Auguste Rodin would have been right at home at the Laguna College of Art & Design.
The school's emphasis on figurative art echoes Rodin's love affair with the human body, so where better to exhibit the sculptor's work for the first time in Orange County? The show opened to the public on Monday and a private reception was held Sunday.
"If Rodin were here today, attending his exhibition, LCAD is where he would choose to be teaching — in a figurative sculpture program that embraces his ideals of learning by working directly from the model," said LCAD President Jonathan Burke. "If he was here a little younger, say out of high school, and was looking for a figurative sculpture program, LCAD is where he would choose to study. We are one of three credited art colleges in the United States that has a solely figurative sculpture program."
Burke invited the reception guests to visit the school's sculpture garden and studio where faculty and student work is exhibited.
"When you see this amount of talent, understand that it's not impossible to have a contemporary Renaissance," Burke said. "However, what's needed is a focused, intelligent curriculum with a caring faculty like ours that teach technique, creativity and strive toward excellence."
However, Burke said, great art would not flourish and reach the public eye without collectors, galleries, curator, critics and patrons.
Burke gave special thanks to the underwriters of the Rodin exhibition and to the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, which loaned the sculptures to LCAD.
The late Gerald Cantor began collecting Rodin sculptures in the 1940s. Eventually, the Cantors owned 750 Rodin sculptures, but gave 450 of them to museums. The couple established the foundation in 1978, and it's now actively promoted by Iris Cantor.
One of the foundation's goals is to organize traveling exhibitions.
LCAD was allowed to choose two groups of sculptures that the foundation loans for exhibits: 13 bronze figures and 10 pieces that demonstrate the lost-wax casting process of the piece "Sorrow." The process begins with a clay model and ends a finished bronze, which could be chiseled and filed, called chasing. The last step is the application of oxides to create a thin layer of corrosion, a patina that protects and enhances the bronze.
The bronzes will be exhibited for two and a half months. The casting process display will be installed in the school library for a year and available to the public.
The foundation was represented at the reception by Executive Director Judith Sobol and foundation trustee Ryan Fisher.
"This is a momentous occasion for Laguna College of Art & Design as well as the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation," Fisher said. "This year is the 50th anniversary of LCAD and who better to celebrate it with than Rodin, the master himself.
"The exhibits have been shown in nearly 200 institutions around the world, to an audience of nearly 10 million people. This exhibition shall put us over the 10 million marker. We are very excited."
Fisher expressed his conviction that the school would continue to grow and attract talented students and faculty that would shape the future of art in Laguna and the country under the leadership of Burke, successor to Dennis Power as LCAD president.
Burke credited the exhibit to the support of Sobol and Fisher and to the underwriters
"It is up to each of us to continue to help support students to become artists," Burke said. "By achieving mastery, artists are able to say something positive about the dignity of being human and will continue to move us and we will be touched by their authentic voice."
During the reception, LCAD students and alumni were sculpting clay models of a nude woman.
Model Rio Poncé was wearing a bikini on Sunday because the public had been invited to watch the young sculptors at work. She posed for seven-minute rotations, then took breaks to ease stiffened muscles.
College alumni Brittany Ryan, a first-time exhibitor at the Festival of Arts this year, Amanda Harrison and Samantha Willson and current students Ry Beloin, Enrique Escobedo and Francisco Areola were among the sculptors whose work was underway.
Guests at the reception were also treated to a talk by Sobol about Rodin's life and art, held in the exhibition studio.
The guest list included LCAD board members Bob Dietrich, Richard Schwarzstein and Terry Smith; Linda Dietrich, Sande Schwarzstein, Mary and Matt Lawson, Laguna Beach sculptor Louis Longi, former Mayor Wayne Peterson, and college sculpture faculty members Marianne O'Barr and Ray Persinger.
They were greeted by LCAD staff members Jennifer Daniels and Tracy Hartman, alumni Mallory Rose and Elizabeth McGhee, a Festival of Arts exhibitor.
An estimated $18,000 was raised July 8 at a fundraiser to benefit Animal Crackers Pet Rescue, Gina Kantzabedian's baby.
The fundraiser was the result of a chance meeting of Kathy Burnham, Lesley Domiano and City Clerk Martha Anderson at Animal Crackers. They chatted about the expense of Kantzabedian's project and decided to do something to help. Catherine Helshoj joined the steering committee and Anderson brought in Deputy City Clerk Lizette Chel.
Kantzabedian has saved thousands of animals over the years, but it hasn't been cheap. All of the profits from her store in Aliso Creek Shopping Center pay for food, shelter, medical treatment and other costs.
But along the way, Kantzabedian has acquired a following of admirers, many of whom donated items to the fundraiser and attended it.
"I love animals, and I saw at Animal Crackers what she does for them," said Laury Detrick. "She puts her all into saving them"
Volunteers at the fundraiser included Marlene Dantzer, Chris Hamilton, Stacy Zee-Brettin, Marilyn Dillow, Nancy Brown and Helen Evers.
Evers, a board member of Kantzabedian's tax-exempt foundation, donated an heirloom Randall knife, valued at $1,200, for the live auction and a gold and emerald ring for the silent auction. The live auction also featured a night at the Montage Resort & Spa, two or six nights this summer at a Mammoth condo and one week at a condo in Costa Rica.
The silent auction included a donation by Edward Bobinski from Signature Gallery, a $200 gift certificate from Bushard's Pharmacy, a collection of Norman Rockwell plates, a silver cat necklace from Cerrutti Designs and a gold and emerald ring set with a mabe pearl and diamonds in memory of Silvia Lemon.
Other jewelry donations: two jade bracelets, one red and one green, and a green turquoise and silver bangle, all from an anonymous pet lover.
Gift certificates were donated by K'ya, GG's Italian Bistro, Avila's fine restaurants, Anthony's, Fawn Memories, CJ Rose, Baca Jewelry and Tootsies.
Pets were not forgotten by the donors: a collection of Jon Paul Mitchell products, a Silk Road collar and silver dog tag, a grooming session at Tailwaggers and a basket of puppy toys.
Among the animal lovers at the fundraiser: Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson, Bill and Tracy Brooks, Friends of the Library President Martha Lydick and houseguest Peggy Ford, Peggie and John Thomas, Dave Sanford and Steve Dotoratos, Anne and Ryen Caenn, Cheryl Post, Ann Lawson, Donna and Johanna Falke, Richard and Barbara Picheny, Linda Leahy, Coastline columnist Steve Kawaratani and Animal Crackers staff members Craig Butterfield and Lance English.
Contributions are still welcome.
OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 380-4321 or email email@example.com.