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Helping local artists

Dana Point Coastal Arts raised about $1,500 toward promoting arts in the community.


    Arts are aplenty in Dana Point, but one local group would like to see them come together in a more organized way.

    “There is no established arts district in Dana Point,” said Cliff Wassmann, president of Dana Point Coastal Arts. “But we intend to change that.”

    That was the theme at An Afternoon of Art and Tea at the Fountains, the group’s fundraiser held Saturday at the Fountains at Sea Bluffs.

    “Plans are being made for many areas of the city and we want to make sure the cultural center is part of that,’’ Wassmann said. “Otherwise, what you wind up with is a bunch of strip malls.”

    The event also included Councilman Jim Lacy’s speech on the state of the arts in Dana Point, a fashion show of mature casual wear put on by Sea Styles of Dana Point - with Mayor Pro Tem Lara Anderson as one of the models - and Shakespearean monologues delivered by Jane Nelson of the Dana Point Theater Company.

    About 60 guests - many already Coastal Arts members - munched on finger sandwiches and desserts and sipped tea during the course of the two-hour affair, which also displayed paintings and photography by Coastal Arts members.

    The $1,500 raised will help pay the group’s general operating expenses, including rent for its office and gallery spaces.

    Coastal Arts was founded in 2000 to foster the performing and visual arts in the city and to encourage more local people to become involved in creating and supporting the arts. Members include the Dana Point Theater Company and Capistrano Valley Symphony Orchestra, as well as many individuals.

    The organization is seeking out the most suitable and centrally located space for a proposed arts district.

    “We would love to see a cultural center for the visual and performing arts built in the middle of downtown Dana Point,” Wassmann said. “It would be a cultural center that would wake up the whole downtown area and change the character of Dana Point forever - for the better.”

    Emmy Award-winning actor John Clarke, the fundraiser’s keynote speaker, supports the effort.

    The San Clemente resident has a bachelor degree in theater and a masters degree in television, both from UCLA. Clarke was the first president of Capistrano Valley Symphony in 1984 and has been a longtime advocate of local arts.

    “I’d like to see Coastal Arts grow and be a fertile ground for getting people truly involved in artistic projects, whether it’s bringing a painter to a lecture/demonstration or a violinist or chamber group to perform in schools or homes,” said Clarke, best-known as the original Mickey Horton on “Days of Our Lives.”

    “The arts always need help, but especially since the (...) government has pulled away from the arts,’’ he said. “It’s important to have arts here for people who can’t get out and travel in that awful freeway traffic to Los Angeles or even the Performing Arts Center.’’

    Clarke was the most vocal arts advocate among the several speakers Saturday.
    “Arts!” Clarke bellowed without benefit of a microphone at the start of his speech. “It’s all around us. As one professor I had at UCLA said, and I’ll never forget it: ‘Art is anything over and above the utilitarian.’ If you see a spade with nothing to it, that’s not art; but if it has a little bit of paint, it’s art.

    “You can disagree with the artist, it can be good or bad, but it’s still art. I once saw a huge painting that was all black. It brought out a negative reaction from me and others. That’s art. It’s not something that’s on a wall but in our hearts. It’s something that reaches out to us. And the beauty of what we have here is the reason why Coastal Arts is here.

    “We need to support the arts, because the government won’t. Wouldn’t it be great if we had someone in Washington who thought more about the arts than about the war?”

    At that, his audience burst into applause.

    “He’s not a Coastal Arts member, but after that speech, we should make him an honorary member,” Wassmann said.

Left to Right: Cliff Wassman, John Clarke, James Lacy

Dana Point Coastal Arts
34118 Pacific Coast Hwy. #3
Dana Point, Ca. 92629



- ©2005 Dana Point Coastal Arts -