Hard lesson to learn


Longtime local artist Fitz Maurice recently had an experience at

the Triennale Internationale d’Art Contemporain of Paris that was not

tres bien.


It happened at a juried exhibition for which Maurice was

personally chosen to represent the U.S. among 150 different artists

from five continents. The exhibition was held at the Toit de la

Grande Arche -- Paris la Defense -- a well-known French monument.


Maurice’s work has been chosen to represent the U.S. in many

esteemed exhibitions all over the world for the last 12 years, and

although one can’t expect every minute detail to run perfectly --

that’s a given -- Maurice didn’t expect nor was prepared for what

happened at this recent exhibit.

The reason I am writing about it is because Maurice emphatically

expressed that she wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone



“One of my paintings was stolen,” Maurice said. “It happened at

the opening reception and was seen by some of my fellow artists and

guests at the reception at 5 p.m., and I arrived at 5:15 p.m. and it

was gone.”

Fittingly, the name of the painting was “The Gem.” She said her

portfolio was stolen too.

At the exhibit, which will run through Oct. 12, are her other two

large, 4-foot oil paintings. They have been sold for $10,000 each.


Maurice immediately approached the heads of the organization that

sponsored the exhibit.

She said there was a lot of denial that it could happen because of

the 100 video cameras and security everywhere.

“I was shocked that the first response was denial, and they have

maintained a very inhospitable and arrogant attitude about my

painting being stolen, even though I have witnesses,” Maurice said.

They have not made it to the acceptance phase still, even after

the many days and hours of time Maurice has dedicated to get this

matter resolved.

It wasn’t until she said that she was going to get some aid from

the American Embassy that they would even begin to listen to her or

see her face to face.

“I have a signed contract with them saying that their insurance

company is responsible,” Maurice said.

After giving her possible scenarios of what might have happened,

and still not taking responsibility, she finally got an utterance to

her face that its insurance company would contact her the next


“They never contacted me again and I had to fly back to the U.S.,”

Maurice said. “Once I got home I felt very violated.

“When it’s something you’ve created and you’ll probably never see

again, it’s a terrible feeling,” she said.

Since she has been working on the problem she resolved that it’s

part of her destiny to learn international art law inside and out.

“So this obstacle has become the way I am supposed to be educated

on this subject,” Maurice said.

“Part of my goal as an artist is ultimately to ensure legal rights

and raise standards for artists around the world,” Maurice said. “Now

that I accepted that I am going to defend myself as an artist I have

more strength to take on this stressful situation.”

“I encourage each artist as they face the obstacle to take it on

and see it as a part of their training and giving back to their

artist community,” Maurice said.

She said that she’s tries to focus on the positive even out of

negative situations.

Maurice has received a lot of help from the Laguna Beach Police

Department and other French entities in trying to get this resolved.

“It doesn’t even sound real, but it’s terribly, horribly real,”

Maurice said.

Her studio is at 3251 Laguna Canyon Road, Suite H3 and she can be

reached at 497-2234. Or go to


Sadness strikes, for it is the last weekend for Laguna Art

Museum’s exhibit “Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing.” There

have been a plethora of films, lectures, happenings and experiences

over the months that were a part of the exhibit -- making it not only

an exhibit but a series. Accolades should go to Bolton Colburn and

all his constituents that made it a world-class exhibition. Don’t

miss out because your last chance is through Sunday. Laguna Art

Museum is at 307 Cliff Drive. For more information, go to or call 494-6531.