Our Laguna: Artists are the heart of festival season

June 30, 2011|By Barbara Diamond
  • Artist Dan Skaggs sits at the edge of water fountain sculpture made in honor of former commissioner Susan Trager for the Laguna Beach County Water District offices in downtown Laguna.
Artist Dan Skaggs sits at the edge of water fountain sculpture… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

Dan Skaggs has been creating water sculptures for 20 years, most recently the one in front of the Laguna Beach County Water District that commemorates the service of the late Susan Trager.

"The sculpture was a tribute to her personality and taste," Skaggs said.

Trager, who died March 22, was the first woman to serve on the district board of directors since it was founded in 1925. She was appointed when the district was rethinking its decision to relinquish its independence from the city rather than be forced by the Local Agency Formation Committee into a mésalliance with South Coast Water District, and served with distinction and élan until her death.

"The district wanted the sculpture to be simple and zen," Skaggs said.

A resident of Laguna since 1998, Skaggs is among the 140 artists whose work is being exhibited at the Festival of Arts.

He has been an exhibitor for 22 years, but by no means does he hold the record. That honor goes to watercolorist Jacquie Moffat.


Moffat has been an exhibitor for 44 years and served on the board for 16 years, with the late David Young, Jack Kemp and Anne Chase, among others.

Phil Freeman was also on the board and if he were still exhibiting, he would be the dean, Moffat said.

Moffat is proud of her involvement with the realignment of the booths as a member of the board's Exhibition Committee.

"They used to be lined up, and it was like going to a supermarket," Moffat said. "We broke it up into pods, and it is much more interesting."

As a member of the board, Moffat worked to make the jurying — the process by which exhibitors are accepted — transparent, battling against the accusations of a closed corporation.

"I think we accomplished a lot, although we still get hammered," she said. "But outside jurors are impressed with the process."

Each year a crop of newcomers are accepted into the show. This year William R. Brion, M Collier, Bill Drysdale, Baldemar Fierro, Hannah Harris, Ryan Heimback, Susan Jarecky, Molly Lipsher, Barry Robin, Brittany Ryan, Gretchen Schields, Mark Walpin, Susan Wills and Philip Womack got the nod.

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