Muralist Wins Art Stars’ Top Prize

Mike Tauber was the lead artist on the mural in the seventh-floor pool at the Wilshire Grand Center, which opened in Los Angeles last spring.
Mike Tauber, left, was the lead artist on the mural in the seventh-floor pool at the Wilshire Grand Center, which opened in Los Angeles last spring.

Artist Mike Tauber, known for creating public-art murals that often echo earlier eras, was named artist of the year at the 12th annual Art Star Awards on Sunday, April 29.

Before the Art Star crowd of 200 supporters in Laguna Beach, guest speaker and recording artist Melissa Manchester expressed her gratitude for an audience that values artistic pursuits of every medium.

“That you recognize and appreciate all of the different artistic paths represented here tonight is nothing short of thrilling,” said Manchester.

Laguna Beach Arts Alliance, representing 20 arts organizations, organizes the awards to recognize individuals and organizations that enrich the town’s culture. Rosemary Swimm, the alliance chair, welcomed supporters to the Seven-Degrees event center for the awards ceremony and dinner.

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Artist of the year Mike Tauber

“I was quite shocked to hear my name called, and was overwhelmed by

the support from all the people in the room,” said Tauber, who especially appreciated recognition from people he’s worked with. “I’m truly

grateful to the LBAA.”

Besides Tauber, other winners are: Best Arts Program, Laguna Plein Air Painting Invitational; Lifetime Achievement, Tom Swimm; Individual Arts Patron of the Year, Lisa Hale; Corporate Arts Patron of the Year, Festival of Arts Scholarship Program; Outstanding Arts Collaboration, First Thursdays Art Walk and Laguna College of Art + Design’s gallery and student mentor program; and Arts Leadership, Sian Poeschl.

Here’s a bit more about each of the winners:

Tauber is known locally for his fine art tiles exhibited at the Festival of Arts and his public art projects, which include his window murals at Whole Foods, a tile mural at the Laguna Beach County Water District and his glimmering fish art installation at Hagan Place.

Yet it was Tauber’s accomplishments elsewhere that gained him the nomination, an Alliance statement says.

The artist with a student-supervised work outside the Fullerton train station.
The artist with a student-supervised work outside the Fullerton train station.

At the L.A. Wilshire Grand Center, Tauber was contracted as lead painter in a mural of 16,000 square feet. He also won a Fullerton public art competition to create “Vintage Billboards,” painted with 20 high school students next to the Fullerton train station. He capped off 2017 with a work reminiscent of WPA murals for Philz Coffee in Fullerton.

LPAPA marks its 20th year organizing a plein air art painting competition, carrying on the town’s plein air legacy.

Swimm’s award reflects a career dedicated to the creative arts that defies characterization with accomplishments in painting, photography, illustration, playwriting, musical composition and acting.

The festival’s scholarship program began with a $1,000 check in 1957 to Laguna Beach High School senior Sally Reed. The program has awarded over $3 million, and now annually awards $100,000 in scholarships.

Hale received recognition for underwriting two seasons of performances at Laguna Playhouse.

The mentoring program, now in its 17th year, pairs senior drawing and painting students with First Thursdays Art Walk galleries. Gallerists mentor students through the fundamentals of exhibiting their work and gallery operations.

Aside from her own pursuits as a glass artist, Poeschl’s portfolio includes 20 years as the city’s cultural arts manager where she advocates to broaden the town’s cultural offerings.

A separate award, the Seven-Degrees of Inspiration grant, went to Bridget Dolkas and Kurt Mortensen of Pacific Symphony, who will produce a video with classical music that demonstrates the power of music to reach and connect with people. The music video will be filmed on location in Laguna Beach and will be presented at next year’s ceremony.

Tom Swimm receives a lifetime achievement award at the 12th annual Art Star Awards.

Swimm summed up the evening’s sentiment. “The legacy of Laguna Beach’s artistic community not only endures but continues to thrive,” he said in a statement. “The Alliance is privileged to recognize the outstanding achievements of our artists, patrons and volunteers with this year’s Art Star Awards and that such recognition encourages the hard-working individuals who make up our arts colony.”

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  1. I am the PROUDEST father Tonite following Mike`s nomination…All of ILLINOIS will hear of this…I had a great time visiting Mike last month and will come back soon…..Bill Tauber


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