In The Arts

His 'Million Charming Creatures'

Mixed-media artist Ben Brough will share his recent collection, "A Million Charming Creatures," Saturday through Aug. 26 at the 210 AR4T Space, 210 N. Coast Hwy.

The opening event will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. and will also feature a bluesy rock performance by Dano Forte's Juke Joint Freak Show, who will play again at First Thursday's Art Walk.

A title inspired by a "charming creature" that lies within the poetry of the legendary Jim Morrison, Brough's colorfully abstract works illustrate characters' moments in everyday life, from the chaotic to the peaceful, and everything in between.

He layers acrylic, pen, chalk, crayon, spray paint, oil and sometimes food like beets, coffee or Guinness beer.

"The beauty of the [artistic experience] to me is the crude, childlike approach," the self-taught artist said in a statement. "Painting in this raw and messy way keeps the spirit alive.

"I also like to paint things that are especially charming to me such as fine dining with friends, a glass of wine or an early morning surf."

These themes can be observed in paintings like "Dawn Patrol," an image of a man (possibly a surfer) stretching in the glow of the sunrise and "Still Life with Chaos," a play on traditional still life paintings, wherein a mess of characters create chaos and symbolize the yin and yang of "still versus crazy" in everyday life.

The grandson of an artist, Brough fell in love with art at an early age. The Southern California native, raised in Hawaii, really began experimenting with drawing, painting and sculpture when he traveled the world as a pro surfer, logging images in his travel journal along the way. He began developing his style nearly two decades ago, and has exhibited his work around the globe, including Asia, Europe and Australia. In Laguna, he has shown at the Surf Gallery and also painted a mural for the Laguna Art Museum.

The 210 AR4T Space is a nonprofit gallery venture between the JLA Project and Art Advocacy program AR4T. The space features monthly artist receptions, first Thursday's Art Walks and other activities to engage viewers.

For more information, visit

Peter Heller book signing

Surfer and author Peter Heller will sign copies of his book, "Kook: What Surfing Taught me about Love, Life and Catching the Perfect Wave," at 5 p.m. Sunday at Laguna Beach Books, 1200 S. Coast Hwy.

The travel writer has sailed the Antarctic Sea with eco-pirates in pursuit of an illegal Japanese whaling fleet, and traversed the deepest Tibetan gorge with kayakers bent on conquering the Tsangpo River.

But it was as a "kook," or beginner surfer, in Huntington Beach, that he caught a glimpse of his next great adventure: a trip down the West Coast in search of the perfect wave.

Despite an inauspicious start with surfing — Heller paddled his egg, or beginner board, directly into the path of a veteran surfer, who showered him with invectives — Heller soon took to surfing. In mere months, he grew from a complete novice to a capable surfer who didn't embarrass himself in front of the pros.

"Kook" is his story of his surfing and soul-searching journey and what he learned along the way.

For more information, call (949) 494-4779.

LCAD presents early California Impressionism

Laguna College of Art & Design will present a collection of masterpieces on loan from the Irvine Museum Aug. 23 through Sept. 26 at the college gallery.

"Today, with the renaissance of the glorification of nature in art, that spirit is motivating enlightened people in the same way it energized artists of nearly a hundred years ago," said Joan Irvine Smith, museum president. "The common bond is the deep reverence for nature, and the common goal is to preserve our environment, and no statement is more eloquent than the silent testament of these elegant paintings.

"Each generation, in its turn, is the steward of the land, water and air. Our time is now. I sincerely hope that the message this exhibition imparts will inspire us all to action in this most pressing obligation."

The free exhibition is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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