Let’s Hear it for Laguna’s Art Stars

Jonathan Burke exults over an arts leadership award.

Jonathan Burke exults over an arts leadership award.

Laguna Concert Band Director Ed Peterson won this year’s Seven-Degrees of Inspiration Grant, a $5,000 prize for his proposal to produce an original score for an animated student film, while Heisler Park sculpture garden creators Scott and Naomi Schoenherr were declared artists of the year during Laguna Beach’s annual Art Stars awards on Sunday.

More than 230 guests enjoyed an evening at the event center Seven Degrees headlined by comedienne Rita Rudner, who regaled her audience with comparisons between British, as embodied by her husband, and American males and salient differences in communication and perceptions between women and men.

With event chair Wayne Baglin acting as master of ceremonies, the evening moved along swiftly, beginning with Mark Orgill and Dora Wexell’s introduction of Peterson, followed by last year’s Inspiration Grant winner, glass blower John Barber. He created a 22-foot high glass sculpture titled “Feeding Frenzy,” which dazzled visitors in the venue’s foyer.

Rebecca and John Barber and the work that resulted from last year’s Seven Degrees of Inspiration Grant.

Rebecca and John Barber and the work that resulted from last year’s Seven Degrees of Inspiration Grant.

Altogether, the 20 members of the Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts nominated three individuals or organizations in seven categories that shaped the town’s arts culture in the previous year. Winners received a “Louis,” the statuette designed and fabricated by sculptor Louis Longi. “I’ve done them now for seven years and each and everyone is different,” said Longi.

Festival of Arts events director Susan Davis collected the best new arts program award for her music program “Summer Entertainment of the Green,” edging out Jason Feddy’s Shakespeare’s Fool and Laguna Outreach for Community Arts’ botanicals  programs.  “I won’t take him home but perhaps I’ll get to keep ‘Louis’ in my office,” quipped Davis.

LCAD trustee, Laguna Beach Library volunteer and self-described busiest retiree Terry Smith was recognized as individual arts patron of the year. “My greatest pleasure lies in making a difference in as many ways as I can,” he said during the event’s reception.

Yvonne Boseker, who defrays art restoration costs at the Laguna Art Museum, and arts supporters Arn and Nancy Youngman had also been nominated.

Wells Fargo Bank earned the corporate arts patron of the year award for its Community Art Project, an ongoing series of art exhibitions at its Broadway branch administered by Pat Sparkuhl, also a nominee for this year’s arts leadership award.

2.3 art stars Barber Glass 1The latter went to Jonathan Burke, LCAD’s president. “Jonathan presided over the largest freshman class in the history of LCAD this year,” said Baglin. Arts activist and Arts Commission member Mary Ferguson had also been nominated.

Designer Nelson Coates and Sawdust exhibitor Larry Gill had also been nominated for artist of the year.

Outstanding collaboration went to “Orange County: Destination Art & Culture,” an exhibition program at John Wayne Airport that involved Laguna Beach’s visitors bureau, its three art festivals, theater and museum.

After some suspense, Baglin announced Jacquie Moffett as the recipient of the lifetime achievement award.

Besides being an award-winning watercolor painter, actress and volunteer at several local arts organizations, Moffett is celebrating her 46th year at the Festival of Arts. No other exhibitor has exhibited for as long. Her parents had farmed on what became FoA grounds. Once the Pageant of the Masters was established, family members volunteered as cast members. As an actress, she performed in the 1969 Laguna Playhouse production “I Never Sang for My Father.”

“She’s a true Renaissance woman, a Jacquie of all trades,” quipped Baglin.

Photo by Xun Chi

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