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.


From Joshua Tree National Park, Fitz Maurice paints the iconic Mojave Desert Tree of Life

Story and photos by FITZ MAURICE

Painting the Joshua Tree was an ideal experience for me because I was given the opportunity to create the Mojave Desert Tree of Life. While painting this joyous subject I felt rejuvenated!

This newest oil painting in the National Park Paintings series portrays the obvious icon of Joshua Tree National Park, California. It celebrates nature’s wisdom in the delicate balance of the chain of life. With the Joshua Tree nearly centered in the painting it represents the center of the chain of life in the desert.

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“Mojave Desert Tree of Life, Joshua Tree National Park, California” ~ Oil Painting

The Joshua Tree is the desert tree of life because it provides life support for all the wildlife around it, from insects and lizards to hundreds of birds. Focusing weeks of time and energy on this positive creation lifted my spirit, which was a particularly good feeling when my body was being challenged by days of excessive heat. As my readers know, I go to the National Parks when they are supposed to be at their ultimate season. Winter out here in the Mojave Desert is usually a comfortable 70-75 degrees. Instead it has been 100-degree days and 30-degree nights! I had to deal with a sand storm of hot wind blowing up to 65 mph with flies and other prickly experiences too.

Many cool evenings were pleasantly spent studying the desert sunsets. I chose to portray the classic rainbow roll of pastel colors that rise from blue to red-violet to soft yellow. This rainbow sunset sky, set behind the Joshua Tree, accentuates the branches of the tree that seem to be rejoicing in life.

Fitz Maurice painting in Joshua Tree

Now that this oil painting is finished I can share with you that I am grateful to have made the concerted restraint to STOP! Knowing when to stop is one of the great mysteries that creative people must solve with each new work of art.

I’ve been an artist all my life, and I have painted 1023 paintings. I dare say that the time to stop painting is before you make it perfect! In fact, something precious is lost in making a painting perfect. Perfection often suffocates freshness, draining the life out of the painting. Often in the past I would push to perfect the painting. Then I realized that perfect is not the ultimate answer. In recent years, I have resolved to finish the painting and just stop – before the freshness is brushed away by over-painting.

It actually takes courage to stop creating and trust that the minimal amount of information has been sufficiently provided and the painting is still alive and breathing with freshness. I prefer my paintings to be full of life’s energy, trusting in the magic of mystery rather than the stale presentation of perfection.

Follow my quest as I continue onward and upward to the next park of the 59 National Parks. And to see some of the newest National Park Paintings, go to Woods Cove Art Gallery, 1963 South Coast Hwy in Laguna Beach.


FITZ Maurice has been on a quest to paint ‘live’ in every national park in America. She is now in her fourth year. Totally committed to help promote and protect the parks, the artist is traveling by truck and trailer to each park. Hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene, she’ll finally set 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: www.nationalparkpaintings.com

Ellen Girardeau Kempler has won international poetry competition, and will present in Ireland this summer


Laguna poet and author Ellen Girardeau Kempler has been selected the winner of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival for her poem, “Birthday Wish.” Kempler is an accomplished poet whose works have been published in Spectrum, Orbis (UK), Arrow and a number of other presses. Her poems have also been shortlisted for the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Prize and Ireland’s Fish Poetry Prize (judged by Billy Collins) and have won first place for the past three years in the annual Laguna Beach Library Poetry Awards.

Kempler was notified as among six finalists from all around the world just last Friday. Then on Sunday she was announced as the winner. 

“I’m pinching myself after receiving news on Easter Sunday that the competition judge, Dutch poet Tsead Buinja, has selected me to receive the Blackwater International Poetry Festival Prize,” said Kempler. “It’s the first acceptance I’ve had in many months – after many, many submissions and rejections. 

“The organizers are paying for me to fly to Cork and putting me up there for four nights at the end of July. I’ll be joining an international group of poets for readings in towns around the area. The winning poem, Birthday Wish (about my dad, who died last year) will be published in Ireland’s Blue Max Review. It’s a reminder to all you creatives never to take rejection personally and to keep working and submitting.”

Ellen Girardeau Kempler

The Blackwater Festival (“The friendliest poetry festival in the world”) had this to say, “The committee wish to express our heartfelt congratulations to Ellen. We are looking forward to hosting Ellen and to hearing her read at the festival. Her winning poem will be included in the festival anthology The Blue Max Review. Thank you also to Tsead Bruinja for selecting such a well deserved winner.”

Kempler is a member of the American Academy of Poets and the American Association of Writers and Writers Programs and is certified as a workshop leader by the Amherst Writers Program. She was a literature major at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies, and later earned a master’s degree in Mass Communications. Her essays, opinion pieces and feature articles have appeared in the L.A. Times, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post and numerous other publications. In 2015, she was runner-up in Transition Abroad’s annual Narrative Travel Writing Competition.

“After being laid off from my last career communications job in 2011, I began focusing on writing poetry again. I enrolled in a poetry workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival with poet Gerald Dawe. It was my first trip to Ireland and my first solo adventure abroad,” explained Kempler. “I returned with a better sense of the work ahead, and a desire to keep focusing on poetry despite the economic obstacles.”

Having submitted written work on a regular basis, Kempler knows all too well the insurmountable odds of being published. “Winning a prize like this and actually being awarded a trip is probably a once-in-a-lifetime event,” she says. She is looking forward to joining several highly regarded poets for workshops and readings during the festival in Ireland. But, ultimately, it’s not about the prize, the travel, or even being published. It’s about poetry, “Poetry propels me through space, allowing me to time travel back to specific places and memories, unpack, and explore them again.”

CAP Gallery artists’ exhibition runs through April 15 

The exhibition, “Portraiture” features three artists who present their personal perspective on the art of portraiture. Elizabeth McGhee, Ellen Rose and Bruce Vanderwilt each have distinct styles of presenting the human form. This exhibition gives viewers the chance to enjoy the uniqueness of each artist’s style.

The exhibition will run until April 15 at the CAP Banking on Art Gallery, Wells Fargo Bldg., Second Floor, located at 260 Ocean Ave.

Elizabeth McGhee is one of three CAP artists exhibited at Banking on Art Gallery

The gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free. For information visit: www.caplaguna.org

Jonathan Burke

I couldn’t be more pleased to have a recurring column in StuNews and look forward to sharing what’s new and unique about Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD). I know many have driven by the College countless times and may have noticed our campuses along Laguna Canyon Road.  

In 1961 the “Laguna Beach School of Art” was founded as a not-for-profit organization with the mission to “provide visual arts education of the highest quality in the region.” Fifty-four years later this mission continues to be embraced, but our student community has expanded. LCAD has taught students from all 50 states and 32 different countries, and holds the conviction that art is a positive force that can change society and the world for the better. 

Our 2016 educational mission states: “LCAD prepares women and men for creative and sustainable careers in art and design.” We do this superbly well due to three important criterions. 

Skill-based curriculum is primary. Every art student begins his or her studio education by learning descriptive drawing. This is a complex training of the mind, eye and hand to recognize and describe the most immediate and basic forms.  At LCAD all artists are required to conceptualize, analyze and describe forms regardless of their choice of visual expression. Even when using digital tools, drawing is a relevant and necessary skill for all artists. Our majors (these include animators, game artists, designers, illustrators, painters and sculptors) require high-level drawing skills in order to create meaningful images. 

Story telling follows closely. Our majors create art that expresses a visual narrative to evoke and capture the essence of an emotion or feeling. I continually see LCAD students, faculty and alumni creating narratives that describe contemporary or historical events, myths, fantasy or a personal story. Their stories produce strong emotions that affect us, and even change our view of the world.

The third criterion is providing professional preparation. We teach art with a focus on preparing our students for professional success and provide them with the necessary tools to create a consistent, strong portfolio that’s career ready.

I look forward to sharing more about LCAD with you, and extend an open invitation to visit the college and learn more about what we do.

Jonathan Burke is President of Laguna College of Arts and Design

Laguna College of Art and Design faculty featured in The Paris Seminar exhibition opening here April 1

Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) faculty and alumni were selected to participate in The Paris Seminar exhibition, opening April 1 through April 14, 2016 at LCAD’s Main Campus Administration Building Conference Room, at 2222 Laguna Canyon Road.

The exhibition programming will include a live tandem figure painting demonstration by Adrian Gottlieb and Kate Sammons from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on April 8 on LCAD’s Main Campus, immediately followed by a reception from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Additional lectures, presentations and panel discussions will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on April 9, 2016. 

The LCAD artists featured in the exhibition include LCAD’s Chair of Fine Arts, Hope Railey and LCAD student and professional artist, Vanessa Rothe. Also included in the exhibition are Andrew Ameral, Ryan S. Brown, Michelle Dunaway, Adrian Gottlieb, Richard Greathouse, Michael Klein, Alan J. Lawson, Jeremy Lipking, Iliya Mirochnik, J. Judson Monroe, Kate Sammons and Aaron Westerberg. 

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Ryan Brown 

En Plein Air

24 x 32

Rothe, a painter, curator, editor and published author, along with partner and Cambridge University and Florence Art Academy graduate, Sean Forester, curated The Paris Seminar, a bi-coastal exhibition featuring top realist artists from the United States. A portion of the proceeds from sales will go to LCAD scholarships, and will allow exhibiting artists to study historical master figure composers in Paris and to take on the challenge to create their own large-scale multi-figure compositions. 

“Art patrons have played such an important role in the development and proliferation of fine art,” said Rothe. “Without the aid of patrons such as the Medici Family in Florence or Theo van Gogh and his wife, neither Michelangelo nor Vincent van Gogh would have flourished or would have been free to create such grand works which we admire today. In April 2016, The Paris Seminar will offer today’s art patrons a chance to play a role in shaping the current art world.”

“I am thrilled that The Paris Seminar came to fruition,” said Jonathan Burke, president of LCAD. “It’s a beautiful idea to assemble thirteen talented and recognized representational painters to inspire one another to achieve a unique body of art. Each of these artists is passionate about and committed to the enduring language of representational art, and each is capable of expressing a personal vision that connects with all of humanity. I am looking forward to this important exhibition.”

After the exhibition closes at LCAD, The Paris Seminar will travel to New York City and open at the Salmagundi Club in New York on April 28, 2016. 

All works will be available for purchase.  For more information about The Paris Seminar, please visit www.lcad.edu or call 949-376-6000.

For more information about LCAD admissions, news, events and Annual Fund, visit www.lcad.edu. Facebook at @LCADBFA, Twitter @LCAD and Instagram @lcadbfa.

Jim Wooley has trained 2/3 of the staff since joining LCAD as Director of Safety + Security last November

Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) announced Jim Wooley as Director of Campus Safety and Security. Wooley joined the College in November 2015 and has made significant progress in training faculty and staff for certification in Emergency Preparedness, as well as in strengthening partnerships with Laguna Beach Police Department and Laguna Beach Fire Department. 

“The safety and security of the entire LCAD community is my top priority,” Wooley said. “The key to staying safe is to be aware and prepared.”

The LCAD community is well aware of Wooley and his team of Certified Campus Safety Officers who conduct regular patrols of LCAD’s student housing and its Main, East, North “Big Bend” and MFA campuses as well as its MFA and Senior studios. Wooley and his team observe and report directly to all local first responder agencies in Laguna Beach. Additionally, Wooley is overseeing the training of staff and faculty in the FEMA Incident Command System.

“Our staff are the people who will be at the front lines in the event of an emergency,” Wooley said. “The training informs them of the critical need for emergency preparedness and what their roles are during an emergency.”

Two-thirds of LCAD staff now are certified in the basics of emergency preparedness.

“Jim has done an exemplary job in upgrading our emergency communications systems, in training our community and in raising the profile of our safety team,” said Jonathan Burke, president of LCAD. “He and his team are here for our students, faculty, staff and visitors whenever they need them.”

Wooley leads two Campus Safety Officers, Bryan Heggie and Dave Becket. “We are very much part of the fabric of the College and we look forward to continuing the education and preparation of students, faculty and staff,” Wooley said. His plans include holding annual fire and earthquake drills as well as hosting Laguna Beach Police Department to present an active shooter lecture.

Wooley retired from the city of Evansville Police Department after 22 years, moved to Orange County where he worked as a Security Supervisor for Long Beach Unified School District, and in 2004, became Head of Security at Santa Ana College.

Even though he retired after 10 years at Santa Ana College, Wooley wasn’t ready to settle down. “I still wanted to be active and a part of an educational community,” he said. “Graduation is one of my favorite times of the year. When I see all those smiling faces, it’s gratifying to know that I played a role in helping those students and their families achieve their dreams.”

For more information, please visit: www.lcad.edu.

Coates and Flores will invite all to “Step Right Up” at LOCA’s Circus Art Cabaret fundraiser April 24

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Photos by Mike Tauber

Ruben Flores and Nelson Coates will present and be honored

“This is going to be so much fun!” said Ruben Flores, who will co-present with Nelson Coates at LOCA’s One Thin Dime circus art party and cabaret. LOCA Arts Education will present the extravaganza on Sunday April 24 from 4 - 7p.m. at the Laguna Canyon studio of Sandra Jones Campbell. Tickets are now on sale.

Leading the entertainment is songstress Roxanna Ward on keyboard.  Noted for her comedic wit, Ward will be joined by Coates in singing pop and cabaret style favorites.  Fun activities will include a fortuneteller, tattoo artist, peep show, ping-pong shoot, a mood-o-meter machine, and photography sets with costumes

An art sale will feature 40 circus-themed works by Olivia Batchelder, Betty Haight, Kathy Jones, Vinita Voogd, Jan Koelle, Elizabeth McGhee, Sue and Rich Linder, Antje Campbell, Paula Streeter and Betty Ten, Sandra Jones Campbell, and many more. 

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LOCA President Carla Meberg models the art and “fashion”

A magic trunk, containing dozens of artifacts, art, and collectibles from local leaders, will be offered in a live auction. Fashion, food, wine and magic will add to the “big top” themed fun. Proceeds from sales support LOCA’s community service educational programs. Advance registration is $40 per person or $120 for a group of four. VIP registrations, $80 each, include early admission and champagne kick-off.  LOCAarts.org (949) 363-4700.


LB Arts Alliance announces $5,000 grant winner

The 2016 [seven-degrees] of Inspiration grant winner is Russell Pierce, a Laguna Beach mixed media visual artist who proposes to create portraits of people who have made an impact on the world. 

Pierce’s application says, “There are so many movers and shakers currently having an impact in our world as well as many that have passed on, yet their influence is still felt today. These people come from all walks of life and can impact us in many different ways. There are the artists and musicians, the world leaders, the politicians, the entertainers, the media, the inventors as well as regular people just looking to make a difference. My goal is to produce 50 portraits of the people that have had a sizable impact on my life.” 

Pierce cites how he hopes to capture through his art the essence of such influential individuals like women’s rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and music icon and transformer David Bowie. He plans on combining both traditional techniques and digital effects to craft 50 very unique and diverse portraits that together will make one final exhibit, entitled Change Agents

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Self-portrait of Russell Pierce, the winner of [seven-degrees] of Inspiration grant

With each portrait, Pierce indicates he will also make a plaque with the basic information: name, occupation, birth date, death date if deceased and a QR code with a link to a custom web site where there will be a short bio on each subject. Visitors will be able to access more detailed information of the person on their smartphone while actually viewing the portrait. 

“My hope is that people will come away from the show having learned something new about the subjects,” said Pierce.

Pierce will be awarded the $5,000 grant at the Art Star Awards on April 3, 2016 at [seven-degrees] in Laguna Beach, California. Art Star Committee Chair Wayne Baglin says, “We are excited to award this grant to someone whose idea feels completely unique. We also like the way his project will engage the audience and incorporate the use of technology.”

Pierce will have one year to complete his project and his final body of work, Change Agents, will premiere at the 2017 Art Stars Awards. 

Since 2011, the [seven-degrees] of Inspiration grant has been funded annually by [seven-degrees] in partnership with the Laguna Beach Art Alliance. The goal of the grant is to provide support for an emerging or established Laguna Beach artist to develop and present an innovative arts project or program that advances recognition of Laguna Beach as a progressive arts city. It also enables the artist to expand and diversify his/her audience, and provides an opportunity for advanced learning and progression. The grant is open to both creative artists (including choreographers, composers, playwrights and visual artists) as well as interpretive artists (including dancers, instrumental and vocal musicians, and actors).

She Loves Me, a musical comedy set in the 1950s runs at Saddleback College from April 8 – 17 – tickets available

On April 8 through 17, the Department of Theatre Arts presents She Loves Me with Book by Joe Masteroff, Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Hamick, and based on a play by Miklos Laszio. Directed by Scott Farthing, musically directed by Lex Leigh, and choreography by Deidre Cavazzi, this charming musical is set in the 1950s where a case of mistaken identity and letter writing brings two feuding perfume clerks to the realization that they are in love. Considered by many to be the most charming musical ever written, this endearing storygoes back as far as Jimmy Stewart’s 1940s non-musical version Shop Around the Corner and a much later 1998 version with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, You’ve Got Mail.

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Submitted photo

Nathan James Corbett (L) and Alex McDermott

She Loves Me takes place in the McKinney Theatre at Saddleback College on April 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 at 7:30 p.m., and April 10, 17 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling (949) 582-4656 (noon-4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday) and online at www.saddleback.edu/arts. Prices are $15 general; $12 seniors; $10 students.

The Department of Theatre Arts program at Saddleback College produces several fully-staged shows each year. All students are given the opportunity to audition for every production yet Theatre Arts students are given priority in the casting process. In addition, there are numerous opportunities for students to contribute in backstage activities through the Entertainment and Theater Technology program.

Saddleback College is located at 28000 Marguerite Pkwy in Mission Viejo, just east of Interstate 5 at the Avery Parkway exit. Free parking is available in Lot 12. Take Avery Parkway to Marguerite Parkway turn left to the third traffic light, which is Saddleback’s Marguerite entrance. Turn right into the campus and take the third left to Theatre Circle, turning right into Lot 12.

Sawdust Art Festival’s 50th year celebrated with unique artistic donations including 7-ft sculptural light fixture by Bruce Freund

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Submitted photos

Over the past 35 years, the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach has given Sawdust artist and glassblower, Bruce Freund, many things including the camaraderie of his fellow artists, an opportunity to gain inspiration from his surroundings, the possibility of working with a variety of mediums and the ability to make a living by doing what he loves. 

As his way of saying thank you for being “...there for me for so many years,” Freund decided to donate his time and artistic skill to Sawdust by compiling over 140 hand-blown-glass pieces into one unique seven-foot, sculptural light fixture. Thus far, Freund has dedicated nearly two months of his time planning and creating the sculpture. 

Freund hopes that it will bring new life to the iconic Sawdust landscape, and encourage artists and patrons alike to celebrate the Sawdust’s 50th anniversary this summer.

Freund’s amazing donation is just one of several art installations planned for visitors to enjoy when they attend this summer’s 50th celebration which will run from June 24 to August 28. 

“This year continues to be a great year full of changes and improvements for Sawdust, including the new user-friendly website and several upcoming renovations being made to structures and the grounds,” states general manager Tom Klingenmeier. “Contributions from our generous donors are essential to maintaining operations and expanding programs such as our Sawdust Studio Art Classes and other art education classes held on the festival grounds.”

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Glassblower Bruce Freund assembles his donated seven-foot light fixture 

As a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation, Sawdust relies on donations to fulfill its mission to educate the surrounding communities of the arts, and to facilitate a venue for local artists to exhibit their work. Donations can be made to specific funds such as special memorial funds, art education and general funds—which support operation costs for programs and renovations made to the grounds. All donations are deeply appreciated and essential to enriching the arts and culture of Laguna Beach and surrounding areas. To make a donation to the Sawdust Art Festival, please visit: https://sawdustartfestival.org/product/donate/.

Please share this message with friends, family, and other art patrons everywhere, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about Sawdust and its 50th anniversary celebration plans.

Founded in 1967, the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public and promoting art created in Laguna Beach. Best known for offering two highly attended seasonal festivals, the organization also hosts a variety of workshops and classes throughout the year. Sawdust’s legendary summer festival is a nine-week summer celebration of fine art and craft – the largest in Southern California – with more than 200 Laguna Beach artists who exhibit and sell their original art and handcrafted items. The festival also offers live entertainment, fashion shows, artist demonstrations, hands-on art workshops for all ages, and a variety of food & drink offerings. 

Sawdust’s Annual Winter Fantasy Festival occurs for five weekends leading up to the holiday season, and boasts an international collection of over 175 artisans who create, showcase, and sell their original, handcrafted artwork on the Sawdust grounds, which are lavishly decorated to resemble a winter wonderland. Special activities include “Winter Art Series” classes, where guests can create holiday-themed works, and a highly anticipated Annual Community Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Throughout the remainder of the year, the organization continues to provide its Sawdust Studio Art Classes in a variety of mediums, on-site and off-site. For more information, visit: www.sawdustartfestival.org.

Zombies take to the stage at Laguna Playhouse, with ZOMBIE IN LOVE, The Muzical, April 8th

The Zombies are coming! The Zombies are coming! This popular best-selling children’s book will be presented live on-stage beginning Friday, April 8 through Sunday, April 17 at the Laguna Playhouse Moulton Theatre.  ZOMBIE IN LOVE, The Muzical is directed by Kelly Herman, with musical direction by Diane King Vann and choreography by Marco Carreon.

Mortimer is looking for love. And he’s looking everywhere! He’s worked out at the gym (if only his arm wouldn’t keep falling off). He’s tried ballroom dancing lessons (but the ladies found him to be a bit stiff). He’s even been on stalemate.com. How’s a guy supposed to find a ghoul? When it seems all hope has died, could the girl of Mortimer’s dreams be just one horrifying shriek away?

The cast of ZOMBIE IN LOVE, The Muzical features young actors from the Laguna Beach and Orange County areas. The cast includes Ryan Han as Mortimer, Siena Yusi as Mildred, Trevor Yusi as Rodney, with Jayden Goodman, Sophia Haslett, Victoria Thompson, Samia El-Erian, Nini Guerry, Robert Born, Troy Huyen, Quinton Yusi, and as Mortimer’s Worms: Colter Alves, Olivia DeVito, Leo Hekma, Benji Jenkins, Isabella Saunders, and Abigail Williams.

ZOMBIE IN LOVE, The Muzical will performon Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, April 9 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday, April 10 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Friday, April 15 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, April 16 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday, April 17 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach.  

Tickets range from $18 - $20 and can be purchased online at www.lagunaplayhouse.com or by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787) x 1. Group tickets are available by calling the group sales hotline at (949) 497-ARTS (2787) x 229.  

The box office is open Monday – Saturday: from noon to 5 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and until show time on performance days.   

For more information on all shows and programming visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com. Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road.

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. 

Fitz’s quest on her national park adventure: Joshua Tree National Park, and the Joshua Tree of Life


Finding the iconic image of Joshua Tree National Park was a no brainer! Naturally, it is the Joshua Tree itself. I am thrilled that I get to paint one of my favorite subjects – a tree. Best of all, out in this desert national park, they call the Joshua Tree the tree of life. Painting such a bountiful subject is greatly rejuvenating for me as an artist. I have been painting trees all my life. In fact, years ago I created an entire collection of oil paintings titled the Tree Series. 

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Photo by FITZ

The Joshua Tree

I have learned so much about trees by studying their structure, how they grow and what incredible gifts trees are to earth. The more I read and realize about trees the more I believe that they are the answer to saving our planet. We all know that in Northern California there are trees thousands of years old that have survived and thrived regardless of fire, drought, storms and mans continuous interference, pollution and destruction. When will we be wise enough to learn from trees? They preceded us and will most likely outlive us all.

I am a lifetime tree lover and a tree hugger. I’ve been hugging trees so long that they hug me back! Seriously though, if you were to hike with me I would encourage you to hug a tree. Then you would begin to tune in to the living vibration that runs through their entire system. In time you would begin to feel how different trees have different pulses. 

The Joshua Tree is an amazing provider to desperate desert inhabitants. These trees provide shade, water, food and shelter to insects, birds, snakes and reptiles – enhancing the delicate balance of nature. They are also often the only splash of green in the endless sea of sand surrounding them. 

I do get a kick out of the way the Joshua Tree’s branches seem as if arms thrown up to the sky in a funny frantic kind of way.

Photo by Maggi

The artist Fitz Maurice was recently back in Laguna for the opening of Main Beach Gallery, where some of her works will be shown

For weeks now I have been studying the Mojave Desert skies too. Here, the sky is massive, a moving and an ever changing element, when all else seems to stand still. If you pay attention, each evening offers an illuminating lightshow that divinely lingers on. It’s incredible how pastel colors of pink and orange splash across the sky redefining the entire landscape, highlighting formations that you probably didn’t even notice before.

Heavenly sunsets lift the flat desert into a three-dimensional array of colors with the mountains turning red and blue, and purples. Every sunset offers a new symphony of tones and nuances. It’s like music to your eyes!

Right now is the ideal time to go to Joshua Tree National Park – the rare wildflower bloom is abundant. You also have the unique chance to see the desert tortoise crawling around. It’s unbelievable to think that these tortoises are only wandering around outdoors 5% of their lives – the other 95% they remain underground. So seize this time to get out there. Bring your camera for super sunsets and rare wildlife opportunities.


FITZ Maurice has been on a quest to paint ‘live’ in every national park in America. She is now in her fourth year. Totally committed to help promote and protect the parks, the artist is traveling by truck and trailer to each park. Hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene, she’ll finally set 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: www.nationalparkpaintings.com

LBHS Park Avenue Players’ production of “Once Upon a Mattress” runs until March 20, at Artists Theatre

The Laguna Beach High School Drama Department announces its spring production “Once Upon a Mattress,” a musical comedy based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” The show will be performed in the LBHS Artists Theatre and runs through March 20.

It’s been very exciting to collaborate with all the performing arts departments on campus,” said LBHS Drama Teacher Alexis Karol. “We have 36 students on stage including actors, singers, and dancers, plus a student orchestra and crew.”

Once Upon a Mattress is a musical comedy originally produced in 1959 with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshal Barer and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller and Marshall Barer. The production is a collaboration of co-directors Karol and Karen Rymar, assistant director of Musical Theatre at the Orange County School of the Arts, and LBHS alumna Celena DelPizzo-Howell.

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Submitted photo

“The entire process has been very rewarding,” said DelPizzo-Howell. “It has been a pleasure being apart of such a wonderful team of directors and being given the privilege to work with an incredibly talented and kind cast of students.”

With musical direction by Roxanna Ward and choreography by Paul Nygro, the performance will provide the audience with hilarious, romantic and melodic turns.

Audiences who may know the story of “The Princess and The Pea” may be in for some surprises with this adaptation. In this version, Queen Aggravain has decreed that no one in the Kingdom may wed until Prince Dauntless is married. In an attempt to keep Prince Dauntless single, she has decreed that only a true princess of royal blood can pass the test to marry her son. The queen has tested a dozen applicants and each has failed her practically impossible tests. That is, until Sir Harry finds Princess Winnifred the Woebegone. 

This spin on the familiar classic of royal courtship and comeuppance provides some sidesplitting trouble. Chances are, the audience will never look at fairy tales quite the same way again.

The LBHS Park Avenue Players will present the show on March 17, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and March 20 at 2:30 p.m.

The Artists Theatre Box Office will sell tickets to the public. Tickets are $10 for students, $15 for adults and $20 for premium seating. The box office will be open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m., 4 to 7:30 p.m. for evening shows and noon to 2:30 p.m. for matinees.

For more information, please visit www.lbusd.org/lbhs/drama or contact Alexis Karol at mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LOCA brings the circus to town—step right up, folks for “One Thin Dime” – a circus-themed art party 

LOCA Arts Education will present One Thin Dime, a circus-themed art party and cabaret, on Sunday, April 24, from 4-7 p.m. at the studio of Sandra Jones Campbell in Laguna Canyon. Tickets are now on sale.

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Mada Leach and Linda Velasco with “Art Box”, by Kathy Jones

The festivities and fun will include a fortuneteller, tattoo artist, peep show, face painting, ping-pong shoot, a mood-o-meter machine, photography sets with costumes, and a sale of 50 circus-themed works by local artists including Kathy Jones, Betty Haight, Vinita Voogd, Kirsten Whalen, Carla Meberg, among many others. 

Highlights include a live cabaret performance by noted songstress Roxanna Ward, and appearances by honorees Nelson Coates and Ruben Flores. Food, wine, magic, and fashion will add to the festivities.

Advance registration is $40 per person or $120 for a group of four. VIP registration is $80 per ticket, and includes early admission and a champagne kick-off.  For more information, visit LOCAarts.org or call (949) 363-4700.

Gallery Q celebrates the wild side of 55-plus with art show – artists are invited to submit their works

The annual 55+ Art Show at Gallery Q is on its way... and this is NOT your grandparents’ senior art show. The Wild Side of 55+ Plus: Exploring the Untamed Heart will celebrate the creative talents and acquired insights of Orange County’s 55-plus population.

Artists from Orange County are invited to bring their artwork to Gallery Q on Thursday, March 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. or Friday, March 18 from 1 to 3 p.m. All artwork is welcome and accepted — media/painting, mixed media, ceramics, wearable art, small sculptures, and photography.

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Examples of Gallery Q’s artworks 

There is an entry fee of $25 per piece and a special discount for those 65+ who qualify. Additional entry pieces $5 each — limit 3. Visit www.susiq.org or the Susi Q front desk (380 Third Street) for guidelines and an application form.

A free Artist’s Reception with beverages and light refreshments will take place on Friday, April 8 from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. The exhibit will be on display from March 21 through May 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Gallery Q is located in the Laguna Beach Community and Senior Center at 380 Third Street in downtown Laguna Beach. Many of the art pieces in the show will be available for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Laguna Beach Seniors.

For additional information please visit www.susiq.org or contact Carole Zavala, Arts Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

James C. Leonard solo exhibition, The Language of Color, at Avran Art + Design on March 19 – 6-9 p.m.

Avran Art + Design is pleased to present a solo exhibition of artworks by critically acclaimed artist, James C. Leonard, on Saturday, Mar 19 from 6-9 p.m.

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“Weather’s Fine”, by James C. Leonard

According to Urban Tulsa Weekly, “Leonard’s compositions are entirely non-representational and move the viewer’s eye vertically or horizontally across the space. This basic movement is complicated by layers of dropped, speckled, and fragmented colors that infuse not only a rich language of color, but also a visual history left to be discovered by the eye as it moves across the surface. Leonard’s inventive layering process results in heavy impasto, or textured, surfaces with a glossy, wet shine, making them particularly beautiful when seen in person.” 

Avran Art + Design distinguishes itself among the vibrant art scene in Laguna Beach by offering its clients a unique perspective on contemporary art for collectors and enthusiasts. The exquisitely edited gallery exhibits museum-quality glass sculptures, original paintings, avant-garde photography, and distinctive jewelry. Lovers of both contemporary and traditional art will revel in its exclusive collections.

The gallery is located at 540 South Coast Highway, Suite 106. For more information, visit http://www.avranart.com

Landscape painters will pair with mentors at “Mentor Paint-Out Plus” on March 14, at Heisler Park

Landscape painters seeking to improve skills are invited to Mentor Paint-Out Plus at the spectacular Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. Hours are 9 a.m. – noon on Monday, March 14. Cost is free. The event is presented by Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA), and LOCA Arts Education. 

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Participants, with their own easels, may paint alongside professional LPAPA artist-mentors as they paint the scenic shoreline views. As a plus, a selection of watercolors, acrylics, and oil pastels will be available to “test drive.” The morning will conclude with a helpful, supportive critique of everyone’s work.

The event is presented with support from The City of Laguna Beach and local lodging establishments.

Painting will be at Heisler Park, 375 Cliff Dr., in Laguna Beach. For information visit www.LPAPA.org, or www.LOCAarts.org, or call (949) 363-4700.

Sara Gazarek & Josh Nelson next Jazz Wednesdays March 16

Vocalist Sara Gazarek and pianist Josh Nelson have aligned their musical spirits in a way that would make any artistic duo envious. Gazarek’s top flight interpretations of the vast and varied American songbook are buoyed by the sensitivity of Nelson’s supple command and they have transfixed audiences from New York to Tokyo. More about the artists and to hear their music, visit www.lagunabeachlive.org/concerts/jazzwednesdays

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Submitted photo

Jazz Wednesdays Winter 2016 brings great jazz music and great food together. Concerts are at the distinctive [seven-degrees] event facility, 891 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, on March 16. A full bar and buffet dinner menu are available for purchase from [seven-degrees]. Cover charge is $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Buy tickets online www.lagunabeachlive.org or call 800-595-4849. Doors open at 5 p.m.; Concerts start at 6 p.m.; Reservations are accepted until 3 p.m. on day of concert or until sold out. Information line is 949-715-9713.

Crystal Cove Alliance to host “Reflections,” a spring art show and sale featuring more than 25 artists

Love art? Enjoy the beauty of Crystal Cove State Park? On March 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., discover one-of-a-kind works at Crystal Cove Alliance’s (CCA) Spring Art Show and Sale, “Reflections,” featuring the region’s most talented professionals who have captured Crystal Cove State Park with oil, acrylic and canvas. 

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Submitted photo

April Raber

Crystal Cove Clouds

Guests will have the opportunity to meet the artists and purchase their magnificent artwork. Fifty percent of the all proceeds will benefit CCA’s mission of restoration, conservation, and education at Crystal Cove State Park.

On March 18, CCA members can enjoy an exclusive preview sale and reception from 4 – 6:30 p.m.

The show will be held at the Education Commons in the Historic District at Crystal Cove State Park, 5 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA 92657. Admission is free, but state park day-use fees apply.

RSVP here or visit www.crystalcovealliance.org or call (949) 376-6200 ext. 35 for more information.

LOCA Arts Education offers watercolor classes with Lydia Delgado: Workshops on both March 10 & 24

LOCA Arts Education is offering affordable watercolor workshops now through April in Laguna Beach. Workshops are on select Thursday mornings, from 9:30 – 11: 30 a.m. at Delgado Gallery, across from Surf and Sand Hotel. Beginners and all levels of artists are invited.

Instructor Lydia Delgado will introduce a plant or flower theme, then will lead everyone together in easy step-by-step painting processes. Participants may choose one, or many workshops, as a new subject and process will be featured at each class. All supplies are included, and everyone takes home finished art each time.

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Photo by Mike Tauber

Lydia Delgado, artist and instructor of watercolor workshops

Upcoming workshops feature hydrangeas on March 10, and succulents on March 24. Cost is $30 for an individual, or $125 for 5-workshops and advance registration is required.

LOCA is also offering plein air painting workshops, a runway fashion studio, and more. For more information call (949) 363-4700 or visit: http://www.locaarts.org/events/

Art Walk from 6 – 9 p.m. this Thursday

First Thursdays Art Walk member galleries will be open from 6-9 p.m. this Thursday. Everything is free including the trolleys that will take you from north to south.

Art Walk provides a unique opportunity to promote Laguna Beach as a leading, year-round destination and community of fine art galleries. Its mission is to increase the public’s exposure to the arts by creating a friendly and entertaining environment during exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations and artist receptions.

More information can be found at www.firstthursdaysartwalk.com


Whitney Gallery

New Paintings of Morro Bay

Marc Whitney

Morro Bay #1

Oil on panel - 10” x 20”


Whitney Gallery

305 Forest Ave

(949) 463-1752



Woods Cove Fine Art

Main Beach Fine Art 

The Laguna Foundation for the Arts (LFFTA), a local 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, announced the official opening of two new art galleries in Laguna Beach. Events marking the occasion will take place during this First Thursday’s Art Walk from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

The new Main Beach Fine Art gallery, located at 206 N. Coast Highway will exhibit original works by highly regarded fine artists Mia Tavonatti, Fitz Maurice, Victoria Moore, Casey Parlette, as well as the respected local artist Nicholas Hernandez, Ph.D. – who also serves as the gallery curator.

Guests will have the opportunity to preview the newest downtown art gallery and help celebrate with a performance by the internationally acclaimed violinist, cellist and singer, Jessy Greene, who will be introducing some of her original music.

As Art Walk-goers make their way south, they can to stop by the Woods Cove Fine Art Gallery, located at 1963 S. Coast Highway at Diamond Street. The local community is invited to enjoy another incredible gallery opening at LFFTA’s second location.

The Woods Cove Fine Art Gallery is an eclectic collaboration of many different artists including painters and photographers, sculptors and musicians. A gallery with a more relaxed feel, this is the place for people from all walks of life to come and experience the arts, and share in collaboration and discussion. There will also be live music during this Thursday’s Art Walk opening.


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