Laguna Beach –  On Sunday, April 2, in true academy-award style, 260 community and cultural leaders came together to celebrate the 11th annual Art Star Awards. The event was sponsored by [seven-degrees] and kicked off with a red carpet reception, followed by champagne and hors d’oeuvres outside on the terrace, preceding dinner and the awards ceremony.

Faye Baglin, president of Laguna Beach Arts Alliance, welcomed the guests and spoke about the importance of Laguna Beach Arts Alliance (LBAA) and how it has strengthened the arts in Laguna Beach.

Joely Fisher, Honored Guest Speaker, spoke very candidly about the recent deaths of her half-sister, Carrie Fisher and step-mother Debbie Reynolds whom she referred to as “Mama Debbie.” She was performing at the Laguna Playhouse in the Lythgoe Family Panto – Sleeping Beauty and her Winter Knight, when both passed away unexpectedly last December.

She also spoke about what it was like to be the daughter of 60’s icon, Connie Stevens and 50’s heartthrob, singer Eddie Fisher, and how much she loved growing up on the road with her mother and sister.

Last year’s recipient of the [seven-degrees] of inspiration $5,000 grant was introduced by Dora Orgill, Executive Director of [seven-degrees]. Artist Russell Pierce unveiled his award-winning project “Change Agents. Fifty Portraits. People That Have Made An Impact On Our World.” His work was exhibited to guests of the Art Stars on the walls of [seven-degrees] and will be on view at during First Thursdays Art Walk on Thursday, April 6th.

The 2017 Art Star winners were announced:

« Best Arts Program: Sawdust Art Festival 50th Anniversary

« Lifetime Achievement: Donna Inglima (Youth Theater Director at Laguna Playhouse)

« Individual Arts Patron of the Year: Betsy and Gary Jenkins

« Corporate Arts Patron of the Year: City of Laguna Beach

« Outstanding Arts Collaboration: Laguna Concert Band and Laguna Beach Elementary Music Program: Star

     Wars Music Mentor Program

« Arts Leadership:  Bob Whalen (Laguna Beach City Council Member)

« Artist of the Year: Marlo Bartels

Baglin summed up the evening’s sentiment, “It’s a pleasure to carry on the tradition started 11 year ago. The Alliance is privileged to recognize outstanding achievements of artists, patrons and volunteers with these Art Star Awards. In a small town like Laguna, we know that such recognition encourages the hard-working individuals who make up our Arts Colony. Our host and sponsor [seven-degrees] once again did a fantastic job for our small-town celebration of the Arts.”


« Best Arts Program: Sawdust Art Festival 50th Anniversary

Over 200 Laguna Beach artists invited locals and visitors to their summer long 50th anniversary celebration. To commemorate this historic milestone, the Sawdust Art Festival engaged the community with a multitude of special events, displays and artist-created installations, including a seven-foot sculptural light fixture, illuminated glass and steel eucalyptus leaves on the entrance gates, the “Heritage” mural, a painted retro VW bus, historical poster display, a memory walk and so much more.

«   Lifetime Acheivement: Donna Inglima

Donna has worked tirelessly behind the scenes, bringing compelling theatre to the community, while building character and life skills in her theatre students. For the past 19 years, Donna has directed over 40 plays for Laguna Playhouse and expanded the outreach program in schools, called TheatreReach: Bringing Books to Life.

Before coming to Laguna, Donna’s theater background included service on the Drama Faculty of Syracuse University, Utica College and the American Musical and Drama Academy. She was the Artistic Associate for the American Playwrights Theatre in New York, Director of the Apprentice Program at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and founder of Animal Crackers Unlimited, in Upstate NY, producing over 30 plays for adults and students. Donna is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and the Actors’ Equity Association. She received her MFA in Theatre from Syracuse University.

« Corporate Arts Patron of the Year: The City of Laguna Beach

The largest grants ever received by two art institutions in Laguna Beach were made this last year by the City of Laguna Beach. The City Council unanimously approved one million dollar matching grants to the Laguna Art Museum and to the Laguna Playhouse. Each of these institutions is nearing its 100th anniversary of providing cultural benefits to Laguna Beach residents and visitors. The grant funds are intended to assist in facility improvements and expansion. The City also awarded a matching grant of $50,000 to Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.

« Individual Arts Patron of the Year: Gary and Betsy Jenkins

The Jenkins sit on numerous art Trustee Boards: Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach Live!, The Laguna Playhouse, Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association and the Board of Counselors for the Pacific Symphony. If that is not enough, they also serve social causes: Betsy served for twelve years on the School Board, and Gary currently sits on the Board of Friendship Shelter. They are known for frequent attendance and generosity at galas and fundraisers throughout the year. In 2012, the Jenkins were honored as Citizens of the Year in the Patriots’ Day Parade and featured in the 2015 Laguna Beach Art Patron Magazine because of their vast and eclectic art collection, much from local artists.

« Outstanding Arts Collaboration: Laguna Concert Band and Laguna Beach Elementary Music Program: Star Wars Music Mentor Program

The joint concert was a collaboration among numerous parties. Laguna Concert Band’s Jennifer Baker, Director of Educational Outreach, arranged special “elementary music student” parts for the children to play with the adult band’s original Star Wars score. Laguna Beach Elementary School Music Program teachers Rich Hartford and Cyrus Hwang coordinated the student rehearsals. Ed Peterson, Music Director and Pete Fournier, Associate Conductor of Laguna Concert Band, prepared the 65-piece Laguna Concert Band for the joint performance, to a full house of appreciative families.

« Arts Leadership:  Bob Whalen

Bob Whalen has made the arts one of his top priorities as a Laguna Beach City Council member. His record of service and leadership in the local community is commendable. Over the past 30 years, he has served on the Laguna Beach Planning Commission, Laguna Beach School Board, Boys & Girls Club, SchoolPower, Laguna Beach Little League, and AYSO, while maintaining a successful law practice.

In 2016, Bob was instrumental in the development of the City’s Cultural Arts Plan. In addition, he, along with his fellow city council members, voted unanimously in favor of a four-year, million dollar matching grant program for the Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Playhouse, and Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.

« Artist of the Year: Marlo Bartels

A name synonymous with public art, Marlo is known for his mosaic creations of color and texture. We happen upon his work at Main Beach, Brooks Street Beach, the Library, the Museum, the High School, and in towns near and far. What made 2016 special for Marlo was the completion of a challenging and stunning commission for nine 21’ high sculptures, installed in a linear park in nearby Brea. Creating his work in his Laguna Canyon studio, Marlo honors Laguna’s history as an artist colony, while shining a light our artistic community.

The Laguna Beach Arts Alliance was established in 2002 as the result of an exciting partnership among more than 20 Laguna Beach organizations. The mission is to serve as an advocate for the arts, promote collaboration and networking among the arts organizations of Laguna Beach, and to serve as a united voice for the arts in the city. Members of the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance include City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission, Community Art Project, Festival of Arts, First Thursdays Art Walk, KX 93.5 Radio, Laguna Art-A-Fair, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach Craft Guild, Laguna Beach Live!, Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association, Visit Laguna Beach, Laguna College of Art & Design, Laguna Concert Band, LOCA Arts Education, Laguna Dance Festival , Laguna Playhouse, Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, Lagunatunes Community Chorus, Blue Water Green Earth, No Square Theatre, Sawdust Art Festival, and [seven-degrees].