And the One Word That Describes Laguna Is. . .

LCAD students poised to unveil the one word, chosen from over 1,000 submissions, that will form the theme for the mural they will create under the supervision of instructor Mia Tavonatti on the wall next to Laguna Canyon Winery. Front from left: Matthew Nishi, Paulina Michel, Stephen Cartolano. Standing from left: Lorenzo Minaca, Bobby Skelton, Alexander Eng, Alyxandra Tortorice, Jenna Morgera, Cheryl Kook. Not shown: Cesar Balderas. Photo by Mia Tavonatti.

The suspense ends Saturday, Jan. 28, with the public unveiling of the single word chosen from 1,100 words submitted by Laguna Beach residents to describe their hopes and aspirations for their city. This one powerful word will form the theme for a new mural produced by Laguna College of Art and Design students on the wall adjacent to the Laguna Canyon Winery, 2105 Laguna Canyon Rd.

The ribbon cutting led by Mayor Jane Egly, Sen. Curren D. Price Jr. (D-CA) and Mia Tavonatti, a painter and mosaic designer who teaches mural production at LCAD, will begin at 2 p.m. at the wall, and a reception at the Laguna College of Art and Design will follow the ceremony.

Pre-occupied for some time with the artistic, communicative and healing power of words, Tavonatti initiated the Power of Words Project, which called for Laguna Beach residents to send in their choice words via e-mail at the beginning of January to

Last week, Tavonatti and a team of helpers sifted through words like aspire, affirmation, diversity, sanctuary, love, inclusion, hope, even levitation and “je t’aime.” Some words had already drawn attention when she and several artists and residents chalked them on the gray expanse of wall that will, during the next two LCAD semesters, be graced by a new mural based on students’ interpretation of the winning word.

“The community has selected a word and it’s a good one,” said Tavonatti, while declining to divulge it before Saturday.

Tavonatti’s group first narrowed choices down to 100, then the last 25 and finally arrived at the winner (one with the most votes) last Friday, she said. “After much brainstorming, it became clear how apropos the word is for the city–almost too much so,” she said.

Tavonatti’s class of 10 students includes future illustrators, video game designers and fine artists and veteran mural student Cesar Balderas, who helped produce the mural gracing an outer wall of the administration building. The six-hour Saturday class is also open to LCAD alumni. Each student has to come up with an individual design, with the final version being voted on by the group as well as selected community members. Then, it’s on to gaining the Arts Commission approval of the project, said Tavonatti.

The previous mural depicting the flora and fauna of the canyon had also been produced by Tavonatti and LCAD students. Last fall, Marlowe J. Huber, a proprietor of the winery had it painted over, planning to replace it with advertising signage or a wine-related work of art.

But, following community ire at the illegal defacement of a public work or art, LCAD, Huber and the building’s owner Steve Henry agreed to commission and finance a replacement.

Sen. Price, Chair of the Legislative Joint Committee on the Arts and Chair of the Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, wrote via e-mail that he is looking forward to following the mural’s progress and celebrating its completion. “I commend Mia (Tavonatti) for finding a positive and creative way to bring the community together through the Power of Words Project,” he said, calling it an “inspiring program.”








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