Plenty of colors on the green

Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational will bring artists from all over the world to the Aliso Creek Golf Course.

October 09, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • The steady hand of artist Kathleen Robison paints the beach at Rockpile as she participates in the 2012 Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational.
The steady hand of artist Kathleen Robison paints the… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

Members of the public are invited to pack the Aliso Creek Golf Course on Oct. 17.

They'll just have to leave their golf clubs at home.

For the first time, Aliso Creek Inn will host the 15th Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational, which runs from Saturday through Oct. 20. On Thursday, artists can gather to paint at the venue's 18 holes while guests watch.

Recognized among art circles as the West Coast's leading outdoor art competition, the weeklong event attracts participants from around the world who will also flock to Treasure Island Park with their easels and paint kits.

Saim Caglayan, chairman of the board for Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn. (LPAPA), launched the event in 1996 by enlisting fellow local artists John Cosby, Jacobus Baas, Ken Auster and others.

It was "originally a fraternity of plein air painters who wanted to work together," LPAPA president Gregory H. Vail said. It has has since "evolved to a nonprofit artist service organization for all plein air artists."


This year's roster of 40 painters is on par with years past. Some elected to become members of LPAPA, while others snagged the attention of the field's experts with their high-caliber work.

LPAPA is poised to inaugurate its Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award, to be conferred on Mian Situ, while Julie Padach-Mathewson will receive the first-ever Honorary Lifetime Member Award.

According to Vail, an increased number of cash prizes will total an estimated $20,000. Popular events include a Kids' Paint Out with local schools, the Next Generation Paint Out with the Laguna College of Art and Design and a collectors' soiree and gala titled Coastal Chic at Aliso Creek.

Maryland's Plein Air-Easton — a similarly reputed event on the East Coast — has teamed up with LPAPA, ensuring that its Best in Show winner, Garin Baker, from New Windsor, N.Y., will be in Laguna to be part of the invitational. LPAPA's Best in Show recipient will take part in the Easton's 2014 contest as part of this new joint venture, titled East Meets West.

The week then winds down with an art show and sale at Aliso Creek Inn on Oct. 20. As LPAPA's biggest fundraiser, the invitational benefits the organization's programs and provides artists and collectors much-needed exposure, Vail said.

"The community support has been amazing," he added. "We have raised upwards of $200,000, plus generous in-kind sponsorships so far this year, far beyond any fundraising in the organization's history. This has transformed us."

Even though next year's slogan has already been selected — "Master Artists. Local Inspiration. World Heritage" — he is looking to the coming seven days with great anticipation.

When asked about his favorite part, Vail replied: "Everything, but hanging out with the artists is as good as it gets."

If You Go

What: 15th Annual Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational

Where: Aliso Creek Inn & Golf Course, 31106 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach; Treasure Island Park, Wesley and Coast Highway, Laguna Beach

When: Oct. 13 to 20

Cost: Free except for $20 for fine art lectures and presentation on Oct. 14 and plein air lecture on Oct. 15; $100 for collector's soiree at Aliso Creek Inn on Oct. 19


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