Community Gathers to Celebrate Museum’s Centennial

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By Allison Jarrell | LB Indy

Museum Director Malcolm Warner cuts into the Laguna Art Museum’s 100th birthday cake during a celebration on Saturday, Aug. 25.
Museum Director Malcolm Warner cuts into the Laguna Art Museum’s 100th birthday cake during a celebration on Saturday, Aug. 25.

In the Laguna Art Museum’s current centerpiece exhibit, “Art Colony: The Laguna Beach Art Association 1918-1935,” there’s an emphasis on the synergic relationship between Laguna’s founding artists and their community. Their success was tied to the success of the town, and they were often engaged in every aspect of public life—from teaching art classes at schools, to donating works of art to local causes and organizations.

So it was only fitting that to celebrate the official day on which the Laguna Beach Art Association was founded in 1918, the Laguna Art Museum invited the entire community and its local partners to a free day of art activities, interactive stations, performances, docent-guided tours and, of course, a birthday cake.

The day-long celebration also featured a proclamation from Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, followed by a lively rendition of “Happy Birthday” performed by members of the Laguna Concert Band. The rest of the day offered guests front row seats to ballet performances, improv theatre and a Pageant of the Masters recreation.

Estelle Verdugo, 36, of Laguna Beach, performs “The Spinning Top” from “The Enchanted Toy Shop” ballet, choreographed by Ballet Pacifica founder Lila Zali. Verdugo grew up studying under Zali and Kathy Kahn at the Laguna Beach Ballet Studio. Zali’s 100th birthday was also celebrated on Saturday.
Estelle Verdugo, 36, of Laguna Beach, performs “The Spinning Top” from “The Enchanted Toy Shop” ballet, choreographed by Ballet Pacifica founder Lila Zali. Verdugo grew up studying under Zali and Kathy Kahn at the Laguna Beach Ballet Studio. Zali’s 100th birthday was also celebrated on Saturday.

Bartlett congratulated the museum on its centennial birthday, and commended the Laguna Art Museum for “preserving the rich history of the Laguna Beach Art Association, as well as continuing its legacy to advance the knowledge of and interest in art.”

Museum Director Malcolm Warner said he reflected throughout the day on what the founding artists of the Laguna Beach Art Association would have thought of such an occasion.

“It’s heartwarming to think how pleased they would be,” Warner said. “For one thing, there’s the educational component—people are learning things here from all the presentations made by our different community partners. And then there’s the fact that it’s a community event. The early artists of Laguna were very keen not to be cooped up in an ivory tower with their art association. They wanted it to be part of the fabric of the city, and to involve the rest of the townspeople. I’m very happy that we can continue that legacy.”

Sawdust Art Festival faculty lead young visitors in creating festive turtle drawings during the Laguna Art Museum’s 100th birthday party.
Sawdust Art Festival faculty lead young visitors in creating festive turtle drawings during the Laguna Art Museum’s 100th birthday party.

Warner said he was happy that the museum’s work was recognized by Bartlett, as the Laguna Art Museum aspires to serve all of Orange County. He added that serving a larger audience was also an aspiration of the art association.

“Anna Hills—who in many ways is our heroine amongst the early artists of Laguna Beach—she made a point of taking mini exhibitions out to schools all over Orange County,” Warner said. “She would get her friends in the association to come out with her and give art classes at the schools, too. We’d like to try to live up to that tradition.”

Community arts partners involved in the centennial celebration included: Community Art Project, Festival of Arts, First Thursdays Art Walk, KX 93.5, Laguna Art Supply, Laguna Beach Live!, Laguna Concert Band, Laguna Dance Festival, Laguna Playhouse, Lila Zali Dance Centennial, LOCA Arts Education, Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, No Square Theatre, Pageant of the Masters, Sawdust Art & Craft Festival, Simply Sweet Cakery, and Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association.

Pageant of the Masters model Michelle Pohl, 37, of Yorba Linda, holds statue-still as Kim Knowlton puts on the finishing touches at the museum’s 100th birthday celebration.
Pageant of the Masters model Michelle Pohl, 37, of Yorba Linda, holds statue-still as Kim Knowlton puts on the finishing touches at the museum’s 100th birthday celebration.

For those who were unable to join in the festivities last weekend, there are still plenty of chances to celebrate 100 years of art in Laguna.

On Sept. 29, the museum’s most glitzy event of the year—the Centennial Ball—will take place at the Festival of Arts grounds from 6-11 p.m. The evening will celebrate the art association’s 100-year anniversary in grand style, featuring cuisine by the chefs of Montage Laguna Beach, joined by Amar Santana and Craig Strong, celebrity emcees Chuck Henry and Fritz Coleman, dancing, and live entertainment.

Guests will be treated to a voyage through major milestones in California art, starting with the historical California painters of the early 1900s such as William Wendt, Anna Hills and Edgar Payne. Dinner will be infused with the aesthetics of modernist works by artists such as Helen Lundeberg and John McLaughlin. And guests will have the opportunity to dance under the influence of the light and space movement, exemplified by artists such as Peter Alexander, Lita Albuquerque and James Turrell.

: Visitors wandered the museum’s halls, appreciating the work of Laguna’s founding artists during the museum’s centennial celebration.
: Visitors wandered the museum’s halls, appreciating the work of Laguna’s founding artists during the museum’s centennial celebration.

Tickets start at $750 and can be purchased at www.lagunaartmuseum.org/events/centennial-ball.

On Sunday, Oct. 7, the museum is organizing Centennial Trolley Tours that will take passengers to all of the former houses and studios of the famous artists who lived in Laguna Beach 100 years ago. The hour-long tours will run at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., and tickets are $25 for museum members or $35 for non-members.

To reserve a space, visit www.lagunaartmuseum.org/events/centennial-trolley-tours or call 949-494-8971 ext. 219.

 

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