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
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
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,”
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.