Chasing Down The Muse: Big weekend for fun and art

What a weekend! Festival of Arts Preview Opening Party! Fourth of July! Sunshine and small surf! Laughter, friendship, traffic and crowds. Laguna in the summer. We are on a roll.

Kerri Pike, my son Cooper Lee’s girlfriend, rolled into town Friday night. She had tickets for the shakedown dinner at Tivoli Terrace, and I had tickets to the Festival of Arts party. That made for a perfect date. We dressed in walking shoes, found a parking spot downtown and made our way through the growing crowds to Tivoli.

Tivoli was “dressed up” for the evening. Twinkle lights shimmered in the trees, and the linens decorated the tables. Our servers were attentive — and numerous, and the food was delicious.

We started with a house salad, which we thought was going to be a small salad that accompanied our entrée. Not quite! The salad was a dinner in itself, with mushrooms and cheese and other savory bites. We asked for the bulk of it in to-go boxes, so we could focus on the main menu. Kerri ordered shrimp with pasta while I had the salmon with mashed potatoes. We both had mouth-watering experiences — and nothing was left to take home. Although we hardly had room for dessert, we convinced ourselves to try both the chocolate bomb — oh, to die for — and the angel food cake with fresh strawberries.


Fat and sassy, we left the restaurant to stroll through the throngs that filled the artists’ exhibition spaces. Danny Miller is always on the top of my list. His jewelry is unique and show-stopping. And by the looks of the crowd around his booth, and the difficulty of even getting in a “hi,” I’d say this year he’s continuing in the tradition of laying new ground with his designs. Aside from being a great jeweler, I cherish the fact that we have been friends since Laguna Beach High School.

I had great fun introducing Kerri to artists who are personal friends. Tom Lamb had a “fat” crowd around his beautiful photography. Anne England’s prints were hard to get close to because of all the viewers. One woman had the nerve to take a photograph with her cell phone, and Anne let her know in no uncertain terms, that a) that was not OK, and b) it was not acceptable, and c) don’t do it! I couldn’t agree with her more.

Kerri is a closet gemologist, and she dragged me from jewelry booth to jewelry booth. At one point, she was wearing a simply gorgeous pair of earrings from jeweler Troels Larsen of rutilated quartz. It took all her willpower — and financial smarts — to remember her summer teaching budget and take them off her ears. There’s a good chance she’ll be back before the end of the summer, and who knows what might happen then?

So much great art! Such a great party. We saw and admired every artist’s work, even with the crowds. Finally, visual burn-out sent us looking for our car and an easy ride home.


Fourth of July dawned with sunny skies. Now, that felt like a first in many years. We had a party planned for our fireworks view deck (through the darn neighbors eucalyptus trees), and in years past, fog has rendered the fireworks into a mere patch of colored clouds.

Not this year. We started the evening with traditional chips and dip, progressed to Steve’s grilled burgers and dogs (with veggie burgers for those of us not on the meat train), and finished off with James Brown’s custard and fresh strawberries, along with Lynn Capouya’s chocolate brownies and vanilla ice cream.

Yes. It was a weekend of eating and laughter and friendship. Two of my ex-husband’s sons by his third wife, Robert Lee and Michael Kidoo Lee, (I affectionately have nicknamed them 3.1 and 3.3) joined us for the festivities. They are wonderful young men, and I find it curiously pleasing to have them as friends in my life. Cooper didn’t make it, but we had a good time anyway.

The deck was festooned with flags and red, white and blue bollards. We had silly poppers to play with after the fireworks, and soon enough, it was lights out.

Sunday was sleep in, walk through the visitors at Heisler Park, and relax on a lounge chair in the sunny afternoon. Laguna in the summer — what a treat!

CATHARINE COOPER loves warm weather/water and good surf! She can be reached at