At least 200 interested visitors thronged the Laguna Art Museum last Tuesday when it broke with tradition this year by opening its annual membership meeting to the general public.
At the top of the agenda was a preview of coming shows, a presentation of new museum acquisitions and financial figures for the past fiscal year.
The museum also honored volunteer museum librarian Carole Reynolds with a plaque and making her the namesake of its extensive museum research library. “I feel like a Carnegie having a library named after me,” she said.
Lindy Narver, a volunteer who assists Reynolds and also curator/registrar Janet Blake, was named outstanding volunteer of the year. Narver began volunteering eight years ago at the behest of her mother Grace Narver, who was also a museum volunteer, she said.
The museum acquired nine works of art for its permanent collection either as gifts from individual donors or through funds donated to defray the cost of a work. For example, art historian/author Nancy Dustin Wall Moure donated Fernand Lundgren’s “Bastion of the Painted Desert” and Karl Benjamin’s “Abstraction.” Jeremy Fish’s “Everything is Going to Be OK?” was bought with funds donated by the Mark and Hilarie Moore Family Trust and George Hurrell’s photograph of Laguna plein-air master Edgar Payne with gifted funds from Lois Outerbridge.
This year, the museum’s community outreach includes the upcoming Plein-Air Invitational paint out that will spotlight LCAD students and local children along with professional painters from across the nation. The museum has also established a museum club for LCAD students, enabling them to volunteer and get acquainted with the inner workings of a museum. The museum now offers free, year-round memberships to all LCAD students.
Those in attendance learned of the museum’s array of diverse exhibitions beginning with “Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California,” opening shortly; “Victor Hugo Zayas: Mi Obra” curated by Gregorio Luke, former director of Long Beach’s Museum of Latin American Art in spring; and “Clarence Hinkle and the Group of Eight,” curated by LAM’s Janet Blake, which will open next summer.
The museum’s finances improved compared to last year, though its operating budget of $1.5 million remained unchanged from the year before. This year, gifts and grants amounted to $671,000, 42 percent of the museum’s revenue, while last year brought in $391,000, 32 percent of museum revenues. This year’s total expenses were $1.5 million, compared to $1.37 million last year. This fiscal year ended with a cash balance of $415,000 while last year left $355,000. The museum’s endowment stands at $1.35 million compared to $1.2 million a year ago.
President Robert Hyden, interviewed afterwards, said the museum’s search for an executive director is nearing the end as the last three candidates are due to be interviewed shortly. Former executive director Bolton Colburn resigned earlier this year.