My summer vacations were spent in Laguna Beach, California, one of the most beautiful communities in the world. My grandmother began this two week tradition in the late 1940's and my mother continued it after she and my father married. From the time I was born, we spent two weeks in August in a house on the beach in my favorite small town.
Festival of the Arts circa 1960's
Our trips were like those of many other families. We had our routines: favorite restaurants, motor boat rental to travel round Balboa Island, the Fun Zone, the Pottery Shack, the Jolly Roger restaurant, Victor Hugo restaurant (coat and tie required) and always the Laguna Festival of the Arts.
The Festival of the Arts is a tradition that began in 1932 as a means of drawing attention to this small art colony following the '32 Olympics in Los Angeles. It began as a grass roots event with art exhibitions, plays, parades and its biggest hit, the Living Pictures Show. Created by a local artist and vaudevillian, the Living Pictures Show featured people theatrically made up and costumed, posed within a giant frame, replicating famous paintings.
Painting a Character
The tradition continued, evolving into the now world famous Pageant of the Masters. Mother took us to the Festival each year, fostering a love for the paintings and sculptures by the local artists. We were encouraged to buy a piece of art each year, many of which were extremely affordable.
Artistic display at Festival of the Arts
The Pageant itself, showcased by the 1960's in an amphitheatre, was a spectacle of light and dark, color and shadow, a perfect mimicry of great works of art with absolute stillness on the part of the stage participants as the tableaux flow by.
Affordable and available to all, the Festival of the Arts runs from July 8 - August 31, 2009. General admission is only $7.00, a bargain! The Festival is situated on six acres, features over 140 artists who are "rigorously juried" according to their web site "to demonstrate and maintain high aesthetic standards." The 2009 theme is "The Muse" featuring works by Paul Gauguin, Maxfield Parrish, sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, Monet, Vermeer, Frida Kahlo, Lalique and so many more.
Setting up a living art tableaux
It's impossible to convey the exquisite precision of these recreations. Suffice to say they have to be seen to be understood. My memories are vivid. We went every year. I consider myself lucky.
Finishing touches on living art tableaux
For more information, visit Festival of the Arts - Pageant of the Masters.
Photos courtesy of FOAPOM.com.