Jorg Dubin's sculpture and 9/11 memorial, "Semper Memento," utilizes two beams from the twin towers. It was unveiled during a ceremony in September. (DON LEACH, Coastline Pilot / December 29, 2011)

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After a three-year dispute with Laguna Beach artist Wyland over the use of his humpback whale design on a state license plate, the California Coastal Commission selected another Laguna artist, Bill Atkins, and a Northern California painter, to design a new "whale tail" plate.

The new plate, also of a humpback whale tail, was unveiled in July.

Wyland's humpback design — originally donated to the state — was discontinued after 15 years. It was the best-selling of the state's specialty license plates. Wyland had sought to revoke its use in 2008 after complaining that the Coastal Commission declined to donate to his charity.

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2. LCAD's 50th anniversary

The Laguna College of Art & Design celebrated 50 years nestled in Laguna Canyon and ushered in a new president, Jonathan Burke.

Burke came to the college 31 years ago and held a number of academic positions there, including vice president of academic affairs and the dean of fine arts. He replaced outgoing President Dennis Power in June.

Since its humble beginnings in 1961, the college has steadily grown to a campus of 450 students with regional and national accreditation, an MFA program and student housing.

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3. Art Walk controversy

First Thursdays Art Walk made the news in August after multiple galleries voiced concerns about non-paying Art Walk participants.

The participating galleries are supposed to pay $80 to take part in the monthly event, but many owners have noticed competing galleries not only open their doors during the after-hours event, but advertise as Art Walk participants.

Some galleries that did not pay, such as the Whitney Gallery, called it a city event. The city said otherwise.

Joseph Wise Gallery owner Donnie Wise said that Art Walk didn't bring in sales for the gallery, which stays open on Thursday nights.

Rebecca Barber, board president of First Thursday's Art Walk, cited the Arts and Economic Prosperity report, which indicates that nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Laguna Beach generated $54.86 million in 2005.

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4. Mural painted over accidentally

Drivers coasting Laguna Canyon Road in early April might have been confused when one of Orange County's largest murals was replaced by a gray wall.

Laguna Canyon Winery painted over the mural, which was created by Laguna College of Art & Design students in 2003, without the necessary approvals by the city and property owner. The winery rents the space.

The winery had complained to the city about putting signage on the wall, and the application had been denied due to the mural's status as a public work of art. Shortly after, the mural was gone.