Our Laguna: 'HeART of Laguna' will raise money for artists' fund

The 2010 floods took a dreadful toll, but many local artists were hit with a double whammy.

Not only were their homes in Laguna Canyon damaged, their studios and art were also swamped by the Dec. 22, 2010, deluge.

The Artists' Benevolence Fund, from the Sawdust Art Festival, came to the rescue, distributing $30,000 in grants to 20 artists.

"I can't even tell you how important that grant was," said sculptor Louis Longi, one of the recipients. "My home and my studio were gone. My income just stopped, and the insurance money hadn't come in yet. The grant was a lifesaver."

A substantial amount of money was raised last summer at the annual live art auction to replenish the Benevolence Fund, but the total did not cover all the grants to the devastated artists.

Fund Trustees Susan Thompson, Larry Gill, Susan Wade and Mike Kelly, all Sawdust exhibitors, will host a fundraiser March 3 on the Festival of Arts grounds to help recoup the expenditures.

"The HeART of Laguna" will feature a performance of Jason Feddy's "Shakespeare's Fool" concert by the band and live actors. Described as energetic and dynamic, the concert features rock 'n' roll songs and monologues from William Shakespeare's plays.

Hors d'oeuvres and champagne will be served at 7 p.m., compliments of Tivoli Terrace. The performance begins at 8 p.m. in the Forum Theatre. Seating is limited.

Tickets are $50, available online at www.sawdustartfestival.org/heart-of-laguna-tickets. They can also be purchased the night of the event at the Festival of Arts grounds.

"One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the 'HeART of Laguna' will go directly to artists," Thompson said. "Any Laguna Beach artist who has suffered a catastrophic event that prevents them from working is eligible. That is why we brought [Festival of Arts coordinator] Susan Davis on board to serve on the event committee."

Thompson continued, "We are kind of stepping out to the community. A lot of people think we only help Sawdust artists, but we offer assistance to all local artists of all persuasions — painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers or actors.

"History has shown that when artists, who may already be walking a financial tightrope, find they are in a situation where they are unable to create their art, their survival may very well depend on the goodwill of others."

Recipients' names are not made public, unless the artist allows it.

The nonprofit Benevolence Fund was created in 1987 to provide not only goodwill, but a financial resource when a critically ill Sawdust artist suffered a catastrophe and was unable to work. His fellow exhibitors came to his support by donating art works that were sold to raise money for their colleague.

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Art Star Nominees

The Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts announced Wednesday the nominees for the sixth annual Art Star Awards, presented to organizations, businesses and individuals that have shaped the arts and culture of the community and the county. The awards will be presented April 1 at [seven degrees].

Best New Arts Program

•Bluegrass and BBQ, Laguna Beach Live!

•Kids' Paint Out, Laguna Art Museum and Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn.

•Studio Art Classes, Sawdust Art Festival and Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau

Individual Arts Patron(s) of the Year

Bobbi Cox

Rick Lang

Deborah and Henry Mayhew

Corporate Arts Patron of the Year

•Bank of America

•Haskell & White LLP

•Vizio

Outstanding Arts Collaboration

•9/11memorial monument, city of Laguna Beach, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and Mark Porterfield

•FOA South Gallery, Festival of Arts and Active Culture

•Plein Air Painting Invitational, Laguna Art Museum and Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn.

Arts Leadership

Robert Hayden III, Laguna Art Museum

Greg Vail, Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn.

Karen Wood, Laguna Playhouse

Artist of the Year

Jorg Dubin, sculptor of the 9/11 memorial in Heisler Park

Sandra Jones Campbell, for her body of work that includes the Forest Lane mural

Jon Seeman, sculptor of the Breaching Whale in Heisler Park

The alliance will also present a Lifetime Achievement award to Laguna Beach assemblage artist Paul Darrow.

The Art Star Awards will also include the presentation of [seven degrees'] $5,000 inspiration grant, which provides support for an emerging or established Laguna Beach artist to develop and present an innovative arts project or program that advances recognition of Laguna as a progressive arts city.

Nominees are glass artist John Barber, photographer Tom Lamb and dancer Michelle Lance.

Last year's grant recipient, mixed-media artist Roark Gourley, will present his project, titled "Liquescent," in which he explores the underwater world of Southern California waters.

Former National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia will be the keynote speaker.

The evening will also include dancing to the music of the Laguna Concert Band's SwingSet.

"The dozens of impressive nominees for the sixth annual Art Star Awards reflect the depth, diversity and support of cultural activities in Laguna Beach, which are now available year-round," said event chairman Wayne Baglin.

Alliance members from more than 20 Laguna Beach arts organizations submitted nominees in seven categories.

The alliance was established in 2002. The mission is to serve as an advocate for the arts, promote collaboration and networking among the arts organizations of Laguna Beach, and to serve as a united voice for the arts in the city.

For tickets, contact information@lagunabeacharts.com.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 302-1469 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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