Posted on August 17, 2009 by Sawdust Art Festival

August 14, 2009




(Koch’s film will premiere at the Sawdust Art Festival Thursday, August 20 at 7 pm)  

Laguna Beach, CA – Long before the concept of “green” became trendy and politically correct, eight-year Sawdust exhibitor, James Koch, has been transforming scraps of rusted metal and old discarded chunks of man-made objects into innovative, abstract pieces of sculpted artwork, ranging from iron roosters and horses to oversized feathers and tree branches. Long-time neighbor of Koch and resident of Laguna Beach, Carole Zavala, decided last summer that it was time to tell Koch’s story, and decided to cross an item off of her personal “bucket list” and make a pro-bono documentary film about Koch and his humorous and inventive work.    

Zavala began capturing Koch and his sculptures on film last summer on the festival grounds, as he interacted with Sawdust visitors, and then again at the Sawdust’s Autumn Art and Spring Into Art weekend workshops. Zavala then followed Koch to Newald, Wisconsin, where the sculptor was born and returns periodically to check in on his 94-year-old dad, Virgil. In Wisconsin, Zavala had the opportunity to film Koch on his statewide hunt for materials collected for his next round of sculptures.    

To ensure a professional and compelling film, Zavala sent letters to Koch’s personal friends and collectors describing the documentary project and requesting financial support, which resulted in contributions that covered the costs of editing and marketing. Upon returning to Laguna Beach, Zavala and Koch met Maryanne Kuzara, professional videographer and final step in completing the documentary to be premiered at the Sawdust Art Festival on Thursday, August 20 at 7 pm in the Healy House.    

Koch’s documentary film includes interviews with Laguna Beach Mayor Kelly Boyd, collectors of Koch’s work and well-known artists in the Laguna Beach community. In reflecting on her compassionate project, Zavala summarizes, “James Koch is a natural-

born storyteller and enlivens the film with his anecdotes and descriptions of how artists survive and thrive when staying true to their vision.” The 30-minute documentary film will be available at Koch’s Sawdust booth #114 following Thursday’s premiere.      

To find out more details about Koch’s documentary film and the premiere showing, please contact Carole Zavala at 949.683.0433 or To check out more details about the James Koch and other Sawdust artisans, please navigate to or call 949.494.3030.  

The Sawdust Art Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach with free City trolley service to and from the Act V parking lot. Admission prices are: Adult $7.50; Seniors (65+) $6; Children (6-12) $3; Children (5 and under) Free; Summer Season Pass $15; Annual Pass (summer and winter shows) $20.  

The Sawdust Art Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public and promoting the art created in Laguna Beach.  

The Sawdust Art Festival thanks its 2009 sponsors Hoegaarden and Kendall-Jackson.