Day of the Dead fundraiser for Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center brought out creative spirits 


Guests danced, dined, dressed up in Day of the Dead costume to honor Laguna’s departed artists and their own loved ones, fund the Center’s creativity-driven mission

Longtime Sawdust Festival face painter Star Shields was on hand to give guests customized Day of the Dead looks for the event. Photo/Barbara McMurray

The Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center held its “Day of the Dead” annual fall fundraising event on the beautiful Moss Point Estates tennis court on Saturday. Seventy guests reflected on the departed Laguna artists memorialized by the altar displays, including plein air painter Anna Hills, ballerina Lila Zali, poet John Gardiner, and photographers and BC Space founders Mark Chamberlain and Jerry Burchfield. Several guests brought mementos of their own loved ones and wrote out cards recalling their

The candlelit altar paid tribute to beloved local poet John Gardiner, who gave frequent readings at the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center. He died in 2017. Photo/Barbara McMurray

hallmarks. Nearly every attendee wore a variation on a catrin or catrina costume depicting a regal skeleton, like those worn throughout Mexico during Día de los Muertos celebrations. 

As the gates opened, one-person band Gerardo “Jerry” Segura sang and played, dressed as a catrin. Guests danced with abandon to the six-piece band Mesomash led by saxophonist Arte Hernandez. Proceeds supported the Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting and nurturing the arts to benefit the community.


The fundraising event was held at the rarefied setting of the tennis court at Moss Point Estates. Photo/Barbara McMurray

About the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center 

In 2022, still recovering from the pandemic, the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center brought to Laguna Beach a wide range of unique events: a women’s History Month film festival with a Zoom talk from Ms. Magazine editor Katherine Spillar, an Earth Day environmental film series, Laguna Beach’s first Juneteenth celebration, and one-night concerts, play and poetry readings by local artists. A dance school has sprung up in the tidily remodeled upstairs space, as has a music school. Classes to learn video shooting and editing will soon be added.

Founder and director Rick Conkey stated the Center’s mission: “to harness the power of the arts to benefit the community.” The Center is in the former BC Space, a collaborative arts hub started by photographers and educators Jerry Burchfield and Mark Chamberlain. During its existence from 1973 to 1987 ¬– one of the longest-running galleries in the U.S. –– BC Space presented many provocative exhibitions. Recently remodeled and renamed the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center, it is just off Coast Highway at 235 Forest Avenue, upstairs above the Promenade in Laguna Beach.

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