Barbara’s Column

Crazy about art 


LOCA raised $11,000 in the local art organization’s first-ever online auction held last weekend.

“For the Love of Art” was the suggestion of LOCA board member Vinita Voogd (pronounced Vogue like the magazine), based on the successful Laguna Plein Air Painters Association online auction, under the direction of her good friend Rosemary Swimm

“When our annual Birthday Bash was canceled because of COVID-19, I told our board that I would be happy to organize an auction,” said Voogd.

The Birthday Bash raises the most money for LOCA, other than grants, and funds the art education programs provided by the group.

“I said the online auction would get our name out there and let LOCA members know we are still here, and we’ll see how it goes,” said Voogd. 

It went so well she will recommend the online auction become an annual event, along with post-COVID Birthday Bash. 

Crazy about red mask

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Photo by Mike Tauber

Rich Fair and Vinita Voogd getting ready for auction

“We had 62 pieces of art in the auction donated by more than 50 artists –some of them donated more than one piece,” said Voogd. 

Auction items included original paintings, one-of-a-kind textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and photography.

The highest valued art was donated by Sandra Jones Campbell, and it brought the highest bid: $1,300.

“A woman bought it as a Valentine’s gift for her husband,” said Voogd.

Voogd was assisted on the auction committee by LOCA board members Cindy Fletcher, Valerie Gorrell, Birthday Bash Chair Linda Velasco, and Rich Fair, also contributors of artwork for the auction.

Fair said he was put in charge of implementing Voogd’s concept. He named the event, created the logo, and built the website, with the assistance of his son, Caine

The auction was announced on Instagram and Facebook and received more than 50,000 impressions, Fair said. 

Crazy about Sandra

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Photo by Mike Tauber

LOCA auction: Kate Cohen, LOCA instructor, on left and Sandra Jones Campbell

Proceeds will be divided equally between the artists and LOCA, to be used to fund its goals.

LOCA has been raising money for almost 30 years to pair artists with art students and art lovers.

Mada Leach and the late Anne England founded Laguna Outreach of Community Artists in 1992 in response to cuts in art education in local schools.

(The unwieldy name, eventually dropped, was selected for the acronym LOCA – which translates from Mexican Spanish as crazy, which pretty much defines the group’s feeling about art.) 

England, who died in 2018, and Leach wanted to ensure quality arts education programs in Laguna Beach Schools and fair compensation for participating artists for their time and expertise.

Crazy about Obermeyer

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Photo by Mike Tauber

“Divers Cove” by Michael Obermeyer 

Leach is a member of the LOCA Emeritus Board, along with Betty Haight, Pat Whiteside-Phillips, and Kathy Jones

An honorary member of the board, Leach also serves on the staff as Education Coordinator. Sherry Bullard has the same titles. K.C. Mechling manages the office and Mike Tauber is in charge of marketing. 

Bullard, Leach, and Tauber all had pieces in the auction. 

Carla Meberg is president of the LOCA Board of Directors, which includes Vice President Voogd, Treasurer Nancy Milby, Secretary Velasco, and Members-at-Large Donna Ballard, Fletcher, Gorrell, Sue Linder, Lisa Mansour, Pat O’Brien, Kristen Samuelian, Joy Vansell, and Kirsten Whalen, several of them contributors of art for the auction. 

Contributing artists also included Michael Obermeyer, Tom Lamb, Hedy Buzan, and Liz McGhee.

LOCA has thrived and Laguna residents – from school children to seniors – have benefitted, according to the group’s website. 

Crazy about Kate

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Submitted photo

LOCA auction – earrings by Kate Cohen, LOCA instructor

Pre-COVID workshops were provided by LOCA members at Laguna Beach schools, Glennwood House for developmentally disabled adults, Laguna Beach Public Library, TLC, Boys & Girls Club, Laguna Beach Youth Shelter, the Susi Q, and the public. 

Some programs are now being conducted on Zoom, but LOCA looks forward to the resumption of in-person programs post-pandemic. 

Besides the Birthday Bash and now the online auction, LOCA is funded by grants from the Festival of Arts, Ebell Club, Laguna Beach Rotary, local bed taxes, and the city. 

Crazy about Rich and Vinita

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Photo by Mike Tauber

Rich Fair and Vinita Voogd 

Arts supporter Bobbi Cox and Golden Oaks are major donors. 

LOCA is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Donations or new members are welcomed. 

For more information, contact, write P.O. Box 430, Laguna Beach, CA 92652, or call (949) 363-4700.

Sad news, happy memories

Ron Rodecker, whose televised dragons taught children to cope with new experiences and charmed them in paintings, died January 26.

The castle he built at the Sawdust Festival to showcase his art was enormously popular with children.

“Children swarmed his booth because they knew he was the creator of Dragon Tales,” said Eleanor Henry, a festival exhibitor for 35 years. 

Dragon Tales was an animated television series featuring dragons created by Ron and aimed at children from ages three to six. The show aired from 1999 to 2010, including reruns. 

The show told the adventures of siblings Emmy and Max, their amigo Enrique, and their dragon friends Ord, Cassie, Zak, Wheezie, and Quetzal.

Happy memories. 

I still have on the bulletin board in my home office a sketch done by Ron of Cassie, signed Love, Ron and Cassie. 

It is the last of series of sketches Ron made whenever he came into my News Post office across Laguna Canyon Road from the Sawdust Festival.

My eldest granddaughter, Julie, has a sketch that Ron did of her and her friend sailing through the sky on the back of a dragon, made during a visit to his festival castle.

Ron also painted the late Hal Werthe and sent it to his widow, Sandi. 

“He was one of a kind,” said Laguna Beach County Water District Commissioner and sculptor Marv Johnson. “He survived heart attacks, and nothing slowed him down. He adjusted to change when he had to.”

Dragon Tales focused on teaching youngsters to meet new situations with confidence, inspired by Ron’s own confrontation with life-threatening heart disease, he stated in the biography in program of the 2002 Patriots’ Day Parade, of which he was Grand Marshal. 

Ron was born in Long Beach in 1930. He graduated from UCLA with degrees in art and English and began his career in teaching. 

He taught in all three Laguna Beach Elementary Schools, starting in 1967, when Aliso Elementary School was still open in South Laguna. 

Ron switched from teaching to counseling in 1978 and rediscovered his love of art. 

He began to exhibit in the Festival of Arts, but later moved to the Sawdust Festival.

Ron and his wife, Katherine, who survives him, moved to Northern California 16 years ago. 

The world was a happier place with Ron Rodecker in it.

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