Laguna Beach ceramicist Marlo Bartels received the artist of the year award this week at the 11th annual Art Star Awards.
Recipients in six other categories also received awards during the event Sunday, April 2, where actress and guest speaker Joely Fisher spoke candidly about the recent deaths of her half-sister Carrie Fisher and step-mother Debbie Reynolds.
Faye Baglin, president of Laguna Beach Arts Alliance, welcomed the 260 guests and spoke about the importance of the 20-member organization and how it has strengthened the arts in Laguna Beach.
Last year’s recipient of the $5,000 Seven Degrees grant was introduced by Dora Orgill, executive director of the event venue Seven Degrees. Artist Russell Pierce’s award-winning project, “Change Agents. Fifty Portraits. People That Have Made An Impact On Our World,” was exhibited for guests.
No follow-on recipient was named for the coming year by the venue’s operators, which have awarded grants annually since 2011 that funded the creation of film, music compositions, glass work and sculpture.
The award was temporarily suspended this year in part because of the pending sale of Seven Degrees, Orgill, who owns the venue with her husband, Mark, and five other partners, said this week. Orgill intends to continue to run the venue with its new partners and if possible to re-instate the award. “It does mean a lot to the artists,” Orgill said, noting that Pierce described his exhibition “as the best night of his life.”
With the pending sale, the Orgills were not in a position to offer the grant and underwrite the event for LBAA, Baglin said.
Bartels’ colorful mosaic creations embellish public art installed in his hometown at Main Beach, Brooks Street Beach, the library, museum and high school and in towns near and far. “What made 2016 special for Marlo was the completion of a challenging and stunning commission for nine 21-foot high sculptures, installed in a linear park in nearby Brea,” said Baglin in a statement. “Creating his work in his Laguna Canyon studio, Marlo honors Laguna’s history as an artist colony, while shining a light on our artistic community.”
Other award winners:
Best Arts Program: Sawdust Art Festival 50th Anniversary
Lifetime Achievement: Donna Inglima, Youth Theater director at Laguna Playhouse
Arts Patrons: Betsy and Gary Jenkins
Corporate Arts Patron: City of Laguna Beach
Outstanding Arts Collaboration: Laguna Concert Band and Laguna Beach Elementary Music Program: Star Wars Music Mentor Program
Arts Leadership: Laguna Beach City Council member Bob Whalen
“In a small town like Laguna, we know that such recognition encourages the hard-working individuals who make up our arts colony,” said Baglin in a statement.