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Our Laguna: Friends all about lunching and reading

Hats and books were the order of the day at the luncheon hosted by the Friends of the Library on Tuesday at Three Seventy Common.

"Ladies Who Lunch….and Read" reviewed books they recommended to supporters of the library and competed for prizes for their hats.

Angela Irish won first prize in the hat contest, for a hat she had designed and Lara Cerdes had created for the Laguna Beach High School production of "Hello, Dolly!"

Lee Winocur Field placed second with a pink and white confection and Sharael Kolberg's "fascinator," those tiny hats popularized by the Duchess of Cambridge, took third place.

Judges were past Best Hat winners Kathleen Lechner, Millie Robbins and Dorothy Kerig.

This year, Kerig was the winner of the hat donated by Duet on Forest Avenue, where many of the hats worn at the luncheon were purchased. Friends Vice President Sandy Hovanesian is a patron.

Hovanesian is also a patron of the Orange County Center for Performing Arts and outgoing president of the DeBussy chapter of the center Guilds, which some Laguna beach residents joined when the old Chopin Chapter dissolved.

Sherry Astrella, who formerly worked the defunct Jolly Roger, was among the 10 members of Debussy who attended the luncheon. Others included Majorie Gorum, Mary Fitzgerald, Millie Robbins, Gloria Manders and Nancy Still.

Astrella recommended the ladies read "Room" by Emma Donahue," "Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes and "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain. Fitzgerald's choice was "Killing Lincoln" by Bill O'Reilly.

Laguna Realtor Bobbi Cox recommended "Island Beneath the Sea" by Isabelle Allende. Winocur Field said "The Lemon Tree" was a good read.

Forty-eight ladies attended the luncheon, one of two fundraisers held annually by the Friends.

Guests included past Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. Presidents Louise Buckley and Pauline Walpin, former Mayor Cheryl Kinsman, retired City Clerk Martha Anderson and Laguna Beach County Water District Human Resources Manager Michelle Boyd, wearing a hat she made, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kristine Thalman and event coordinator Rebecca Barber and Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau President Karyn Philippsen.

Also: Children's Librarian Rebecca Porter, Friends Book Shop volunteers Magda Herlicska and Nancy Perlman, and board members Dee Koski and Nancy Pink, Laguna Books owner Jane Hanauer and Tootsies' NiNi Dake.

"It gets bigger every year," said Friends President Martha Lydick, who wore a perky, yellow feather- and flower-trimmed hat to the luncheon.

"There were so many familiar faces it is like a family reunion — and they bring newcomers."

Lydick's friend Julianna Scoggin was among the newcomers and also a prize donor. At the conclusion of the luncheon she took Kerig to Tuvalu to snap a photograph of her in her new hat.

Other donations included a scarf from Louise's Place, a purse and two scarves from Tootsies in the Old Pottery Place, and gift certificates from the Flower Stand at the Lumberyard, Mare and Three Seventy Common. Justin Myers donated a wine tasting and tour at Newport Beach Winery.

Every resident of Laguna is automatically a member of the Friends. There are no dues, but donations, including books, are welcomed.

The book store is located under the library on the corner of Laguna Avenue and Glenneyre Street.


Plein air news

Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn. issued a press release this week welcoming 10 new signature members into the group.

Gavin Brook and Ebrahim Amin of Laguna Beach; Kim VanDerHoek, Rick Delanty and Jeff Sewell of Orange County; Jose DeJaun of Pasadena; Robin Purcell and Larry Cannon of Northern California; Thomas Jefferson Kitts of Oregon and Lori Putnam of Tennessee were selected for their superior talent as artists and the leadership they bring to plein air genre, according to the release.

Artists were invited to submit 10 images for review by LPAPA advisor and executive director of the Irvine Museum, Jean Stern.

"Signature Members are carefully selected after demonstrating the highest level of proficiency representing the plein air style," said association Executive Director Rosemary Swimm. "Signature Members are expected to mentor and provide workshops for the general artist membership."

LPAPA is a nationwide group of 300 participating plein air artists, established in 1996 with the mission of linking the early California artistic school with today's plein air painters. Loosely translated, "plein air" is a French term that means to paint outdoors, usually on location.

The association, which brings artists from all around the country to Laguna to paint its land and seascape, is in the midst of a drive to raise $200,000 to fund the 15th Annual Laguna Plein Air Painting Invitational, which until this year was associated with the Laguna Art Museum.

Association President Greg Vail said he heard in December and had it confirmed in January that the museum would no longer host the annual invitational.

"My feeling, having got more understanding of it and seeing the invitational firsthand, was that we devoted enough time and energy over the years to showcasing that genre of painting," stated museum Director Malcom Warner in an earlier Coastline Pilot story.

Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson, who brokered the association's affiliation with the museum, was not happy about the decision.

"Laguna is a small community with many arts groups — too small not to collaborate and work together to celebrate all the arts that make Laguna the special place that it is," she said in a statement. "It just made sense to me that the museum — which was founded with plein air artists — would partner, on an ongoing basis, with our current day plein air painters, represented by LPAPA."

Fortunately, the owners of the Aliso Creek Inn & Golf Course stepped in and offered LPAPA a home and a venue for the invitational.

Now all it needs is capital. The May 4 "Canvas for a Cause" event at the Laguna Beach Woman's Club raised $24,000. Forty-one artists donated pieces that were auctioned off. Other events are planned.

For more information, contact Swimm by e-mail at or by phone at (949) 376-3635.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call 1 (714) 966-4618 or email with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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