2012 Pageant of the Masters/Festival of Arts – 80th Year Of Wondrous Miracle of "Living-Arts" Plus Fine Local Artists
By: Joseph Sirota
It's Back! And to my mind, still the greatest Southern California ART EVENT -- one that marks the coming of summer. The amazing Laguna Beach annual Pageant of the Masters & Festival of the Arts shines brightly every summer night. I'm not its only devoted fan, because it's now opening a remarkable 80th year of world-renowned daily shows (This year spanning July 7 through August 31, 2012). Why is it a show I'd hate to miss year after year, and the show that I'd deem best choice to take out-of-town visitors to see, what still makes area special, even in times of economic stress. Unique, creative, always surprising and a most "Alive Art" event, The Pageant of the Masters breathes new "soul" into famous works of art (paintings, sculptures, posters, and other varied artifacts, even artistic pottery, jewelry and game pieces (this year a magnificent Napoleon chess set).
This "LIVING PICTURES" process dates back centuries to French festivals called "Living Art?" It's re-staging works of art in "Big As Life" copies, exactly like the original Art, except REAL LIVE PEOPLE (local) volunteers step up and into the art, in place of original characters of just "paint, bronze, silver, gold, porcelain, glass, etc. If ever there was a "must see it to believe it" -- this is it! I hail our neighbor cities as superb areas of top-grade and diverse arts/theater, throughout the year, but, if I have to pick ONE - truly unique, don't miss "Best of the Best Favorite-Events", this 80 year treasure of a Pageant, attracts full-houses of both local plus intrigued visitors from far off places. Tickets sell out quickly for this joy for families/dates/friends of all ages.
This year’s Living Art Pageant annual theme is “The Genius”. It's a salute to the rare giants of mankind's Intelligence/Insights that have stirred the world, and also moved great artists to salute them. But some of geniuses are among the artists themselves. Thus this year's Living Art works are a dazzling blend and geniuses of science and artistic geniuses as well. Michelangelo; Van Gogh, Rodin; Rockwell; Picasso, Seurat & Vermeer are powerful representatives of art genius. Industrialists, inventors, composers & math/geniuses of astronomy like Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo), and others whose creations of the mind changed the whole world's views of nature itself and its history, are highly acclaimed by the artists. Without doubt, the showstopper of the night was a terrific series of artworks spanning original telescopes evolving all the way to modern observatories (ala our own Griffith Park Dome). It became a deep crescendo of art works which expanded into unexpected beams of light of all paths and colors lighting up the Laguna mountain side arena skies (accompanied by a fine musical crescendo by the adept live orchestra). There wasn't a quiet person in the whole sold-out audience that wasn't oohing & aahing from kids to grandparents.
Appropriately, the traditional closing work of living art for the Pageant's many years was again a timeless mural by a timeless genius of both art and science. The creative genius is Leonardo da Vinci, donning his artist robe. His illuminated works of sketches and notes of his scientific, philosophically studies and quilled written conclusions, were finally followed by a grand work of his art, one that has touched deeply many generations, not by scientific logic, but by a superbly spiritually moving mural of 13 "Living Art" figures at the most legendary table of all time -- "The Last Supper", portraying Jesus and his disciples.
The Living-Art-Pageant has wisely been broadened by a yearly combining with an outstanding sprawl of current local artists of a plethora of diverse, fine Festival of local current local artists. We are treated to diverse styles, materials, messages to convey (toys, to jewelry, to pottery, lovers, favorite landmark places & people in their lives-- all conveyed in their works. The artists' also give discussions, and demonstrations, and very popular mini-classes for Wide-Eyed Young Visitors. Importantly, these art works on display are also for sale. Do consider a purchase from your favorite local artists--as they must survive soft economic times as did their forerunners. So even if you came mainly for the Living Art Pageant (which must start at darkness) you'll get lots more on your excursion if you come early to savor an "Art Workshop", "Youth Art Education Demo", "Art Tours", "Talks With The Artists" -- and you will find yourself not only entertained by the late night Living Art, but also uplifted. Oh, and don't forget one of my favorites, --a visit to the large section of young artists from pre-school to grade 12. I guarantee, you won't leave without finding a new, true prodigy or 2 (or 10?) whose works you'll adore. (They're not selling yet-- but you can try.)
Another benefit for coming early is getting a lovely outdoor table and have a picnic under the sunshine and ocean air & hillside setting. Bring your own food and drink, or buy some food, drinks, desserts at processions surrounding the tables and artist displays. There's also afternoon nightly music piped in over the tables, and very able live groups playing on an intimate stage by the tables. A real picnic treat. Hats off to the army of volunteers who step up to done makeup, costumes and exacting makeup & hours of dressing and setting up of actors all to be perfectly "Looking & Placed & Still" in the few minutes their character is brought to LIVE-ART-STATUS in the evening. I learned that two sets of actors perform in alternate weeks (otherwise a seven night schedule would mean, they'd miss ALL of summer with their families). Everyone works so hard, they deserve our Bravos.
…The Pageant of Masters & Festival of Arts @ 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; (blocks from the Ocean. Nightly Tkts for (7/5-thru-8/31) cost from $15-$100 (date/seats) Pageant includes Festival of Arts. Living Art nightly at dark (8:30pm). Fun starts far earlier-come see fine local art, tastes of varied food & beverages. Upbeat sounds of live jazz/pop music groups @ dusk on intimate outdoor stage, in lovely hillside-setting. Tkts/Info, call: (949) 494-1145