Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach is quickly drawing to a close as we say farewell to another extraordinary summer festival experience. Each season brings new innovations from the festival directors, but this summer we also got to celebrate a brand new venue to showcase art, music and entertainment, art demonstrations and classes. In the beginning – 85 years ago – Festival of Arts artists hung their paintings on fences, buildings and trees along the main street of Laguna – and now they have a gorgeous new home on the Irvine Bowl grounds. Hats off to Bauer Architects and everyone that made such a striking new contemporary home for our artists to share their work – but alas, no room for new parking places.
Each summer we marvel at the “living art” on stage at the Pageant of the Masters, and this year’s Director, Diane Challis Davy, treated us to The Grand Tour, as we viewed art masterpieces across the continent, then on to the Southwest for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West experience complete with a marksmanship show of Annie Oakley. Especially striking in presentation were the marble and bronze treasures of Versailles in the statues of Apollo and the Nymphs of Thetis and the Fountain of Apollo; to da Vinci’s gorgeous painting of The Annunciation housed in the Uffizi Museum in Florence. The tour continued to the Highlands of Scotland to view David Allan’s Highland Wedding at Blair Athol; and on to Pompeii, Naples and Venice for Tiepolo’s Minuet. Act One was defined by the grace and elegance of earlier centuries (1400–1800), while Act Two gave us the jovial jazz era with the art and music of Harlem in the early 1900’s with Chez Bricktop Presents Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker. We traveled in the entourage of pageant character, British bloke Charles Blair on this make-believe world tour, a thoroughly enjoyable, delightful and whimsical art tour for this year’s pageant. As projections crossed the screen letting us know we had touched down via our hot air balloon in some earlier time, we were reminded that great art is timeless. And as always the pageant closed in reverence with Leonardo da Vinci’s masterful The Last Supper.
As I took a “walk of awe” around the Festival of Arts the exhibits, so many artists stood out, representative of remarkable talent in each category: The whimsical sculpture of Rachel Young and Andrew Myers; curiosities in mixed media by Shelley Rapp Evans and David Milton; art of familiar places in paintings of Sandra Jones Campbell, Scott Moore, Michael Obermeyer and Wendy Wirth; inspirational glass creations by Christopher Jeffries, Gina Lunn & Michael Herman; playful ceramics of Scott & Naomi Schoenherr; rhapsodic watercolors by Geri Medway and Jacquie Moffett; melodic metals and stone jewelry of John Tolle and Adam Neeley; and the eloquence of nature captured in the spectacular photography by Gar Cropser, Rick Graves and Cheyne Walls. You have to go see their art – it will take your breath away!