The Grand Tour

Pageant Entry
Entrance to Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Arts. The Ball On Shipboard, c. 1874 and Waiting For The Train, c. 1871-1873 James Tissot. Photo by M.C.

Pageant of the Masters

In the past, Pageant of the Masters themes have been movies, art connected to a mystery, American life, and partners in art. This year, The Grand Tour, celebrates a unique time in the 18th century in Britain where elite young men traveled throughout Europe to see great masterpieces of art once they completed their formal education.

The Honorable Henry Fane with Inigo Jones and Charles Blair by artist Sir Joshua Reynolds is the “living picture” that opens the show. Two painted men sit at a table. An actor as Charles Blair, stands near the other men then walks out of the painting, taking the audience on a journey to Paris, Venice, Naples, Florence, and Rome. Traveling by boat, train, horse and buggy could prove dangerous. There is a side trip through Scotland’s rugged terrane where Charles Blair is lifted by cot. In a letter we hear how terrified he was. Can you imagine being a teenage boy traveling through Europe with your tutor for two to three years in those days? Sometimes they ate and slept in the same room with flees. Poor royals.

Pageant Program
Emma Hart, Lady Hamilton As Circe, 1782, George Romney, Oil on Canvas, Program Cover. Photo by M.C.

The painting of Emma Hart (not her real name) on the program cover is part of a large segment in the Pageant. They say Emma was a model for an artist. In those days, a model was considered no more than a prostitute. (In doing some research, she was treated like an object.) She also became known for her ‘attitudes,’ which were poses for a small live audience. (Again, I think men were just gawking at her.) I would say she was a young girl of a blacksmith, trying to make a life for herself, and ended up used by men. She hung with the wrong crowd in all walks of life. Hon. Charles Greville tried to make some money off her commissioned portraits by George Romney. Greville fancied another woman, who was rich, and sent Emma to his uncle. Emma married Greville’s uncle, who was in his sixties. Then Admiral Horatio Nelson saw her in one of her performances and fell in love with her. Once Emma’s husband died, she married Nelson. He died leaving her to fend for herself. Sadly, she ended up gray, fat, and poor as a paper reports then died at forty-nine. Watching the show, I couldn’t help but think her story would make a great romance novel, but would need a better ending.

Act Two celebrates Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Tour. I didn’t realize he performed for Queen Victoria with Native American’s. Annie Oakley is spotlighted. Also the Jazz era in Paris has a large segment. If you sit stage right in the Loge area you will see Louise Armstrong, 2000 in bronze by Blaine Kern Artists and Encore: Duke Ellington Memorial, 2012 Stainless Steel by Zachary Oxman. You aren’t missing much on the hill. There are Native Americans pretending to be angry and Buffalo Bill, but not an art piece. So this time would be a good time to sit up close if you want to see the performers breath and blink. Plus, Buffalo Bill rides in front of the first row with a beautiful fawn horse. 

Festival of Arts

Festival of Arts is part of your ticket to the Pageant. For the 85th anniversary the grounds and facilities have been renovated, but still have the same feeling and layout. There is new, low concrete weaving throughout the exhibit where people sit with a bring-your-own picnic. Sometimes you can catch a concert included with both events. Many of the same artists are there every year, which adds to the community feel. The photography of Norway is beautiful. The jewelry can be from beautiful to imaginative. Some of the necklaces have moving parts like the inside of a watch.

Sawdust Art & Craft Festival

Adler Mermaid Necklace
Mermaid necklace by Lorraine Adler. Photo by M.C.

All the events are about half a mile from the beach. The influence of the ocean makes it easy to find lots of mermaid art, particularly at the Sawdust Festival. I bought a blonde mermaid necklace by artist Lorraine Adler who creates lovely watercolors and jewelry. The necklaces have a print of her original watercolors. Adler says, “[I] started painting mermaids last year when a redhead came into my Sawdust booth, said she loved my work, and wanted me to paint a redheaded mermaid for her. It was the start of something big and so much fun creating these personalities.”

The Sawdust is my favorite art festival. The lighting is beautiful at night, looking up at the surrounding brush. The food is great too. Tacos Durrell has a spicy, tofu taco. Enjoy the live music while you eat.

All the events are chill. You can eat and drink everywhere. Though the smell of the vinegary wine during the Pageant isn’t so great. (Maybe bring your own.) You can take your children. I saw ages maybe 6 to 96. There was a little dog there! At least take the kiddos to Sawdust. I went to Sawdust as a child and still have fond memories of walking on wood chips and looking at colorful art in natural lighting.

Pageant of the Masters runs nightly through August 31, 2017 and Sawdust is open until September 3, 2017. Both are walking distance from each other. Get there before 5:30 p.m. to get good parking for $15.

Festival of Arts • Pageant of the Masters • 650 Laguna Canyon Rd • Laguna Beach CA 92651 • 1-800-487-3378

Copyright 2017 Melissa Crismon

M/V Farley Mowat


Officer Marian on the M/V Farley Mowat. Photo by M.C.

Touring one of the Sea Shepherd ships is a rarity, one of the Los Angeles Chapter members says. The Marine Vessel Farley Mowat is docked in the San Diego Harbor for the Fourth of July weekend. Then the crew is off to Baja Mexico to have the small ship repaired. Marian, our tour guide and officer, said the ship isn’t expensive to buy, it’s the upkeep. Once the ship is repaired, they are back on the Sea of Cortez to help the vaquita porpoise and the totoaba bass.

The fishing villages lay gill nets in murky water, making it difficult for the vaquita to see. The Sea of Cortez is their only home. The totoaba bass gill nets end up with vaquita by-catch. The swim bladder is taken out of the bass, who are then thrown back into the sea. The bladder has purported medicinal and male virility enhancement value and is used in soup.

The Farley Mowat houses thirteen to eighteen crew members. Three of the crew left while three new members board. In the mess, Marian hugs one of the guys leaving. Comradery abounds from the volunteers on land to the crew. We get a private tour along with Kimberly, one of the new crew members. As an engineer is in the mess, I ask Marian about romance aboard ship. Passion is the first question of any good romance writer. Marian passes the question to the engineer who says, “Oh #@$%!” I take it as things haven’t always ended his way but then he says, “We’re a bunch of hippies.” I ask if the men and women sleep in separate areas. There is no privacy. The bunking is coed. Marian says, “We all know what each other looks like.” Ha!

We’re shown awesome footage of their 2016 Campaign Milagro in the Sea of Cortez. On the video the captain says, “Jacques Cousteau once called Mexico’s Sea of Cortez ‘the world’s aquarium.’” The stingrays leap out of the ocean. There are bass, humpback whales, sea turtles and dolphin. Then illegal nets are pulled out with some of these dead creatures. A female crew member on the video expresses that the marine mammals have been dead for days in the net, and it smells like nothing she’s smell before.

Up and down narrow ladders, we meander through the living quarters to the bridge to the stern where the panga boat is kept. Processed nets are in a bag. When on campaign they find the nets sometimes at night I believe then bring them in from the bow. They eventually cut the nets and bag them near the stern. Adidas make shoes out of the nets!

Sea Shepherd relies on generous donations from vegan food to money. The local San Diego and Los Angeles chapters are selling Sea Shepherd merchandise on the quay. There are books by Capt. Paul Watson, T-shirts, hats, stickers and more that will go to help with things like gas for the Farley Mowat and Sea Shepherd in general.

This is the warmest, most passionate group of people. One story the L.A. Chapter lady told me really stuck with me. She said the Sea Shepherd organization is all over the world. It’s not just about the whales. In Washington State, sea lions are being branded then shot the third time they are caught with salmon. This is legal for the fishermen to shoot the sea lions if caught. They catch the sea lions, cage them, brand them then eventually shoot them. (A reminder to not eat fish.)

Sea Shepherd is wherever they can be actively stopping the killing of marine life. If you’d like to donate to Operation Milagro, follow this link to Sea Shepherd or go visit the M/V Farley Mowat in the San Diego Harbor near the Star of India ship from 9 to 5 through Tuesday, July 4, 2017. Parking on the pier is $20 for all day, which will give you time to eat nearby, tour the U.S.S. Midway and walk Seaport Village or the Gaslamp District. Your donation is worth the entertaining tour. Happy Fourth of July!

Copyright 2017 Melissa Crismon