Winery, property owner to help with mural costs

After two weeks of pressure to restore a beloved mural painted by Laguna College of Art & Design students and faculty, the Laguna Canyon Winery has announced it is raising funds to replace the public art.

This could mean "goodbye" to what remains, a plain gray wall on Laguna Canyon Road.

The winery has called the situation a misunderstanding. They believed the mural, said to be the largest in Orange County, was on private property.

Property owner Steve Henry said previously that their lease agreement noted the dual ownership of the mural by Henry, the city and the college. The mural was protected as a public work of art.

"In no way did we try to offend anybody or the art community," said winery Operations Director Bear Trapp. "We're just going to do our part to make it right."

LCAD President Dennis Power, Henry and the city have come to a compromise. The winery and property owners will raise money to cover half the cost of a new mural, which is about $12,500.

Trapp said the winery is planning a number of fundraisers. Dates are not set yet.

"We're doing everything we can on our part to resurrect a new mural," Trapp said.

Henry is content that his tenants have reached an agreement.

"We wanted them to work something out and I think they're really stepping up with something that will be good for the community," Henry said.

The funds raised will go toward hiring part-time mural instructor Mia Tavonatti, and supplies and equipment needed for the two semester course, Power said.

Tavonatti was distraught over the mural, which she created with her students in 2003, but she's glad a plan for a new one is in the making.

"I think it's important to put a mural up there and I look forward to putting something up there even better than we had before," she said. "It's a shame to waste it on gray paint."

A local nonprofit also felt moved to get involved.

The Community Art Project (CAP), a Laguna Beach organization dedicated to increasing awareness about public art, is donating $2,500 towards the project.

CAP discussed the subject of the mural during their board meeting Monday and came to an agreement: They were lending a hand.

President Faye Baglin hopes the incident and their contribution gets others interested.

"We're hoping that other people that love art in the community and supporters of the college might consider making a contribution," she said.

She said getting involved was an easy decision. All 100 members are fans of public art, she said, and the project is in line with their mission to cultivate art appreciation.

For information regarding donating to the mural project, contact Dennis Power at the Laguna College of Art & Design at (949) 376-6000.

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