Our Laguna: Lagunans awarded at the O.C. Fair

Art Zdanowski's prize-winning photograph of the Main Beach Lifeguard Tower has been added to the city's permanent art collection.

Zdanowski, whose professional name is ArtZ, donated "Laguna Guardian" to the city at the Aug. 16 City Council meeting. The black-and-white photograph shows the tower under a spectacular cloudy sky.

"I waited eight months for the right cloud formation," Zdanowski told the council.

The wait, which began in October of last year, ended on May 8 when he finally captured on camera the vision he had "in his mind's eye."

"At that time I was learning the photographic technique known as 'HDR' (high dynamic range), which is the digital version of the 'Zone System' created and used by Ansel Adams," Zdanowski said. "I applied HDR by taking the image of the lifeguard tower with nine different exposures and used special software to combine the exposures to get the resulting image."

Zdanowski was introduced to the council by Alan Boinus, a 22-year Laguna Beach resident and neighbor of the photographer.

"We are fortunate that an artist as gifted as ArtZ has chosen Laguna Beach to launch his career," Boinus said. "The 'Laguna Guardian' photograph may be the most beautiful rendition ever taken of our famous lifeguard tower."

Zdanowski is a native of Warsaw, Poland. He studied art in his hometown before coming to Laguna Beach to pursue his career as a photography artist.

His work was exhibited this year at the Sawdust Art Festival, and his donation to the city's collection may be seen hanging outside City Manager John Pietig's office.

Zdanowski's photograph won first prize for a black-and-white print by an amateur in the seascape class at the 2011 Orange County Fair.

He was among the 24 Laguna Beach exhibitors this year.

Donald Smith received the Judge's Award for his entry in Household Collections.

Tod Gertz won first and second prizes for his oranges, entered as specimen produce by an adult in the Garden & Floral category.

Maty Carlson, 8, won first prizes for the largest lemon and largest beet in the junior category. Her younger brother, 6-year-old Tyce, was a winner in the largest "other vegetable" class with the biggest radish. He also won a blue ribbon for his apricots.

The children are the son of homegrown Melia Carlson, a 1988 graduate of Laguna Beach High School and owner of Flowers by Melia Carlson on Sun Valley Drive in Laguna Canyon. The shop shares property with the art studio of her father, John Alabaster.

"But it is my mother, Jan, who is the spearhead of our entries," Melia Carlson said. "She gardens with the kids. They just planted tomatoes, three kinds of pumpkins, strawberries, sugar snap peas, green beans and yellow squash."

Jan Alabaster also entered produce in the competition and brought home a blue ribbon for her figs.

Carlson didn't fare (pun intended) as well as her mother or children, but she did take second and third places for her figs.

Emma Bladergroen's peaches took a second place in specimen produce grown by a junior gardener.

Mitch Ridder's photograph in the plant class won second place in black-and-white or color photographs by a professional. His landscape photograph took a fourth, as did Linda Grossman's.

Michele Leighton's entry composed of recycle materials won fourth place in the plastic class of the Home Arts & Crafts division.

Amateur painter Donna Leach was awarded two fourth-place prizes for her works in acrylic. A water color by Kc Horng's also received a fourth place in the fine arts competition. Megan Marsden took fourth in professional painting in acrylics.

Ann Williams was among the award-winning cooks and bakers this year. Her shortbread cookies came in second place. Elyse Shahan placed third in homemade quick breads, and Julie Shahan took a second for her single crust pie in the custard and cream category. Harrison Williams placed second in cookies, breads and brownies baked by 16- to 18-year olds.

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BENEFIT DROP-OFF

The fifth annual Boutique Benefit will be held Sept. 17 at the Laguna Presbyterian Church. Proceeds benefit two worthy causes: Laguna Relief and Resource Center and Women for Women International.

Donations may be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday at the Neighborhood Congregational Church, 240 St. Anns Drive on the corner of Glenneyre Street.

Benefit founder Evonne Kane will be there to greet donors.

Needed items include clothing for men, women, teens and children; jewelry, handbags, shoes, sunglasses and shopping bags with handles. Art will be welcome, too.

"I started Boutique Benefit five years ago because I saw such a need for funding when I volunteered at the center," Kane said. "It has grown every year and now people are looking forward to it."

The center was founded to help the needy in the aftermath of disasters in town, which certainly has kept it busy over the years, but its services have broadened to include year-round aid to low-income families and the local homeless population

For the second year, the benefit will provide three Congolese women with vocational and leadership training; basic necessities for their families; and education about their rights, health and literacy through Women For Women, which assists women that have survived war or physical abuse.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 380-4321 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com.

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