A Southern California Museum Celebrates 100 years with its ‘California Cool’ Auction

The exciting California Cool Art Auction took place on a warm winter evening in Southern California’s art community of Laguna Beach on February 10, 2018 at the Laguna Art Museum. The event gets high marks as an evening to remember, celebrating artists working in various mediums in California and just in time to ring in the museum’s centennial year.

With works by 100 important California artists, the 36th edition of this highly-anticipated event reached sales of over $466,000, breaking the record for the museum’s annual event. To kick off the event, Director of the Museum Malcom Warner welcomed the group of over 250 attendees and kindly thanked them all for their continued support as well as a special thank you to Sotheby’s. “We’re delighted to present our Centennial art auction,” he said. “Thank you for joining us and helping to get the next 100 years off to a momentous start!.”

Director of the Museum Malcom Warner, with Fine Art Connoisseur’s West Coast Editor Vanessa Françoise Rothe

With sparkling cocktails, catered fine foods, and various genres of fine art, there was something for everyone to admire. The evening started out with a silent auction where bids could be placed and works acquired at wallet-friendly pricing.

Later that night the exciting live auction was led by Andrea Fiuczynski, Executive Vice President and Chairman of Sotheby’s Americas. The auction attracted competitive bidding by local art collectors as well as couples that had flown in from London in time to attend. The museum partnered with Paddle8, the leading online auction house, and took absentee bids, adding another strong buying avenue and element.

Of note to our readers in the silent auction was a large scale work by Laguna College of Art and Design graduate Michael Harnish titled “Pomegranate Tree,” given courtesy of the artist and Salt Fine Art. Standing out on the wall with its atmospheric depth and leaves, to its sunlit highlighted fruits in red, the work was strong and commanding. The silent auction also exhibited landscape work by local plein air artists such as Jeff Sewell, known for his realist and impressionist depiction of waves and the sea.

Michael Harnish, “Pomegranate Tree,” 2015, oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in., Courtesy of the artist and Salt Fine Art.

The auction included strong bidding on a Peter Alexander “LAXXXII,” which sold for $23,000. Fine Art Connoisseur readers would admire a large realist work by Jorg Dubin, titled “Studio Chair Again,” which combined a realistically painted studio chair in leather with lost edges throughout the work, making it appear slightly more modern and edgy in nature.

Jorg Dubin, “Studio Chair Again,” 2015, oil on linen, 35 x 35 in., Courtesy of the artist and Bruce Lurie Gallery

Proceeds from the event support the museum’s dedication to collecting and preserving California art, presenting critically acclaimed exhibitions and enhancing art education for all.

This year the Laguna Art Museum, originally known in 1918 as the Laguna Beach Art Association, celebrates its 100 years showcasing works by California based artists. The California Cool Art Auction played an important role in funding the start of its next 100 years with exciting exhibitions and events on the horizon, such as the documentary of the museum’s past, premiering April 19, 2018 by filmmaker Dale Schierholt.

Unsold works may still be available at minimum bid price, 50 percent of stated value, on the Laguna Art Museum website or in person at the museum.


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