Murals going up all over

Suzie Harrison

With each stroke the artist turns what is a blight to many into a

source of pride for Lagunans.

Dennis McTighe, a longtime Laguna local, is one of the selected


artists commissioned to restore the retaining walls at St. Ann’s

Beach. His efforts are part of an ongoing project by the Kalos

Kagathos Foundation to replace the graffiti with art.

Jeff Darwin Lavinski, a high school student, was also commissioned


for the project and recently completed his mural by the St. Ann’s

Beach stairway.

Founded in 1953, the foundation’s mural project ties in with its

philosophy of fostering the knowledge and awareness of coastal

environmental conservation coupled with preserving Laguna’s unique

image and heritage through art, according to Bruce Hopping the Kalos

Kagathos’ chairman.

It started in the 1970s, when Kent Mathieu, 16 at the time, was


doing community service and asked if he could help paint a mural to

cover the graffiti by Sleepy Hollow Beach.

“He was always hanging at the beach,” foundation chairman Bruce

Hopping said. “It’s a great way of covering the graffiti, which was

messing up the entire character of that beach.”

McTighe was appointed at the beginning of the summer to help

beautify St. Ann’s access and to paint four of the walls.

“Dennis’ seascapes are unique, self taught, an innate gift, taking


his meteorology and translating that in what we have in Laguna Beach

-- up and down the coast what we have here is quite special,” Hopping


“Bruce had seen some of my work around town and asked if I wanted

to do it. He liked my style,” McTighe said. “It’s ocean oriented,

using my knowledge of meteorology and astronomy, using the

constellations and placing them correctly.”

Each wall depicts different Laguna-inspired scenes, ranging from

starry nights, stormy weather and sunny days.

McTighe first picked up a paint brush 2 1/2 years ago and is truly

enjoying this project.

“It’s fun being a new artist. I had no idea it was going to evolve

like this,” McTighe said. “When I started painting I just wanted to

know if I could do it -- I must have tapped into some talent that I

didn’t know about.”

Painting the murals has also brought interest to McTighe’s art and

he has been commissioned to do other pieces as well.

“It’s great to paint. I’m just going to paint, paint, paint,”

McTighe said.

Hopping said he hopes that these projects remind today’s youth the

importance of primary values and character of people and places.

“The philosophy is physical distinction, nobility of mind -- to

imprint youngsters with esteem for self,” Hopping said. “The Greeks

did this 2000 years ago -- to instill a strong sense of mental and

physical disciplines,” Hopping said.

He believes the Greek’s philosophy inspired their youth to respect

oneself, other people, the resources, environment, including land,

sea and air.

The foundation also has cultural exchanges and this year high

school girls and boys have been invited by the New Zealand Surfing


“I think that’s one of the beautiful points people aren’t being

told about -- the power of art,” Hopping said. “If you see beauty

you’re going to respect it.”

In the early ‘70s, Hopping along with Tom Enman, Boris Buzan, Bob

Clance a couple other friends founded what is now called the arts


To find out about this project or other facets of the Kalos

Kagathos Foundation, call 494-1608.