Local Artists Win in Plein Air Invitational


During the week of Oct. 3-13, the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) invited 30 artists to spend the week painting Laguna Beach and the surrounding landscapes and communities for the 21st Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational.

The Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational top prize, the highly coveted $10,000 “Best in Show” award, went to Colorado artist Jane Hunt for her painting, “Back Bay Evening.” Image courtesy of LPAPA

The annual invitational celebrates the tradition of plein air painting and carries on the landscape painting legacy that established Laguna Beach as an art colony more than 100 years ago. LPAPA is a nonprofit art organization dedicated to preserving Laguna’s artistic legacy while providing opportunities for today’s landscape painters.

Hundreds of art collectors attended the Oct. 12 Collectors Gala to see the unveiling of the original paintings created by top plein air masters. The 300 original works showcased were available for purchase in support of LPAPA.

Over $40,000 in cash and prizes was awarded to the artists, with the top prize, the highly coveted $10,000 “Best in Show” awarded to Colorado artist Jane Hunt for her painting “Back Bay Evening.”

During the week of Oct. 3-13, LPAPA invited 30 artists to spend the week painting Laguna Beach and the surrounding landscapes and communities for the 21st Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational.

The 2019 “Best in Show” judges were Janet Blake, Laguna Art Museum curator; Kim Kanatani, director of the University of California, Irvine, Institute and Museum of California Art; and Tim Newton, publisher of Western Art & Architecture Magazine and former board chair and chief executive of the Salmagundi Club in New York City.

The coveted “Collectors’ Choice Award”, based on votes by collectors in attendance, and the “Artists’ Choice Award”, based on the votes cast by the participating artists, were presented to local favorite and 21-year consecutive participating artist Michael Obermeyer for his body of work exhibited.
Local artist Michael Situ received the SouthwestArt Magazine Quick Draw Award for “Heisler Park.”
Montana-based artist Aaron Schuerr was a double award winner receiving the $5,000 “Award of Excellence” for “Direct Hit” and the “Dr. Edward H. Boseker Award” for “Afternoon Glare.”

Northern California-based plein air painter Jim McVicker took home three awards that included the $2,500 “Jean Stern Distinctive Merit Legacy Award” for “Forest & Glenneyre,” the $1,000 Irvine Museum Award for “Late Glow on Main Beach,” and the $1,000 “Spirit of Laguna Award” for “Bob Francis in Heisler Park.”

Tennessee artist Kathie Odom received the “Architectural Award” for “Come Sit for a Spell,” and the “Artistic Palette Award,” sponsored by the Joe Hanks Van Cleave Foundation for the Arts, was presented to Florida artist Vladislav Yeliseyev for his watercolor painting “Above the Sea.”

This year’s inaugural Ovation Award, sponsored by the Rahn family, was presented to Suzie Baker for “Last Light.” The Western Art & Architecture Magazine Award of Excellence was presented to Maryland-based artist and last year’s Best in Show winner Cindy Baron for “The Old Soul,” and the American Art Collector Magazine Award of Excellence was presented to Dan Mondloch for his painting “Main Beach Magic.”

Southern California artist John Budicin was recognized with LPAPA’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award for his talent and life-long body of work, and his support of LPAPA and the greater art community. Last year’s 2018 Lifetime Member Award recipients, Madeline and Jim Swinden of The Irvine Museum, helped present this year’s 2019 Lifetime Member Award to Laguna Beach residents Linda and Garrett Pack, who have been supporters of LPAPA and collectors of Laguna Invitational artists for 21 years.

With the support of the Laguna College of Art + Design, the Braselle family, and Randy Higbee King of Frames, LPAPA Mentor Artists — Mark Fehlman, Hilary McCarthy, Joseph Sanabria, Jeff Sewell and Rick J. Delanty — worked with more than a dozen LCAD students who participated in LPAPA’s annual Next Generation Paint Out. Students were able to exhibit their plein air masterpieces alongside the mentors’ and invitational artists’ artwork. Scholarship Awards were presented to the award-winning students—$500 1st Place to Tayler Olivas, $300 2nd Place to Opal LeFey, and $200 3rd Place to Melanie LaMay. All of the students’ art sales support the students and the LCAD scholarship fund.


 Artists’ Talk Accompanies Exhibit

On Saturday, Nov. 2, artists Mary Aslin, Lesli Bonanni, and Gill Dellinger will demonstrate the art of painting with pastels at the CAP Gallery.

Visit “Illuminating Elements” at the CAP Gallery, 260 Ocean Avenue, for an artists’ conversation from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2. Artists Mary Aslin, Lesli Bonanni, and Gill Dellinger will demonstrate the art of painting with pastels. Marie Tippets will also be available to answer questions about the medium. Attendees will get a chance to experience painting with pastels.


Craft Guild on the Cobblestones Sunday

The Laguna Craft Guild will have a show on the Main Beach cobblestones from 9 a.m. until sundown on Sunday, Nov. 3. Local artists will be featured.


 ‘Sip & Shuck’ Fundraiser Returns to Laguna

Driftwood Kitchen and The Deck on Laguna present the 7th Annual Champagne & Oyster “Sip & Shuck” fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 3.

Driftwood Kitchen and The Deck on Laguna present the 7th Annual Champagne & Oyster “Sip & Shuck” fundraiser, featuring hand-shucked oysters, champagne, sparkling wines, and spirits benefiting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Orange County, from 2-6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3, at 627 Sleepy Hollow Lane. Tickets for the 21-and-over event are available for $145 pre-sale or $175 for VIP, early entry at 1 p.m. Admission includes oysters and other small bites, as well as access to champagne, wine, cocktail and beer sampling. Event attendees may take advantage of the Pacific Edge Hotel’s Sip, Shuck & Stay packages. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit sipnshuck.com.


 Romero Fine Portraiture to Close Studio Doors

After 29 years at the same location on Coast Highway, Don Romero, of Romero Fine Portraiture, announced this week that he is closing his studio doors on Nov. 30.  Romero said the decision was difficult and a bittersweet one to make.

:After 29 years at the same location on Coast Highway, Romero Fine Portraiture will be closing its studio doors on Nov. 30. Photo courtesy of Romero Fine Portraiture

Romero and Lori Rosenberg—business partners and husband and wife team—said they’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback and support  from past clients who are wishing them well as they go forward.
Romero’s photography career began in 1980 when he was a sought after architectural photographer, traveling across the country photographing restaurants, homes and commercial buildings. As his career progressed, he realized his passion was working with people and started photographing families, children and weddings.

Romero said he has been honored to have documented the growth and changes of so many families in Laguna Beach.

“The time has flown by and we are very proud that so many clients retained us as the experts, coming back time after time to be photographed,” Romero said. “So many children who we photographed as babies, have then requested us to capture their weddings and then photograph their children. It’s been an awesome cycle.”

The Romeros are not retiring, and the couple said the closing of the studio will not hinder their ability to work with families. The new focus will allow Romero time to concentrate on his fine art work, showing in the Sawdust Festival this summer.

There will be a closing party/fine art opening of Romero’s black and white work on Nov. 9, from 5-9 p.m., and Nov. 10, from 4-8 p.m., at the studio. All are welcome to stop by.


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