Artistic Newport

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From artists and galleries to theater and music, Newport Beach artistic side shines brightly this summer.

By Jackie Adams, Madeline Ewles and Amory Zschach

Artistic Newport“We have art so that we shall not die of reality,” wrote philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. While reality is pretty fine in summertime Newport, there’s no denying that art evokes feeling, opens up new layers of expression and inspires creativity.

With so many artistic outlets and award-winning organizations, it seems almost impossible to capture the artistic side of Newport Beach in one article. Instead, we present a montage of information, offerings and activities for a summer full of art.

Celebrate July Fourth With a Bang

Pacific Symphony hosts its annual July 4 Extravaganza at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, its summer residence since 1987. For more than 25 years, the symphony has provided locals and tourists alike with a spectacular show and fireworks display. This year’s guest performer is Super Diamond, a San Francisco-based tribute band that interprets the uplifting chart-toppers of Neil Diamond including “Sweet Caroline,” “America” and “Heartlight.” The event also includes performances of other patriotic favorites, a salute to the armed forces and concludes with a grand fireworks finale. The gates open at 6 p.m. for picnicking. Festivities begin at 8 p.m. (714-755-5788;

Artistic NewportGo for Baroque 

The 33rd annual Baroque Music Festival in Corona del Mar takes place June 16 – 23 under the artistic direction of violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock. The season kicks off with an opening instrumental concerto on Saturday, June 16 at St. Mark Presbyterian Church. Each year the festival offers a different experience by featuring an assortment of nationally and internationally acclaimed soloists and composers. Other events include an organ recital performed by Ian Prithcard, two chamber concerts at the Sherman Library & Gardens, and concludes with a special concert staging of the composer George Frederic Handel’s adored 1718 opera “Acis and Galatea,” his first dramatic work in English. Attendees of all ages will enjoy exposure to a variety of performances and period instruments, or reproductions thereof, played by the musicians in order to recreate the authentic sound of the Baroque age amid intimate settings similar to those preferred during this historical period. (949-760-7887;

Historic Balboa Theatre Nears Reopening 

Artistic Newport

The permits are ready. The building has been gutted. The proposals for bids are out. And more than $1 million has been raised. Now the construction awaits funding.

For the past decade the Balboa Performing Arts Theatre Foundation has struggled to get the theater, which opened in 1928, renovated and ready for visitors again.

Craig Smith, CFO and member of the board of directors says, “I love the idea of being able to walk down to Balboa Village and go to the movies or play or have dinner in a nice restaurant. Walk home and not have to drive somewhere and park and all that jazz. That’s a vision I have and I think a lot of people that are interested in theater share that vision.”

The plan is to turn it into a 300-seat theater with world-class performance arts. They are also planning to offer education programs in the arts to supplement the dwindling arts programs in schools. Now all they need is $4 million more to make it happen. They are hoping the continued generosity of donations from the community will help them achieve their plan of beginning construction this year. (949-673-0895;

Paint It

Artistic NewportArtistic Newport Beach is full of options for children to express themselves creatively. The next generation of Newport artists has guidance through many avenues. Brenda Benveniste’s Inside One Art offers art camps, instructional classes, private sessions, workshops and parties in Corona del Mar (714-330-5065; Timree’s Art Studio hosts events for kids 6 and older, and caters to tween artists by allowing them to express their individuality and style (949-723-1300; OCMA provides a free workshop called Free Second Sundays for family time involving art projects, live entertainment and gallery tours (949-759-1122; Easel Does It! is an organization founded by creative-minded mothers for kids to experiment freely without restraints through art classes, camps, parties and events (949-500-8798; Loveart&, a nonprofit that fosters artistic expression throughout Orange County, recently had a terrarium-making workshop for the Newport Beach Girl Scouts, teaching them the importance of recycling with hands-on artistry (949-290-3354; With these options and more, opportunities abound for those seeking outlets for artistic expression.

The Art of the Appraisal 

When it comes to purchasing art, the most important thing is to invest in what you love—provided it’s within your budget. Miriam Smith, principal of the Art Resource Group in Newport Beach recommends hiring an art advisor who will provide resources for buying art and will guide you to quality pieces within your budget. She suggests attending auction houses and art fairs as well as galleries and museums to see what is available and help define your taste. She suggests the art to be in scale with the size of the wall or furniture. A rule of thumb is that the artwork (including the frame) should cover at least 50 percent of the width of the wall. In relation to furniture, it should be consistent or slightly smaller than the width of the furniture.

Miriam’s rule for how not to buy art: Avoid tourist areas or cruises—many of these sources focus on decorative art with little resale value, and you are limited in your ability to do any of your own research. (949-640-1972;

Surf’s Up at Lido Theatre

Artistic Newport

Just a block from the beach sits the historic Lido Theatre, its grand marquee a symbol of the great theaters of the past. From design suggestions by Bette Davis to serving as a recruiting station during World War II, this theater has had a vast and varied history, and thanks to owner Lyndon Golin it has been restored to its original opening day condition.

This summer the Lido will maintain its unofficial title of “Surf film capital of Southern California” by continuing to host surf movies once a week, and ending the season with the traditional Senior Surf Story Night.

District Manager Larry Porricelli praises this event which brings the community together through storytelling: “Last summer a guy who was about 93 [spoke] about surfing The Wedge and how the girls would cheer him back when he was a young guy. And he said the best thing that ever happened was, ‘I met a beautiful young lady, and there she is!’ and his wife was with him. How do you not cheer that one?”

Catch it While you Can

Artistic Newport

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts continues its 26th year of bringing award-winning performances to Orange County with a musical based on true events. The movie “Catch Me If You Can” was a hit in 2002, and now, just more than a decade later, the story is hot off of Broadway and now comes to Orange County.

Based on the autobiography Frank Abagnale wrote for the New York Times, this story follows Frank from his childhood dealing with a broken home to becoming a young man and discovering the power he can obtain with a little confidence. After pretending to be a doctor, a lawyer and a jet pilot, as a teenager he begins forging checks. Nearly $3 million dollars later, he becomes involved in a game of cat-and-mouse with the FBI, complicated by a love interest. If only Frank could learn how to use his powers for good rather than evil, this tale of tale of deceit, romance and redemption would be complete. (714-556-2787;

Artistic NewportChat With an Artist

Newport Beach is a playground for young artists inspired by a thriving beach community. In a conversation with 26-year-old artist Emily Julian, we explore the processes of an artist at the height of her creative expression as a painter in Newport Beach.

Newport Beach Magazine: When did you first call yourself an artist?

Emily Julian: Only about six months ago. That was the first time I told a living soul that I’m an artist, not your local server making tips for my Cal State education.

NBM: What inspired this identity shift?

EJ: It was right before my first art debut at Cordell surf shop, which went beautifully. I collaborated with another artist, Janet Wheeland, to expose my paintings from years in the making. We passed out flyers and dove into social media. That’s when I finally told people, “Yes, I am an artist.” The show made painting feel right, like this is what I am made to do.

NBM:  In your opinion, what makes an art show?

EJ: People. … No, I mean truly, what would art be if there was no one to view it?

NBM: Why art?

EJ: It’s a huge part of life whether we recognize it or not. For me, it slows down the chaotic day-to-day to know what is real.

Early Artists 

Artistic Newport

Crystal Cove in the early 20th century was an undeveloped beauty. The idyllic setting inspired plein air painters to replicate the remote and quiet environment. Interest in Crystal Cove was sparked with Arthur Rider whose painting, “Near Laguna,” depicts the unscathed wild of Crystal Cove in the 1920s and brought impressionists’ interest to the area. The California Art Club was founded in 1909 among plein air artists such as William Wendt, Jack Wilkinson Smith, Guy Rose, Franz Bischoff and Jean Mannheim in Southern California. After the Great Depression led to a decline in the art economy, revivalists and residents of Crystal Cove, such as Roger Kuntz, Jim Fuller and Roger Armstrong, the former director of Laguna Art Museum, brought back the early Southern California impressionist landscapes to Crystal Cove. Today, plein air painters are still creatively recreating the coastline while raising awareness for cove restoration. Events to come are “A Breath of Fresh Air,” an art show preview and dinner July 12 at 6 p.m. with an art show and sale July 13 from 9-4 p.m. There are also a plethora of ways to get involved with Crystal Cove, from hiking and exploring the tidepools to education services and volunteer options all available on the Crystal Cove Alliance website. (949-376-6200;

Artistic Newport“Gems of the Medici” 

The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana celebrates an international exhibition, “Gems of the Medici,” on display until Sept. 15. The world premier exhibition features some of the most ancient and rare pieces of the Medici family collections, including a cornelian from the Seal of Nero, as well as a two-part lecture series, “The Florentine Renaissance and the Reign of the Medici,” presented by art historian Jackie Powell. Part one, the “Introduction to the Ideals of the Renaissance,” takes place June 25; part two, “Lorenzo de’Medici and the Golden Age of Florence,” takes place July 2. Through these lectures, Jackie explores the fundamentals of the Renaissance in Florence, discussing the art, architecture, philosophy and historical context in addition to examining the influence of the Medici family. (714-567-3600;

Galleries Galore!

Artistic Newport

While Newport isn’t home to hundreds of galleries like Laguna Beach, there are many singular galleries offering a wide selection of art. Here are some to peruse:

• Katherine Norris Fine Art specializes in early American and California paintings. (949-515-4045;

• Lahaina Galleries at Fashion Island shows Hawaiian fine art. (800-228-2006;

• Peter J. Art Gallery (949-673-4904; and Vallejo Gallery both show marine-themed paintings. (949-642-7945;

• Scene Art Gallery showcases classical oil paintings. (949-720-3939;

• Susan Spiritus Gallery will features fine art and award-winning contemporary photography. (714-754-1286;

• Balboa Island’s Galleries include: Heart of the Island, a gallery featuring local artists; Art for the Soul, with American-made, eclectic handicrafts; and Debra Huse Gallery, celebrating its 15th annual anniversary. (949-673-1292;; 949-675-1791;

Debra Huse opened her studio for personal work and invited big artists from around the country to give shows and teach workshops. Since these budding beginnings, the gallery has kept 11 local and national artists in-house, displaying an array of harbor scenes, still life and Southern California lifestyle paintings. (949-723-6171;

Just Plein Fun  

Artistic Newport

An outdoor spectacle called Just Plein Fun will take place on Balboa Island June 29 to Aug. 3. Presented by the Debra Huse Gallery, 13 award-winning artists will be on location painting with an interactive experience for the whole family. Participants of the event will receive a “passport,” which they can take with them to seek out and find the artists situated around the island in a signature-collecting excursion. With paintings coming to life before an audience, the public is encouraged to talk with the artists as an engaging experience. The show concludes with an old-fashioned Brush Off between artists.

Live music and a gallery reception with prizes for the will follow the main event. (949-723-6171;

Melting Pot of Artists 

The 2013 California-Pacific Triennlaial exhibition at the Orange County Museum of Art is a re-envisioned project to showcase California’s diversified culture. The contemporary art show demonstrates how the artists’ heritage links to the countries of the Pacific. The exhibition features 32 participating artists from a wide scope of cultural backgrounds in a new, pluralistic contemporary art survey. As Californians, the significance of the exhibit is to look at our state with a much larger perspective. It’s refreshing to be a part of this global community, says Dan Cameron, chief curator. “Californians find it exciting to think about our state and its cultural position to the world. [The Pacific Ocean] defines so much of the geographic character of the state and this is a way of engaging with it.” (949-759-1122; )

Summer Art Festivals 

It’s summertime again, which means it’s also art festival season in nearby Laguna Beach.

The Pageant of the Masters “living pictures” show celebrates its 80th birthday with a production themed “The Big Picture,” depicting classic masterpieces that have inspired filmmakers over the years. The sister event, the Festival of Arts, features works from 140 Orange County artists. (949-494-1145;

The Sawdust Art Festival returns with more than 20 new artists to their repertoir of more than 200, plus hands-on activities and live music. Come find your favorite artist from previous years and see what kind of booth they have built to showcase their art amongst the eucalyptus trees in this idyllic venue. (949-494-3030;

The 47th annual Art-A-Fair rounds out the experience with live music on the weekends and artists from around the world. The organizers of this fair pride themselves on selecting art in all mediums and are renovating their grounds for a more attractive and better ventilated experience. (949-494-4514;

Lights, Camera, Action!

South Coast Repertory is rolling into its 50th season of presenting powerful plays and cultural events for the community with the return of their summer acting workshops.

Kids from third grade through 12th who are interested in acting can sign up for the two week classes, which begin in July and which focus on exploring the world of storytelling, character development and improvisation, among others skills. Classes are broken up into age groups and then students are led by SCR’s staff of theater professionals through exercises like interactive instruction in voice and movement.

Once they have mastered the basics in the introductory classes, students can move on to more advanced classes, where they have the opportunity to audition for roles in upcoming plays. It’s a great opportunity for young entertainers to develop not only their skills on stage, but also build new friendships and confidence in a small, supportive environment. (714-708-5555;

Summer Art Calendar

“Last Train to Nibroc” 

May 31 – June 16, Vanguard University Lyceum Theater, Costa Mesa

A train carrying two dead, famous authors is also the catalyst for two strangers meeting. Set in the 1940s, this old-fashioned love story has captivated audiences for years with its intensely character-driven plot. (714-668-6145;

“The Tsars’ Cabinet: Two Hundred Years of Decorative Arts Under the Romanovs”

June 8 – Sept. 1, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana

For more than 200 years the Romanov’s ruled Russia, and now 160 objects from their extravagant collection of porcelain services, glassware, enamel, silver gilt and decorated eggs are on display at Bowers. (714-567-3600;

From Midtown to Orange County

June 13 – 15, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa

Broadway’s famed Midtown Men join the Pacific Symphony this summer, when they grace the stage at Segerstrom Hall with hits from the 1960s. You’ll be dancing in your seat and jumping to your feet to top hits from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Temptations, The Jackson 5 and more. (


June 19 – June 23, South Coast Repertory

Anton Chekhov was one of the greatest short story writers of all time. This play follows his widow, Olga Knipper, shortly after his death. Together with two other actors she acts out scenes from their life as well as bits of Anton’s plays, as a revolution begins to stir in the streets of St. Petersburg. (714-708-5555;

First Thursdays Artwalk 

July 4, Laguna Beach

Art galleries and shops throughout town will host patrons with great art exhibits, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and in some places, live music, from 6 to 9 p.m. as part of the city’s monthly First Thursdays Artwalk celebration. July is especially exciting since the art event collides with the annual Fourth of July fireworks display. Venture down for an explosively good time. (

Shakespeare by the Sea

July 20 – 21, Bonita Canyon Sports Park, Newport Beach

Pack a picnic and bring your loved ones to this free performance for the entire family, sponsored by the Newport Beach City Arts Commission. These classic plays are put on every summer in parks throughout Orange County and Los Angeles to help introduce people to theater through works of The Bard. (949-644-3211 ext. 2155;

“Sister Act” 

Aug. 6 – 18, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa

Featuring original music by eight-time Oscar-winner Alan Menken, this Broadway original tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, whose life takes an unexpected turn when she’s hidden in a convent by police after she witnesses a crime—it’s where this wannabe diva is least likely to be found, but surprisingly, it’s also where she finds herself.  (

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