LAGUNA BEACH, CA--(Marketwired - Apr 20, 2015) - In true academy award style, the best and brightest of Laguna's diverse artistic community enjoyed a star-studded evening on Sunday, April 12 as The Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts (LBaa) recognized its stars and paid tribute to actor Joe Mantegna at the 9th Annual Art Star Awards held at [seven-degrees]. Attendees included 250 community and cultural leaders whose efforts allow Laguna Beach to enjoy worldwide recognition as a hub of artistic energy.

Guests enjoyed a red carpet reception with champagne and hors d'oeuvres set to the music of the Evan Stone Trio. Later in the evening, entertainment included the poetic-pop stylings of musical duo Rocky's Revival. Jonathan Burke, LBaa Chairman, emceed the award gala and award-winning actor Joe Mantegna delivered a compelling, entertaining and inspiring keynote address.

Mantegna shared the not so promising start of his acting career, failing to get a part in the high school version of "West Side Story" when he was 16-years-old living in Chicago, Illinois. "But that didn't stop me, I now had the acting bug," said Mantegna. He eventually forged a stellar career, including roles in theater, film and television as well as directing and writing. Besides winning a Tony Award on Broadway, Mantegna has been nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe Awards, and in April 2011 received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He currently stars in the hit TV series "Criminal Minds." At the event, he also talked about his first trip to Laguna Beach to see the Pageant of the Masters in 1983 and his love for Laguna's art community -- coming back every year ever since.

Mantegna ended his comments holding up his Art Star award (designed by artist Louis Longi), "Louis going next to Tony!"

The evening's first honoree was the winner of the $5,000 [seven-degrees] of inspiration grant, awarded to Delyer Anderson for her proposal "The Film We Made/The Book I Didn't Need To Write." The finished project will be a full-length, contemporary dance work that examines issues of isolation among women and empowerment through female relationships. The performance will be unveiled at the 2016 Art Star Awards.

Last year's recipient of the [seven-degrees] of inspiration grant, Cheryl Ekstrom, was on hand to debut her series of sculptures titled "Setting Forth." The compelling message behind this body of work is that one doesn't know how a journey will go, only that they must make it. What there can be no doubt about is that to go beyond -- in life, death, love, art, in anything -- you must set forth.

The 2015 Art Star winners were announced:

  • Best Arts Program:  Sunset Serenades and Music in the Park (City of Laguna Beach)
  • Individual Arts Patron of the Year:  Ilona Martin
  • Corporate Arts Patron of the Year:  The Ritz-Carlton of Laguna Niguel
  • Outstanding Arts Collaboration:  The Sock Thief (Laguna Concert Band and Laguna College of Art & Design)
  • Arts Leadership:  Fred Sattler (Festival of Arts)
  • Artist of the Year:  Gerard Stripling and Michele Taylor

For her outstanding and significant contributions to the arts in Laguna Beach, Carol Reynolds was honored with a Lifetime Achievement in the Arts award. Reynolds has enjoyed a career in musical arts that includes over 30 years of teaching followed by service to the Laguna Beach community following her retirement. Her advocacy and volunteer work includes serving as an Arts Commissioner, establishing a Cultural Arts Plan and founding the Laguna Concert Band. "No one is more deserving of this award than Carol," said Art Stars Chair Wayne Baglin. He continued, "Her exceptional accomplishments and contributions will continue to benefit future generations."

The winners and Joe Mantegna were presented with an original one-of-a-kind sculpture created by local artist Louis Longi. The sculptures are created specifically for the Art Star Awards with no molds or editions. Bronze sculptor Louis Longi has been creating sculptures for more than 28 years encompassing over 12 public art commissions and countless exhibitions, some of which have been sponsored by MGM Mirage, Cirque du Soleil and General Motors. His works capture the essence of human emotion with forms that encourage the viewer to transcend the limits of vision and experience the works.

The Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts was established in 2002 as the result of an exciting partnership among more than 20 Laguna Beach organizations. The mission is to serve as an advocate for the arts, promote collaboration and networking among the arts organizations of Laguna Beach, and to serve as a united voice for the arts in the city.

Contact Information:

Sharbie Higuchi