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Arts Commission Votes To Keep Waterman's Wall, With Some Conditions

The added features to Randy Morgan's mural will be allowed to stay, but some elements will need to be made safer.

On a unanimous vote, all seven members of the Laguna Beach city Arts Commission Monday agreed to allow artist Randy Morgan to keep the unapproved revisions he made to his Waterman’s Wall mural.

The mural was approved three years ago, but Morgan eventually added elements and depictions that were not part of the original approval, such as surfing, skimboarding and stand-up paddle figures, lifeguards, and a catamaran with a Hobie “H” logo on its sail.

The commission could have voted to have those elements, or even the entire mural, removed. But in the end, that was something no one wanted.

“The last thing I want to see is Randy out there with a hammer and a chisel and a grinder,” said commissioner Ken Auster. “It is my opinion to allow all of the changes that were made to stand. It is what it is. That art isn’t going to be removed from that wall, and to start putzing around with it at this point isn’t going to add or detract or do anything different.”

Commissioner Mary Ferguson expressed concern that someone could break off one of the three-dimensional pieces of the mural, but Morgan, who was in attendance, replied that “nothing was going to bring that down.”

Commissioner Donna Ballard also asked about the possibility of people catching their hand in some of the spots, and she was echoed by Commissioner Nick Martinez. “People do the craziest things and get their hands and feet caught in the craziest places,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez also had questions about cracks that had developed in the mural. Morgan agreed to repair any cracking, as well as alter the mural to fill in gaps so people can’t get body parts caught in the piece. He also agreed to reduce the surfboard portion that sticks out over the sidewalk.

Ballard also asked about the Hobie “H” logo on the catamaran, which Morgan claimed was removed. The logo has actually not been removed, however, just painted over.

Auster and Hernandez commented about the artistic quality of the mural and told Morgan that they would like to see some parts improved.

“I was a little disappointed, to the point where I found a lot of the elements to be amateurish,” said Auster. Hernandez asked Morgan to work on some parts of the figures anatomy and said some of the execution was “subpar."

The mural has become a flashpoint of controversy for issues other than safety, with accusations of the mural's finacial contributors not getting what they paid for. Arts Commission chair Pat Kollenda, seemingly aware of this, framed the debate before the meeting's public comment period.

"The only thing we are talking about tonight is changes to the mural as safety issue, we're not talking about any other issue to deal with that mural," Kollenda said.

Morgan had many supporters who spoke before the commission, but there was also one detractor, Mike England, who said the mural was “appalling and disturbing. The artistic rendering is horrendous and has no place on a wall in Laguna Beach.”

The matter of the thank-you plaque, which Patch reported on in our story yesterday, was not raised, as it was not on the agenda. Commissioner Lisa Monsour said that the plaque “is a discussion for another time.”

Randy Morgan, who had previously told Patch that he would have "a lot I’d like to say” after Monday's meeting, had no comment.

Roger E. Butow February 12, 2013 at 08:44 PM
RM picture pretty much sums it up: Hey, what do we care, Greg & I took people's $$$, we got ours already, Greg's slithered back to his desert hidey-hole, we'll just pass the hat again to underwrite our intentional additions & errors. We'll make even MORE $$$.....Which is how they got so much donated "CHEESE" to begin with. The AC just punted or kicked the can down the road. Gutless. Nick Hernandez is a 40 year friend of RM, Lisa Mansour's husband (Athens Group/Montage) is selling the Aliso Canyon Lodge to Mark Christy (owner of HOBIE) yet they refused to recuse from voting over an obvious conflict of interest. Money & Power talked, determined this in advance...where are the true Christians, those that should care about the least of us as Christ taught, the numerous victims of this scam as Taco Bell asserted? You cannot remove the context of the false fundraising without taking it down---Donations were leveraged via apparently clear misrepresentation and fraud. It's Chinatown, Rich.
Roger E. Butow February 12, 2013 at 08:56 PM
FYI to RM sycophants and supporters: I performed pre-negotiation proposals for a $35,000 project near Chico for him in spring of 2011. It was a consignment project for the new corporate HQ of a very wealthy philanthropic Calvary Chapel-attending family. I've still got the contract, drawings, emails from the mother and daughter. RM tripled the final bill with little additional work required in the spring-summer of 2012. So they coughed up, even in dispute, over $100,000. They considered court but were too embarrassed/humiliated to make it public...Sound familiar? Then, as the matriarch told me on the phone 1 month ago, Greg Chastain called, told them he was my successor and tried to squeeze another $10,000 he claimed outstanding. RM's girlfriend MH drove him up there because California took his DL away years ago, fobbed her off as his wife because this family is devoutly born again, had them electronically transfer that $100,000+ through HER bank. Huh? Just like the WW, where the $$$ went through a questionable church account. So RM has no drivers license, no credit cards, his passport's been seized, no bank account---Does THAT sound like an honest transparent businessman?
Roger E. Butow February 14, 2013 at 01:44 AM
Safety Issue? At any other commercial location that is on a zero property line and contiguous with a public sidewalk, it would have been cited by code enforcement as an unauthorized (illegal) encroachment. It would have been sent to DRB and/or the Planning Commission as an APPEAL by Mark Christy for a variance. and/or encroachment permit. But this meeting was a done deal by the agenda's wording, that's why I didn't bother attending: "Discuss and approve..." that tells you all you need to know, the fix was in because Mark C. has a lot of $$$ and power, contributed to the campaigns of those who appointed the Arts Commissioners & Sian Poeschl: The Council. CONTAINMENT was what happened.......keep it out of the boards/commissions or council meetings. And what about how unfair this is to other merchants? A lot of people were $$$ bilked, it was in part erected with their blood and sweat, so yes Kenny A., like Reagan said, tear down this wailing wall and let those cheated do it on live TV. Morgan can auction off the cheap product he used as curiosities from his jail cell. So Kenneth, what IS the frequency?

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