The “Blessing of the Artists,” an annual tradition in the coastal community of Laguna Beach – famous for its art festivals, galleries, music and film festivals and home to a considerable number of artists – returned this year to the church where it began.
FR. PAT RUDOLPH, PASTOR OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA CATHOLIC CHURCH, SPEAKS DURING THE BLESSING OF THE ARTISTS ON JUNE 4. PHOTOS BY IAN TRAN/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
A congregation of roughly 75 artists and supporters of the arts attended the multi-denominational ceremony, which took place at St. Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Church in Laguna Beach on June 4.
A CONGREGATION OF ABOUT 75 ARTISTS AND SUPPORTERS OF THE ARTS ATTENDED THE MULTI-DENOMINATIONAL CEREMONY ON JUNE 4.
Faith leaders from around Laguna Beach bestowed their blessings and shared sentiments on the contributions of artists and how the art in the community enriches their lives.
Religious leaders who participated included Fr. Pat Rudolph, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena, Bishop Spencer Samuelian of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Laguna Beach, Pastor Jay Grant of Net-Works Community Church, Pastor Rod Echols of the Neighborhood Congregational Church and Pastor Jeff Tacklind of Little Church by the Sea.
Local artists who shared from the podium were Hedy Buzan, Elizabeth McGhee and Theresa Keegan. The Blessing of the Artists started in the late 1990s at Saint Catherine and was held at that church every year until the coronavirus forced the cancelation of the 2020 event.
ARTISTS GATHER FOR A RECEPTION FOLLOWING A SPECIAL CEREMONY HELD AT ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LAGUNA BEACH.
Net-Works Community Church hosted the ceremony 2021, followed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2022.
“May I say how refreshing is to be back here at St. Catherine of Siena Church where the Blessing of the Artists started and where every year we met here up until COVID,” Pastor Grant said. “It truly feels like home for this event.”
The love and gratitude go deep “for all the incredible artists who live, work and who share their life here,” the pastor said.
Keegan used her time at the podium to recite a poem written recently by Monica Gunning, a Jamaican poet and children’s book author living in Laguna Beach.
Gunning, who is 93, had attended Mass at St. Catherine that morning, but wasn’t feeling well enough to attend the Blessing of the Artists ceremony, Keegan said.
Titled “Art and Artists,” Gunning’s poem, as recited by Keegan, praised the contributions of artists for the beauty they bring to the world.
“Art, the epitome of human creativity, delights the senses and brings limitless joys to human hearts,” Keegan recited. “What would the world be without art? A dark dreary planet devoid of masterpieces that elevate the spirit of human kindness … God himself was the first artist. ‘Let there be light He commanded’ … Kudos also belong to our own artists, seasoned and new artists who display their artistic talent year after year …Their art exhibitions astound and enrich hearts and minds with awe inspiring, superb displays and all executed by our esteemed artists right here in Laguna Beach.”
Buzan, a native of Laguna Beach who comes from a family of artists, discussed the changes to her mindset and approach to her art after introducing prayer into her work.
The painter even wrote her own prayer and posted it in her studio. Buzan reads the prayer every time she enters her workspace.
“It doesn’t guarantee perfect work, but it puts another dimension into to what I’m doing when I go into my studio, Buzan said. “I’m going on a journey with my creator. So, this brings me to my newest awareness on prayer, that it can be just gratitude, gratitude for being present on earth and having God present in my life.”
The idea for the Blessing of the Artists was hatched from a conversation between Rev. Msgr. John Urell, pastor of St. Catherine’s from 1997 to 2000, and artist Anne England, a parishioner and longtime advocate for the art community up until her death in 2018.
Msgr. Urell pointed out to England that St. Catherine’s had many parishioners who were artists and blessing them just prior to the start of the summer art festival season would be a wonderful gesture.
England loved the idea and suggested broadening the reach and hosting a blessing for all the artists in Laguna Beach.
In the early years, some artists brought their brushes and other tools to be blessed.
McGhee talked about the influence England had on her career as an artist.
“She was a helper, like so many of us try to be,” said McGhee who has exhibited her art at the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach for years. “As artists, we sometimes pride ourselves on our independence and self sufficiency. Admitting we need help can feel like an admission of failure. But Anne taught me that is not true. Asking for help when I need it lets the other helpers do what they want to do … help. So, ask for help. Offer help. It can’t hurt. It might help.”