MOORLACH UPDATE — Daily Pilot — July 22, 2010

Allow me to be a little selfish and plug two important pieces of information.

Today is my mother’s 80th birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mom!  You’re the greatest and I love you.

Even at 80, my mother is still younger than Mickey Mouse (created November of 1928); sorry, Dad, you’re older.

Fifty years ago this month my folks immigrated to Orange County from the Netherlands and we enjoyed the struggles, hardships and successes of this wonderful country and this extraordinary county.  My mother is a saint and her four children have lived under her shadow of integrity, never wanting to embarrass or disappoint her with any improper action or decision on our parts.  Mom, you did a great job of raising us we are eternally grateful.

This weekend please enjoy the Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends biennial fundraiser at the Muth Center.  My wife and I are big plein air fans.  You’ll see it right away when you enter our home.  And you will definitely see it when you walk into my office.  Joan Irvine Smith was kind enough to loan me eleven glorious pieces that she duplicated from her collection.  If you need an idea for another local “gem” to visit, please check out the Irvine Museum (http://www.irvinemuseum.org/).   It is located near John Wayne Airport off of Von Karman.  The pieces that she loaned are by my favorite plein air artists, including Edgar Payne, William Wendt and Granville Redmond.

The Back Bay is a place where I rest.  I have a secret location where I have a lawn chair and I love to read there.  It’s not too far from the Muth Center.  If you have not yet visited the Muth Center, find some time during the next three days to swing by.  It’s off of Irvine Avenue and University.

Today’s Look Back features a famous, long-time Newport Beach resident.

Plein Air paints for ‘hidden gem’

Artists’ association will have pieces up for sale, ranging from $200 to about $1,600, with 35% of the proceeds going to a nature center.

By Sarah Peters, sarah.peters@latimes.com

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More than 1,000 paintings by the Southern California Plein Air Painters Assn. will be on display and for sale this weekend on the patio of the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center; a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends nonprofit organization.

The sixth SOCALPAPA Biennial, a three-day event, will kick off Friday night with a juried competition and a private reception to recognize contributing artists, local community members and leaders, and to thank Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach for securing the funding through the county for new improvements to the center, said NBNF spokesman Roger Mallet.

The funding, about $130,000, went to three new interactive exhibits which combine murals with electronic touch-screen monitors. The monitors will provide information about the Back Bay and the wildlife captured by the artist’s paintbrush.

"We didn’t want to clutter up the mural with all this information," Mallet said of the wall-sized paintings. "This way, we are blending the everlasting natural beauty of the mural with the advantages of modern technology."

The murals are the creations of 2008 biennial winner and Newport Beach artist Greg LaRock.

LaRock will be unable to attend the unveiling of his work Friday because he will be on the East Coast for another art opening, said SOCALPAPA show director JoAnn Royal.

"[Plein air artists] can really bring out the true beauty of the bay and showcase all the different colors the way you really just can’t do in a photograph," Mallet said of the murals.

Winners of the 2010 biennial will be awarded monetary prizes, gift certificates and art supplies, Royal said.

Following the opening night events will be a two-day artists meet-and-greet and patio sale. About 60 SOCALPAPA artists will be at the Muth Center to discuss their work and art with the public.

All work entered into the biennial is available for purchase, ranging from $200 to about $1,600, said Royal. Thirty-five percent of the proceeds will be donated to benefit preservation of the bay.

Almost $60,000 in paintings were sold at the last biennial, she said.

"As artists, we are very interested in preserving any natural habitats and wildlife which are still available," Royal said. "This is primarily a fundraiser."

In addition to providing funding to NBNF preservation and community education programs, SOCALPAPA hosts the biennials to bring exposure to the Interpretive Center and its somewhat hidden location.

Built directly into the hillside of one of the bay bluff, the center remains camouflaged to some of its closest neighbors, Mallet said.

"The reason why we sometimes call it a ‘hidden gem’ is because you can be right on University Drive, looking out at the bay, and still not see it," Mallet said.

"We sometimes get calls from people who are less than 200 feet away and can’t find the place."

If you go: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center, 2301 University Drive at Irvine Avenue.

If You Go

What: Sixth SOCALPAPA Biennial

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday

Where: Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center, 2301 University Drive, at Irvine Avenue

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

2005

July 23

Jonathan Peterson and Jean O. Pasco of the LA Times did a major front-page piece on Congressman Chris Cox, titled “Is Nominee Ideal for SEC or Too Nice to Business?”  Somewhere near the middle of the article, I was mentioned in Chris’ defense.

The focus on Cox’s record has been intensified because his predecessor, William H. Donaldson, resigned in June amid heavy fire from business groups and from his two fellow GOP commissioners. Donaldson was attacked for his aggressive efforts to impose tighter supervision over business and markets. Critics said his moves were overkill.

Some of Cox’s supporters say he is being unfairly characterized by opponents as a sort of anti-Donaldson.

John Moorlach, treasurer of Orange County and a longtime friend of Cox’s, said his critics had failed to grasp how his savvy in business and finance could benefit the public.

Cox, Moorlach said, was among the few elected officials who knew that the county risked disaster with its investments in the early 1990s. A portfolio blowup led to the county’s bankruptcy filing in 1994.

"I see him more like an Eliot Spitzer, but with more decorum," Moorlach said, referring to the New York attorney general who has prosecuted an array of financial misdeeds. "Chris has that litigator’s instinct when something’s not right."

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