Local inspiration for Mainly Mozart

By Morgan M. Hurley | ArtZine

Our theater critic, Charlene Baldridge, has much to be proud of next month.

The upcoming Mainly Mozart Festival will have, at the center of its June 2 and 3 Spotlight Series program, a new chamber work by opera composer Jake Heggie.

The cover of Morefield’s book, which inspired a new chamber work

Heggie, known for his work in “Moby Dick” and “Dead Man Walking,” wrote the piece in 2015. Called “The Work at Hand,” it is based on the writings of Baldridge’s daughter, Laura Morefield (1960–2011).

“When Laura was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer in 2008, she determined to write her way through the illness, which she was determined to conquer,” her mother said.

Morefield, a graduate of Madison High School in San Diego and Pepperdine University in Malibu, was a gifted writer who penned dozens of poems throughout her journey battling the disease, and Baldridge eventually had most of them published as a chapbook called “The Warrior’s Stance.”

Heggie described the composition based on Morefield’s text — which includes three symphonic songs lasting 18 minutes — in 2015.

“‘The Work At Hand’ is about the difficult and deeply human experience of knowing it is time to say goodbye and let go: resenting, fighting, struggling, and then finding peace in acceptance.

“The language and imagery Laura chose is particularly striking: origami, the yoga Warrior 1 position, and a shimmering reconnection to nature.”

Michael Francis, music director of the Mainly Mozart Festival, first conducted the orchestral premiere of “The Work at Hand” in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He then reprogrammed and performed it three times in Florida in 2016 and has now programmed the chamber version, which will be presented at Mainly Mozart in June.

This year’s festival is called “Beauty Through Adversity: Finding One’s Voice,” and Baldridge said Heggie’s work “exemplifies” the theme.

“The Work At Hand” will be performed twice; June 2 at 7 p.m. at the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club, located at 17025 Avenida De Acacias, Rancho Santa Fe, and again June 3 at 7:30 p.m. at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), 10620 John J. Hopkins Drive, La Jolla.

Mainly Mozart runs throughout June at various venues throughout the region. For more information, visit

To learn more about the composition, visit

To read our 2013 story in Uptown News about Morefield’s “The Warrior Stance,” which inspired the piece, visit

Clarione’s coming

Multimedia artist and illustrator Clarione Gutierrez has been a very busy artist of late.

The San Diego native took a top honors at the Art Alive floral exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art in April.

Artist Clarione Gutierrez flanked by his winning Art Alive entry (right) and its inspiration (Courtesy Clarione)

The three-day annual event featured more than 100 floral interpretations of established artwork, including sculptures and paintings.

Floral designers choose a piece of art from the museum’s collection and then create an arrangement that represents or is inspired by the piece chosen.

This was the second year that Clarione represented Neiman Marcus’ visual department, though the department store has been participating in the event for decades.

Clarione said he chose a bronze statue of Sridevi, a Hindu goddess who represents wealth, fortune and prosperity, and he was drawn to her “form.”


“She had a lot of movement and was very sassy,” he said. “I was also inspired by her clothing and thought I could create a lot of texture with my design.”

Known for bright and vivid colors in his art, Clarione said though the statue was a “dark, rusted bronze,” he wanted to bring his own personal touch to the piece and invoked plenty of color.

“I created the base of her form out of moss,” he said. “I layered galax leaves as her pants. I used a bromeliad and hyacinth blossoms for her headpiece. Then I adorned the rest of the sculpture with succulents, calla lillies, wax flowers, spray roses, dianthus greens, and other miscellaneous blossoms.”

His artistic interpretation and choices caught the eye of the museum’s members, who are responsible for choosing the absolute best of the 100 participants, and took second place in the “Member’s Choice” top awards.

“I’ve only been dabbling in floral design for the last two years as well, so to be recognized among these experienced designers was nothing less than incredible for me,” Clarione said.

One of the things that keep this guy the busiest is lending his talents to local nonprofits.

On May 12, Clarione performed what he calls his “live speed painting show” for the Surfrider Foundation’s annual gala and art auction, and his sea turtle painting, painted on the spot at the event, nabbed the nonprofit $800.

He has performed his live speed painting at various galas over the years, including at MARAYAH’s 2015 Harvest Howl gala, when he painted local Olympian Greg Louganis, the event’s keynote speaker.

On June 2, Clarione will be painting for the Filipino American Art Walk reception at the Muramid Museum and Art Center in Oceanside.

“The event features art from local Filipino-American artists and being Filipino myself, this is an exciting opportunity to showcase myself in front of another community I am a part of,” he said. Visit

During Pride Week in July, he will again perform at the Rob Benzon Foundation Launch Party at the Marston House in Balboa Park, his second appearance for the nonprofit, named by the friends of Rob Benzon, a local light in their lives. The website says the foundation offers grants to individuals in urgent need after a catastrophic event and also to established charitable organizations. Visit

Finally, there is news about the wonderful LGBT-themed children’s book, written by Tyler Curry and illustrated by Clarione, “A Peacock Among Pidgeons,” released in 2015. We hear the book will soon be adapted into a musical! But more on that in a future article.

To learn more about Clarione, visit

—Morgan M. Hurley can be reached at

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