Orange County artists exhibit at Festival of Arts Fine Art Show

Festival of Arts organizers were unsure if the summer festivals would be able to return this year until a matter of months ago.

Without question, those involved are ecstatic to be back, even if it meant that the work that usually takes place over the course of a year had to be completed in significantly less time.

“There is such a celebratory spirit,” said Sharbie Higuchi, director of marketing and public relations for the Festival of Arts. “It feels like a giant family reunion of the arts, and we are so grateful and pleased that our doors are open and that we get to reconnect with the arts, reconnect with our artists, and actually, one another. I think Laguna Beach and all the art shows are the perfect place to do just that.”

The Festival of Arts Fine Art Show, established in 1932, reopened to the public on Monday, when attendees could view and shop the works of various artists from around Orange County. The Fine Art Show runs through Sept. 3, with general admission starting at $10. The operating hours for the show are 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on weekdays, and they are 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on weekends.

Artwork displayed in the show includes ceramics, painting, jewelry, photography, printmaking and more. It is a competitive event for artists to have their work displayed there year after year, as it is a juried show. Higuchi said that artists receive a score based on content, excellence of craftsmanship and use of design elements, professional presentation and originality.

Fine artist Paul Bond, whose medium is oil paints, stands with his wife Donna as they welcome guests to their display.

Fine artist Paul Bond, whose medium is oil paints, stands with his wife Donna as they welcome guests to their display at the Festival of Arts opening reception in Laguna Beach on Saturday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

A distinguished group is serving as the jury for this year’s show: Selma Holo, executive director of the USC Museum; Kim Kanatani, museum director of the UCI Institute and Museum for California Art; Juri Koll, founder and director of the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art; and Gerald Stripling, a sculpture artist.

Jordan Dimitrov has captivated the jury in the past. He said he once received the highest score at the Fine Art Show and was asked to serve as a juror. Dimitrov produces nautical art, and he brought highly detailed sculptures of ships he imagined and built himself.

“The most important thing in my work is that I’m building it inside out,” Dimitrov said. “You cannot see everything inside, but inside is completed with the same detail as my outside. There’s engines, there’s boilers, there’s areas where the crew gather. There’s even beds inside.”

While many are unable to take one of his vessels back home with them, Dimitrov has also taken to photographing his ships to make his work more accessible.

Building those sculptures took time. Such patience also came in handy for Cheyne Walls, a landscape photographer who showcased some breathtaking views at his booth.

Festival of Arts president David Perry and Mayor Bob Whalen, center, from left, stand with cheering artists.

Festival of Arts president David Perry and Mayor Bob Whalen, center, from left, wave to cameras and stand with cheering artists waiting to cut the ribbon at the Festival of Arts opening reception in Laguna Beach on Saturday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“It’s all about going to these places 10, 13, 15, 100 times to get it at its absolute most beautiful, and what we do is we check out all these landscapes, and we have to find it at its best,” Walls said.

Walls, a Newport Beach resident, was excited to be exhibiting again in person.

“Over this last year, you were speaking with collectors via phone, you were speaking with friends via Skype or Zoom,” he said. “It’s fun just to be out again, be in a creative environment with other creative people in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Laguna Beach.”

Among the works presented by Peter Levshin are some photographs of novice Buddhist monks in Burma. The images show the monks as they are engaged in various activities such as lessons and prayer.

One viewer of his work took him by surprise when he noticed a characteristic of a piece from different angles — the eyes of the subject followed him across the room.

Guests view the work of Breck Rothage at the Festival of Arts opening reception in Laguna Beach on Saturday.

Guests view the work of Breck Rothage at the Festival of Arts opening reception in Laguna Beach on Saturday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“A guy comes up and he goes, ‘You work for Disney,’” Levshin said. “I go, ‘No, why?’ He says, ‘I like what you’ve done with the eyes.’ I went, ‘What? What have you done with the eyes?’

“So I start staring, and now I can’t help myself. I’m walking back and forth, and I go, ‘How the hell does that work?’ It’s got to do with symmetry, and it’s got to do with placement or something, but it’s totally weird.”

Pegah Samaie, who graduated from Laguna College of Art and Design with a master’s degree of fine art in painting, is showing at the Festival of Arts for a second time.

Her work largely places women as the subject, surrounded by natural elements such as fire, water and flowers that help convey her own feelings.

“I feel like that’s a good place to display art at, especially for locals, because I live close by in Mission Viejo,” said Samaie, who was the first to win LCAD’s Trustee Choice Award last year. “I graduated from LCAD, so I have a lot of friends in Laguna Beach.

“That’s a good opportunity for each artist because the show is … very selective, so it’s really an honor to be one of the artists that is showing in that show.”

Mary Nichols of Chico was in town to visit family, and she shared her thoughts about the festival being available for public consumption again.

“It’s very enriching that we have this type of a thing still in our state,” Nichols said. “It’s still thriving, and people are here experiencing it.”

Jason Feddy performs on the main stage as guests arrive on opening day of the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show.

Jason Feddy performs on the main stage as guests arrive at the Festival of Arts opening reception in Laguna Beach on Saturday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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Robert G. Mull

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