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TOP ART STORIES OF 2007: ‘The arts feed our souls’

1Festival jubilant

The Festival of Arts hosted several special events to commemorate its “Diamond Jubilee” 75th anniversary.

Highlights of the banner year included the reintroduction of Bob Baker Marionettes; a Laguna Art Museum retrospective; a Disney collaboration; a parade; the Festival Explorer educational museum bus; and the Halloween-themed Pageant of the Monsters and its Monsters Masquerade Ball.

Next year’s Pageant theme, “All The World’s a Stage,” will include Shakespearean, Gilbert and Sullivan, Moulin Rouge and cinematic themes.

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Former Laguna Beach City Councilman Wayne Baglin was elected president of the Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters board Nov. 8.

He succeeded Anita Mangels, taking the helm of the organization after another record year for revenues.

Under Baglin’s board leadership, the organization will begin planned capital improvements to the festival grounds.

2Study finds Laguna leads

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A study released by Americans for the Arts found that Laguna Beach was one of the leading cities in the nation for nonprofit arts organizations’ economic impact on a per-capita basis.

“Arts & Economic Prosperity III” found that Laguna’s per capita spending is 1 1/2 times that of the second-place city, Miami.

The study compared 156 communities and regions on their visitors and arts-related economic activity.

“When I think of the arts, I think of how it feeds my soul,” then-Mayor Toni Iseman said at the time. “But on this day, we learn the arts don’t just feed our souls; they feed our budget.”

3Pottery Place debuts

The Old Pottery Place celebrated its renovation in March, following the completion of updates on the site of the former Pottery Shack.

Successful new businesses at 1212 S. Coast Hwy. include the Sapphire Laguna restaurant, Laguna Beach Books and Studio Arts Gallery.

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The new layout includes outdoor seating, a glass-blowing booth and a candy shop; materials salvaged from the old location include lumber, glass, bricks and the roof from the Yum Yum Tea Room, built in 1925.

The old, famously funky plastic animals have been remounted on the roof, and a restored peacock mural is joined by a refurbished Greeter statue.

A welcome new addition is a bronze bas-relief cast from a mold designed by renowned sculptor Julia Bracken Wendt.

The original was found at a garage sale in 1999 by Laguna Beach historian Anne Frank.

4Paintings recovered

Artist John Cosby celebrated Christmas early when 250 paintings stolen from his home earlier this year were recovered in November following a tip from a collector.

One of Cosby’s paintings, “An Honest Living,” appeared on eBay, where an eagle-eyed Texas collector saw it and contacted Cosby.

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The artist had given up hope of seeing the works again; they included beloved paintings by his grandmother and originals for In-N-Out Burger.

The works were located throughout South Orange County, in storage units and homes; two men were arrested in connection with the theft.

5Sawdust suit dismissed

The Sawdust Art Festival corporation and several of its board members did not have to go to court to defend themselves against ousted exhibitor Jim Steins, following a November ruling by a Superior Court judge.

Steins’ suit was dismissed because the judge decided its volunteer board members were not personally liable for actions taken on behalf of the nonprofit.

Steins was voted out of the festival in 2006 after an allegation of sexual harassment was lodged against him by a festival employee.

He sought $1.6 million in damages.

6Roof Top reprieved

La Casa del Camino successfully fought the City Council to keep its popular Roof Top bar open to the public, following a Planning Commission decision that the bar violated its Conditional Use Permit by permitting non-hotel patrons to enjoy it.

Public outcry helped save the facility, which had faced city officials’ disapproval of its safety measures and impact to the neighborhood.

7First Art Stars honored

The Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts had its inaugural Art Star Awards gala in March, honoring several individuals and local arts organizations.

A special Visionary Award was presented to arts lobbyist Robert Lynch, the president and chief operating officer of Americans for the Arts.

Awards designed by Louis Longi were presented to Laguna Beach Live! for best new arts program; the Festival of Arts Foundation for Arts Patron of the Year; and First Thursdays Art Walk for Outstanding Arts Collaboration.

The award for innovation and arts leadership went to Mark Orgill of [seven-degrees]. John Barber received Laguna Beach Artist of the Year to John Barber, and city Arts Manager Sian Poeschl was honored for her contributions to the arts in Laguna.

8Artist wins big

Lagunan Melissa Belland, also known as Missy Beehive, won a $100,000 national small business contest held by Yahoo! and Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald Trump.

Belland traveled to New York earlier this year to meet with Trump and marketing experts regarding her company, Made in Heaven By Missy, which sells fairy dolls and other sparkly creations online and at the Sawdust Art Festival.

Belland, the daughter of Bruce Belland from “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet,” was one of three winners in the Ultimate Connection Contest from nearly 10,000 entries.

She had garnered fame earlier in life with a band formed with her sister Tracey Bryn, The Voice of the Beehive.

Among other contest perks, Belland was suspended more than 150 feet above New York Harbor in July as part of an “ultimate power lunch in the sky” with Trump and other luminaries.

9Record art sales

Two large works by Claude Monet and Edgar Degas were sold by Rohrer Fine Art to a California collector in what may have been one of the highest-priced art transactions in Laguna’s history.

The gallery, which opened in 2006, reputedly sold the works for several million dollars each.

“We’re very happy to be in Laguna, and the building we have there is just so beautiful,” co-owner Jim Carona said at the time. “We’re very happy to have made a sale like that so early, since we’ve only been open for a few months now.”

The high-end gallery offers works from around the world created during the past 2,000 years.

Local gallery owners and directors viewed sale as beneficial for the community, attracting more high-end clientele and increasing its reputation in the world market.

10 Nature center opens

The new Nix Nature Center at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, was unveiled earlier this year to local and critical applause.

The 2,000-square-foot exhibit hall’s art, fossil-embedded rock work, interactive displays and interpretive panels have delighted park goers and garnered the center national recognition for its educational efforts.

“The nature center will help visitors to understand the significance and beauty of the surrounding wilderness,” said Parker Hancock, interim director of Harbors, Beaches and Parks.



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