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Arts & Culture
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Remembering Laguna Beach’s Roger Kuntz

By John GordonPublished: April 01, 2009



In T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land,” the first line reads: “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory with desire … ”
   
Well, in the memory department, check out an exhibition of California artist Roger Kuntz’s work, which includes more than 90 pieces by the painter and sculptor, most significantly “The Freeway Series.” It helped earn Kuntz a mention in an October 1962 issue of Life magazine, which detailed the work of five emerging California artists. Created between 1959 and 1962, the series incorporates elements of post-war abstract expressionism and more user-friendly realism, and captured haunting visual characteristics of overpasses, ramps and concrete monoliths. Kuntz, one of the first nationally recognized practitioners of pop art, was raised in San Diego, graduated from Cal Poly Pomona and Claremont Graduate School, and lived in Laguna Beach from 1964 until his death in 1975.
   
He lived, worked and died in Orange County, and many of his interior paintings and landscapes evoke that fascinating period of the county’s history when it was morphing from a rural hinterland of orange groves into one of the most densely populated regions of the country. His splendid use of light and shadow on everything from his paintings of blimps and coastal landscapes to his acclaimed freeway images prove that Kuntz was one of this county’s most gifted and influential artists, and one who died far too young (he committed suicide at the age of 47, after being diagnosed with cancer).


“Roger Kuntz: The Shadow Between Representation and Abstraction”
Through May 24
Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach
949.494.8971; lagunaartmuseum.org










OTHER HAPPENINGS


“Tuna Does Vegas,” La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts, April 17-May 3
In this play, which chronicles the latest story of the denizens of Tuna, Texas, Joe Sears and
Jaston Williams portray Bertha Bumiller and right-wing radio talk show host Arles Struvie as they head to Vegas to renew their wedding vows. All 20 oddball characters in the story are played by Sears and Williams, two exceptionally talented performers who never fail to jab the funny bone or amaze with their quick-change artistry.
14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada 562.944.9801


“Our Mother’s Brief Affair,” South Coast Repertory, April 3-May 3
Memory and desire fuel Richard Greenberg’s latest world premiere. Two grown-up siblings meet to take care of their mother, Anna, who informs them that she conducted a torrid love affair while ostensibly playing the role of faithful wife and mother. Greenberg, who won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2003 for “Take Me Out,” is one of SCR’s favorite playwrights, and this marks his eighth world premiere at the theater.
655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa 714.708.5555


“The Moving Image: Scan to Screen, Pixel to Projection,” Orange County Museum of Art, April 12-Sept. 26
“The Moving Image” traces the evolution of electronic media from the late 1960s through the 1980s. From crude attempts at single-channel video to room-size installations incorporating new projection technologies, the exhibit features artists from around the globe who have dedicated their creative passions to this unique pairing of human imagination and technology.
850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach 949.759.1122