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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Art-A-Fair is now open for the summer months. Art-A-Fair is a fine art festival featuring works of art by local and world-renowned artists. There are 125 artists represented  with work varying from photography and painting to jewelery, sculpture and pottery, glass work and mixed media.

The beautiful Tivoli-Too, on the same grounds as Art-a-Fair, is transformed into an art oasis. When taking my family, I found the aisles easy to navigate with my stroller and two kindergartners. Large canopies covered the exhibits keeping us shaded and cool as we browsed. My son was attracted to any piece featuring sea life and my daughter to anything that "sparkled." We were all enamoured with the work of Sylvia Simmons. She is glass artist and had made intricate metal and glass worked kaleidoscopes.

Sylvia was kind enough to allow the kids to look into each kaleidoscope. 

Another unique artist we came across was water colourist Scott Sutton. He has created original characters, "The Family of Ree", and stories featuring them.  In addition he has written children’s books about the adventures of “The Family of Ree.”  He also has plush characters, posters and original artwork for purchase at his booth. 

Beyond the artwork, you can also enjoy the fine cuisine of Tivoli Too.  Also every Thursday through Sunday, enjoy live entertainment on the festival grounds.

Visit Art-A-Fair daily thru August 28th
777 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Laguna Beach, CA
(949) 494-4514

Sunday – Thursday 10am-9pm
Friday – Saturday 10am-10pm

A Passport to the Arts season pass can be purchased for $19 and allows access to Art-A-Fair, Sawdust Art Festival and Festival of Arts all summer long. You will also receive a free, one-time parking pass and merchant discounts around town.

Monday, June 20, 2011

California Pride

I had been eagerly awaiting the opening of the exhibit Noguchi: California Legacy  at the Laguna Art Museum for months. In 1996, when I moved back to Southern California from the Sacramento, I visited a small park located in the South Coast Plaza Town Center in Costa Mesa. Ever since my first visit to this 1.6 acre park, I had been intrigued about its origins. It wasn’t until seven years after my first visit had I learned about the designer of the park, the celebrated artist and designer, Isamu Noguchi.

Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles in 1904 and spent his life traveling the world, including spending some time in Southern California.  It was in 1979 when Henry Segerstrom first approached Noguchi with the idea of building a park in Costa Mesa. At first reluctant, Noguchi finally accepted the commission and began work on the park in 1980, completing it in 1982. Always taking inspiration from nature, Noguchi designed a park that was primarily constructed out of natural occurring materials and representative of the varied California landscape. He selected indigenous plants to California such as redwoods and cacti, he showed the varied terrain of our state through his design elements…the High Sierras to the deserts of Joshua Tree National Park. Pictures of the park, correspondence between Sergstrom and Noguchi about the design, and a video of the construction of the park can now all be seen at the Laguna Art Museum. It was fascinating to get an insiders glimpse into the making of public art like California Scenario. Now knowing the incredible story of the California Scenario and the symbolism it holds, I have a greater appreciation for this park that I discovered by accident 15 years ago. 

A second section of the Noguchi exhibit is: What is Sculpture? Akari from the Venice Biennale. In 1986, when Noguchi exhibited at the Venice Biennale, his choice of installing a small but significant group of unique Akari light sculptures became quite controversial. The question of, “what is sculpture?” was asked. Could something functional like a lamp be considered sculpture or art?  Noguchi believed yes, it could. The idea of art and function serving as one was a philosophy that Noguchi believed in and therefore created from.

The Akari (a term meaning light as illumination, but also implying the idea of weightlessness) were inspired by a 1951, visit to the Japanese town of Gifu, known for its manufacturing of lanterns and umbrellas. Noguchi’s Akari lamps are constructed out of handmade paper or silk.

Although appearing simplistic and plain in design, this is an arresting and  impressive exhibit.  Upon walking into the exhibition hall, you will notice a soft yellow glow. This is because the room where the light sculptures are displayed, is only lit by the light given off by the Akari.

The Noguchi at Gemini G.E.L. is the final exhibit at the Laguna Art Museum in the Noguchi, California Legacy. Founded in 1966, Gemini G.E.L. is a workshop where the artists do all the drawing or carving directly on the printing elements. In 1982, Noguchi designed 26 sculptures made of steel plates. Noguchi himself described the Gemini edition sculptures, “short poems pertaining to California where I was born.”

These minimalist sculptures again show the inspiration that Noguchi found in nature even in the naming. For example, Cactus Wind, Shaft & Root, Sky Mirror, Sparrow and Wind Catcher.

After my visit to the Noguchi exhibit, I found my California pride taking flight. Noguchi was able to capture the essence of California and its beauty. He left behind a legacy of art that will no doubt continue to inspire us all.

Open Daily 11:00am to 5:00pm
$12 general admission; $10 students, seniors and active military;
FREE for children under 12

Now thru October 2nd
Docent-led tours every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2:00pm
Free audio tour accessed through your smart phone

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Girlfriend’s Lunch

Laguna Beach has always been one of my favorite spots to lunch with a girlfriend. There are plenty of great restaurants to choose from, beautiful points of interest throughout town, and of course great shops and boutiques to enjoy. I recently took one of my girlfriends to lunch at a Laguna favorite, Sundried Tomato. Tucked away amongst retails stores off Forest Avenue, Sundried Tomato was the perfect choice for a quiet and relaxing lunch.

Since both my girlfriend and I are busy mothers of young children, we wanted to take our time enjoying our lunch and making sure to enjoy every minute. We wanted to  give ourselves plenty of time to catch up and talk. We decided to start our lunch off with the Oven-Baked Artichoke.

Melted parmesan cheese, pine nut piccata and tarragon aioli

Not only does the Oven-Baked Artichoke look pretty, it tasted fantastic! We enjoyed the warm artichoke leaves paired with the melted cheese of each bite.

Sundried Tomato offers a ½ & ½ special that allows for the combination of a variety of salads, sandwiches and soups. My girlfriend and I decided to use the ½ & ½ special as our salad and soup option. She chose the Chicken and Apple Salad and I, the Signature Creamy Sundried Tomato Soup.

Chicken and Apple Salad with organic baby greens, gorgonzola, candied pecans, Dijon vinaigrette

The Signature Creamy Sundried Tomato Soup

We enjoyed splitting this ½ & ½ entrĂ©e, still giving us the opportunity to enjoy another plate without already being too full. While enjoying our salad and soup we kept gabbing and sipping our chardonnay as we waited for our main courses to arrive.

I went with the Creamy Sundried Tomato, Chicken and Vegetables over Bowtie Pasta (hold the chicken.) The cream sauce was lightly seasoned, had tender vegetables and was topped with gorgonzola to give it an additional creamy element.

Julienned sundried tomatoes, gorgonzola and vegetables (asparagus, squash, zuccini)

My girlfriend, a Sundried Tomato patron in past, chose her favorite menu item as her main dish, the Crispy Blackened Chicken Spring Rolls off the Starters menu. It had just the right amount of crunch and the dipping sauce added a little kick.

Crispy Blackened Chicken Spring Rolls paired with honey-cilantro pesto 
After a great meal we thought we didn’t have any room for dessert…but when our server told us that the seasonal cobbler was peach, we looked at each other, laughed and said, “Yes, bring one out!”

Seasonal Fruit Cobbler with peaches

Of course like all girlfriends, especially those that are busy Mothers, much more chit chatting ensued during and after dessert. By the time we looked at our watches, two and a half hours had passed! We had experienced great food and wine, friendly service and had nearly, but not quite, exhausted all conversation topics.

Sundried Tomato is located at:
361 Forest Avenue
(949) 494-3312 for reservations

Sunday-Thursday 11:30am to 9:30pm
Friday and Saturday 11:30am to 10pm
Happy Hour Bar Specials 2-7pm Daily

Join Sundried Tomato every Monday night for Wine ‘n Me Deals. Enjoy two courses for $15 per person plus tax, every Monday after 4:30pm.

If you sign up to be an Official Laguna Beach Foodie you have access to exclusive offers to Sundried Tomato and other Laguna Beach restaurants.

By Anne-Marie S.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Laguna Beach Certified Farmers’ Market

Every Saturday Morning, from 8am-12noon, the Lumberyard Parking Lot (at the intersection of Forest and Ocean Avenue) is transformed into a Certified Farmers’ Market. I took my daughter and headed down to the market this past Saturday to see what the Laguna Beach locals  have been raving about.

We arrived about 9:30am and easily found parking in the public lot adjacent to the Farmers’ Market (for additional parking, you can park in metered spaces  off of Laguna Canyon Road or on Forest Ave.) My daughter started squealing with excitement as she saw baskets and tables full of fruits and veggies. I have to admit, I got excited when I was welcomed by the unmistakable fresh aromas of cut basil, sweet onions and perfectly ripened berries.

The market carried a diverse group of vendors, including organic produce, small farm produce, nuts, honey and even fresh baked bread. Many of the vendors were offering free samples of their goods… so yummy!

I particularly loved how friendly both the vendors and shoppers were. It felt like a community of old friends. We came across some unique vendors like Afghan organic vegan food, a tamale truck, artisan cheese made in Lancaster, and our very own Laguna Beach Coffee Company selling their locally roasted beans.

As the morning clouds started to part to let the sun out, the market continued to fill with shoppers. Everyone was smiling and carrying their bags anxious to see what fresh delights they might find. My daughter and I had our own bags filled with Pluots, cherries, the most delicious peaches, a hearty helping of edamame sprouts and even some of the vegan Afghan food to take home and share with the rest of the family.

The Laguna Beach Farmers’ Market
Every Saturday Morning, 8am to 12noon (rain or shine)

By: Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Girls Night: The Musical

There’s still time to see the hit off Broadway musical, Girls Night , now playing at The Laguna Playhouse until June 5th. This boisterous musical will have you standing up and dancing in the aisles to classic girl-power songs like “I’m Every Woman,” “I Will Survive” and “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” It’s a story that follows five friends as they head out for a night at a karaoke bar. Friends since their teens and now in their 30s and 40s, the women reminisce about their younger days, celebrate their current lives, and look to what the future holds.

I took one of my long-time girlfriends (friends for 15 years) and we found ourselves not only singing along, but also relating to the ladies in the show…characteristics we saw in ourselves and in other friends of ours. We doubled over laughing at the ladies antics as they sang and danced. Truly there is nothing like a girlfriend that has known you through the ups and downs of life, so grab your best girl or girls and dance on over to The Laguna Playhouse to catch one of the final performances of Girls Night Out.

The Laguna Playhouse has just announced their 2011-12 season, which consists of six wonderful showings. Upcoming schedule includes: ‘I Left My Heart,’ July 5 – Aug 21, 2011; ‘Shirley Valentine,’ Sept 27-Oct 3, 2011; ‘This Wonderful Life,’ Nov 25-Dec 24., 2011; Lonesome Traveler, Jan 10-Feb 5, 2012; Sister’s Easter Catechism, March 13-April 8, 2012; and ‘Tickled Pink,’ April 24-May 20, 2012.  For details click HERE.

The Laguna Playhouse also offers special performances throughout the year. Coming for the second year in a row, is the always hilarious stand-up comedy of Rita Rudner.  She returns with a four-night engagement, August 26-29, 2011. Tickets are on sale now and going fast.

By Anne-Marie Schiefer