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Art aid

August 27, 2004

Barbara Diamond

An Artist starving in a garret is a cliche.

But cliches become cliches because they are truisms.

"Artists don't usually have health or business insurance, so in

times of need, it is important that there is someplace we can turn,"

artist Maggie Spencer said.

The 18th annual auction to raise funds for needy Laguna Beach

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artists will be held at noon, Sunday on the main entertainment deck

of the Sawdust Festival grounds, 935 Laguna Canyon Road. Al l

proceeds from the live auction will go to the festival's Artist

Benevolence Fund

Artists were particularly hard hit in 1993 and 1998, the years

that fire, flood and landslides devastated Laguna Beach, but the fund

assists those in need every year.

Spencer has been an exhibitor at the festival for 12 years and has been donating to the fund from the beginning.

"Many of the Sawdust's exhibitors donate works of art to the

auction and many exhibitors volunteer on the day of the event, doing

everything from signing in bidders to modeling fashions," fund

trustee Sherry Bullard said.

Bullard, John Eagle and Mike Heintz administer the fund.

"The auction runs from noon to 4 p.m. and anyone on the grounds

can bid," Heintz said. "They can sign in at the greeter's table and

get a bid card and an explanation of how to bid, if they haven't done

it before.

"It is a well orchestrated event."

There will be plenty of items from which to choose.

"Last year, we ran nonstop for four straight hours without taking

a breath and we still had stuff left over," Heintz said. "We raised

somewhere in the area of $15,000."

Donations to the auction range from original paintings to

one-of-a-kind jewelry, ceramics and clothing.

"I always enjoy participating in the auction," professional

auctioneer Tony DeZago said. "There is a great variety of art up for

bid. And the cause is near and dear to everyone who participates, so

there is a great vibe at the event."

Artists helping artists is not a new notion in Laguna.

Embers from the 1993 fire were practically still glowing when

former Festival of Arts board member Roark Gourley began to organize

an auction of donated art to raise funds for artists whose studios,

homes and inventories went up in flames.

Art-A-Fair holds a silent auction every year, with donations from

participating artists. The proceeds benefit Art-A-Fair Foundation and

the board decides on the distribution, according to Floyd O'Neil,

fair vice president of marketing.

"Last year, the foundation assisted an artist who lost her home in

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