Art Comes to Life in Laguna Beach

“Art inspires the imagination,” says Reem Khalil a textile artist at the Sawdust Art Festival. “From our imaginations dreams are born.”

With this statement in mind, art is essential to the health and vibrancy of any community. In Orange County, we are fortunate enough to have the beautiful seaside community of Laguna Beach, a mecca of artists, festivals, galleries and theatre productions. During the summer, the magic of artistic expression comes alive with the beloved events: The Sawdust Art Festival, Laguna Art-A-Fair, Pageant of the Masters and Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts.

The Sawdust, now celebrating its 50th year, is a must-do on my list every year. I love walking under the cool eucalyptus trees, visiting the artists and making my annual purchases. The atmosphere is casual and welcoming as artists explain the inspiration and muse behind their latest creations. Sometimes we dance a little to the eclectic live bands or are lucky enough catch one of the artists in action; blowing glass, welding, throwing pottery or painting.

What makes the Sawdust unique is that it is a non-profit owned and operated by the artists themselves. Infused within the heart and soul of this festival is the dedication to give back to the community through art demonstration booths, complimentary hands-on art workshops, a children’s art booth, a Ceramic Center, arts program throughout the year, and a mentorship program. Also in its 50th year, the Laguna Art-A-Fair is set in a garden ambiance and showcases artists of various mediums from around the world, features live music, epicurean cuisine and adult artistic workshops.

Just across the street within the grounds of the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts is the famed Pageant of the Masters where art literally comes alive. Imagine yourself nestled in an intimate outdoor amphitheater as real people pose motionless as classical and contemporary works on the stage before you. With sophisticated lighting and intricate sets, albeit gorgeous re-creations of famous artistic masterpieces, appear to be two-dimensional, flat. The live orchestra, original score and professional narration only add to the mystique of what you are seeing. At certain intervals they deconstruct the production, removing lightings and set design and with a sudden “ah-ha” moment to allow the audience in on the magic of how it happens.  This live art recreation is truly unforgettable from start to finish.

Prior to the 90-minute show guests are treated to the creative endeavors of 140 local artists at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts. The Festival’s art show includes a wide variety of media such as paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, handcrafted wood and furniture, ceramics, glass and more. You will also be inspired by the demonstrations, live musical entertainment, workshops and daily art tours.

The Sawdust Art Festival and Laguna Art-A-Fair end on August 28 and the Pageant of the Masters and Laguna Beach Festival of Arts end on August 31. Make sure to take advantage of Passport, the free shuttle service, or the free trolley system and visit the festival grounds soon to spark your imagination.

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