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Laguna Art Museum open again after Orange County moves into state’s second tier

Laguna Art Museum teaching artist Ina Rosca poses in front of night scenes by painter Granville Redmond.
Laguna Art Museum teaching artist Ina Rosca poses in front of night scenes by painter Granville Redmond at the museum on Friday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

A scenic drive through the Laguna Canyon or up the Laguna Beach coastline is always a breath of fresh air.

For those looking to do more than just pass through the town, more options became available as Orange County progressed into the second tier in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, guidelines set forth by the state regarding reopening businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Laguna Art Museum is one such destination, as the facility once again opened its doors on Thursday.

Inside, visitors will find more works of art that are easy on the eyes.

A special exhibit called “Granville Redmond: The Eloquent Palette” debuted at the museum on June 28. The museum had reopened on June 12 following its initial closure on March 14, but it had to close its doors again just three days after introducing the exhibit when the state instituted new shutdowns.

Redmond’s works, which feature a variety of landscapes from poppy fields to seaside cliffs to marshes, span the entire first floor. There are approximately 85 paintings in the collection.

Works of painter Granville Redmond at the Laguna Art Museum.
Works of painter Granville Redmond, well known for his paintings of California poppies, are on display at the Laguna Art Museum.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

“It’s a huge relief for us to reopen after these two months or so of being closed, especially since we installed a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime exhibition of paintings by Granville Redmond and hardly anyone has had the chance to see it until now,” Laguna Art Museum executive director Malcolm Warner said. “In these anxious times, I think people will find solace and hope in Redmond’s airy, idyllic vision of the California landscape.”

Visitors may also be interested to learn of the relationship that Redmond developed with Charlie Chaplin. Redmond would be cast in seven Chaplin films: “A Dog’s Life,” “Sunnyside,” “A Day’s Pleasure,” “The Kid,” “The Idle Class,” “A Woman of Paris” and “City Lights.”

On the second floor is a collection, “Travels in Mexico,” featuring watercolors by artists Rex Brandt, Phil Dike, Emil J. Kosa, Jr., Phil Paradise, Millard Sheets and Milford Zornes.

“We are delighted that we are able to be open again and to offer people the opportunity to come and see the current exhibitions in a way that is safe for everybody,” said Marinta Skupin, the museum’s curator of education.

“After having engaged with art through a screen for so many months now, I think the power of the real thing will be more striking than ever. Any in-person group activities, like guided tours and public programs, will remain on hold for the near future, though.”

Safety precautions in place to protect against the spread of the coronavirus include mandatory use of face coverings by visitors and staff and temperature checks. Tickets must be purchased in advance with a time of entry, allowing the museum to comply with the state reopening guidelines that dictate museums can be open at 25% of their capacity indoors in the second tier.

General admission is $7. Tickets for seniors and students are $5, and entry is free for anyone under the age of 18.

This 1956 watercolor on paper of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, by Milford Zornes, is being displayed.
This 1956 watercolor on paper of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City, by Milford Zornes, is being displayed in the “Travels in Mexico” section of the Laguna Art Museum.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Warner added that the resourcefulness and creativity of the museum’s staff has helped see it through some of the struggles of the pandemic.

“So much of what we do at the museum depends on good planning done well in advance,” he said. “With the pandemic, we suddenly had to rethink almost everything we’d so carefully planned for March onward, with multiple changes, cancellations, and postponements.

“I use an old-fashioned pen-and-paper planner, and every page is now a mass of crossings-out, circles and arrows moving meetings, programs, events and exhibitions to different times. In art terms, it went from a Mondrian to a Jackson Pollock.”

During closures brought on by the pandemic, the museum has offered several online services, including live virtual tours of the exhibitions over Zoom. It has also offered discussions, concerts and film screenings, which have been archived on the museum’s website.

Bernadette Clemens, the museum’s director of advancement, said the Laguna Art Museum was fortunate to benefit from “consistent, strong philanthropy.”

She added that a primary fundraising event for the museum, the 2020 Gala, has transitioned to an online platform this year. The upcoming event is scheduled for Sept. 26.

Painter Granville Redmond was well known for his California poppies paintings, being displayed at the Laguna Art Museum.
A landscape with California poppies by Granville Redmond is on display at the Laguna Art Museum.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

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