Third Street Writers Interpret Laguna Art Through Words

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An after-hours event at the Laguna Art Museum brought a new perspective to the popular Joseph Kleitsch exhibit when local writers gathered to interpret the art through words on Sept. 23.

Laguna Art Museum docent Jennifer Yelland guides attendees through a comparison of historic Laguna Beach photos and scenes depicted in Kleitsch’s works. Photo courtesy of Third Street Writers

Third Street Writers and the museum hosted the inaugural “Paint a Picture with Words” event. The fun-filled evening included a tutorial about writing in response to art as well as an opportunity to actively write about the show and then read aloud their pieces.

“It was a great idea to bring together writers and the visual art,” participant Jill Hecht said. “It was more than a tour of a museum collection. The writing exercise and background information from the docent brought a new dimension to the art.”

The after-hours event began with a wine reception, followed by the docent-led tours of the exhibit and then the writing element of the evening began. Artist and writer Jennifer Griffiths offered an analysis of selected Kleitsch paintings, and writer Rina Palumbo explained how writing in response to art, known as ekphrastic writing, has many different approaches.

“It seems Third Street has recently been so involved with writing about art,” said president Amy Dechary. “It was wonderful to be able to share this writing technique with our greater community.”

The non-profit group recently produced the second annual “Art Inscribed” a book of short stories, essays and poems written by members and inspired by the art exhibited at the 2023 Festival of Arts.

“Laguna is such an art-centric community. It’s a natural fit to write about art,” Dechary went on to say. “So, when we were approached by the museum’s education coordinator Robin Rundle about this collaboration, it was the perfect extension of what we’ve been doing.”

About 20 people attended the event, and their writings were as diverse as Kleitsch’s painting style. Some spoke about the ocean, while others fictionalized the characters in his work. Personal reflections and world relations were also offered up as part of the evening’s diverse, funny and awe-inspiring writings.

“The writing exercise brought depth to experiencing the paintings,” said Hecht. “I had a chance to reflect on the paintings differently than if I were just looking at pictures of old Laguna.”

Dechary added that while the art element has influenced Third Street writers, it does not solely define the group’s activities. In fact, members are actively preparing for their next public reading, entitled Secrets and Sins, which will happen, appropriately enough, in October – on Friday the 13th. The group also holds weekly workshops with writing prompts and critique opportunities.

More about Third Street Writers can be found at Thirdstreetwriters.org.

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