They were writing love letters in the sand at Irvine Cove last Thursday. With a little coaxing, Bill Otton took to the beach in his Cordovan loafers and traced the initials of his current love, the Art Institute of Southern California.
About 50 members of the President's Club, supporters of the Laguna Beach institute who donate $1,000 annually, had gathered at Abalone Beach to enjoy a Bastille Day picnic and hear speaker Henry Hopkins, director of the Weisman art collection in Beverly Hills.
Louis XVI never had it so good. While bouillabaisse bubbled on the stove in the beach's roomy-and-then-some cabana, guests watched a blazing sun drown in the Pacific, sipped coolers, nibbled at crackers and pate and generally went ga-ga over the patch of surf and sand that has been playground to the Irvine family since the 1920s.
Linda Gaede, cousin of Joan Irvine Smith (who learned to walk at the cove), was hostess. "I spent all of my summers here as a child," said Gaede, a member of the institute board. "I think it's one of the loveliest areas on the coast." (Indeed. Gaede owns the sprawling redwood manse, Finisterra, that hugs the cliff high above Abalone Beach.)
Otton, who became president of the institute six months ago, said the cabana was used in April by the AISC board for an all-day retreat. "We came together here to ask ourselves: 'What is it that we really want to do with the college?" (AISC is an accredited, degree-granting institution.)
The board, along with Richard Carp, AISC's dean of academic affairs, came up with three goals, Otton said. "First, we want to educate the next generation of leaders in the visual arts. Second, we want to build a curriculum that will attract students and business support from all over the world. And third, we want a faculty and board committed to a superior facility," he said.
After guests dined on salad, but before they dived into the bouillabaisse, Hopkins, a mustachioed charmer, spoke to them about California's new position on the art scene. It used to be, he said, "when California spoke about art, it was about California. And when New York spoke about art, it was about the country." Things are changing. "We are of a generation that is pioneering California into becoming the national and international leader," Hopkins said to an applauding audience.
Also on the beach: Roger and Janice Johnson--president of the President's Club and chairwoman of the event (in flamingo-pink cotton jersey by Laguna Beach designer D.N. Evans); Ninetta and Gavin Herbert (sartorially splendid in navy and white by Polo); Marylyn and Dr. Stephen Pauley; institute instructor Jonathan Burke; Joann and Ed Halvajian (who live on Ruby Keeler's old property in Irvine Cove); Betty Kemp (husband Tom was in Los Angeles); Don and Herta Anderson, AISC board chairman; Trish and Al Nichols; Eugene Hancock; Diana Otton, and Dana and Eugene Parker, founder of the President's Club.
Silver anniversary: Las Campanas, an organization that helps promote cultural enrichment in Orange County, presented 18 debutantes Saturday night during its 25th anniversary festivities at the Anaheim Marriott hotel.
More than 600 guests enjoyed a cocktail reception in the Grand Ballroom before watching the debs enter on the arms of their proud pops.
Dinner featured twin baby lamb chops with mango chutney sauce and medallions of chicken with mushroom cream sauce. Dessert was a dreamy white chocolate conch shell filled with chocolate macadamia mousse.
Making their debuts were: Amy Halverson of Anaheim Hills; Denise Bates, Kristin Genc, Sandra Heeres, Katherine Petrie and Michelle Pocinich of Fullerton; Nancy Estes of Irvine; Shannon Terry of Orange; Annalee Andres, Christa Cole, Laura Dutrisac, Shasie Johnson, Michele McCain, Kristin Northcote, Kimberly Powell, Cynthia Ross and Kendall Weatherman of Santa Ana and Catherine Stinchfield of Villa Park.
Proceeds, estimated at $40,000, will be donated to the Orange County Youth Symphony and the Orange County Opera Company. Jan Collier is president of Las Campanas. Sherry Bull was ball chairwoman.