Designing Women Plot a Student Art Exhibit

Color it orange, if you will. But also color it inspiring, silly, exciting, serious, imaginative and, above all, fresh.

Those were just some of the reactions Friday night at an intimate preview of "Color It Orange," Designing Women's 11th annual juried Student Art Exhibit and Awards. (The admission-free exhibit opened to the public Monday and continues daily, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., through April 3.)

"We don't raise funds here tonight," noted event chairman Tina Weber. "This is where we spend money."

Designing Women, a support group for the Laguna Beach College of Art, and the members' husbands enjoyed a progressive dinner--successive courses were served in the school's various "galleries"--and bandied about the merits of this year's budding Botticellis.

"Free and fun and good," Ann Crowell commented as she made her way through the exhibit of works by youngsters from kindergarten through high school age. "Some of it's so refined."

"Lots of humor, light and fey, amazing technique," Weber opined.

"It's all amazing to me," admitted Gill Van Kamp. "I can't paint anything."

Richard Challis former owner of Challis Galleries in Laguna Beach--he fancies himself a "humble, retired art dealer"--judged grades seven through 12.

"I had over 2,000 (entries) lined up on four tiers of tables," Challis said, "and it's been 10 times more fun than any show I have juried. So stimulating . . . .

"We started at 9:30 and finished at a quarter to 5, and the time just flashed by. These children are expressing themselves. And they're so unbiased."

Among the guests was Muriel Reynolds, founder of Designing Women and creator of Color It Orange. "We exhibit the best, and the exhibition inspires the students to do their best," she explained. "The children love to be chosen. In fact, I'd say every picture that isn't hung is a broken heart. Which means we've got to find more places to hang."

Paisan's of South Laguna catered the meal, which included prosciutto melon, Marsala chicken breast and pesto-topped pasta with pine nuts and raisins. Desserts included cannoli and strawberries and Pam Goldstein's orange chocolate roses, with their stems of white chocolate and ground-up cookies.

One exhibit entry told a story with words and pictures and perfectly reflected the post-dessert mood:

"There once was a cow, he was going on a walk, he met an ostrich. They made friends and went to the park. But then the cow said let's go to my house so they went to the cow's house. Then they had to part and go home, so they waved goodby and left."

Before waving goodby, Reynolds mentioned that Barbara Williams had recently obtained a grant of $25,000 for the group. "It turns out we're not spending any money tonight but the Steele Foundation's. (Barbara and her husband, Nick, are foundation trustees.) Usually we've had to manage ourselves, but, you see, Barbara's a Designing Woman."

Preview Party coordinator was Mary Jeffries. Also there were Designing Women president Mary Lee Beck, president-elect Betty Kemp (she's Rams quarterback Jeff Kemp's aunt) and Emma Jane Riley and their husbands; Joleen Parham, chairman of the group's upcoming August benefit dinner-dance, and Patricia Caldwell, director of the college.

"It's unbelievable," said Charlie Hester, Childrens Hospital of Orange County board president and master of ceremonies at CHOC's 23rd annual All-Guild Fashion Show and Luncheon Benefit Thursday at the Anaheim Hilton and Towers. "Have you ever seen this many women in one place at one time?"

It was indeed a record-breaking event for CHOC's 14 women's guilds.

"We sold 1,708 tickets, and every one of the guilds could have sold at least another table," said committee member Ann Neish. "Or two."

According to Frances Stawicky, guilds coordinator for 17 years, at least $70,000 was raised.

"It's Childrens Hospital," said patron chairman Andrea Northcote. "Who can say no to that?"

According to Robert Guggenheim, president of the Hospital Foundation board, close to $5 million of an $8-million building campaign has been raised for the facility, the county's only pediatric medical center. The guilds have pledged $1 million.

"Our drive will be over at the end of 1986," Guggenheim said. "Everybody wants to contribute to Childrens Hospital. It's not a chore. Still, it's amazing the way these gals raise money for us."

Hester thanked the women of the guilds for last year's gift of $500,000 to the outpatient clinic and announced that the hospital will take part in a national telethon June 1 and 2; general chairman Jackie Powell thanked Peter and Gail Ochs of the Fieldstone Co. for underwriting the luncheon and Saks Fifth Avenue fashion director

Billur Wallerich for her imaginatively lit, tightly choreographed "Salute to Spring."

Northcote is already thinking about ways to accommodate the projected demand for tickets to next year's all-guilds benefit. "Perhaps we could do one in the afternoon and one in the evening. And include the men. Why not? At night, the men would be able to come, too. We could include men's fashions . . . ." (The previous night, the Padrinos, the men's fund-raising arm of CHOC, raised $25,000 at a dinner honoring Olympic gold medal diver Greg Louganis at the Irvine Marriott.)

Attending the fashion show were board chairman emeritus Walter Burroughs and his wife, Lucy; all-guild treasurer Jean Hamann; CHOC executive director Harold Wade and medical director Harriett Opfell. Lynn Torrini of Costa Mesa won the principal opportunity prize, a 12-day cruise for two aboard the Queen Elizabeth II.

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