Social activist, gallerist, photographer and artist Mark Chamberlain is among this year’s nominees for artist of the year in the annual Art Stars Awards from the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance. “I guess it all boils down to artist since art is an ever evolving territory,” said Chamberlain, in explaining why he made the cut alongside co-nominees sculptor Cheryl Ekstrom and Laguna Dance Festival founder Jodie Gates.
Among the three, Ekstrom is also a finalist for the $5,000 Seven Degrees of Inspiration grant.
Winners in both categories will be named at an award ceremony Sunday, April 6, at the Seven-Degrees event center in Laguna Canyon. For the eighth year, the art crowd will watch as their best and brightest will receive Laguna’s version of an Oscar, an original statuette created by local sculptor Louis Longi.
Ekstrom’s grant proposal is a new series of sculptures based on the study of chakras, considered by some as the centers of life-changing spiritual power. Titled “Broken/Unbroken/Broken,” the multi-media sculptures grow from Ekstrom’s exploration of subjects and media ranging from plaster-covered Civil War era dresses to Eames furniture replicated in stainless steel. More recently, she created a brilliant red fiberglass bull now bound for Austin, Tex.
“My work is all about transforming ordinary materials like wire and clay and found objects beyond their commonplace use, turning the ordinary into something that reflects spiritual and intellectual growth, perspective and humanness,” she said.
Also vying for this year’s grant are composer Pamela Madsen and artist/arts educator Rebecca Faubion.
Madsen’s proposal, “Composing in Plein Air,” calls for a collaboration with Crystal Cove State Park resident artist John Burton to blend visual art and sound as inspired by their surroundings. Madsen plans to create a new work on the piano in real time at the park’s amphitheater in tandem with Burton painting in plein air. The combination of composition and painting will later be presented at several venues including Cal State Fullerton, where Madsen is an associate music professor.
Faubion’s idea, “Art Soul City,” is a mural celebrating Laguna’s past and present as an art colony. It will consist of three 6 x 18 foot portable canvas panels filled with images painted by local artists of all ages, from preschoolers to seniors. She plans to present the finished project at community centers such as the senior center, schools and libraries. “I believe in the creative soul of this city with its well of art, innovation, beauty and most importantly love beneath the resort town shimmer. I would like to create/direct this intergenerational mural project because it’s one way of passing on our artistic legacy from one generation to the next,” she wrote via email.
Last year’s winner will present the finished product at the gala. Laguna Concert Band musical director and composer Ed Peterson’s created a musical score for “The Sock Thief,” an animated film produced by Laguna College of Art and Design students.
The organization of 22 arts-related entities established the annual event in 2007 to honor the town’s diverse arts community. The grant has been underwritten by Seven Degrees, owned by Mark Orgill and Dora Wexell, whose venue also supports emerging artists and artistic innovation. Funded disciplines include visual and media arts, music, dance, theater, literature and interdisciplinary works.