Laguna Art Museum’s Art & Nature a Great Success


For Immediate Release: November 7, 2016

Media Contact: Cody Lee | 949.494.8971 x211



Phillip K. Smith III, 1/4 Mile Arc. Photo by Eric Stoner.


LAGUNA BEACH, CA (November 7, 2016) — Laguna Art Museum presented the fourth annual Art & Nature, a multidisciplinary exploration of art’s many and various engagements with the natural world, from November 3-6.

The highlight of the event was Phillip K. Smith III’s 1/4 Mile Arc – a large-scale installation specially commissioned by Laguna Art Museum for Art & Nature.  The spectacular site-specific installation stretched along much of Main Beach with approximately 250 stainless steel posts, just above the high tide line.  The mirror-polished surfaces of the 10-foot posts, arranged in an arc across Laguna’s iconic Main Beach, reflected the changing colors of the ocean, sky, and shoreline.  Forming a visible marker between the man-made and natural worlds, the artwork drew curious onlookers as early as Thursday during its installation.  With its completion and opening on Friday morning, the number of visitors totaled more than 12,000 as 1/4 Mile Arc was on view, day and night, through Sunday.  This significant event, on the beach rather than inside the museum’s galleries, expanded the impact of the arts to a large public audience.

Keynote Lecture

For the Art & Nature keynote lecture, the museum hosted renowned British art historian Martin Kemp on Saturday, November 5.  Kemp is Emeritus Research Professor in the History of Art at Oxford University and is acknowledged as the world authority on Leonardo da Vinci.  At Laguna Art Museum, 150 people gathered to hear him discuss the iconic Mona Lisa as a statement of the artist’s ideas about nature and the natural world.  The lecture followed another that took place at UC Irvine on November 3 in which Kemp discussed the intersection of art and science.  That event was co-sponsored by Laguna Art Museum, UCI’s Department of Art History, and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

Helen Pashgian and Peter Blake

On Saturday, November 5, the preeminent Light and Space artist Helen Pashgian discussed her work with gallerist Peter Blake in advance of an opening of the artist’s works at Peter Blake Gallery.  Pashgian is a major figure whose works were the subject of a major solo exhibition at LACMA in 2014, as well as other exhibitions at the Getty Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.

Interactive Sound Performance

Also on Saturday, November 5, 125 visitors experienced an interactive sound performance inside the museum titled ‘I’, lighthouse waiting for storms.  Artist David Horovitz and Jamie Stewart from the band Xiu Xiu created a participatory sound installation emulating the sound of a violent storm arriving from the sea and smashing into the shore.  Visitors were invited to contribute to the maelstrom with chimes installed for this purpose, transforming much of the museum into an exciting temporary sound installation.

Phillip K. Smith III

On Friday, November 4, Phillip K. Smith III gave a public lecture at the museum.  1/4 Mile Arc had been on view on Main Beach for an entire day, and the well-attended event followed the first of three spectacular sunsets that occurred during Art & Nature weekend.  Smith received degrees in Fine Arts and in Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design before returning to the Southern California desert where he was raised.  Building upon explorations in the perception of light, color, and space, he creates intensely physical and seemingly ephemeral sculptures.  His large-scale, temporary installations include the internationally renowned Lucid Stead (2013) in Joshua Tree, California, and Reflection Field (2014) and Portals (2016), both of which debuted at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.  Smith’s monumental works are sited throughout California and beyond.  Next year, he will participate in Desert X 2017, an international contemporary art exhibition that focuses on environmental, social, and cultural conditions of the 21st century.

Museum Exhibitions

Phillip K. Smith III: Bent Parallel was one of three exhibitions complementing Art & Nature.  The monumental installation envelops viewers in light, continuing the artist’s ongoing dialogue with color theory, optics, scale, and technology.  Appearing as two intersecting color-field walls, the hinge-like structure merges surfaces to engender a perception of shifting and blending.  It creates a third, material-less, zero-thickness plane that mixes the adjacent colors and seems to extend the physical space.  The resulting environment appears simultaneously infinite and finite.

Also inside the museum, and on view through January 15, 2017, Miss Hills of Laguna Beach and Kristin Leachman: Xylem Rays expanded the theme of the weekend to explore the art-and-nature connection.

The landscape painter Anna Althea Hills (1882–1930) was one of the highly talented artists whose presence in the community helped put Laguna Beach on the map as a premier art colony during the first decades of the twentieth century.  She was a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918, which developed over many years into today’s Laguna Art Museum on the site of the original 1929 building.  Miss Hills of Laguna Beach showcases over sixty of Hills’s paintings along with documentary materials relating to her life and work in Laguna Beach.  The exhibition, curated by Janet Blake, the museum’s curator of historical art, provided a historical perspective to the appreciation of Art & Nature.  The museum’s Executive Director, Dr. Malcolm Warner, describes:

“The theme of Art & Nature speaks particularly to the identity of Laguna Beach, which for over a hundred years has been a center for art, the appreciation of nature, and environmental awareness.  In 1929, when the Laguna Beach Art Association built an art gallery to show and sell their work, they chose a commanding location on the coastline close to the natural wonders they loved to paint.  The present museum occupies the same site.  There could be no more appropriate venue in which to explore the art-nature connection.”

Kristin Leachman: Xylem Rays was a key element in Art & Nature.  Fascinated by patterns, textures, and the seemingly chance imagery that can emerge from them, Leachman based her latest series of paintings on the tissue that transports water from the roots of trees up to the leaves.  Xylem Rays is accompanied by a film about the artist and her work, and a booklet with an interview by Professor Derrick Cartwright.  Leachman writes about her Xylem paintings:

“Nature is my guide as it was for the first Angeleno artists, Native American women.  I consider them landscape paintings because they incorporate the landscape into their making.  I allow the xylem to communicate information from the California forests through naturally occurring symbols, celestial bodies, natural phenomena, and animal imagery.  Each painting describes for me the mythic history and essence of the landscape.”

Family Festival

On Sunday, November 6, the final day of Art & Nature, Laguna Art Museum hosted a free family festival on the theme of art’s engagement with the natural world.  A record number of 530 visitors of all ages experienced a variety of interactive art, nature, and science activities, environmental information booths, and face painting.  The museum’s partners included the Beall Center for Art + Technology at UCI, Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, Laguna Canyon Foundation, Laguna Ocean Foundation, MY HERO Project, Newport Bay Conservancy, Ocean Institute, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, seeds, Surfrider Foundation South Orange County Chapter, and Tickled Pink.

First Thursdays Art Walk

This year’s Art & Nature weekend began in conjunction with First Thursdays Art Walk, making it a community-wide event.  Nearly 500 visitors attended the museum during Art Walk, and a number of local galleries and organizations collaborated to present their own art-and-nature-inspired exhibitions on Thursday, November 3.  Participating art galleries included Artists Republic, Kelsey Michaels Fine Art, Peter Blake Gallery, and The Redfern Gallery.  Other partners included the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Community Art Project, Gallery Q at the Susi Q, and Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.

About Art & Nature

Art & Nature began in 2013 to celebrate the theme of art’s engagement with the natural world.  Previous commissioned artists were Laddie John Dill in 2015, Lita Albuquerque in 2014, and Jim Denevan in 2013.  The event serves a number of purposes: to provide a festival of art and ideas for the community; to inspire artists; to find and develop connections between art and science; to raise awareness of environmental issues; and to celebrate Laguna Beach as a center for the appreciation of art and nature.  The museum’s Executive Director, Dr. Malcolm Warner, describes:

“The theme of Art & Nature speaks particularly to the identity of Laguna Beach, which for over a hundred years has been a center for art, the appreciation of nature, and environmental awareness.  In 1929, when the Laguna Beach Art Association built an art gallery to show and sell their work, they chose a commanding location on the coastline close to the natural wonders they loved to paint.  The present museum occupies the same site.  There could be no more appropriate venue in which to explore the art-nature connection.”


Art & Nature was generously funded by Yasuko and John Bush, the Draper Family Foundation Fund, the Massen Greene Foundation, the McBeth Foundation, the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, UCI Illuminations at UC Irvine, Wells Fargo, and anonymous donors.

Sponsors also included the Lodging Establishments and the City of Laguna Beach, The Inn at Laguna Beach, MDS Consulting, the Laguna Beach Independent, KCRW, and Visit Laguna Beach.

The Art & Nature 2016 Event Committee were Kathleen and Greg Abel, Yasuko and John Bush, Jane and Joe Hanauer, Barbara and Greg MacGillivray, Catlin Moore, and Chris Quilter.

Engineering support for 1/4 Mile Arc was generously donated by MDS Consulting.

Laguna Art Museum is grateful for support from the City of Laguna Beach, community partners, featured artists, and many Art & Nature volunteers.

About Laguna Art Museum

Laguna Art Museum is the museum of California art. Its mission is to collect, care for, and exhibit works of art that were created by California artists or represent the life and history of the state. Through its permanent collection, its special loan exhibitions, its educational programs, and its library and archive, the museum enhances the public’s knowledge and appreciation of California art of all periods and styles, and encourages art-historical scholarship in this field.

Laguna Art Museum stands just steps from the Pacific Ocean in the beautiful city of Laguna Beach. The museum is proud to continue the tradition of the Laguna Beach Art Association, founded in 1918 by the early California artists who had discovered the town and transformed it into a vibrant arts community. The gallery that the association built in 1929 is part of today’s Laguna Art Museum.

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Drive in Laguna Beach, on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Cliff Drive.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays
Closed Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day

General admission: $7.00
Students, seniors (60+), and active military: $5.00
Children under 12: FREE
Museum members: FREE

Media Contact
For questions or additional information, please email Cody Lee, Director of Communications, or call 949.494.8971 x211.