Defending Town’s Artistic Legacy



(The letter also went to council members.)

I enthusiastically support Louis Longi’s Laguna Canyon artists live/work project and encourage the City Council to approve the project.

In 1929 the Laguna Beach Art Association opened a grand, custom-built gallery designed by the prominent Los Angeles architect Myron Hunt as a place to exhibit and sell paintings by its members. The structure still stands today, although you might not recognize it as the Steele Gallery within the present Laguna Art Museum building on Cliff Drive.

Now, I ask you to imagine for a moment Laguna Beach in 1929 and how a large two story concrete building on a bluff overlooking Main Beach changed the landscape. At that time the town’s citizens celebrated the opening of the new gallery.

In fact, H. G. Heisler, namesake of Heisler Park, partially donated the land to the Art Association. The official opening held Feb. 16, 1929, received rave reviews from the local South Coast News. This historic accomplishment was made possible through the recognition of the importance of Laguna Beach as an arts colony and by the love and support for the local artists by the city’s residents.

Fast forward 85 years and we now have another opportunity to assist, honor, and celebrate our local artists.

The Laguna Canyon artist live work project achieves a number of important objectives, including; providing much needed live/work space to artists within Laguna Beach city limits, improving the aesthetics of the canyon with a beautiful building, and, most importantly, maintaining our artistic heritage by keeping creative artists in Laguna Beach.

In 2014, let’s rally around our local artists as was done in 1929, to help ensure their success and continue the artistic legacy of Laguna Beach.

Robert Hayden, Laguna Beach

The author is chairman of the Laguna Art Museum.

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