Irvine Bowl Park, Laguna Beach, CA
Happy Sunday, folks! Hope you’ve all enjoyed a nice weekend. We’re doing a rare Sunday post, because in just a few short weeks, starting Sunday, July 7 and running through Saturday, August 31, the long-running Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts returns to Newport Beach for its 86th rendition! This beloved South Orange County art tradition is a summertime staple, with exhibits and activities that celebrate local artists and artistry, and of course, the highly impressive Pageant of the Masters itself. It’s all fun for the whole family!
Last Monday, we had a chance to preview this year’s Pageant. Just as it did last year, the event featured a tiny sampling of the artwork that will be on exhibit, a featurette on some of the new food options available this summer, a look behind the scenes of how the Pageant comes together, and a preview of three scenes from this year’s Pageant of the Masters, entitled The Time Machine. It was a fun little evening and definitely upped the anticipation for what promises to be another wonderful summer of art in Laguna Beach!
“Intermission” by Terra
Last year featured a plated dinner at the end of our evening catered by the new culinary crafters at Terra, the iconic restaurant with the sweeping double curve roof located right beside the Irvine Bowl at the festival grounds. This year, there was a lighter, “happy hour” session at the beginning to showcase some of the new concessions items that will be available at this year’s Festival. Tasty sliders, avocado toast, and fried finger foods will be part of the menu from “Intermission,” from the same chefs behind Terra.
Incidentally, Terra has once again gone under refurbishment for additional improvements to its dining and kitchen facilities. Things will hopefully look great once everything reopens in a few weeks!
The Festival of Arts is the free component of this summer series, open to anyone who stops by (in contrast to the Pageant of the Masters’ paid component, which includes admission to the Festival). Each year, the Festival of Arts features dozens of local artists, sculptors, and creatives who showcase and sell their wares. Some art retirees who have devoted themselves to a hobby they’ve always enjoyed; others are full-time professional artists; and there are those who do it on the side while balancing their regular professional responsibilities. But the great thing about art is that it can be done by anyone and for anyone. Our media night included a glimpse into some of the works and creators we will see this summer.
After a little bit of time to enjoy the refreshments and speak with the artists, we were treated to some opening remarks and a quick presentation of one of the sculptural “living picture” elements of the upcoming Pageant of the Masters. A French empire-style clock was brought to life in a combination of actor and sculpture, and it was pretty cool to see this all close up!
Backstage Art Previews
Afterwards, we were invited backstage to see the set pieces being prepared for this year’s Pageant. The Pageant of the Masters features several dozen pieces each year, and many of them require backdrops and props and stage set-up to position three dimensional elements properly to mimic the flat compositions of the art they’re recreating. Painters and sculptures work to create the individual components which, when put together and paired with the actors, create real-life representations of many famous works of art. It was fascinating to see how the preparation was done, and to understand the scope and scale of the effort for this undertaking!
We were also invited backstage to the dressing room area, where dozens of actors a night are given costuming and make-up in preparation for their scenes. For the most part, actors play one part in one painting the entire night, and the make-up artists only have a few minutes per person to get ready to keep the show moving along. Those who pull double duty might get an early scene and a late scene to allow time to reset. And a rolling schedule means that make-up is still happening for the later parts when the Pageant begins. After 85+ years, the process has become more streamlined, but it’s always an exciting and time-sensitive task to make sure all the actors are ready for their roles each night!
Finally, after it got dark, we had the chance to see three sample works from this year’s Pageant. Unlike last year, the crew did not have a “how it comes together” glimpse like last year, although it remains a traditional favorite for the actual Pageant show itself. Instead, we saw three finished scenes and waiting between the set-up from scene to scene. The lighting and colors and posing once again showcased the wonder and mastery of these “living pictures” that have become such a beloved staple of Laguna Beach each summer!
I went to the Pageant of the Masters for the first time last year and found myself captivated by the presentation and grandeur and execution of all the various works of art. The work that everyone puts in is truly monumental and incredible. The pageant itself caps off the night, but the Festival of Arts is also a fun event. Guests can bring their own food and beverage and picnic if they’d like, or purchase food on site. There are plenty of artwork displays to enjoy, and there are family-oriented events like workshops and afternoon concerts depending on the day as well.
This year’s Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters runs daily from July 7 - August 31. Tickets are available at Festival of Arts web site, and there are also deals on Goldstar and discounts codes available from time to time for Festival email subscribers. If you love art and want to enjoy a wonderful summer afternoon and evening, make your way down to Laguna Beach for this fantastic event. You won’t regret it!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.