the author, and book signings afterward. 

The musical numbers take a satirical poke at subjects from the book: editing, punctuation, deceptive language, and how others judge us by the way we speak. All delivered with irreverent, tongue-in-cheek humor. “From the Errors of Others” is a collection of short, instructive essays and true anecdotes about awkward – often funny – blunders and missteps that the author has observed throughout a long corporate career as a technical writer, editor, and manager. Lyles invites readers to laugh about the guilty without laughing at them, and learn how to avoid repeating their mistakes. 

The author lives in Laguna Beach, sings in the LagunaTunes Community Chorus, and is a contributing lyricist for the annual “roast of the coast,” No Square Theatre’s Lagunatics. 

Wine and Sign Cabaret tickets are $20, and include dinner. Purchase tickets online at http://bit.ly/2aCfKIm. No Square Theatre is in Historic Legion Hall, 384 Legion Street, two blocks south of the High School. 

Buy “From the Errors of Others” at the event or online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A musical parody that celebrates women but may give some men pause – unless they’re laughing along

Photo and story by LYNETTE BRASFIELD

Hot flashes, I had a few/but then again, too few to mention/Yes, there were times, I’m sure Bill knew, when I bit off his head/more than I usually do...but the record shows/he stood tall, and took the blows/and more, much more than that/when I did it my way…

These lyrics, as not sung by Frank Sinatra, might be my contribution, were I to write for the fabulous show Menopause the Musical, a 90-minute-long skit offering new takes on sixties, seventies and eighties songs to highlight the challenges of “the change,” including sleeplessness, mood swings and weak bladders.

The talented foursome of Linda Boston, Rebecca Fisher, Megan Cavanagh and Roberta T. Wall sing and dance to revised versions of songs such as the Gibbs’ brothers’ “Staying Alive” (“Staying Awake”) featuring “night sweats,” and a yearning “Please make me over” derived from Hal David/Burt Bacharach’s “Don’t make me over.”

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This lobby display reflects the witty vibe of Menopause the Musical

This hilarious production attests that menopause is no longer “the silent passage”: for these women, anyway, it’s loud and brassy and ebullient.

Highlights of the show have to be said to include versions of the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” I will leave it to you to imagine the relevant lyrics and dance moves, or, better yet, I suggest that you head on over to the Laguna Playhouse and enjoy this fast-paced, funny, fabulous show.

For more information, visit www.MenopauseTheMusical.com.

Performances will be Wed, Thurs and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road through Sept 11. 

Tickets prices range from $50 - $60 for all seats and can be purchased online at www.lagunaplayhouse.com or by calling 949-497-ARTS (2787).  Group discounts are available by calling 949-497-2787 ext. 229. The box office is open Mon – Sat 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (open until show time on performance days); Sundays: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Laguna Dance Festival will feature contemporary cool with companies from L.A., Philadelphia and New York 

From Sept 21 – 25, the Laguna Dance Festival, now in its 12th year, will bring to the intimate Laguna Playhouse stage three world-renowned dance companies: New York-based Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Philadelphia’s BalletX and Los Angeles’ BODYTRAFFIC. 

The program will include audience talks with the directors, free public performances, and four master classes. 

Download the complete Festival schedule as a PDF here

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion will perform on Thurs and Friday, Sept. 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. Both performances will be followed by a post-performance conversation with Kyle Abraham, the 2013 MacArthur “genius grant” winner. Abraham will teach a 6 p.m. master class on Wed, Sept. 21, onstage at the Playhouse.

Abraham’s thought-provoking “Pavement,” called  “a work of great subtlety and beauty” by The New Yorker, is a meditation on the 1991 film Boyz N The Hood as well as W.E.B. DuBois’ 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk. With his full-length, 55-minute piece, Abraham examines the history that led to the conflict represented in the movie, and finds relevance in the Du Bois essays, which were influential in African-Americans’ struggle for equality in the twentieth century. 

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“…beautiful and severely honest…dancing that is lush and seductive…”: from a Washington Post review of “Pavement”

The dance is set on a basketball court in the historically black Pittsburgh neighborhoods where Abraham grew up, and the eclectic soundtrack includes 23 names from Baroque selections by Bach and Vivaldi to Sam Cooke vocals and rap. 

Washington Post reviewer Sarah Kaufman wrote, “Beautiful and severely honest…(but) despite its name and subject matter, ‘Pavement’ is not all hard edges. It delivers a sharp sense of reality with extraordinary softness, in dancing that is lush and seductive.”

With the company’s performances described as “solid from beginning to end” (New York Amsterdam News) and “effortless-seeming smoothness and grace” (Los Angeles Times), A.I.M.’s premiére performance in Orange County is certain to garner attention and initiate conversation. 

BalletX will return to the Laguna Beach stage to present its entertaining, diverse choreographic style in a shared bill with BODYTRAFFIC on Saturday, Sept. 24 and a full-length show on Sun, Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. with a pre-show talk at 2 p.m. 

Committed to producing new works that cultivate in audiences a collective appetite for bold, new dance, BalletX was founded in 2005 by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan. Now under the direction of Cox as artistic and executive director, BalletX challenges the boundaries of classical ballet by encouraging formal experimentation while preserving rigorous technique. 

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Photo credit: Iziliaev


The New York Times praises BalletX’s dances, which it says “have suspense, vitality, comedy, freedom”

BalletX’s dances “have suspense, vitality, comedy, freedom,” according to the New York Times. The company “…creates a coherent, poetic realm of the imagination.” Its performances are “a feast of music and dance,” noted the Philadelphia Inquirer, and “remarkably moving.” 

BODYTRAFFIC, a Laguna Dance Festival audience favorite, will head down the freeway from Los Angeles for a Sat, Sept. 24 performance at 7:30 p.m. in a combined program with BalletX. In addition, BODYTRAFFIC dancers will present a master class at Laguna Beach High School at 10 a.m. the same day.

Founded in 2007 by Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett, the company has surged to the forefront of the concert dance world and is helping to establish Los Angeles as a major center for contemporary dance. 

“BODYTRAFFIC suggests invention, attitude, and urban edge,” wrote Karen Campbell in the Boston Globe. In the Los Angeles Times, Laura Bleiberg called it “one of the most talked-about young companies, not just in LA but nationwide.” 

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Photo credit: Tomasz Rossa


A review in the Boston Globe says that BODYTRAFFIC suggests invention, attitude and urban edge.”

Festival founder and artistic director Jodie Gates commented, “The companies selected for this fall’s festival hail from three uniquely American cities – Kyle Abraham from New York by way of his hometown of Pittsburgh, BalletX out of Philadelphia, and BODYTRAFFIC from Los Angeles. Presented over four days, these companies offer audiences a dazzling representation of the current freshness, depth, and breadth of contemporary American dance.” 

The four onstage performances by these three extraordinary companies will be presented at the 420-seat Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road. Ticket prices are: general admission $60, students with ID $35. 

The three master classes will be held at two locations – check listings for details. Master class costs are $25 per student; $15 for an observer; and the student package of a master class and performance: $50. Tickets go on sale in July. check the Festival website for updates. 

Also, on Sept. 1 as part of the First Thursdays Art Walk, Laguna Dance Festival will present “Sculpted Motion,” two free performances at the Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive. Dancers will perform amid works by maverick modernist Peter Krasnow. 

Performing at 6:30 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. will be Los Angeles-based Kybele Dance Theater, fusing contemporary dance with Turkish imagery while offering a global perspective, and L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, a collaborative contemporary dance company working out of downtown L.A.’s Brewery Arts Complex to bring together choreographers, dancers, and artists of all disciplines.

Barbara’s Column

Canvas for a Cause - LPAPA raises funds to match city grant


Photos courtesy LPAPA

Plein Air is to painting, what al fresco is to eating

Both bring a breath of fresh air that satisfies a hunger.

Laguna’s long love affair with plein air painters began with Norman St. Clair, who is credited with enticing other artists to Laguna after acclimating himself to warmer, sunnier climes - and the light, ah, the light of Southern California. They brought fame to Laguna in the early 1900s as an Art Colony. 

The Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn. founded in 1996 by Saim Caglayan, revived and has continued the traditions of those pioneering artists.  

Sunday, the association hosted Canvas for a Cause to raise funds to match the city’s $50,000 grant. Ten teams set up easels on Main Beach, followed by an auction of their works at the Ocean & Forest Gallery. 

Each team included a prominent member of the community and at least one artist, except for Caglayan’s, which had three painters: himself, Kyoko Ishigami and Pierre Bouret

The teams had two hours to complete a painting and all members of the team were required to participate.    

“I touched the brush and the brush touched the painting,” said Mark Christy, the local celebrity for the Celeste Gilles team, which included painter John Crosby.

Team Cheryl Kinsman was converted to Team Tom Lamb when she was unable to attend the event. Anthony Salvo was the team’s painter. Festival of Arts board member Anita Mangels completed the trio. 

“I laid the foundation for the entire work,” said Mangels. 

Team Harry Bithell was the first to complete a painting, well ahead of the two-hour limit. The prominent participant was City Councilman Kelly Boyd, the painter Tom Swimm. Suzi Bithell observed.

 Team harry: Kelly Boyd (L), Tom Swimm, Harry Bithell

Swimm who prefers studio painting, was made an offer to participate in the paint-out that he couldn’t refuse: his wife, Rosemary, is the executive director of LPAPA.

Laguna College of Art and Design President Jonathan Burke also had some adjusting to do.

“My medium is oils but plein air - not so much,” said Burke, decked out in T-shirt designed by a LCAD staff member Carol Covarrubias. “It’s so challenging - the light keeps moving.”  

Burke was the celebrity member of Team Jeff Sewell, an artist. Artist Fernando Micheli was the third member of the team.

Team Jeff: Jeff Sewell (L) and Jonathan Burke

Mayor Steve Dicterow served as the prominent local on Ludo Leideritz’s team. David Downes was also a member.

Team Debra Huse’s team was composed of Carol Urie, artist Calvin Liang and Randy Higbee

The irrepressible Pat Kollenda said Team Melanie Froysaa’s entry was mostly grey and white.

“I couldn’t screw it up,” she said. “But watching an artist bringing it to life was inspiring.”

The artist was Rick Delanty.

Team Melanie: The winners! Rick Delanty (L), Pat Kollenda and Melanie Froysaa 

Rita Pacheco was the artist on the team headed by LPAPA board member Mary Linda Strotkamp. Jeff Pierce and Faye Baglin completed the team.

Team Toni Kellenberg’s team included artist Michael Obermeyer and Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum. 

Team Toni: Toni Kellenberg and Michael Obermeyer

When the two-hour deadline was called, all the paintings were framed and carted off to the gallery for the wine and cheese reception and the live auction. 

National Charity League member Luci Becker assisted. The 15-year-old Laguna Beach High School student was a bronze winner in the recent Festival of Arts Junior Gallery judging.  

Team Melanie’s work brought in the highest bid - $6,275. “I did the sky,” said Baglin.

Mary Linda team’s entry raised another $5,570 and Team Toni’s entry brought in $4,825.

All told, the auction raised $32,300. 

“Because of that and donations, we will match the city’s grant,” said Swimm. 

But wait - There’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading StuNewsLaguna.com.

Six Laguna kids won awards at FOA Junior Art Show

Six young Laguna Beach artists were among the medalists announced recently at the Festival of Arts Junior Art Gallery awards ceremony. 

Top of the World kindergartener student Andrew Collins placed first in the Pre-kindergarten to 12th grade Photography Category. Fellow TOW kindergartner Lars Knepper came in second, followed by third-grader Juliette French, whose entry came from the Laguna Beach Boys and Girls Club.

Laguna Beach High School Senior Colin Soloff placed first in the 10-to-12-grade group for his photograph titled “An Ethereal World”. 

Two ninth graders were awarded medals in the Pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade age 2-D category. Chloe Flanagan’s untitled work was awarded the second place medal and Luci Becker’s “Land and Sea” painting came in third. 

The medals were presented in the ceremony with parents, friends and teachers there to applaud. 

Orange County teachers entered 6,000 pieces of art to the exhibition this year. Three hundred were hung in the gallery, one of the most popular exhibits in the festival. 

Inaugurated in 1947, the Junior Art Gallery is a joint effort of the festival and the Orange County Department’s Imagination Celebration. The exhibition underscores the importance of art education in our schools.

Here’s a hot flash for a change – Menopause the Musical will run for two weeks only at the Playhouse

GFour Productions, winners of 54 Drama Desk and 44 Tony Awards, are thrilled to bring back the international hit show Menopause The Musical® to Laguna Beach in all its hilarious glory. The show will open on Wed, August 31 at 7:30 p.m. and run through Sun, Sept 11.

Menopause The Musical® is a groundbreaking celebration of women who are on the brink of, in the middle of, or have survived “The Change.”  Now celebrating 15 years of female empowerment through musical comedy, Menopause The Musical® has evolved as a “grassroots” movement of women who deal with life adjustments after 40 by embracing each other and the road ahead. 

Set in a department store, the show features four women who meet by chance while shopping for a black lace bra at a lingerie sale. After noticing unmistakable similarities among one another, the all-female cast jokes about their woeful hot flashes, mood swings, wrinkles, weight gain and much more. These women form a sisterhood and unique bond with the entire audience as they rejoice in celebrating that menopause is no longer “The Silent Passage.”

The laughter-filled 90-minute production gets audience members out of their seats and singing along to parodies from classic pop songs of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.  

Menopause The Musical®, now in its 15th year of production, is recognized as the longest-running scripted production in Las Vegas and continues to entertain nightly at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino. 

The musical has entertained audiences across the country in more than 450 cities, nearly 300 international cities and a total of 15 countries. 

For more information, visit www.MenopauseTheMusical.com.

Performances will be Wed, Thurs and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road. 

Tickets prices range from $50 - $60 for all seats and can be purchased online at www.lagunaplayhouse.com or by calling 949-497-ARTS (2787).  Group discounts are available by calling 949-497-2787 ext. 229. The box office is open Mon – Sat 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (open until showtime on performance days); Sundays: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Bare Bones Theatre’s three fall 2016 Playreadings

All the Good in the World by Cory Hinkle

In Williston, North Dakota, a pastor opens his church to unemployed men who have come north looking for work in the oil fields. But his decision to invite a convicted felon to live in his guest bedroom threatens to destroy his family. A drama about faith and how hard it is to know if you’re doing the right thing.

Monday, Sept 12, 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7.

Sandra Jones Campbell Studio, 2173 Laguna Canyon Road

$20 in advance; $25 at the door.

RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Directed by Lojo Simon

Featuring Mark Miller, Deb Conroy, Charlie Pacello and Evie Cant, with Ava Burton reading stage directions.

Community conversation to follow about faith, fear and following your heart.

Final Arrangements: The New To-Die For Musical™ by Ken Jillson

Set at a home-going service in Savannah, Georgia, this brand new musical by local writer/composer Ken Jillson (Big Splash) tells the uplifting story of Rita Mae Williams, who, though she died too soon, has an important message for her friends and family: Live now, because tomorrow may never come. Featuring 15+ original songs and a cast of 10.

Monday, Oct 10, 7 p.m.

Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road

No charge, but you must RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Directed by Michele Spears.

Music directed by Roxanna Ward

Featuring Jennifer Leigh Warren as Rita Mae (Broadway: Big River, Little Shop of Horrors; Laguna Playhouse: I’m Still Getting My Act Together, Lonesome Traveler, Having It All). This powerhouse cast also includes: Amber Mercomes (Idelta) and Angie Whitney (Viola).

The Good Father by Christian O’Reilly

It’s New Year’s Eve in Ireland, and two strangers hook up at a party. A few weeks later, she calls him with some unexpected news: she’s pregnant. A comedy about how life can change on a dime, and how the prospect of parenting changes everything. By the writer of Chapatti, coming to Laguna Playhouse in January 2017.

Monday, Nov 14, 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7.

Sandra Jones Campbell Studio, 2173 Laguna Canyon Road

$20 in advance; $25 at the door.

RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Directed by Mark Miller

Featuring Bare Bones resident actors Ava Burton and Ben Farrow.

Community conversation to follow about dealing with unexpected news.

LCAD’s 27th annual Collector’s Choice will support higher education in fine arts, design and animation

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The Collector’s Choice Gathering will take place at the sensational Montage hotel

Collector’s Choice, LCAD’s premier annual fundraising event, now in its 27th year, showcases the talents of dedicated artists who continue a legacy of focused and passionate support for arts education. This year’s contributing artists are comprised exclusively of LCAD faculty, alumni, visiting artists and select BFA and MFA students.

Thanks to LCAD’s partnership with Montage Laguna Beach, Collector’s Choice attendees will enjoy fine wine, an elegant dinner and entertainment in a five-star rated luxury resort. 

Last year, more than 330 guests including trustees, donors, artists, alumni, faculty and friends of the College raised $310,000 for LCAD students and programs.

The event will take place on Friday, Nov 18, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Highway.

For more information please contact Tracy Hartman at 949-376-6000, ext. 241 or email mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Festival of Arts Exhibitor Loyd Walter, 83, shows why it’s never too late to unveil one’s hidden beauty

He didn’t know it at the time, but Loyd Walter’s “canvas” surrounded him, beckoned him, since he was a child.

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Loyd Walter

Walter is now 83, having retired from a long career teaching engineering and technology. But from his early upbringing, the signs were all around him. Different types of trees produced different types of wood. And woodwork was a long-time hobby for Walter that now has become his passion.

“Raised in the eastern slope of Washington’s Cascade Mountains in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, a country-ranch beginning helped me develop a sense of practicality and self-reliance,” Walter said. “I was born and raised in Western Washington State. My father’s family were pioneers in the Methow Valley.”

Walter has made it from the Methow Valley to Laguna Beach, where he is one of 140 selected artists asked to present their work at the Festival of Arts through Aug. 31.

From an early age, Walter could see the beauty of wood in its natural state. So while others take wood and make it functional, Walter simply aims to bring out its essence.

This orientation leads to natural and bark edge work. Walter works mostly with found wood rather than with lumber because the challenge is to realize the shape and design that will bring out the natural beauty of the wood. Each piece is a unique creation and during turning the character and spirit is revealed.

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 “I am constantly discovering wood with new qualities, character, difficulties and opportunities,” said Walter, who estimates he’s worked with more than 40 different species of wood.

“This challenges me to develop new approaches, techniques and skills. The enjoyment, challenge and fascination I get from woodworking is derived from the characteristics and beauty of the wood itself. Wood, with its infinite variations of grain, texture and color continually gives me the potential to create pieces of interest and grace.”

Walter says his inspiration isn’t tangible; it simply comes from living a long life and observing every step of the way.

“[His inspiration comes from]…a lifetime developing a sense of grace in line and proportion, plus a desire to show the unique quality and character of each piece of wood,” he said.

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Walter was always about the art and not about artist competitions, but he was convinced his work was worth displaying in such a fashion.

Yosh Sugiyama, a nationally recognized artist, advised Walter in 2006 to enter juried shows. Consequently, Walter participated in and won several awards in a number of shows and continues to enter competitions. But he is clear that the work and creativity are the motive and pleasure of his woodworking. The competitions, he said, add extra discipline and challenge to his art.

Walter’s awards over the years include winning at San Diego’s “Design in Wood” and winning Best of Division at the 2006 California State Fair. His work can be seen at Northwest Woodworkers Gallery in Seattle, Gallery M in Half Moon Bay, Highlight Gallery in Mendocino, Carter House Gallery in Redding, Denise Oliver Gallery on Lake Coeur D’Alene in Harrison, Idaho, Skyline Gallery in Tucson, Ariz., and Highland Art Center in Weaverville, Calif.

April Raber’s influences stretch from sea to shining sea

Trying to define the artistic influences of April Raber might be a little like trying to catch a butterfly with a spoon.

Not gonna happen.

Raber is one of the 140 artists selected to present their work at the Festival of Arts through Aug. 31, and simply getting her to sit in one spot for a little while is a victory unto itself.

Raber, whose medium is oil painting, was born in Hawaii, raised on the rural outskirts of Jacksonville, Florida and spent some formative years in the American West, including living on an Indian Reservation.

But if we want to really trace her roots, her greatest influence has been her family. She is the oldest of 10 children, born to parents who were the epitome of self-starters.

“My parents were designers and innovators,” said Raber, of Laguna Beach. “They architected and built their own homes, designed and made most of their own furniture and clothing. They immersed their children in these projects. All of this was inspired by a strong sense of Scandinavian sensibility and influenced by the experience their parents had of being early covered-wagon pioneers in the American West.”

Raber knew, early in her life, that she would be an artist.

“Even at an early age I had a natural inclination for visual rendering,” Raber said. “My favorite was to take my sketchpad and paints and head for the woods. I was fortunate to have a wilderness out my back door. I would spend hours there sketching and painting both small details from nature as well as large vistas.”

She studied fine art at Brigham Young University under several masters, but was particularly struck by the university’s collection of the work of Maynard Dixon. Once she had her degree, the real world beckoned, but Raber wasn’t quite ready for it.

“The next major turning point came when I returned to my roots in the rural American West,” Raber said. “In an effort to stretch my limited resources and still continue painting I moved to a small adobe on an Indian reservation. I was able to paint the real, rural, intermountain west, day after day. I was living those Maynard Dixon paintings. This was a profound experience that even continues to influence my present work.”

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April Raber

Into the Light

Raber’s focus soon shifted again, but this time it was forced upon her.

“Shortly after receiving my bachelor’s degree I began exhibiting my work in galleries,” Raber said. “During this time I encountered and overcame two episodes with cancer. These encounters left a deep impression on my work reflecting not only on the frail nature of existence on Earth, but also our struggle with the perception of opposition.

“It was during this period that I created a controversial ‘dream’ series, renditions of pivotal scenes from the subconscious. These paintings, often autobiographical, deal with emerging self-awareness and growth from the perspective of a woman’s psyche.”

After moving to Southern California in the 1990s, her interest in traditional landscapes began to be more influenced by the urban and industrial world that has been superimposed on the natural landscape.

“Over the years I have turned my attention to mid-Century industrial landscapes, focusing on structures that were built from the 1920’s through the 1950’s,” she said. “These include old railroad yards, bridges, grain elevators, factories, refineries, and generating plants. I approach this new subject matter in the same interpretive style, expanding the traditional California Plein-Air movement.”

Festival of Arts exhibitor Barry Robin engineers new career and his lifelong passion as a woodwork artist

There’s nothing quite like aerospace engineering to prepare you for life as an artist.

Wait, what?

Actually, if you are Barry Robin, that is exactly what serves as the foundation for his art.

Robin has lived in Southern California his entire life and currently lives in Aliso Viejo. About the age of 12, he discovered his two passions — surfing and working with wood.

Surfing didn’t pay the bills, but woodwork was different. Robin once held a job as an apprentice yacht carpenter in Newport Beach, but his very first job was building wooden boxes. Those boxes were meant to hold something — specifically, aerospace components, which were related to his dad’s career.

“Those wooden boxes held components that eventually made their way to the moon,” Robin said.

Naturally, Robin followed his dad’s footsteps into aerospace engineering and worked in the field for 25 years.

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Barry Robin

But he never lost his love for woodwork, and now Robin is one of 140 select artists displaying his handiwork at the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach through Aug 31.

While you look at his work, know that there are years of aerospace engineering experience that goes into each piece.

“I create art furniture and wood sculpture which I’ve done my entire life part-time,” Robins said. “Twenty-five years in aerospace engineering gave me my strength in precision measurement which is an integral aspect of my art.”

The Festival of Arts is a special place to show one’s art. And Robin isn’t the type to show his work off in a gallery setting.

“I try to avoid placing my work in competitive environments, which tend to shape one’s art into what is currently popular and away from my weird imagination,” Robin said. “I’m a showoff! The Festival of Arts gives me the mechanism to exhibit my work and interact with thousands of people.

“I prefer to interact directly with my clients. Placing my work in galleries seems to place an additional step between my vision and my clients’ desire.”

Like any good artist, Robin can find inspiration for his work in almost anything. Look around, the world has plenty to offer an artist, and Robin’s eyes are wide open.

“Everything I see!” Robin said when asked what inspires him. “My work has organic lines as well as precision geometric aspects. I guess I’m a bit like a sponge, soaking up imagery as I float through life. I wring out my mental sponge when I design my pieces.”

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“Winter Creek”

Robin now works full-time as an artist, having opened up Studio Robin seven years ago.

“I am constantly thinking of new furniture styles and unique joinery techniques. The result makes my furniture pieces one of a kind,” Robin said. “I’m intrigued by the whole design process of each project. I love working in the medium of wood, textures and color. It’s beautiful and no two pieces are the same. Every project is different and must be approached in its own unique way. I love searching for just the right piece of exotic woods and turning them into something not only beautiful, but functional.”

“I’m very fortunate to lead a life where people value my imagination and abilities. I place emphasis on keeping life simple and not taking things too seriously. I have a wonderful, supportive family which allows me the time to imagine and create.”

Artist Eye Gallery: John H. Stewart, featured artist for August

Artist Eye Gallery announced that John H. Stewart would be their Featured Artist through August 31. See a wide variety of John’s bronze and stone sculptures, and his remarkable photography all month long. In addition, all are invited to attend an Artist Reception for John from 6 – 9 p.m. on Saturday evening, Aug 20, featuring live music by David Lally. 

All the way from Galway, on the West coast of Ireland, San Diego based singer/songwriter David Lally will play a wide variety of contemporary and traditional Irish, original and folk/pop tunes throughout the evening.

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John Stewart

On The Move


John H. Stewart is an award winning Southern California artist who is also a world traveler and adventurer. Being an avid scuba diver and naturalist has prompted John to create beautifully crafted works of art since 1996. His love for animals and marine life along with his masterful ability to see and bring to life the most delicate and subtle details in his creations, has allowed him to share the beautiful wonder of nature with others. 

Through John’s masterful and carefully crafted bronze and stone sculptures, one is able to experience a special frozen moment in time that is able to mesmerize the viewer and allows them the unique opportunity to feel both the majesty and fragility of nature at the same time. 

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Photography by John Stewart

“I have found my true passion in being able to share my love of nature through my photography and sculptures. It is a true joy for me to share my experiences and the wonderful and innocent life around us with the world,” said John H. Stewart.

The Artist Eye Gallery, located in the picturesque Hip District of Laguna Beach, displays a remarkable and beautiful collection of works by 16 of Southern California’s most prolific and talented award winning artists. Allow yourself to be transported to the vibrant and eclectic world of original fine art through masterful paintings in watercolor, oil and acrylic; sculptures in bronze, stone and marble; and photography. When you enter our gallery, you will experience art at its finest in a joyful atmosphere, and in the company of our friendly and knowledgeable world class artist. 

In operating the gallery, each artist contributes his or her own individual experiences and they are always happy to interact with guests to answer any questions. Each month during First Thursdays Art Walk, visitors to the gallery enjoy a unique opportunity to engage in conversations with all the artists regarding their artistic style, technique, inspiration and technical skill.

A prescription for calm and harmony: Festival artist and physician Andrew Ko has the antidote for chaos

A connection between being a doctor and an artist might not seem obvious at first. But meet Andrew Ko, and you’ll understand the linkages.

Ko is among 140 artists presenting their works at the Festival of Arts through Aug 31, so these days you’re more likely to see him with a camera in his hand than a stethoscope around his neck.

Both physician and artist, Ko is a photographer with a unique perspective. He came to the United States from South Korea at the age of 15 and eventually went to medical school.

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Ko is a photographer with a unique perspective

Photography, however, had already become one of his favorite activities.

“I have been pursuing photography since my college years before going to medical school,” Ko said. “I was living in a dormitory that had a photography darkroom during my sophomore year. I also took courses in the history of modern art as well as drawing for a year as a pre-med student, where I studied the masters of modern art. This interest in art has stayed with me ever since.”

A Coto de Caza resident, Ko, who graduated from Rosalind Franklin University Medical School in Chicago, is a gastroenterologist practicing in Fountain Valley.
He believes his photography can positively affect the emotions of those who view his images. Thus the artist in him finds satisfaction in knowing that perhaps even one of his works might produce a sense of calm and order in a world of chaos. Similarly, he believes, his medical expertise can provide a sense of peace, comfort and harmony.

“I strive to balance the unbalanced mind, providing a sense of peace through the virtue of photography, and imparting human emotion through the simple power of composition, lighting and timing,” he said.

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Ko’s photography invites the viewer to experience harmony in the midst of chaos

Ko’s images may not always include people, but they are never too far away from civilization. Most of his landscape photography contains some aspect of human activities, as he sees such human activities as central in providing meaning to one’s environment.

“Most of my photographic images are taken while traveling within the U.S. or abroad,” he said. “However, my intention is not necessarily to represent particular locations. I try to obtain raw images with the desired atmosphere and correct lighting regardless of location.”

Ko also believes his photography is helping him place his stamp on history, and in particular, providing a reference point for his family.

“I am particularly fond of the idea that I am finally transferring electronic pixels to palpable objects that I can leave behind for my three lovely daughters,” Ko said. “These would be my simple gifts to them. If I could share the same with the rest of world, I would be that much better for it. I am also utterly indebted to my wife, who always travels with me and points her finger where to shoot.”

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Ko’s travels around the world inform much of his imagery

The physician/photographer has received numerous awards for his photography, including first place in the Architecture and Bridges category and third place in the Advertising Travel/Tourism category at the Moscow International Foto Awards (MIFA).

He received numerous honorable mentions at the MIFA, the International Photography Awards, and the Prix de la Photographie Paris (PX3). His work was exhibited at the MIFA Winners Exhibition in Moscow, Russia, and his photographs are currently being exhibited at the Forest and Ocean Gallery in Laguna Beach.

Ed. Note: Artist Fitz Maurice has set out to paint live at all of the US National Parks. She will be submitting her stories from the road to StuNewsLaguna from time to time. 

Bear with me (and a cub): Stories from the woods

Story and photo by FITZ MAURICE

Winter hangs on for quite a while up in Montana, and 10 to 15 feet of snow can take a while to melt. The main road that takes you up to Logan Pass, the Going-To-The-Sun Road, didn’t open up until the middle of June. 

As always though, Glacier National Park teemed with wildlife. While I was there, the bears were coming out of their lairs and they were very hungry. Bears lose up to half their weight while sleeping the winter away in their caves. Mother bears nurse their cubs, who stay close for warmth and protection. When it is finally warm enough, mother bear and cubs spring from their cave and they are ravenous.

The angriest animal of all is a mother bear defending her cub. She will attack if she thinks it is necessary to protect her cub. People are too often taken in by how cute bears look but they can go from cute to attack animals at a furious speed that will unnerve you.

Bears do not want to interact with humans. They prefer to get away from you before you can ever see them. 

Above all, you don’t want to surprise a bear. Talking/singing, clapping your hands frequently and making loud sounds to be heard while hiking is a good idea. This way all wildlife, not only bears, hear you coming and they have time to move on before you get too close. Hiking in groups is best – there have not been any bear attacks on groups of four or more hikers. 

When near any sources of water or food, be extra attentive to wildlife approaching. Bears are also attracted to your candy, sunblock, toothpaste or anything that smells sweet, so avoid carrying those items with you.

This mother bear and cub approached a little too close for comfort!

Another great idea is to wear a bell that rings continuously and warns wildlife of your approach. While visiting Glacier I also learned that if you do come in close proximity to a bear, it is important not to look the bear in the eyes, because they see that as aggression. However, it is good to talk softly to the bear, keeping the animal calm and establishing that you are not aggressive. That is, if you can pull yourself together enough to talk to the bear who is checking you out!

Some recommend that you carry a bottle of bear spray while outside in big bear areas, believing that is the most effective way to deter bear attacks. You can purchase bear spray in the Visitor Center and shops in Glacier. They suggest you wear the container on your chest or carry it in an accessible place. 

Bear spray is an individual decision. Personally, I can’t see myself squirting the bear in the face accurately as it comes charging at me. What if the bear mace backfires and the spray gets into my eyes rendering me blind? I prefer to focus on avoiding any bear encounters.

The wisest thing to do is make sure you stay far away from bears, at least 100 yards, as they can suddenly charge at you. Respect bears as wild animals.

So how did I get this photo of a black bear and her cub? They came out of nowhere and ran right in front of my rental car.  Always ready with my finger on the trigger of my camera, I grabbed this shot just as they went growling into the woods and beyond. 

Even though I was inside a car, I didn’t kid myself that my situation was safe, and drove away slowly as soon as I could.


FITZ Maurice has been on her “quest” to paint live in every national park in America. Now totally committed to help promote and protect the parks, the artist is traveling by truck and trailer; hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene. Finally setting up with portable easel and oil paints, FITZ sets out to capture in paint the wonders that make each national park a treasure to Americans and all the people of the world.To see her National Park Paintings visit Woods Cove Art Gallery, 1963 South Coast Hwy or visit www.nationalparkpaintings.com

Rock out with rockabilly legend Lee Rocker as the 2016 season continues to rock the Laguna Playhouse

Yes, indeed, there’s some rockin’ goin’ on in Laguna this summer. The Playhouse continues its 2016 summer season with performances by the original “Stray Cat” and rockabilly legend, Lee Rocker.

“I am thrilled to be able to say that we are going to ‘Rock This Town’ with original ‘Stray Cat’ Lee Rocker performing his classic rockabilly sound, live in our theatre,” comments artistic director Ann E. Wareham. “He is truly a musical genius and we cannot wait to have Lee and his amazing band on our stage!”  

Over the years, Lee Rocker and the Stray Cats sold more than 10 million records, garnered an astounding 23 gold and platinum records worldwide, were music video pioneers of the MTV generation and secured their place in the history of rock and roll.

From the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine, to appearing on Saturday Night Live, to headlining the US Festival and touring with the Rolling Stones, Lee Rocker, a Laguna Beach resident, has seen and done it all. 

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Lee Rocker is about to rock this town three Sundays in August

In 1982 Rocker and his father Stanley Drucker, (classical clarinetist) both received Grammy nominations. This is something that has only occurred twice in the history of the Grammy Awards. 

The worldwide mega hits “Stray Cat Strut”, “Sexy and Seventeen” and “Rock this Town” have become a part of the fabric of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has included “Rock this Town” as one of the 500 most important songs in rock. 

Lee Rocker has been consistently touring, recording and preforming around the globe since 1980 and has cultivated a fanatically loyal following of rockers, rebels and all types of music lovers.

He is also a recipient of the Visionary Artist Award by the City of Laguna Beach. In his concert performances Rocker does indeed rock every town and leaves every audience on their feet and cheering. 

Rocker will perform three Sundays only, August 14, 21 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road.

Tickets range from $45 - $55 and can be purchased online at http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787). Group discounts are available by calling 949-497-2787 ext. 229. 

The box office is open Mon – Sat, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sun from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is open until showtime on performance days.

Artists’ Benevolence Fund - helping artists in need


An artist at the Sawdust Art Festival since 1991, John Eagle had the privilege of serving as the Treasurer for the Artists’ Benevolence Fund for 15 years.  John had a unique experience while serving others as a trustee; his studio was destroyed in a flood that was followed by a mudslide, burying all his work and supplies. Because of this, he has knowledge from both sides of the Benevolence Fund. He had the privilege of granting funds to local Laguna Beach artists in need, but he also received funds when he was the artist in need. 

When his studio flooded, he was out of work for six months. Without the aid of the Benevolence Fund, he says, “I would not have been able to put my studio back together and start creating work for the summer show.” On the other side of his experience, He spoke of serving as a trustee with a smile. “You are performing a real service for those in need, providing money within days of a tragedy, not months.” He felt it was the “most worthwhile volunteer organization in the local community!”

The Artists’ Benevolence Fund is available for any practicing artists in the city of Laguna Beach.  It is not strictly reserved for Sawdust Art Festival artists. The only qualifications to receive aid are that applicants live within the city limits of Laguna Beach and make a majority of their income from their craft, whether that is visual, performing or musical arts. 

John has donated one of his incredible oil paintings for the auction every year since he joined the show! He tries to give a piece that is valued around $1,000, the cost of one grant! Come support the Sawdust Artists’ Benevolence Fund at the annual auction on Sunday, Aug 14 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. You will be supporting a great local organization that provides aid for artists when they have nowhere else to turn. For more information, visit https://sawdustartfestival.org/about/artists-benevolence-fund/

Passport to the Arts season pass – just $24

In its eighth consecutive season, the Passport team, comprised of the Festival of Arts, Laguna Art-A-Fair and Sawdust Art & Craft Festival, in collaboration with Visit Laguna Beach and the City of Laguna Beach, is currently offering the 2016 Passport to the Arts for just $24. This triple-value, unique season pass provides unlimited entry to the three premier art festivals in Laguna Beach throughout the summer festival season, which runs June 24 through August 31.

The 2016 Passport to the Arts benefits include:

Unlimited admission all summer long to all three Laguna Beach art festivals

More than 500 artists and 300 hands-on art workshops

Great music at all three festivals throughout the season

Dozens of special events

One-time free parking at Lot #16 (Act V), 1900 Laguna Canyon Road

Free shuttle service all summer long

Special offers at selected lodging properties, local shops, eateries and attractions

To purchase a 2016 Passport online please visit: www.LagunaBeachPassport.com.

For information about overnight stays and things to do while visiting Laguna Beach, drop by the official Visitors Center, located at 381 Forest Ave or visit www.visitlagunabeach.com.

Marsh Scott sculpture, ‘Connectivity’, awarded prestigious public art commission in Oklahoma City

‘Connectivity’, a major new Marsh Scott sculpture, will soon grace the remodeled Santa Fe Depot and new Intermodal Transit Hub in Oklahoma City as a result of a national Public Art competition.

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Marsh Scott with a model of ‘Connectivity’

The freestanding artwork, a stainless steel and fused glass sculpture, is intended to convey the energy of the many connections that start, end, or pass through the Hub as part of a major restoration and upgrade of the historic Oklahoma City railroad station.

“Goods and people will journey through the Hub by rail, foot, trolley, bike, car, truck and bus. People and commerce will pass through the Hub to connect to all points of the globe. I wanted to capture the bustle of people and things in motion with ‘Connectivity’ by crisscrossing steel ribbons to convey the fluidity of motion,” stated Scott.

The sculpture will help anchor the entry of the architecturally significant, historic Santa Fe Depot. “The piece’s arcs and circles intersect and connect at varied angles, containing and expanding with the energy of movement,” explained Scott. The textured fused glass will allow light to pass through for added sparkle. Each arc and circle is pierced with designs derived from overlapping elements of wheels, pistons, cowcatchers and windows to evoke the dynamic feel of transportation - past and present. The fused glass and openings are designed to combine with the light passing through the historic depot’s windows and the Art Deco-style architecture to organically connect the sculpture to the site.

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Artist‘s rendering of ‘Connectivity’ installation inside Santa Fe Depot

The hand brushed surface will softly gleam with highlights and the surrounding architectural colors. Lighting will enhance the sculpture night and day with the added option of a varied mix of seasonal lighting motifs.

“The timeless spirit of connecting and of endless possibilities was my goal with ’Connectivity’ and I am thrilled and honored to have been selected for this major transit project,” concluded Marsh Scott.

Legendary actor Ben Vereen will participate in a panel discussion after Time Out of Mind film is screened

On Sunday, Aug 21 at 2 p.m., Friendship Shelter will host a film screening of Time Out Of Mind, an American drama written and directed by the esteemed Oren Moverman, followed by a panel discussion with Ben Vereen. Starring Richard Gere and Ben Vereen, the film offers a rare glimpse into the life of a homeless man on the streets of New York and has been called a “small miracle of cinema” by Rolling Stone magazine. 

“I’m thrilled to show this film and continue the dialog about how homelessness affects our community with the wonderfully talented Ben Vereen, who is a strong advocate of mental health and homeless services,” said Dawn Price, executive director of Friendship Shelter. “This is a great opportunity to hear from our neighbors about ways we can work together to bring solutions to south Orange County.” 

Tickets are on sale on Friendship Shelter’s website at www.friendshipshelter.org for $65, which includes refreshments and a panel discussion with legendary film and theater actor Ben Vereen. A VIP ticket of $125 is available and will include a private reception with Vereen, who stars in the film, directly after the discussion. 

Friendship Shelter is committed to ending homelessness in our community, one person at a time. They serve on average 550 homeless and formerly homeless men and women annually through three core programs: the flagship Self-Sufficiency Program in Laguna Beach, the Alternative Sleeping Location, which is Orange County’s only year-round emergency shelter, and the Permanent Supportive Housing Program. 

For more information about Friendship Shelter’s programs and services, and to buy tickets to Time Out Of Mind, visit www.friendshipshelter.org or call 494.6928

Down Mexico way and beyond: Author Steve Hely entertains at FOA with tales drawn from his travels


On Sunday July 24, the inaugural Books and Brunch Event at the Festival of the Arts was attended by approximately 30 readers who enjoyed a Mexican breakfast and rollicking tales of a trip south of the border, down Mexico way, as told by author Steve Hely. (Oh, and down Peru, and Chile, and Panama way, too, to mention just a few of the Central and South American countries that Hely spent several months visiting prior to writing his book The Wonder Trail.)

Hely, who has written for TV shows including The Office and 30 Rock, told of escapades and adventures including eating guinea pigs, witnessing the sale of drugs while sailing the Darien Gap, and hearing harrowing tales about kidnapping. He recalls participating in feast days in the mountains of Colombia and musing on the placement of a large rather explicit statue of a woman giving birth to the world in close proximity to a Catholic church, with its more discreet depictions of Christ’s birth.

“But it’s hard to beat the beauty of Laguna Beach,” he said.

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Author Steve Hely signs Rebecca Barber’s book. “The route he took – the different places and experiences he had – it’s amazing,” she said.

Hely noted that Laguna has a special place in his heart.

“My grandfather, a doctor, was stationed at Camp Pendleton, training for amphibious landings in the Pacific theater in the summer of 1944,” he said. “He decided, like many others, to marry his sweetheart, my grandmother, before he shipped overseas. At that time, doctors were given a month in Laguna Beach as a honeymoon before they left. I can only imagine how rich that experience must have been for them.”

Hely explained why he took the trip that turned into the well-reviewed book. 

“Life is wild, full of luck and surprising accidents of time and history and geography,” he said. 

“We all have to decide how to make the most of it. For me, that’s traveling.”

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L-R: Jason Feddy, Michael Waldman, Cindy Waldman and Myrna Gray, Jason’s mom, very much enjoyed the Books and Brunch event

Book club members Mady Gufarotti, Susan Wunderlich and Karen Strauss agreed that Hely’s presentation made them want to travel. They loved his humor and his ability to talk about his experiences in such an interesting way.

The event ended with Steve Hely wandering from table to table to sign the books that were part of the Books and Brunch package. Everyone wanted to engage him in conversation, and when I left, he was still doing the rounds. He may still be there for all I know; so willing was he to share his experiences.

The next Books and Brunch will take place on Aug 21 at 11:30 a.m. and will feature novelist Michelle Gable talking about her new book, I’ll See You in Paris. For more information, visit www.foapom.com/events/books-and-brunch.

Artist Benevolence Fund – Helping artists in need


The Artists’ Benevolence Fund is a unique source of financial assistance to artists living in Laguna Beach, who have suffered a catastrophic event, leaving them unable to work. The Benevolence Fund’s annual auction is a large component that provides the money to support these artists in need. Most artists that donate artwork to the Artists’ Benevolence Fund do so out of the goodness of their hearts - they want to support each other. Few of them ever think that one day they will need the assistance of the Benevolence Fund.  

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Marsh Scott

That was the case for painter and sculptor Marsh Scott; she had been donating artwork for the auction since she joined the show in 1999. It wasn’t until her studio was destroyed in the floods in 2010 that she truly understood the importance of the Benevolence Fund. 

It is devastating to an artist to not only lose their work but their means of creating new work. 

“I lost everything: my tools, supplies and artwork. My studio was filled with two feet of mud.” Within days of the flood, Marsh was contacted by trustees of the Benevolence Fund and given a check to help while she tried to rebuild her studio. She said, “Mentally, it felt great to know that someone wanted to help.” 

Ever since, she sees donating work to the Benevolence Fund’s annual auction as a way to “pay it forward.” 

Marsh is proud to belong to a local community that supports the Benevolence Fund auction. As a Laguna Beach resident, she understands how small some homes can be and that wall space is limited. For that reason, she tries to pick a piece of artwork to donate that is small enough to fit in any home so that “…if someone loves it, they can find a place for it!” 

Support the Sawdust Artists’ Benevolence Fund by attending the 2016 annual auction on Aug 14. All the artwork is donated by Sawdust Art Festival artists. You may just find a treasure you cannot live without! 

For more information, visit https://sawdustartfestival.org/about/artists-benevolence-fund.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

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