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Art and Music Unite as a Singular Chord

For the third year now, Laguna Beach Live! has commissioned local artists to imprint their signature style on a violin as part of the upcoming annual Laguna Beach Music Festival next month.

A painter would tend to paint on the instrument, a sculptor to turn it into a base for three-dimensional embellishments and the multi-media artists give their imagination free rein to interpret how music and stringed instruments pluck at their own lives.

This year’s creations will be displayed individually at local galleries (Art Cube, Joanne Artman, Dawson Cole, Studio Arts, DeBilzan and Swenson Fine Art) for the next five weeks while also drawing bids for an online fundraising auction. Last year, a similar sextet brought in roughly $9,000 for the festival’s educational outreach programs. Board member Diane Arnold expressed confidence that this year’s crop will perform as admirably if not better.

Artful Violins can also be viewed online, where bids will be taken until Jan. 25: www.biddingforgood.com/lmf.

Approaching the counter at the Studio Arts Gallery, 1200 S. Coast Highway, one can’t miss a slightly skewed fiddle that looks as if in motion, but is standing still. It’s made of blown glass by John Barber, a local glass artist and owner of the gallery. Slightly smaller than the real thing, it sits on a glass base and is made up of separately hand blown sections that had to be kept hot enough but not too hot to be assembled into the finished product, explained Barber. “It took at least three or four tries until we got it right—assembling the base, the body, the neck with its tuning knobs and the string all in one session,” he said.

America Martin, a Los Angeles painter, wrapped her violin into one of her paintings of a boy playing a violin. Titled “A Painting, A Violin, A Song,” the piece pays homage to the discipline, love, and dedication required by all the arts. “To me, a violin is a thousand poems, tightly bundled, unsung but with promise soaring,” she wrote describing her creation. Martin’s violin can be seen at the Joanne Artman Gallery, 326 N. Coast Highway.

A refugee from the war-torn region of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bojan Bahic addresses both lasting ethnic divisions of his homeland and the healing power of music in “My Country Music,” a piece centered on a map of his country superceded by a violin severed in half. Both are mounted on the type of black jacket worn by cadres of fighters and supplemented by military and paramilitary insignia. A multi-media artist-designer, he moved to the U.S. in 1997 with his wife. “The violin is a celebration of his return to art. Even though the course of his life and his country kept him from making art for a time, he remained a true artist at heart,” said Sanja Sanja Simidzija, director of Art Cube, 266 Forest Avenue, where this unusual statement mixing art and politics can be viewed.

Multi-media artist Nancy Mooslin takes a lighter approach to her task, concentrating on the playing aspect of music. By decorating her violin with psychedelic colored squiggly lines, she suggests that violin has found its way into the hands of folk musicians and kids honing their ear to Suzuki methods. Stylistically, it fits in with the fare found at the DeBilzan Gallery, 224 Forest Avenue.

Then again, by putting a violin, accompanied by a small figure, into a simple red frame, Malotte & Rae, at Swenson Fine Art, 460 S. Coast Highway, suggest that music (as the color red signifies) is a healing force, a source of joy for all.

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