Laguna Beach Art fest is an affair of the arts and the hearts

It’s a sunny weekday afternoon, and artist Agnes Copeland is presiding over a large round table where a handful of students are cutting and pasting – collaging – colorful paper onto small painted canvases.

Copeland’s aspiring artists are creating their works surrounded by booths filled with the variety of artforms and mediums, music and good vibes that are hallmarks of the popular Laguna Art-A-Fair in Laguna Beach.

Copeland, age 90 and a Laguna Woods Village resident since 2009, has graced the festival for 15 years with her colorful multimedia paintings and collages that have the whimsy and charm of folk art.

She began painting watercolors at age 55, but, she says, she studied art history and kept an eye on art all through college. Now she’s a regular at the Village’s Clubhouse 4, where she creates her eye-catching canvases and also teaches art.

“I enjoy creating. I don’t copy and I use my own imagination,” Copeland said. “As an artist, you don’t ever stay stagnant. You constantly move on to something else, and at 90 it gives me something to do.”

This year, Copeland is one of 114 artists who were juried in to the art fest from 227 international applicants ranging in age from 21 to 90, said Kim Brandon-Watson, marketing vice president for the art fest.

  • Laguna Woods resident Audrey Grider displays her work at the...

    Laguna Woods resident Audrey Grider displays her work at the Laguna Art-A-Fair. For Grider, who sells her paintings to support animal rescue efforts, it is the first time she has displayed her works at the Laguna Beach art fest.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

  • Laguna Woods resident Maribeth McFaul, here at the Laguna Art-A-Fair,...

    Laguna Woods resident Maribeth McFaul, here at the Laguna Art-A-Fair, is a multi-media and street artist.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

  • Laguna Woods resident Joe McFaul, here at the Laguna Art-A-Fair,...

    Laguna Woods resident Joe McFaul, here at the Laguna Art-A-Fair, creates Southwest-inspired jewelry.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

  • A necklace created by Laguna Woods resident Joe McFaul, o...

    A necklace created by Laguna Woods resident Joe McFaul, o display at the Laguna Art-A-Fair.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

  • Artworks by Laguna Woods resident Agnes Copeland hang at the...

    Artworks by Laguna Woods resident Agnes Copeland hang at the Laguna Art-A-Fair in Laguna Beach.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

  • Roger Gordon works on his paintings at Laguna Art-A-Fair. Gordon...

    Roger Gordon works on his paintings at Laguna Art-A-Fair. Gordon paints everything from portraits to plein-air works to whimsical observations of water toys to satisfy his quest for contemplation of the world around him.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

  • Gourds get a new life in the imagination of artist...

    Gourds get a new life in the imagination of artist Lisa Meehan, here a the Laguna Art-A-Fair.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

  • Gourds get a new life in the imagination of artist...

    Gourds get a new life in the imagination of artist Lisa Meehan, here a the Laguna Art-A-Fair.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

  • Musical instruments get a new life in Ken Jones’ sculptures,...

    Musical instruments get a new life in Ken Jones’ sculptures, here on display at the Laguna Art-A-Fair in Laguna Beach.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

  • Laguna Woods resident Agnes Copeland, 90, teaches a workshop on...

    Laguna Woods resident Agnes Copeland, 90, teaches a workshop on collage making at the Laguna Art-A-Fair. Copeland has been displaying her works at the Laguna Beach art fest for 15 years.
    (Photo by Daniella Walsh)

Visiting regulars might note that the festival has been infused with new energy. Spaces have been reconfigured, and there’s a terrace-like area for artists workshops, live music ranging from rock and blues to folk and salsa, and, new this season, dance lessons. Plus there’s a beer and wine garden pop-up.

Among the wealth of painters, ceramicists, photographers and fiber artists are three more Village residents displaying their creations. Maribeth and Joe McFaul, a married couple, also came to making art later in life, and the multifaceted Audrey Grider creates visually beautiful paintings and also mines the healing powers of art.

Joe McFaul, a retired international maritime lawyer, first cut lapidary stones as a hobby and came to making jewelry after taking a class at Saddleback College.

“I’m inspired by jewelry from the Southwest and its use of silver and semi-precious stones,” he said, adding that each piece is one of a kind.

Now, he also wears the red apron of a safety supervisor in the lapidary studio at Clubhouse 4.

Maribeth McFaul started out as a science major in college, then went into pre-med and wound up working at St. Mary’s hospital in Long Beach. Art was just a hobby then. However, art classes at Saddleback College brought her on a path to an art education credential from Cal State Long Beach.

“I’m a multimedia and also a street artist. I’ve exhibited at the Festival of Arts and traveled around the country doing street painting,” she said. “Not to be confused with graffiti and murals, street art is done in chalk mostly, on sidewalks. Paintings can be as big as 6 by 8 feet.

“Street art with its impermanence is also performance art – the idea is for people to watch the creative experience in action.”

Grider’s love for horses is evidenced in her colorful paintings. An artist all her life, she has a studio in her home in the Village and is enjoying her first summer at Art-A-Fair and the realization of a long-held dream to show her work in Laguna Beach.

Grider sells her artwork primarily to support rescue efforts of African elephants and auction horses and the protection of whales.

“Such support efforts are important to me,” she said. “It feels good to inspire people with my work and serve a higher purpose.”

Grider suffers chronic pain from Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, and is keenly aware of the healing powers of making and disseminating art.

“For people with chronic pain, the process of creating art offers self-care, stress reduction, meaning-making, and emotional expression through metaphor,” she said. “In addition, through art we can distract away from pain in a healthy way, and experience an increased use of our bodies and sense of self through our creative accomplishments.”

Among other notable artists at Art-A-Fair is Ken Jones, who has created a series of sculptures from musical instruments that are whimsical and fun and beautifully executed. Now in retirement, the clarinets, trumpets and guitars have been given a new life as visual treats.

The woodworks by Henry Lim are astounding in their craftsmanship. Intricate does not begin to describe the individually carved puzzle pieces that, put together, tell stories. Throughout, the integrity of the wood textures provide tonal variety.

Linleigh Love’s fused glass pieces resemble woven place mats except they are made from glass rods that she weaves together in a technique that is not for the faint of heart. Her multitiered kiln firing processes can take hours – 120 to 170 hours for one piece. The intricacies of form that Love achieves through her craftsmanship and the subtle use of color catch and hold the eye.

To wrap up a visit to the Art-A-Fair, one might take in the colorful photographs of Diane Lamboley, first shot in black and white, then colored in post-production and then printed on aluminum.

And pet lovers will get their due with Brandon-Watson’s charming pet portraits. She’ll bring your Schnauzer or dachshund or kitty to life on paper and imbue it with a charm that is unique to her sitter and the genre.

Laguna Art-A-Fair runs through Sept. 3. For more information, go to art-a-fair.com.

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