Festival of the Arts celebrates its 90th anniversary with artists

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Fiber artist Lisa Kijak displays her “Neon” series, bringing photographs of neon signs to life with fabric at the Festival of Arts on July 2, 2022. Photo by Tasmin McGill

By Tasmin McGill, Special to the Independent

The Festival of Arts celebrated its 90th Anniversary with its 2022 summer Festival of Arts showcase, recognizing the festival’s longevity and this year’s 120 artists with an opening reception July 2.

During the reception, the artists showcased their work to friends, family, and customers alike. Per the Laguna Beach festival usual, all types of artistic mediums were represented through the shops including furniture, photographs, paintings, and jewelry.

Ceramics were displayed on the top of shelves with lights hitting the curves just right. Within the first two hours of the reception, multiple pieces from both Sharon Jackman and Gary Monji sold for hefty sums.

For ceramic artist Monji, his work is not available online and no one is allowed into his shop; his ceramics are exclusively sold at the annual Festival of Arts. Potential customers were drawn to his shop due to the variety of shapes and sizes of his pieces.

Kirah Martin and her collection, “Angels and Demons” at the Festival of Arts on July 2, 2022. Photo by Tasmin McGill

Self-taught oil painter Kirah Martin is showing her pieces at the Festival of Arts for the first time, with her collection “Angels and Demons.” Taking inspiration from the Baroque era and religious themes, Martin completes these works within weeks.

Debbora Zoller is displaying work for the first time at the 2022 Festival of Arts showcase. Zoller displayed two pieces for the opening reception, “Chief Wolf Robe” and “The Storyteller,” which took months of intense attention. Zoller researches her subjects’ culture, importance and photographs for months before putting pencil to paper.

Glass artists, Gavin Heath and Michael Panetta, are two artists displaying their glass sculptures at the Festival. As one of the very first shops seen inside the festival, Heath transports shoppers into a glass world with his collection, “Tribal Dolls.” And following the unique curves of Panetta’s featured “Emerald Beginnings” wall installation, it is easily his standout piece that welcomes shoppers into his space.

“Tribal Dolls” by Gavin Heath at the Festival of Arts Laguna Beach on July 2, 2022. Photo by Tasmin McGill

Another interesting artist showing work this year is Lisa Kijak. As a fiber artist, Kijak leverages her background in graphic design and printmaking to create pieces of work in a unique way. Using photographs as the base, Kijak displays her “Neon” series, where she is bringing photographs of neon signs to life with fabric. Kijak spends a lot of time shopping for the exact colors displayed in her photographs to show the aging details without having to dye everything herself.

Walking through the Junior Art Exhibit, Kijak’s parents remembered when she displayed work in the student-centered space. This year Over 300 Orange County students’ unique pieces were chosen to display at the Festival. Much like the adult crafts throughout the main festival, a wide variety of mediums included ceramic, collages, paintings, and mixed mediums.

Artist Michael Panetta with his glass sculpture “Emerald Beginnings” at the Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach on July 2. Photo by Tasmin McGill
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