Our Laguna: Last chance for free Sunset Serenade

Some folks may have noticed that ubiquitous me was not at events last weekend that I was expected to attend.

I had a date Friday with a handsome doctor, Steven Chang, which I slept through as he performed minor surgery on my neck — at 7:30 a.m., no less, and spent the rest of the weekend recovering.

While I was hors de combat, so to speak, Laguna didn't miss a beat.

The Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual State of the City luncheon. For those like me who missed it, read interim Coastline city editor Alisha Gomez's account on the front page. And thanks to architect Gregg Abel and former Mayor Cheryl Kinsman for noticing that I wasn't there.

That night, the next-to-last free Sunset Serenade of the spring was performed at Picnic Beach in Heisler Park, with Mancini/Stone Trio performing vibraphone jazz.

Last chance to be serenaded until the fall season is Friday. The talents of John Troy and singer-songwriter Jason Feddy will be showcased at the new Amphitheater in the Park, where most performances are held unless the grass needs to be re-sodded, as happened last weekend. Music starts at 6:30 p.m.

Funding for the free performances comes from local lodging establishments, which voluntarily forked over almost $1.5 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year to art-related organizations, programs and people who draw tourists to Laguna, and the city through the Business Improvement District.


Rohrabacher attends dinner

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher flew into town Friday night from Washington, D.C., to spend the weekend at his Southern California home. First stop: the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. dinner at the home of Don and Judy Josephson.

Under the redistricting, the 48th Congressional District will include Laguna Beach and Rohrabacher wants to be the representative.

Sixteen couples or individuals paid $150 for the privilege of hosting Rohrabacher, his wife, Rhonda, and their eldest daughter. Others paid $60 to attend, $10 less if they joined the group, which several did, according to association President Martha Lydick.

"Uncle Frank" Ricchiazzi imported salad, stuffed shells and garlic bread from Tustin's Claro's Italian Market.

"It was worth a trip to Tustin," Lydick said.

Host Committee member Chris Keller donated an array of desserts that included tiramisu and cream puffs.


And the Prius goes to...

Wyland Foundation hosted a drawing for a Toyota Prius on Saturday for residents who participated in the National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation.

Two thousand names were in the running. Niki Shalala was the winner. Congratulations.

Laguna won the challenge with the most pledges to conserve water by residents of a city with a population of 5,000 to 30,000, in the western part of the country.

"It was the first time we competed and the grass-roots effort showed how Laguna Beach stepped to the plate, showing its concern for the environment," said Laguna Beach County Water District General Manager Renae Hinchey, who attended the drawing with Mayor Jane Egly and Assistant District General Manager Christopher Regan.


Art meets gardening

Saturday morning Laguna Outreach for Community Arts conducted an art class and botanical discussion at Laguna Nursery. The next session is scheduled for September, but if artful gardening is your bag, nursery owner and landscape designer Ruben Flores conducts garden tours on Sunday mornings.


A charming tour

Laguna has been called the poster child for disaster recovery. Two homes in Bluebird Canyon that were featured during the 40th Annual Charm House Tour May 20 are exemplary examples.

The mountain of dirt that cascaded into the canyon on June 1, 2005, severely damaged one home, tour publicist Barbara Picheny said, but architect Horst Noppenberger came to the rescue and donated plans from which the home was rebuilt.

A second Bluebird Canyon home was also on the tour. Built in 1948, the home had been damaged in the 1978 landslide. The owners believe they share the house with a ghost who moved from a neighboring property, perhaps an Indian who once lived in the canyon, according to family lore.

Tour guides included councilwomen Verna Rollinger and Toni Iseman as well as Eric Jessen, Bob Borthwick and Tom Osborne.

All told, more than 60 volunteers contributed their time to the tour, starting with Chair Anne Caenn and committee members Picheny, Robin Brown, Darrylin Garvin, John Monahan, Barbara Dresler, Johanna Felder and Charlotte Masarik, the latter two who picked out the homes.

"Each of the homes was unique," Picheny said.

"Casa La Concha" in the Olympic Village brought to mind the style of California Missions, Picheny said. It was the first stop on the tour.

The interior includes textiles, pottery and art from Mexico and early California. On the exterior: irregular roof tiles and a fountain were imported from Mexico.

A home built in 1937, whose owner became a recluse after he was jilted by his fiancé, was the fourth stop on the tour. It might also be haunted, by the reclusive builder, according to the tour brochure.

The last stop was a renovated home that required 52 caissons to stabilize the property, which was discovered to include a fast-moving river of water that flows from the hillsides to the ocean.

Art, artifacts and architectural treasures collected by the owners on their travels fill the home.

Tour proceeds benefit Village Laguna scholarships, grants and support for local candidates.

Also on Sunday: Mary and Joe Ferguson hosted a meet and greet to introduce City Council candidate Bob Whalen to eminent members of Laguna's arts community.

"We need to do everything possible to preserve and protect our heritage as an arts community," Whalen said. "I am especially concerned about working and living space for emerging artists so they can become a vital part of our historic tradition."

Among those who attended: Laguna Art Museum Director Malcolm Warner, Laguna College of Art & Design President Jonathan Burke, Laguna Art Museum board President Robert Hayden and board member Barbara Clarence, Festival of Arts Board members Bob Moffett and Tom Lamb, festival exhibitors Jacquie Moffett and Kirsten Whalen (the candidate's wife), artists Muffin Spencer-Devlin, Mia Moore, Marsh Scott and sculptor Louis Longi.

Someone jokingly asked me once if I didn't attend an event in Laguna, did it really happen?

The answer is a resounding yes.

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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