Our Laguna: Locals shine at Art Stars Awards

The restaurant [seven-degrees] rolled out the purple carpet Sunday to welcome the royalty of the Laguna Beach arts community.

The crowd at the sold-out event supped and celebrated the state of the arts in Laguna at the Art Stars Awards dinner in stellar fashion, honoring the winners, the nominees and their supporters.

Guests at the 7th Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts event were also treated to musical entertainment by Laguna Flutes at the reception and the musical duo of Yael and Vlady during dinner, an excellent dinner catered by [seven-degrees] chef and a star turn by actress, stand-up comedian and author Rita Rudner.

Rudner manages to take the same shots at men and her husband, in particular, as the more raucous Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller, without offending the males in the audience while entrancing the females. Just ask any woman at the dinner if Rudner wasn't spot-on in her comments about male-pattern blindness when opening a refrigerator door or their inability to see the difference between decorative pillows and pillows on which to sleep.

The event began with an outdoor reception, highlighted by unveiling of "Feeding Frenzy," a 20-foot-tall indoor sculpture, created by master glass blower John Barber, the 2012 recipient of the [seven-degrees] of Inspiration grant.

Winding ropes of lights illuminate the 200 pieces of blown glass that Barber likened to a feeding frenzy of fish, hence the name.

This year's $5,000 grant was awarded to Ed Peterson who proposed a Laguna Concert Band and the Laguna College of Art + Design collaboration to create an original musical score for film to be produced by the Animation Master Class under the artistic direction of Stephen Chodo for exhibition at film festivals.

Dora Wexall and Mark Orgill of [seven-degrees] made the presentation.

More than 50 applications were submitted for the seven awards presented by the alliance, a partnership established in 2002 to advocate for the arts, promote cooperation among the members and serve as a united voice for the arts in the city.

Alliance members include Laguna's Arts Commission, the three art festivals, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Dance Festival, Chamber of Commerce, Pacific Chorale, Laguna College of Art + Design, Laguna Concert Band, Laguna Craft Guild, Laguna Beach Film Society, Laguna Playhouse and Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn. (LPAPA), Sister Cities Assn., and the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau; Community Art Project (CAP), First Thursdays Art Walk, Lagunatunes Community Chorus, Laguna Beach Live!, Laguna Outreach Community Arts (LOCA), No Square Theater and [seven-degrees].

The Festival of Arts' "Summer Entertainment on the Green" won the 2013 award for Best New Arts Program.

Record crowds were drawn to the event due to the caliber of entertainers, including Christopher Cross and Jason Feddy, excellent publicity and the investment in a new stage, sound system and seating.

Susan Davis is the festival's director of special events and membership.

Terry Smith was named the Individual Arts Patron of the Year.

Smith has been an LCAD trustee since 2001 and has served on or chaired every board committee, without personal aggrandizement. He leads by example.

Not to mention putting his money where his mouth isn't.

He and former Mayor Wayne Peterson, partners for more than 30 years, have quietly contributed more than $260,000 to LCAD.

Smith has also served on the Arts Commission, has been involved in local City Council election campaigns and is a Friends of the Laguna Beach Library volunteer.

Wells Fargo Bank has allocated two floors of its building on Ocean Avenue to display the works of hundreds of artists for 14 years, free of charge. The bank was recognized with the 2013 Corporate Arts Patron of the Year Award.

Jehia Dajani accepted the award on behalf of the bank.

John Wayne Airport, the visitor's bureau, the art festivals, LAM and the playhouse were honored with the Outstanding Arts Collaboration award for "Legacy of Art," part of the "Orange County: Destination Art & Culture" exhibition at the airport.

Judy Bijlani came up with the concept. Cynthia Fung coordinated the project.

Jonathan Burke was recognized for his leadership since taking over as president of LCAD in 2011. Among his notable accomplishments: doubling the frosh housing and expanding the campus footprint by the acquisition of adjacent property.

He has been a leader in collaborations with other community and arts organization projects such as providing student exhibits to the playhouse, actively participating in the Downtown Civic Arts Vision Committee and working with the city to promote Laguna as a college town.

"Thank you for helping us shine a little brighter," said Burke, after accepting the award.

The alliance got a twofer in the Artist of the Year category. Award-winners Scott and Naomi Schoenherr combined their talents to create a sculpture garden in Heisler Park and to create probably the best looking façade for a public restroom anywhere.

The park project consists of three walkway panels, large bronze and ceramic inlay sculptures, and natural stone slab benches, connecting the art work and park to the ocean.

Winners were presented with "Longis," one-of-a-kind sculptures individually created for Art Star Awards by local sculptor artist Louis Longi.

Presenters of the awards included Faye Baglin, chair of CAP; Jennifer Daniels, LCAD; Sharbie Higuchi, Festival of Arts publicist; Linda Hughes, concert band board member; Tom Klingenmeier, Sawdust Art Festival general manager; Karen Wood, playhouse executive director; and Wexall.

Alliance President and FOA board member Wayne Baglin made the presentation of a Lifetime Achievements in the Arts Award to Jacquie Moffett.

The versatile Moffett is a scenic artist, an actress, an award-winning watercolorist and has the distinction of being the longest-exhibitor at the festival.

"This summer will mark her 46th year," Baglin said.

Besides the festival, Moffett has been active in the playhouse and LPAPA, helped found LOCA and serves as FOA Foundation secretary.

"No one is more deserving of this award than Jacquie," Baglin said. "Her exceptional accomplishments, contributions and artistry will continue to influence and inspire generations to come."

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call 1 (714) 966-4608 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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