The courtyard was packed with a colorfully dressed, multi-generational crowd dancing to a live band performing covers of Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson and other make-your-hips-shake-like-Shakira R&B and pop hits. I wasn’t sure if I was at a concert or the Festival of Arts opening night preview party. I’m certain the stilt walkers who were in the middle of it, twirling the average-height people around, had a great view of the wall-to-wall patrons perusing the perimeter filled with beautiful exhibits displaying paintings, sculptures, jewelry, glass creations, ceramics, hand-crafted wood and furniture, photography, mixed media and other fine art.
This press event, held on July 5, the night before the Festival of Arts opened to the public, wasn’t just an exclusive brand of super-carbonated entertainment for professional media, it truly exemplified what can be expected by any paying customer. Although journalists, photographers and other professionals were treated to the free show with complimentary hors d’oeuvres, Italian sodas, water (not offered free to the general public) and a cash wine bar, the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts is definitely a whole lot of fun and quite the artistic experience for everyone. It also allows patrons an opportunity to interact with many of the 140 finest artists in Orange County at this highly acclaimed juried fine art show. However, I’m especially looking forward to seeing some of the great jazz shows they have scheduled featuring Jackiem Joyner (July 10), Greg Adams and East Bay Soul (July 12), Chris Standring (July 17), Steve Oliver (Aug. 7) and Jeff Lorber Fusion (Aug. 9), among others!
Celebrating more than 80 years, this breathtaking showcase for artists and art lovers also offers demonstrations, art workshops, daily art tours, special events, an onsite restaurant, the Pageant of the Masters and more.
The Pageant of the Masters is the Festival of Arts’ crowning jewel. I saw it for the first time last night, and was engaged in enchanting amazement for 90 minutes as real people posing (in extremely authentic looking costumes and theatrical makeup) to look exactly like their counterparts in the re-creation of original pieces of classical and contemporary works of art. The stage show of “living pictures” is performed nightly in the outdoor amphitheater with a professional orchestra, original score, live narration, intricate sets, sophisticated lighting and hundreds of dedicated volunteers.
The Festival of Arts is open daily, 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., July 6 through Aug. 30, and includes Art, Jazz, Wine and Chocolate ($15 with purchase of Festival of Arts admission) on select Thursdays, and Jazz on the Green (free admission with purchase of Festival of Arts ticket) twice monthly on Saturdays. Here is the schedule:
Art, Jazz, Wine and Chocolate lineup:
July 10: Jackiem Joyner
July 17: Chris Standring
July 24: Gregg Karukas
July 31: Brian Bromberg with special guest Everette Harp
Aug. 7: Steve Oliver
Aug. 14: Pretzel Logic
Aug. 21: Tony Guerrero and Bill Cantos
Aug. 28: Billy Valentine
Jazz on the Green Concert Series lineup:
July 12: Greg Adams and East Bay Soul
July 26: Down to the Bone
Aug. 9: Jeff Lorber Fusion with Eric Marienthal and Jimmy Haslip
Aug. 30: Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band
Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, California. General admission is $7 Monday-Friday, $10 on Saturday and Sunday. Special discounts apply to students and seniors; free admission for military, Laguna Beach residents and children 12 and under. For tickets and information, visit www.foapom.com or call 949-494-1145.