A festival of artful proposals

Three women say 'Yes!' as their men get down on one knee at the Festival of Arts.

August 11, 2011|By Kelly Parker,
  • Nan Fisher and Mike Kortge celebrate their engagement at the Festival of Arts.
Nan Fisher and Mike Kortge celebrate their engagement… (Coastline Pilot )

Love is in the air at the Festival of Arts.

Art imitating life took on new meaning Saturday when two couples got engaged on the festival grounds, both with the help of commissioned art from festival artists.

Patrick Moss proposed to his girlfriend of four years, Sophia Phan, at the booth of fine art photographer Barbara White.

On display: a photo of Moss down on one knee. In real life: Moss down on one knee.

"She didn't even notice the photo at first," Moss laughed.

Moss, a Huntington Beach resident, had been thinking about proposing for about six months.

"The whole point was to sort of have her be shocked," he said. "Turns out, it worked."

Moss said White was more than happy to help with the plan.

"She said, 'Well, I'm a true romantic at heart, too,'" Moss said.

After the proposal, the newly engaged couple went to the Lumberyard restaurant. Moss planned for a band to be there playing Train's "Marry Me" — one of Phan's favorite songs. Inside, family members waited to surprise Phan with cheers and champagne.


"It seemed unique, it seemed romantic, it seemed like a perfect way to do it," Moss said.

That same night, Andrew Shen and his girlfriend of four years, Crystal Paul, were also enjoying the festival. They attend together every year.

Before watching the Pageant of the Masters, the couple walked by the booth of painter Elizabeth McGhee.

Shen commissioned McGhee in early July to paint an image of him and Paul at the booth, with Shen down on one knee. It was up in the booth Saturday and the details of the painting matched the real-life scenario perfectly — right down to the dress Paul was wearing.

Shen and Paul had talked about getting engaged for about a year, so Shen said he really tried to find a way to propose that she wouldn't expect.

"It was gonna be tough to try and surprise her," Shen said. "I'm sure she woke up every morning thinking, 'Oh, this is the day he's going to propose to me.'"

McGhee, a graduate of the Laguna College of Art & Design, said this was an exciting experience.

"This is completely new for me," she said. "That's why I was really excited to do it. I thought it was so romantic. It's a personal touch. It's almost … like a treasure in a way."

After the proposal, nearby friends and family members who had been trying to remain inconspicuous celebrated with the couple.

But the summer lovin' isn't just for festival visitors.

In July, Mike Kortge proposed to festival employee Nan Fisher at fine jewelry artist Lance Heck's booth.

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