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.

Cheyne Walls’s photograph of Death Valley National Park is honored with an award from Wildling Museum 

A black and white panoramic image of sand dunes in Death Valley National Park captured by local fine art photographer Cheyne Walls has recently been awarded second place by the Wildling Museum in Solvang. 

The juried exhibit “Celebrating the National Parks of California” is held in honor of the Centennial of the National Park Services and features artwork inspired by the nine national parks located in the state of California. Walls’s limited edition photograph “Unforgiving” was selected from over 165 entries from around the country.

“When creating images, choosing an aspect ratio is an integral part of composition,” said exhibit juror and professional photographer Marc Muench. “Cheyne Walls made a great choice when creating this scene of the dunes in Death Valley, as it made the vast space of this unique park the subject, then he dressed it up with great light and printing.”

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Cheyne Walls work is honored – as it should be!

“Unforgiving” as well as other work by Walls, can be found in his new book, Miles from Los Angeles. The book features over 120 photographs from locations all over the western United States. 

Miles from Los Angeles may be purchased this summer at the Laguna Art-A-Fair, open daily now through Aug 28. After being voted Best New Artist in 2015, Cheyne returns as a second year exhibitor at the juried art festival, which features 125 artists from around the world. Cheyne will be announcing times and dates for local book signing on his website and social media later in the month.

Located in Solvang, CA, the Wildling Museum is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to using art to awaken a passion for nature and wilderness conservation. Exhibitions, programs and events are listed on their website at www.wildlingmuseum.org. The “Celebrating the National Parks of California” exhibit at the Wildling Museum runs now through October 3. For hours, programs and events, visit their website.

Walls specializes in panoramic images of the Northern American landscape. Prior to dedicating himself to capturing and printing his fine art photographs, Cheyne worked as an advertising and editorial photographer in the automotive industry. Traveling across the United States and throughout the globe on these photo shoots, he fell in love with the diverse landscapes of the world. 

A Southern California native, Cheyne received a degree from Brooks Institute of Photography. His photography is part of numerous private and commercial collections worldwide. His studio is located at 3251 Laguna Canyon Road, H-5, and is open by appointment.

For more information about the artist or to purchase books online, visit www.cheynewalls.com.

Sawdust Art Enrichment Fund receives a generous grant to support jewelry classes for military spouses

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Sawdust Art Enrichment Fund Treasurer Cherril Doty receiving a Grant Check from Festival of Arts Foundation Secretary Jacquie Moffett

The Sawdust Art Enrichment Fund - a philanthropic effort that supports education of the public about the arts while providing hands-on experience to underserved populations - has announced the receipt of a grant from the Festival of Arts Foundation to assist in its philanthropic efforts. 

The grant will aid in funding a jewelry-making class for spouses of active military personnel at Camp Pendleton. Scheduled to take place in October, the class will be taught by Sawdust artist Jamie Bichler.  

In addition to learning jewelry-making techniques, the participants will receive the jewelry tools and components needed to produce jewelry pieces. Furthermore, instructions will be given on how to set up and market an Etsy store to help generate extra income that is not location dependent. 

For more information and details about the classes, visit: www.sawdustartfestival.org/about/sawdust-art-enrichment-fund

“Ice Cream Man” and Two Olympians 

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Years ago, Laguna Beach artist Scott Moore painted “Ice Cream Man.”

Now, Moore wouldn’t be wrong to change the title of his oil painting to “Ice Cream Man, and two Olympians.”

Moore, 66, used his neighbors’ daughters as the models for the painting. Those two little girls are now members of the U.S. women’s Olympic water polo team getting ready to play in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. 

Aria and Makenzie Fischer, who both play the position of attacker for the U.S. team, also played at Laguna Beach High. Makenzie graduated in 2015 and will be playing at Stanford this fall and Aria is just finishing up her junior year and still is part of Laguna Beach High’s water polo program. 

In “Ice Cream Man,” Moore goes to that iconic childhood memory of the ice cream man’s visit, preceded, of course, by the music coming from his ice cream truck. 

“I love telling stories of my childhood through my paintings,” Moore said. “‘Ice Cream Man’ brings me back to summertime, where the music from the ice cream truck stopped us in our tracks. We’’d beg mom for money and chase the truck down on our bicycles!”

Moore uses a unique style in his works. “Painting images with two scales gives me the freedom to enlarge some of the often forgotten objects that make up the details of a great memory,” he said.

Moore is one of the featured artists in the annual Festival of Arts, July 5 – Aug 31.

Stories From The Woods XXVI: Glacier is an Eden  

Story and photos by FITZ MAURICE

I arrive at Glacier National Park in Montana and see that it is a monumental park rich in beauty and wildlife. I look at incredible hiking along trails that are reminiscent of what I believe Nirvana might be. Waterfalls are gushing in all their glory. Around me, all is emerald green, velvety, with thick woven woods. Mountains admire themselves in their crystal-lake reflection. The glacier itself is a true Eden, lush with life and teeming with wildlife. 

Mountain ranges, woods, lakes and open fields are sprinkled with yellow and violet flowers, enough to hold any viewer’s attention. When you add the wildlife experiences that are possible as well, it’s thrilling.  

Fitz Maurice at the Garden Wall, Glacier National Park

Never before have I had the privilege to see so many animals walking freely around in their environment. No wonder so many artists and photographers are lured to this rare beauty. It’s a photographer’s dream come true because you can get some incredible shots while just hiking along on a gorgeous sunny day. I was lucky – it was the ideal time to be there because the highest pass on the Going-To-The-Sun road had just opened.

It was the end of June, and the snow had only just retreated enough that I could drive up to the snow-covered peaks. The timing also meant that the wildlife was very busily going about their lives. I got a great photo of a mountain goat with her vulnerable baby in tow while they were crossing a vast and frozen landscape. It looked as if it was the first journey out in the open for that tiny baby goat. 

Mountain goat leads her baby out into the open

I also saw and photographed bighorn sheep as they lay comfortably snuggled up in snow while basking their backs in the hot sun. I was tempted to do the same – that looked inviting. 

One of the surprises for me was how hot it was. Logan Pass is 10,000 feet in altitude and there was lots of snow on the ground. Yet the temperature was 84 degrees. 

I was in a dream state as I explored. I felt cozy in heavy-duty socks and hiking boots, but I needed only a T-shirt on because it was so hot my skin was tanning. 

In Montana at this time of year, this far north, it remains light until 10 p.m. or so. I was shocked when I paddled in from kayaking at Lake McDonald and realized it was 9:45 p.m.

There is so much fun to be found in Glacier Park. Kayaking the crystal clear lakes is inspiring, and rafting the rapids is a rush. People can choose horseback riding through the fragrant woods, or take a helicopter up and ride the ridge of the Continental Divide, or swim down in the Hidden Lake. There are wonders to marvel at and secrets to discover in the Treasure State of Montana.

I have to mention that it is likely that the longest-lasting glaciers at Glacier National Park, Montana will only survive until 2030 – maybe. Then they’ll be gone. Support our National Parks, which should be easy to do since it is now summer.

Go to your nearest park now and get outside!

To see some of the newest National Park Paintings, go to Woods Cove Art Gallery, 1963 South Coast Hwy in Laguna Beach.

2016 is the fourth year of my quest, to paint ‘live’ in every national park in America.

Having totally committed my life and talents to help promote and protect the parks, I am traveling by truck and trailer to each park. Then I go hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene. 

Finally I set up with portable easel and oil paints, and try to capture in paint the wonders that make each National Park a treasure to Americans and all the people of the world. Click link to see National Park paintings at www.nationalparkpaintings.com/index.html.

Art-To-Go names Best in “Shoe” Show

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Photo by Rick Graves

(Back L-R): Artists Fund Vice President Wendy Wirth, awards juror Jessica Cline, Hugo Rivera, John Repka, Barbara White, Roger Bennett and Tim Brown. (Front L-R) Yoonsook Ryang, Jacquie Moffett and Rosemary Swimm for Tom Swimm.

“Wow – I never expected that!” exclaimed Barbara White of her third place win in the Art-To-Go Best in Show awards. White, a photographer, was among eight artists recognized at a ceremony on Sunday at Festival of Arts. 

Themed “The Shoe Show”, the collection features 100 works donated by Festival exhibitors.

 “What a great honor” said new exhibitor Tim Brown, winner of best in theme for his assemblage titled “Shoe Fetish”. Other titles included first place to Roger Bennett, for his photo of burley Dutch men wearing wood clogs, and second place to Jacquie Moffett for her moccasin constructed from watercolor paper. 

Honorable Mentions went to John Repka, Hugo Rivera, and Yoonsook Ryang. The people’s choice award, tallied from votes cast by Festival exhibitors, resulted in a tie between John Repka for his wall relief, and Tom Swimm for his deck shoe transformed into a miniature speed boat.

Awards juror Jessica Cline, publisher of Modern Luxury magazine stated, “I was very impressed with the variety and quality of works in this collection. I favored pieces that had interesting messages, or reminded me of places I’ve traveled to”.

Proceeds from Art-To-Go sales support The Artists Fund, a hardship relief fund for artists in need. The collection is available daily now through Aug 13 on the Festival grounds. Items may be viewed by clicking the online gallery tab at TheArtistsFund-foa.org (949) 612-1949. 650 Laguna Canyon Rd, 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m. daily.


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.

All Shook Up’s gala opening night was all sold out: the spirit of Elvis is alive and well at the Playhouse

Subscribers, donors, supporters and celebrities attended the standing room only opening night gala of the Laguna Playhouse’s first show of its 2016 - 2017 season, All Shook Up. This perfect family summertime, fun-time musical is inspired a book by Joe DiPietro, musical direction by Jeff Biering, choreography by Paula Hammons Sloan and is directed by Steve Steiner.  

All Shook Up includes the fabulous music of Elvis Presley, presented in unexpected and hilarious ways as part of a plot inspired by the star-crossed lovers in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. 

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Photos by Ryan Miller, Capture Imaging

The cast of All Shook Up

The show is sponsored by U.S. Bank. Ellen Richard, the Playhouse’s new interim executive director was in attendance, joined by many VIPs including mayor Steve Dicterow, council member Toni Iseman, Mark Christie, Playhouse board members Gary Jenkins, Melinda Masson, Heidi Miller, Justin Myers, Terri Turner and Nicholas Yrizarry. 

Co-chair of the Playhouse’s 97th Gala, Playhouse board member Glenn Gray and his wife Katherine Burton were also in attendance, along with Playhouse Women co-chair Robin Woods who supported her co-chair and cast member, Michelle Bendetti.. Playhouse cast alumni (Love, Loss, and What I Wore) Pat Kollenda was also on hand to support the start of the Playhouse’s 97th season. 

Everyone enjoyed the pre-show spread, featuring Nolet’s Spirits, our Season Spirits sponsor, providing Nolet’s premium gin and Ketel One vodkas (they are also the exclusive spirits at the lobby bar). 

Pre- and post-show gourmet delights were provided by Mark DePalma of Mark’s Catering. Guests nibbled on a delicious array of appetizers and light bites before the show, and enjoyed a wide array of gourmet desserts, cookies and other special delights at the newly revamped Artistic Director’s post-show reception, where guests enjoyed the beautiful weather and musical stylings of pop singer-songwriter Morgan Mallory, who was sponsored by KX93.5, Laguna Beach’s only local radio station. 

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Edna Yan, Amanda DeCarlo, Victoria Strombom and Felix Yan

Season sponsors South Coast Plaza, Gelson’s, First Republic Bank, Toni Tartamella, and Daymar Coffee Company also provided support. 

The show continues through Sunday, August 7. Ticket prices range from $41 to $66. Performances take place from Wed to Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sat at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m. There will be additional performances on July 7, 21 and Aug 4 (Thursdays) at 2 p.m. and July 17 and 31 (Sundays) at 5:30. Times are subject to change.

Tickets are available at www.lagunaplayhouse.com or call 949-497-278

Box Office Hours: Monday – Saturday: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (open until 7:30pm on performance days); Sunday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (open until 5:30pm on performance days). Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. 

Arts Commission has been busy

Crescent Bay Point Park artist designed bench dedication and “Bulkhead” by Hal Pastorius - temporary sculpture installation

On Wednesday, July 6, Mayor Pro Tem Iseman and members of the City’s Arts Commission dedicated the newly installed artist designed bench at Crescent Bay Point Park in north Laguna. The installation was funded by Laguna Beach resident Norman Powell who in the early 1970’s had worked on the City’s Open Space Committee, which zoned the area as a potential site for a public park. 

At the dedication, Mr. Powell described the park as “The best place on the Planet.” 

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City of Laguna Beach photos

Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman and Norman Powell at Crescent Bay Park

Through a donation to the City’s Arts Commission, a public art contest was held and artists Rude Calderon and Roberto Delgado were selected. Calderon is known for his stone carvings and Delgado for his hand painted tile and silk-screening techniques. The two artists collaborated creating the travertine and tile bench titled “The Love that Binds.” The inspiration for the work was Powell’s desire to celebrate the 50 years of love he shared with his late wife Armena. 

During the dedication, Mayor Pro Tem Iseman noted, “The installation will be appreciated and enjoyed for hundreds of years.” Powell added it would be a place he could sit and share with the community. 

Donna Ballard, Arts Commission Chair added, “The City of Laguna Beach has a broad public art collection, it is these special installations that allow us to appreciate and value members of the community who express themselves through adding to the public art collection.”

On Thursday, July 7, Mayor Dicterow and members of the City’s Arts Commission dedicated the newly installed temporary sculpture near the downtown bus depot on Broadway. The sculpture “Bulkhead” by Hal Pastorius is on loan from the Festival of Arts permanent collection and will be on exhibit for three years.

In attendance at the dedication was Pastorius’ wife Kay, who is visiting from her new home in New Zealand. Pastorius spoke about her late husband and his body of work. Mayor Dicterow noted Hal was a longtime Laguna Beach resident who had created monumental sculpture located throughout Orange County.

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Mayor Steve Dicterow, Kay Pastorius and Arts Commissioner Pat Kollenda

Jay Grant, President of the Sawdust Art Festival said, “Hal was the first president of the Sawdust and he was the right personality to bring the group of artists together to create the festival.” The Sawdust Art Festival is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the installation was a collaboration between the Festivals to celebrate the landmark. Also on hand was Festival of Art president Fred Sattler.

The City of Laguna Beach has a broad and varied public art collection; it is these special installations that allow the community to appreciate the value the Festival of Arts permanent collection. 

The lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach fund this project.

The CAP Gallery presents Artists’ Talk and Q&A July 16 


On Saturday, July 16 at 11 a.m., The CAP Gallery invites the public to participate in an engaging discussion and Q&A with three highly talented and unique artists. 

Past Artist Talks have received rave reviews from the attendees, and the price is right – the event is free.

Kate Cohen, Halverson Frazier and Fred Hope will discuss not just the techniques of their work but also the motivation that drives them to create and the inspirations behind their art. Each artist’s style is unique, which will give the audience three different perspectives.

Artists Kate Cohen, Halverson Frazier and Fred Hope 

The event will take place in The CAP Gallery at 260 Ocean Ave, Second Floor, Wells Fargo Building. 

CAP’s mission is to increase the visibility and appreciation of art and serve as a catalyst for Art Education. CAP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit funded by the member supporters, the lodging establishments, City of Laguna Beach, and Wells Fargo Bank.

For more information, visit www.caplaguna.com or call 949-553-7507.

Artist Benevolence Fund – Helping artists in need


Special for StuNewsLaguna

The Artist Benevolence Fund, begun in 1987, provides temporary, brief funding for Laguna Beach artists who face an unanticipated, catastrophic event that prevents their ability to pursue their primary means of income, the creation of art.  Each year, the Sawdust Festival holds an art auction to raise funds for the ABF, with artists donating beautiful pieces to be auctioned to the public.  This summer, the auction will be held on Sunday, August 14, with a silent auction from 10-12 noon and a live auction from 1-3.

Among the artists who have received grants from the ABF is Gavin Heath, a renowned glass blower who has exhibited at the Sawdust Festival and Festival of Arts for 26 years.  He described the nightmare of the mudslide in 1998 that wiped out his home and studio. “I was living in the canyon at Big Bend when the mudslide came down. I almost got buried by the dirt.”  After narrowly escaping the mudslide, he said,  “I went back the next day to my house and studio, and my house had three feet of mud in it, wall to wall. Several days later, the mud went hard and turned into a big block of concrete.  It was devastating.  Everything I had was gone.” 

Gavin was overcome with emotion as he relived those moments, and said, “I was sitting on the steps of my front door. There was no one around. I was thinking, ‘What the #*%&! am I gonna do?’ I looked up and there were two guys walking up the driveway.” 

They were board members of the ABF with a check for $1,000.  Gavin said, “It was the most uplifting thing…just knowing you have someone there for you. In the midst of chaos, that’s when you really need help. ”

Gavin said, “That’s why I volunteer myself, donating my time. That’s what we do when people need help.  We help them.”  Gavin currently serves as an elected board member of the ABF, and yearly donates a remarkable piece of his glasswork to the auction to support the ABF endowment.

“The Benevolence Fund is a little backup for artists, but when that backup is needed, it is vital.  Most of us don’t have any backup other than that and each other.  We hang on a thread.  That’s how we roll,” said Heath. 

Come to the auction and purchase a special piece of art that supports our local artists when they are in dire need.  It’s tax deductible, and it helps preserve the backbone of Laguna, our artist community.

Barbara’s Column

Sawdust history being preserved


The Sawdust Festival is more than an art show and sale to its exhibitors.

Sawdust jeweler Marla Burns began collecting memories from exhibitors in 1960 till now, describing what the festival has meant to them.

“This is what we created; this is what we were; this is the birthplace of our passion, creativity, love and art,” said Burns, a retired educator and mastermind of the project.

“This is who we are now, as we begin the act of passing it on.”

Her statement could well serve as the introduction to the oral history of the women and men who have exhibited at the festival, which celebrates this year it’s 50th anniversary.

Photo courtesy Sawdust Art Festival

Marla Burns and Eleanor Henry share a smile with their memories

A segment of the female participants was shown last week at the festival to a group of about 20, including long-time exhibitor Eleanor Henry

“Even a few of men came---they wanted to see what we were up to,” said Henry.

The video covered the 1960s to the 1980s.The second segment will continue with the 1990s and 2000s.  Showing of the segment will be announced.

Many hours of filming has gone into the 2 and 1/2 hours of film edited by Patrick Conner and his mother, Natalie

Videotaping was done by Burns, Georgette Cerutti, who also directed the project, and Diane Valentino.  

To date 38 women have shared their thoughts for the videoed history.

“They spoke of the ‘Sawdust Sisterhood’ and the freedom to evolve as artists in a non-juried, encouraging environment,” said Burns. “They spoke of how the Sawdust has seen them through divorces, loss, childbirth and helped them persevere in spite of life’s tribulations as single mothers.”

The “sisterhood” has created a village where women can freely create art, prosper and admire others’ accomplishments, Burns said.

Valentine spoke glowingly of Henry. “She is a true activist…for women for art…for Grandmothers for Peace at Main Beach…for protests against war,” said Valentino, as reported by Burns. 

“Women of the Sawdust” is dedicated to the memory of the late Barbara Burnette, who created “Hookers,” earrings that slipped on over the ears and served on the Sawdust Board of Directors. 

“She broke down in tears as she struggled (due to illness) to communicate what the Sawdust meant to her, said Burns. “All the women came to her aid, reminding her of the contributions she made to the festival and expressed their gratitude. 

“She passed very shortly after the filming.”

One of Burns’ favorite stories is about the man who showed up at her booth shortly before quitting time. 

“He asked what stone was set in one of my rings,” said Burns. He said. ‘I’ll take it.’” That went on for 10 more times. And I was getting worried that he might write a bad check because such big purchases were unheard of in the early ‘70s. 

“All of a sudden, he pulled out a wad of cash. After the sale, I asked him if he minded me asking who would get all the rings. He replied, ‘My girls. I own a brothel in Nevada.’”

Burns grew up in Laguna and feels she was blest to have had Charla Ilgner as one of her teachers at Laguna Beach High School. 

“I leaned silver and gold smithing in that class and I have been doing it ever since,” said Burns. 

She is one of the ‘Founders,’ of the festival, that includes exhibitors from 1968 to 1971. 

Among other female exhibitors in the video:  Hedy Buzan, Julita Jones, Patti Klingenmeier, Olivia Batchelder, Kit Youngstead, Patti Jo Kiraly. Mary Gulino and Mary Hurlburt.

Missing is Sally Wilde, who moved to Montana where she is teaching ceramics.   

The purpose of the oral history is to preserve a record of the Sawdust Festival and the artists and members who have contributed to its colorful past and to its present.

That includes men. An oral history of the “Men of the Sawdust” is a work in progress, Burns said

Twelve men have already been filmed, including Doug Miller, Jay Grant and Ron Rodecker.

Rodecker, is a retired Laguna Beach teacher and cartoonist, famous for his dragons, which were turned into a PBS television series for children.

“I started at the Sawdust in 1981 and left in 2000,” said Rodecker, by telephone from his home in Nevada City in Northern California.

“The first year I was there, my stepdaughter, Erin, nominated me for president of the board. One person said to me, ‘Who are you,’ and I said I just saw a crowd and wandered in. I was elected.”

Filming of the men will continue this summer and will premiere at the 2017 Sawdust.

But wait---There’s more. 

You will find advance notice of all the fun stuff to do in Laguna, or stories about the ones you missed, by reading StuNewsLaguna.com

84th Annual Festival of Arts Brings Art, Music & More 

The Festival of Arts Fine Art Show celebrates its 84th year July 5 through Aug 31. The Festival has been rated one of the top festivals in the nation and each year hosts 140 of Orange County’s most talented artists. Recent accolades include Orange County Register’s Best Place to Buy Original Art, Art Fair Calendar’s Top Five Art Fairs in the West and Top 5 Art Festival in the nation voted by USA Today readers. Live music, hands-on art activities, exhibitions of local student artwork and a wide variety of special events round out one of southern California’s favorite outdoor summer event.

“Avid art collectors and festival-goers will have an outstanding variety of fine art to browse and purchase as they walk among the artists displays,” says Marketing and Public Relations Director Sharbie Higuchi. The Festival of Arts is a professionally juried fine art show featuring a diverse selection of artwork including paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, jewelry, and more from artists around Orange County. Since opening in 1932, thousands have shown and sold their artwork at the Festival and many have their work featured in the private collections of leading art collectors, celebrities, and museums around the world.

In addition to the variety of artwork, the Festival of Arts offers a wide range of daily activities that the whole family can enjoy. The 2016 events calendar includes nightly live music, jazz concerts, wine and chocolate pairings, guided art tours and art workshops. Several special one-day events return this year, including the Festival Runway Fashion Show and FamilyArt Day.

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Submitted photo

Festival workshops are fun and popular

In 2016, the Festival of Arts introduces three new events to the calendar. On Tuesday nights, discover new up and coming musicians on the Festival stage. The Rising Stars Music Series will spotlight emerging performers selected by the Festival’s roster of world-famous musicians. This year at Books and Brunch, attendees will meet bestselling authors Steve Hely and Michelle Gable who will share personal insights about their work and creative process. Event also includes a book signing, author lecture, hard cover copy of book and brunch. For families, Art and Story Time presented by Crayola ®, is a new weekly series for children 5 and under. Every Monday will feature a different children’s book read aloud and a hands-on art project, along with special surprise visits from illustrators, book characters and more.

“There’s something for everyone at the Festival of Arts,” said Higuchi. “With beautiful art, nightly live music, workshops for all ages, and unique events, the Festival is truly a full arts experience.”

Special Events:For a complete list of activities visit LagunaFestivalofArts.org. All events are free with admission unless otherwise noted: Sunday Afternoon in the Park Music Series: Sundays, July 10 - Aug 28 (2 - 4 p.m.); Art and Story Time: Mondays, July 11 - Aug 29 (11 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Sponsored by Crayola ®; Rising Stars Music Series: Tuesdays, July 12 – Aug 30 (5:30 – 7:30 p.m.) Art Talks: A Lecture Series: Wednesdays, July 6 - Aug 24  (12 - 1 p.m.); Art, Jazz, Wine, & Chocolate: Thursdays, July 14 - Aug 25 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.); $20; Concerts on the Green: Saturdays, July 9 & 23, Aug 6 & 20 (1 – 2:30 p.m.) Sponsored by Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery; Family Art Day: Saturday, July 16 (12 - 3pm); Festival Runway Fashion Show: Saturday, Aug 13 (1 - 4 p.m.)

Art Tours: Free art tours are held weekdays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; weekends at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Meet the artists and learn firsthand about their artwork and techniques through discussions and free artist demos.

Special Exhibits: The Festival’s Junior Art Exhibition, sponsored in part by CalFirst National Bank and The PIMCO Foundation, is comprised of over 300 pieces of artwork from Orange County school children (grades PK - 12). The quality of art represented in the exhibit will astound art lovers of all ages. And support the arts by purchasing artwork from the Art-to-Go Exhibit donated by Festival artists with proceeds benefiting The Artist Fund at Festival of Arts. 

The Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road is open daily July 5 to Aug 31, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information about the exhibitors, events and for tickets, please visit www.foapom.com or call 800-487-3378.

JoAnne Artman Gallery, presents “Semiotics” featuring James Verbicky now thru August


The study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior

Existing in a Verbicky state of mind: derive meaning from his iconic images and textual vibrancy to expose your own state of mind. React and define your existence by reflecting on what you see and what makes ‘meaning’ for you.

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James Verbicky’s striking multimedia works defy easy description, deftly combining elements of collage with layers of resin and dye to form panels that burst with color and texture. Verbicky’s appropriation of vintage advertising imagery invites viewers to contemplate a culture of media bombardment, while his masterful sense of proportion and color stimulate the senses.

“The media paintings bridge the gap between sculpture and painting by binding fragments of vintage media to one another, double-exposing language and image and melting them in upon themselves. By unearthing and layering the remnants of dozens of decades of disparate generations, the media paintings transcend simple words and images and become objects containing the essence of human culture.” 

- James Verbicky

James Verbicky (b. 1973, Edmonton, Canada) is a Polish-Canadian artist who currently works in the United States. In 2008, the United States government granted the artist a coveted Extraordinary Ability Green Card in recognition of his important contribution to the arts. His work has been displayed in many institutions internationally, notably at a juried exhibition at the Louvre Museum in Paris. His most recent works include resin on wood media paintings and large scale, enamel on canvas.

James Verbicky’s work will inspire, provoke, engage and mesmerize. 

“Semiotics” will be at the JoAnne Artman Gallery from July 1 through Aug. 31. An artist reception will be held on Aug. 4 from 6 – 8 p.m. If you wish to attend, please RSVP by Aug. 1 to 949-510-5481.

JoAnne Artman Gallery is located at 326 N. Coast Hwy.

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