Pursuit of Happiness

Ilya Serov performs at Festival of Arts 2015.

Ilya Serov performs at Festival of Arts 2015.

Sawdust Art Festival

Before the annual show of Pageant of the Masters, I have to stop at the Sawdust Art and Craft Festival. Sawdust to me feels like home not far from where I grew up. It’s particularly beautiful at sunset when the soft lighting of the art in the teeny booths shines on the enveloping eucalyptus trees. The smell of bleached out wood chips and trees growing out of some of the booths make me feel like a hobbit.

There are crafters to artists, who sell affordable art, from practical to whimsical. If you need a head shot for your social media, why not get it done by Mary Hurlbut who uses lightening to enhance the natural beauty of you. Or perhaps, you’ll like Annette Doreng-Stearns jewelry with a steampunk flair using metals and gems. After meandering around the windy rows listen to live coffee shop style music while eating at Evan’s Bistro. The teriyaki salmon, chicken or tofu over brown rice with jalapeños tastes homemade and is organic for $13.

Festival of Arts

After a belly full, cruise to Festival of Arts toward the ocean and cross the street. Wander through fine art while you wait for the Pageant of the Masters show. Even the local county schools’ student art is impressive. In the professionals area, I find myself starring at Rob Gage’s photographs of a dancer surrounded by mannequins splashed with paint. Inspiration came from a behind the scenes tour last year of Pageant of the Masters. A completely different medium caught my eye—Mia Moore’s mix media of ancient Asian papers in a contemporary format. Her wall hangings of collage pieces of paper have an origami feel. Many of the ancient papers are layered on small squares of canvas creating texture. If peace can be captured, it’s in Mia Moore’s art.

Pageant of the Masters

This year’s Pageant of the Masters theme The Pursuit of Happiness intrigued me. And, it did not disappoint. Because of the American history, kids and horse I would highly suggest taking school age children. Oh yeah and there’s confetti and an air dancer on top of the stage. You know, those orange, flopping, inflatable, dancing characters to get a store attention. It’s not art, but it will keep the kids attention. Also many hidden levels where used. Just like the Festival of Arts there is a multi-cultural theme in the POM show this year. Because we all should be given the freedom to pursue happiness.

Snap the Whip by Winslow Homer, Oil, 1872

Snap the Whip by Winslow Homer, Oil, 1872

The production begins with oil on canvas paintings by Winslow Homer inspired by school children. Children run in front of the stage and play ball, making their way into Snap The Whip, which is a game.

Appeal to the Great Spirit by Cyrus Dallin, Bronze, 1909

Appeal to the Great Spirit by Cyrus Dallin, Bronze, 1909

One of my favorite segments, Great Spirits, is the Native American art that had a surprise. Stage right, above the small stage, Appeal to the Great Spirit by Cyrus Dallin, stands in the shrubs of a hill. Then even higher a spotlight shines on two more Native Americans on faux horses which is not in the program. There may be a hidden building stage right. All this time I thought that was foliage covering a steep hill.

George Washington by Thomas Ball, Bronze, 1864

George Washington by Thomas Ball, Bronze, 1864

The Life, Liberty and … segment includes two paintings with George Washington then Thomas Ball’s George Washington Statue in bronze off the stage. The statue stands stage left on a dais, close enough to see the volunteer (cast member) make the slightest move, which he didn’t. With the narration this is a moving moment, exemplifying our freedom and those who helped mold America. A George Washington impersonator rides on a real white horse, galloping in front of the stage. This is the closest I’ll ever get to George Washington. The narrator says, “You have the right to pursue happiness–” Washington with his hat in the air gallops off as the narrator continued, “–but it’s up to you to catch it.” Red, white and blue confetti shoots out from the top of the stage.

The Moon at the Vacation House by Chikanobu, Woodblock print, 1891

The Moon at the Vacation House by Chikanobu, Woodblock print, 1891

In the Setsugetsuka segment, a trio of woodblock prints on paper by Japanese Master Yoshu Chikanobu come to life with a moon lantern high in the sky, a dance as performed in Kabuki theatre and haiku poetry. The Moon at a Vacation House celebrates “moon viewing,” one of the most admired seasonal events in Japan.

Every year, I am amazed at how art is brought to life in Pageant of the Masters. Real people are painted and stand still for one minute or longer, through live music by a small orchestra and beautifully written narration. All the elements come together forming a bigger than life-size piece of art, you would normally have to travel all over the world to see.

Buy a ticket to The Pursuit of Happiness for a trip around the world!

There is a $7 pay lot on Laguna Canyon Road where you can take the trolley for free.

Sawdust Art Festival, 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

Pageant of the Masters, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna, CA 92651. Phone #1.800.487.3378.

Festival of Arts is $4-$10, but free with a POM ticket. POM starts at $15. The best deal is Mother’s Day weekend if you sign up to be on the POM email list. I don’t recall how I signed up for the email.

Passport to the Arts season pass. For $23 you can have unlimited admission to Festival of Arts, Sawdust Art Festival and Art-A-Fair all walking distance from each other plus one-time Free parking other discounts.