Our Laguna: Artistic violin auction prelude to festival

January 10, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
(Photo by Paul Prewitt )

Local artists don't fiddle around when handed an unvarnished violin by the Laguna Beach Music Festival.

They create "Artful Violins," meant to be displayed rather than played. The violins are auctioned annually to raise funds to support the festival's outreach and educational programs.

Violins created by artists Sandra Jones Campbell, Cheryl Ekstrom, Michael Obermeyer, Shannon Richardson, Lucas Rise and Kirsten Whalen were unveiled at a private reception before last week's First Thursday Art Walk at S Cube Gallery on North Coast Highway.

The Music Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, a collaboration of Laguna Beach Live! and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. The weeklong event features concerts and special attractions that include open rehearsals, informal chats and salons with violinist Joshua Bell, Edgar Meyer, the Calder Quartet and Calidore Quartet.

Hotel Laguna is headquarters for the festival, which this year honors the legacy of philanthropists and music lover Ed Halvajian. The festival is from Feb. 6 to 12.


"Artful Violins" will be on display at local galleries throughout this month. Bids may be submitted online to

Campbell's work is titled "Gauguin's Dream Meditation," an homage to the French artist's passion for painting primitives. The piece includes a wooden art deco-style statue holding the violin aloft, which Campbell described as "a tribute to the female figurative in music and art."

Her works combine the influence of 1930s German expressionists and her lively wit and optimism, painted in acrylics on paper or canvas. She is also an established exhibitor at the Festival of Arts.

The estimated value of her violin is $3,000. It can be seen at Pacific Edge Gallery, 50 S. Coast Hwy.

Ekstrom's "Weeping Violin" was completed Oct. 15, two days after her husband's death.

"The violin was my husband's favorite instrument," said Ekstrom, whose art heals her wounds.

"Sometimes there is a reason for an artist to do something when the muse comes," Ekstrom said. "Each time, in retrospect, I find that there is a reason. It cannot be forced. You can't push the river. I created this sculpture when the time was perfect.

"It is a marriage of material and soul."

The materials in this case were plaster, acrylic and resin coating the violin.

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