BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna Beach

BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna Beach

For the past several summers, I have attended the Festival of Arts and The Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. But this year, I also decided to also visit two other art festivals along Laguna Canyon Road rather than spend any time cruising the town as I had done before. The full-day of exploring all the artistic delights on display this year at all three locations left me dazzled by all the talent on display, while wishing I had lot of extra income to purchase and bring home many of the awe-inspiring items that caught my fancy. But the real highlight of the day was viewing the abundance of "local color" on display in this summer's Under the Sun themed Pageant of the Masters, which I will describe in more detail later in this review.

BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachYou can follow the progression of creating a "living work of art" from start to finish by viewing the photos starting here, beginning with matching possible cast members to characters needed to be portrayed in each piece of art or painting, through make-up, costume creation, to backstage placement and its final onstage presentation. Examples here are from The Garden Wall by John Singer Sargent.

First I visited Laguna Art-A-Fair which turned out to be a smaller, fine arts gathering available to artists in the greater Southern California area, not just those who live in Orange County as required at the Festival of the Arts. Along with paintings, displays included photographs, BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna Beachwoodworking, sculpture, and other high-end items. Most impressive to me was an exhibit by Donald Earhart in which his digital travel photographs are printed at very high resolution on metal sheets, causing light shined on it to penetrate the laser ink and be reflected back out, illuminating the photographs to bring out the most amazing colors and brilliance of the power of light. The most popular designs on display were of the Eiffel Tower and Venice Canals, two places I have been and now long to return to again after seeing the light reflected off two most romantic places I have ever visited. More information and tickets are available at www.art-a-fair.com or (949) 494-4514.

The Sawdust Festival was next, the most crowded and laid back of all the art festivals visited that day. BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachYes, there is sawdust on most of the walking area inside, but it is the variety of displays that I found the most interesting of the three exhibits that day. Not only is there fine art, but also handmade clothing, artistic craft work such as clocks and other art work with moving pieces, lots of jewelry at reasonable prices (including Sandra Callisto's dainty ear charms which I fell in love with and now wear daily), clever slogans artistically displayed on t-shirts, photographs of landscapes and animals, as well as a central area where glassblowers work their magic in full view of patrons on all four sides of their studio. It would be easy to spend an entire day at this location on its own! More information and tickets at www.sawdustartfestival.org.

Then it was time to walk over to The Festival of Arts Fine Art Show, celebrating its 86th year in Laguna Beach as a professionally juried fine art show BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna Beachfeaturing a diverse selection of artwork including paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, jewelry, and more from artists around Orange County. Since opening in 1932, thousands have shown and sold their artwork at the Festival and many have their work featured in the private collections of leading art collectors, celebrities, and museums around the world. The event includes live music, hands-on art activities, exhibitions of local student artwork, and a wide variety of special events round out one of southern California's favorite outdoor summer festivals.

BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachSince I was there on a Thursday when Art, Jazz, Wine and Chocolate Tastings happen at 5:30pm prior to The Pageant of the Masters starting at 8:30pm, there was a perfect opportunity to relax while enjoying an incredible the jazz concert by Spencer Day while enjoying wine and chocolate tastings in the central outdoor courtyard. My guest and I packed our own picnic dinners which we enjoyed at a tablecloth-covered patio table while the air was filled with Spencer Day's creative music selections and humorous musings on modern society. For a complete list of special events taking place every day of the week, including Art and Story Time, Arts Talks and Tea, Concerts on the Green, Fashion Shows and Family Art Days, visit LagunaFestivalofArts.org.

The Pageant of the Masters, a world-famous theatrical celebration of great art recreated in tableaux vivants, is celebrating its 85th anniversary of "living pictures" BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna Beachpresented as part of Laguna Beach's Festival of Arts. The annual production began as a publicity gimmick for the second Festival of Arts in 1933 and quickly grew into a summer tradition that now attracts over 140,000 patrons every summer. At its helm is Pageant producer-director Diane Challis Davy, once again summoning her creative energies and inspiring her talented team of theatrical artists as they breathe life into this one-of-a-kind entertainment that presents spectacular stage illusions with original, live music by the Pageant orchestra and informative and engaging narration also performed live each night under the stars.

BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachUnder the Sun celebrates the early years of the 20th century during which a great variety of natural landscapes attracted artists to Southern California: the Pacific Ocean, mountains, deserts. But more than anything, it was "the light," summoning a new generation of impressionists and plein air painters set up their easels outdoors and reveled in the natural beauty to be found as far as the eye could see, especially here in the tiny artists' colony of Laguna Beach.

Under the Sun includes works by many of Laguna's early masters: Anna Hills (1920), William Griffith (1928), Rex Brandt (1959), BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachJulia Bracken Wendt (1914), Roger Kuntz (1966-1973), and Joseph Kleitsch (1923, 1930), one of Challis Davy's favorites. "Joseph Kleitsch was an extraordinary artist in Southern California in the early 20th century," she stated. "And, like many Laguna painters, he also happened to be an immigrant." His two paintings on display, Red and Green and Café Las Ondas celebrate the early days in downtown Laguna Beach before roads were paved or waves of tourists reached the area.

Being a Los Angeles native, I knew this year's Pageant would speak to my own upbringing in the area of constant sunshine, amazingly colorful sunsets, and a thriving surf culture which influenced music and fashion as well as other forms of artistic expression. But most impressive for adding in a behind-the-scenes bit of theatrical fun took place during the classic "builder" pre-painting display moments when the curtains open up during prep time to show how a living picture is put together. "Builders have been audience favorites since they were first included in the 1966 Pageant." And I can tell you, when the curtain opened as the traditional finale of Michelangelo's The Last Supper was being set up, showing us all the actors walking up into the piece and then turning around to assume the iconic poses, my jaw dropped at the wonder of it all.

BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachAnd what would a salute to Laguna Beach culture be without an elaborate tribute to art and music associated with the Southland's surf culture? One of the most impressive paintings brought to life was Gary Prettyman's 1991 acrylic Cutting Glass in which a lone surfer is seen kneeling on his board as the wave he is riding begins to crash above him. Just as impressive was Edmund Shumpert bronze statue The Ultimate Challenge which graces the shore in Huntington Beach, seen here as it rotated 360 degrees allowing the audience to witness just how little support was offered to the young man portraying the rider above the tall wave.

BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachThese next photos are from the creation of Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida's oil on canvas Lighthouse Walk at Biarritz, from make-up session, to backstage placement and final onstage creation.

Act Two centers of works of art from Monet: The Father of Impressionism (1865-1887) who also loved to paint outdoors, three gilt bronze statues from the Dawn of Art Nouveau (1900-1901), Paul Gaughin's Polynesian Sunset (1897-1899) which opened a world on vibrant tropical color to the rest of the world, two John Singer Sargent watercolors celebrating Venetian Light including The Garden Wall whose creation is depicted in photos with this review, and BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachJoaquin Sorolla y Bastida's oil on canvas Lighthouse Walk at Biarritz, the creation of which is also shared with this review.

The Pageant of the Masters is arguably one of the most unique productions in the entire world, amazing and enchanting audiences with ninety minutes of tableaux vivants ("living pictures"), each one an incredibly faithful re-creation of classical and contemporary works of art, with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. Be sure to bring binoculars for more close-up looks, but even then, BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna Beachyou will not believe your eyes!

Kudos to the entire production team for their dedication in creating such a masterfully beautiful theatrical event under the direction of Diane Challis Devy, including scriptwriter Dan Duling, narrator Richard Doyle, technical director/lighting designer extraordinaire Richard "Butch" Hill, orchestra conductor Corey Hirsch, and the pages and pages of performers and volunteers who make the nightly extravaganza so spectacular for each and every audience member.

BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachThe Festival of the Arts and The Pageant of the Masters continue through September 1, 2018, at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Call (800) 487-3378 or visit LagunaFestivalofArts.org for more information, schedules, class information, and advance tickets.

The Festival of the Arts is open weekdays from 12noon - 11:30pm, weekends 10am - 11:30pm (early closing August 25 at 1:30pm). BWW Review: Spend a Day Filled with Artistic Delights at Art Festivals and THE PAGEANT OF THE MASTERS in Laguna BeachFree art tours will be held daily at 2pm and 5pm with a special family-friendly tour offered Saturday mornings at 11am. Meet the artists and learn firsthand about their artwork and techniques through discussions and free artist demos. General Admission: Weekdays $10, Weekends $15, Students & Seniors: Weekdays $7, Weekends $11, Children 6 - 12: Daily $5, Free Admission for Children 5 and under, Military, and Laguna Beach Residents. Tickets and more information (800) 487-3378 or www.LagunaFestivalofArts.org.

The Pageant of the Masters tickets run $15 - $260 for each nightly performance at 8:30pm and may be ordered by calling (800) 487-3378 on online at www.PageantTickets.com.

If you would like to attend all 3 art festivals, there is a special promotion (funded in part by Bank of America): Passport to the Arts for only $29. Includes unlimited admission all summer long to the Festival of Arts, the Sawdust Art Festival and Laguna Art-A-Fair. Enjoy works of art by more than 500 artists, 300 hands-on workshops, dozens of special events, plus a one time, all-day free parking pass with each Passport purchased. Order online at www.LagunaBeachPassport.com. Passports also available for purchase on-site at each festival location during the summer. Offer excludes Pageant of the Masters. Valid June 29 - September 2, 2018.

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