Laguna Beach in a word: ‘Wonder’

The artwork that the Arts Commission approved on Monday for the Laguna Canyon Road site.

Mia Tavonatti describes the one-word art concept as a “mural mantra.”

On March 24 — if, as expected, no one appeals to the Laguna Beach Arts Commission within the official 10-day window — Tavonatti and the 10 students in her mural class at the Laguna College of Art & Design will begin to create a mural themed around the word “wonder” on the back of a building at 2133 Laguna Canyon Road.

On Monday, the Arts Commission voted 7-0 to approve the permanent mural, which was designed by Cheryl Kook, a sophomore student in Tavonatti’s class from Singapore. The new mural will replace one painted by LCAD students in 2003, but that was destroyed when the building’s tenant, the Laguna Canyon Winery, painted over it last year.

By greenlighting the mural mantra, the commission cleared the way for Laguna Beach to become the first community in the country to fully commit to the Power of Words Project, which was launched through Tavonatti’s nonprofit, the Svelata Foundation.

“It’s a collaboration with the community and local artists to create a monumental work of art to remind them about the vision for their community is,” she said.

In Laguna Beach, the Power of Words Project engaged with the community by asking people to vote on the project’s website for which word out of a list of 50 best defined how they saw their city. After 1,100 people voted for “wonder,” Tavonatti then got each of her 10 students to come with a concept for what the word meant to him or her.

One by one, the students presented their concepts to a panel of judges consisting of Tavonatti and five members of the community, including Mayor Jane Egly. The judges selected Kook’s design as the top one among the 10.

On March 12, before the commission voted, Kook presented her design to the commissioners. Her nine classmates will help Kook to refine the concept as well as join her in working on the mural.

—Imran Vittachi