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Summer Art Festivals Return to Laguna Beach

Updated: 18 hours ago

A cornucopia of art experiences – as well as food and drink – awaits along Laguna Canyon Road.

A member of the backstage staff fits a headpiece on a volunteer at the Pageant of the Masters. Photo courtesy of Ron Azevedo, Festival of Arts
 

It’s gearing up to be another hot summer, but things are cooler along the coast.

Case in point: Laguna Beach, home of the legendary art colony, galleries, a respected art museum, and the beautiful, scenic beaches.


Three world-famous art festivals have also just kicked into high gear: Laguna Art-A-Fair and the Sawdust Art Festival, which opened June 28 and run through Sept. 1; and the Festival of Arts, which opened July 3 and runs through Aug. 30. The Pageant of the Masters – the crown jewel of the Festival of Arts – just opened July 6 with the theme, “À La Mode: The Art of Fashion.” That nightly mixture of theater, music, art and performance also runs through Aug. 30.


Here’s a look at each festival and some highlights coming up this summer:  


PHOTO 1: Volunteers take a brief break from posing in "Royal Parisian Wedding," which is a manuscript illumination dating back to the 14th century by an unknown artist. Photo by Christopher Allwine. PHOTO 2: A tableau vivant, or living picture, of James Tissot's 1873 oil painting, "Too Early," as re-created by Pageant of the Masters volunteers. PHOTO 3: A tableau vivant of Edmond Henri Becker's 1900 jeweled brooch, "Belle du Nuit," which will be re-created during this summer's Pageant of the Masters. PHOTO 4: The entrance to the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. PHOTO 5: This year's Pageant of the Masters theme will be "A La Mode: The Art of Fashion." Here is a fascimile of what the Irvine Bowl stage will look like this summer. PHOTO 6: Casey Parlette talks about his work at the artists' party at the Festival of Arts. Photo by Pat Rogers. PHOTO 7: Gary Monji gives an art tour at the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach. PHOTO 8: Visitors to the Festival of Arts look at the art of Fred Stodder, front. Photo by Lily Fassnacht. All photos courtesy of Festival of Arts


Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters

The Festival of Arts is celebrating 92 years since its inception in 1932, with 120 Orange County artists showcasing and selling their artworks, including 21 new exhibitors. This professionally juried exhibition offers a variety of works in various media, including paintings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, jewelry and more.


Festival attendees will get the opportunity to engage directly with the artists, as well as participate in art classes and workshops, and enjoy live music. A new music series, the “Spotlight on the Music of Hope Blue Piano,” will feature a blue “hope” piano on the main stage, with performances on Saturdays from July 13 through Aug. 10. Pianists will include Josh Nelson, John Proulx, Scott Wilkie, Bill Cantos and Althea Waites. This program is taking place in partnership with City of Hope Orange County to battle cancer and honor those whose lives have been touched by the disease.


Terra Laguna Beach is the newish restaurant on the grounds of the festival. It focuses on California cuisine with sustainable food practices, utilizing farm-fresh ingredients. Reservations are recommended; you can check out the menu on this site.


Other food and drink options include Intermission by Terra, which sells burgers, salads and snack choices, and the Terra Wine Bar. Guests may also bring in their own picnics. For information on dining, picnic rules and hotel options, visit this Festival of Arts site.


Not to be overlooked, the 91-year-old Pageant of the Masters is once again presenting a panoply of tableaux vivants, or “living pictures,” in which volunteers pose in and re-create paintings, sculptures and other artworks for 90 seconds each. The theme this year is “À La Mode: The Art of Fashion,” exploring fashion from the King Tut era to contemporary clothing designers.


“Modern fashion shows are very theatrical, and designers are always pushing the envelope of outrageousness and showmanship. That appeals to me,” Pageant Director Challis Davy said in a statement. “The 2019 Dolce and Gabbana runway show was an extraordinary spectacle. I’ve also been inspired by the annual Met Gala ball and shows like ‘Project Runway’ and ‘Fashion Police.’ But I will never forget to appreciate the craftsmanship and the hard work that goes into fashion: designing, pattern making, stitching, embellishing ... it is art.”

Festival of Arts

Where: 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

When: Through Aug. 30

Cost: $10-$15 general, $7-$11 students and seniors, $5 for children 6-12, free for children 5 and younger, military and Laguna Beach residents

Pageant of the Masters runs nightly through Aug. 30 with showtimes at 8:30 p.m.; tickets start at $45

Information: (800) 487-3378, foapom.com or PageantTickets.com


PHOTO 1: The entrance of Laguna Art-A-Fair on one of its opening evenings. The festival is celebrating its 58th season. PHOTO 2: Laguna Art-A-Fair during one of its opening nights. Photos courtesy of Laguna Art-A-Fair


Laguna Art-A-Fair

The only Laguna art festival that has no residency restrictions, Laguna Art-A-Fair is featuring 113 artists working in various media, including 30 new exhibitors. Artists have been selected from 258 applicants, and have come from all over the state and country, including talent from Hawaii and South Africa.


The theme for this year’s festival – celebrating its 58th season – is “Festival Without Borders.” Art demonstrations, workshops and live music are planned throughout the summer.


A relatively new restaurant, Seven7Seven Restaurant, has taken the place of Tivoli Too! The specialty of Seven7Seven is apparently “Art-A-Fair Margaritas,” concocted especially for this festival. Other options at Seven7Seven include pizza, a chicken pesto sandwich, a Mediterranean wrap and a charcuterie board. Wines and beers are also served. The full menu is provided at this site.


Special events during the festival will include Disco Days featuring the Ohio Trio Plus on Aug. 24, and an ice cream social on Aug. 11, with free ice cream and the Honey Bees band.


Laguna Art-A-Fair

Where: 777 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

When: Through Sept. 1

Cost: $10 adults, $8 for seniors and students, free for Laguna Beach residents, military and children 12 and younger (with a paid adult)

Information: (949) 494-4514 or art-a-fair.com


Photos from the Sawdust Art Festival. PHOTO 1: The entrance of the 2024 Sawdust Art Festival. PHOTO 2: Original arts and crafts are on view and sale. PHOTO 3: A glassblowing demonstration. PHOTO 4: A glassblowing artist shows off his creation. PHOTO 5: The Sawdust Art Festival offers numerous hands-on art classes and workshops, such as this ceramics class. PHOTO 6: Attendees pose with their drinks. PHOTO 7: Original arts and crafts are on view and sale. PHOTO 8: Just inside entrance is a decorative truck and mural. PHOTO 9: The grounds of the 58th Sawdust Art Festival. PHOTO 10: Sawdust artist Tara Luther paints at her booth. PHOTO 11: The Salty Suites Band performs on a side stage. PHOTO 12: Art booths on the grounds. PHOTO 13: Original arts and crafts are on view and sale. PHOTO 14: A sign on the grounds gives basic directions to attractions at the festival. Photo by Maximus Jupiter Corona. PHOTO 15: Sawdust artist David Fleischmann draws a portrait of an attendee. PHOTO 16: Musicians perform on the Main Stage. PHOTO 17: Various food and drink possibilities are available at the Sawdust, including this coffee and espresso stand. PHOTO 18: The 2024 Sawdust Art Festival poster. All images courtesy of Sawdust Art Festival


Sawdust Art Festival

The venerated Sawdust Art Festival is celebrating its 58th season, most of them tucked in its shady eucalyptus grove off Laguna Canyon Road on sawdust-covered grounds. This year, more than 180 artists are participating, all of them Laguna Beach residents, except for a handful who have been grandfathered in. A variety of media is on display and sale, including painting, sculpture, glass-blown creations, photography, pottery, clothing, textiles and more.


Art classes, workshops and demonstrations are running throughout the summer, and live music will grace three entertainment stages. Chef Gonzalo “Gonzo” Rebollar, who made Taco Loco an affordable Laguna Beach staple for 36 years until its unfortunate closing in 2023, is reviving his nonpareil tacos at the Sawdust this year.


Other food and drink options include the Sawdust Saloon, serving Laguna Beach-brewed and regional craft beers, an espresso and coffee bar, Jackson Family Wines and two other outdoor dining venues.


Special events include wine tasting and docent-led tours of the Sawdust on Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m.; the Sawdust Fashion Show from noon-2 p.m. Aug. 4; the Artists' Benevolence Fund Auction from noon-3 p.m. Aug. 11; and Beatles Day on Aug. 24.


In a statement, Andrew Soliz, president of the Sawdust Art Festival board of directors, said, “I am honored to be among the many artists who have contributed to this multi-generational art festival, sharing our work with the community amidst this ancient eucalyptus forest. On behalf of the artists and entertainers who came before us, and all of us present today, I extend a hand of friendship to everyone attending the 58th annual Sawdust Festival.”


Whichever festival you choose – or if you choose all three – it’s bound to be a summer of art, nourishment and unique experiences in Laguna Beach.


Sawdust Art Festival

Where: 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

When: Through Sept. 1

Cost: $12 for adults, $9 seniors, $5 for children 6-12, free for children 5 and younger

Information: (949) 494-3030 or sawdustartfestival.org


Passport to the Arts

Planning to visit all three Laguna art festivals this summer? For only $29, you can obtain one-time entry to the Festival of Arts, Laguna Art-A-Fair and the Sawdust Art Festival. Plus, the passport gets you one-time free parking at the Act V (Lot 16) parking lot at 1900 Laguna Canyon Road.


The passport can be purchased at any of the three festivals’ box offices. It is not available for purchase online, and does not include the Pageant of the Masters. For more information, visit lagunabeachpassport.com


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