Connection through Art-A-Fair

Whereas many of Laguna Beach’s festivals focus on local artists, Art-A-Fair is unique because every summer it attracts 125 artists from around the globe.

The festivities begin Friday and carry on until Aug. 28.

Mike Cahill, president of the board, is looking forward to the 45th annual festival.

“We’ve got 25 new artists out of the 125 total,” he said. “It’s always exciting when you have new people come in because they bring new work, new outlooks on life, and it adds a lot of spice to the show.”

The artists are juried in — selected in a competitive process — annually based on concept, execution, presentation, creativity and technical skill. There are no residency rules for the applicants, unlike at Laguna’s two other festivals.

Photographer Linda Berman is one of the 25 who will be participating in the festival for the first time. An award-winning photographer, her stills have been recognized by the 2011 Kodak Silver Bullet Award.

Besides the show’s new artists, there will be many familiar faces.

Photographer Chuck Benes of Coto de Caza will celebrate his 18th year at the festival. His booth, Photography by Chuck and Helen Benes, showcases the results of an inquisitive eye and love for travel.

Although his wife and partner in art, Helen Benes, died in 1997, Chuck Benes has never changed the “we” to “I” when speaking of their art, nor would he ever change the sign, he said.

At 81 years old, he said the festival is a home away from home.

"(Eighty-one) used to be old but it’s not anymore when you have a purpose, and Art-A-Fair is a purpose,” he said. “Art-A-Fair has been a very good experience. It’s been a family, as far as I was concerned, after my wife passed away.”

Although the economy has been hard for Benes, who shoots photos for stock houses, he said he is hopeful that people will continue to appreciate his work.

Benes got a preview of the show on Monday and couldn’t be more supportive of his colleagues.

“It’s the best work collectively that I’ve seen in the last 18 years,” he said. “I’m very pleased to be associated with that caliber of artists.”

Carol and Howard Mayling enjoy relating to the patrons, showing them one-of-a-kind pieces, using their feedback and showing them metalsmithing.

“One of the things I love most of all at the Art-A-Fair is that we get to connect with the clients we have, which is something we don’t have in galleries,” Carol Mayling said.

She and her husband, who live in Laguna Woods, specialize in dichroic jewelry, a glass that was developed for NASA and is popular among artists for its vibrant colors.

Starting Saturday, patrons can also attend daily workshops hosted by artists specializing in varying mediums, such as oil, acrylic, watercolor, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media, glass, photography and much more. Free workshops are offered on the weekends.

Besides art, live music will liven up the Laguna Canyon festival site. The festival will host live acts Thursday through Sunday.

For more information, visit or call (949) 494-4514.

If You Go

What: 45th Annual Art-A-Fair

When: Friday to Aug. 28

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: 777 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

Cost: Season Pass: $7 adults; $4 seniors, military, students

Passport to the Arts: $19 for admission to all three summer art festivals in Laguna Beach

Information: Call (949) 494-4514 or visit