Share this story

23rd Annual LPAPA Collectors Gala draws crowd of art lovers at Festival of the Arts on Saturday


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) President Toni Kellenberg welcomed art lovers and collectors to the 23rd Collectors Gala on Saturday evening, Oct. 9 at the Festival of the Arts. “It’s been an exciting week. The most dramatic event was the electrical storm, but we adapted, worked it out and rose to the occasion. I want to thank all of our supporters.”

During the 23rd Annual Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) Invitational, 33 invited artists from across the country painted throughout Laguna. These painters were joined by Laguna Beach school kids from El Morro/Top of the World Elementary Schools, Thurston Middle School, Laguna Beach High School and Laguna College of Art + Design. 

23rd annual FOA

Click on photo for a larger image

FOA was the site of the LPAPA Collectors Gala on Saturday

The Saturday event was a wonderful gathering at which art lovers had the opportunity to meet the artists and collect an original Laguna plein air work of art created during the invitational, which is LPAPA’s biggest fundraiser.

Attendees at the gala were treated to a sumptuous and seemingly endless supply of finger foods provided by Saltwater Catering. During the awards, they surprised guests with a medley of fancy desserts, which was a work of art in its own right.

Artist Suzie Baker from Shenandoah, TX, who won the Outdoor Award for her work Sycamore Sun & Shadow, is now in her seventh year of participation in the invitational. 

23rd Annual Baker

Click on photo for a larger image

Outdoor Award, Suzie Baker – “Sycamore Sun & Shadow”

Baker is president of Oil Painters of America and holds signature membership in that prestigious organization as well as being a Signature Member of the LPAPA. “In 2010, I was on a trip with a friend to Huntington Beach and we drove to Laguna Beach and I found a flyer about the event,” Baker said. “I wondered how I could participate? So, I made an application for the Telluride Plein Air Festival to educate myself. Then I went to the Plein Air Convention and met Rosemary Swimm, LPAPA executive director. I applied and was invited, and I felt like an athlete being accepted into the Olympics.”

A graphic artist, Baker commends the event, “in which women participate alongside men, which in some parts of the world is still not possible.”

Watercolorist Barbara Tapp, participating in the invitational for the first time, originally hails from Australia and currently resides in Berkeley. She started painting in 2007 and took up plein air painting in 2013.

She and Baker are both demonstrators at the Plein Air Convention, which will be held next year in Santa Fe, NM.

23rd Annual table

Click on photo for a larger image

LPAPA Collectors Gala table 

“It’s the most superbly run organization,” said Tapp. “They organize the trolley and have box lunches and parking passes, all the while thinking where the artists are going. They have two evenings of panel talks and group meetings.” 

Tapp relates a story about two women from Saddleback who were taking a plein air painting class and had researched the artists. “They followed me around and asked questions. Then they went back to do a report for their class.”

Tapp painted three cottages on Jasmine and developed relationships with the owners.

“This event allows the buyer to have a connection to the painting,” Tapp continued. “They can watch it being painted and talk to the painters.”

23rd annual Michael Situ

Click on photo for a larger image

Kinsman Family Foundation Award, Michael Situ – “Heisler Park”

“For some people, this is their first experience with art,” said Baker. “They pass by the artist, and see the art piece and whole story and it’s a connection to the place, the artist and the piece. It’s real art and they have this connection.

Paul Kratter, a former illustrator from San Francisco, has participated in the invitational seven or eight times. “At first I didn’t realize that artists have to be invited back each year,” he admits.

Laguna resident Mahmoud Aldimassi complimented the evening’s festivities, “Truly this was a lovely event to have attended. While the artists have amazingly expressed their impressions of reality in so many incredible paintings in a week’s time, it was wonderful to see so many diverse faces that have created that art. The young and the young at heart, different ethnicities and cultures. This is our Laguna; in art we are bridging our differences and have knocked down walls that we have created. I was truly humbled when my wife Debbie and I were approached by total strangers that just wanted to have a friendly chat about some of the painting they liked/purchased or just casual chats.” 

23rd annual blue ribbons

Click on photo for a larger image

Blue Ribbons awarded to Ryan Jensen from Southwest Art Quick Draw Award for his “Painters on the Beach” and Pleinair Magazine Award for “Wild Night”

23rd Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational: 2021 Awards

$7,500 LPAPA Best In Show, Carl Bretzke - Valley Below, Sponsored by: Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.

$2,500 Award of Excellence, Mark Fehlman - Let’s Take a Walk, Sponsored by: SeaWind Properties.

$2,500 Greg Larock Legacy Award, Kathleen B Hudson - Evening from Recreation Point, Sponsored by: Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.

$2,500 Jean Stern Distinctive Merit Legacy Award, Daniel Mondloch - Pick Up Game, Sponsored by: Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.

$1,000 The Kinsman Family Trust Award, Debra Huse - Above and Beyond, Sponsored by: Kinsman & Kinsman.

$1,000 Hilbert Museum of California Art Award, Shuang Li - Lifeguard on Duty, Aliso Beach, Sponsored by: Hilbert Museum of California Art.

$1,000 The Irvine Museum Award, Jane Hunt - Quietude, Sponsored by: The Irvine Museum.

$1,000 Architectural Award, Richard Boyer - Mission Capistrano, Sponsored by: LBE/CAF.

$1,000 Artistic Palette Award, Rick J Delanty - Illumination, Sponsored by: Joe Hanks Van Cleave Foundation For The Arts.

$1,000 Kinsman Family Foundation Award, Michael Situ - Heisler Park Sponsored by: Kinsman & Kinsman.

$500 Directors’ Choice Award, Calvin Liang - Boats in Dana Point, Sponsored by: Rosemary Swimm.

$500 Southwest Art Quick Draw Award, Ryan Jensen - Painters on the Beach, Sponsored by: Southwest Art Magazine.

2021 Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational Awards 

Pleinair Magazine Award, Ryan Jensen - Wild Night, Sponsored by: PleinAir Magazine.

Fine Art Connoisseur Award, Don Demers - Autumn Tones, Sponsored by: FineArt Connoisseur Magazine.

Outdoor Award, Suzie Baker - Sycamore Sun & Shadow, Sponsored by:

American Art Collector Award, Jed Dorsey - Unnamed Alley, Sponsored by: American Art Collector Magazine.

$500 Artists’ Choice Award, Kathleen B. Hudson - body of work, Sponsored by: The Kellenberg Family.

$500 Collectors’ Choice Award, Kathleen B. Hudson - body of work, Sponsored by: Melanie Froysaa & David Hussey.

The Revelite/Lyn Burke Memorial Award, Gil Dellinger - Old Sycamore, Sponsored by: Revelite & Lyn Burke’s Family.

Special Lifetime Achievement Awards, Jeff Sewell, Sponsored by: LPAPA.

The Lifetime Member Award, Toni Kellenberg and Steve Kellenberg, Sponsored by: LPAPA.

Next Generation, Sponsored by: LPAPA.

Undergrad MFA - Kelly Mogilka

1st Place, Oliva Stude

2nd Place, Xandra Squier

3rd Place, Jordan Tacker


Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

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

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

Email: with news releases, letters, etc.


Email: for questions about advertising


*The content and ads in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the publisher.

© 2023 2S Publishing, LLC - All Rights Reserved.