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

POM Partners

The Kiss of the Hand Gerolamo Induno
The Kiss on the Hand, 1877, Oil by Gerolamo Induno from a private collection. The painting is on a poster in front of the Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters. This is the piece in the show where we see how the scene is set. Photo by M.C.

From the original couple Adam and Eve to dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Partners is the celebrated theme of 2016s Pageant of the Masters.

The Garden of Eden with the fall of man by Rubens and Brueghel
The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man, 1615, Oil by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder. Mauritshuis, The Hague, the Netherlands. Photo by

POM opens with The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man by Rubens and Breughel in Oil in a staged art gallery. Patrons study the painting. Eve gives the apple to a male patron and then next two patrons whip off their clothes and dance the tango. There is a lot of impressive ballroom dancing from Gary Franco and Cindy Ricalde.

Two of my favorite pieces La Belle De Nuit, c. 1900 by Edmond H. Becker and Butterfly Brooch, c. 1904 by Gaston Lafitte are enamel and gem butterfly brooches on the main stage. Taking pins and making them life-size and sparkle like diamonds, just amazing. You could see the belt on one of the butterflies move as she did shallow breaths.

I would think they teach the volunteers how to breath, hold their breath and blink. Sometimes they don’t breathe. And if they blink sometimes it’s a slow blink if they are able to control themselves.

Singin’ in the Rain poster (C) & TM Turner Entertainment Co.

It seems every year movies are a focal point. This year lithographic posters for Top Hat with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers comes alive. The audience is thrilled by the poster for Singin’ in the Rain. A dancer comes out to do the famous dance in the rain with an umbrella as a police officer stares him down. “Gene” glides near a small stage where a man dumps a bucket of water on him. A drop hits me from the splash—that’s how close I am.

Detroit Industrial by Rivera
Detroit Industry, North Wall, 1932-33, Oil Fresco by Diego Rivera. Detroit Institute of the Arts.

I love the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera section, but the dancing seems to be filling in time and gets a bit distracting from the fine art. Towering skeletons (Frida and Diego) are rolled out to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. There is a lot of cheese, but your kids will love it. Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry mural is stunning as working men hold still.

The most impressive piece is The Dancers by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, a bronze statue of a man and woman, leaning back from each other holding hands. There is an inch of metal piping holding them up below one foot and up their back. One foot is in the air! Since they are in bronze paint they can’t move at all or the reflection will show breathing. No breathing could be seen in that long minute!

As always Pageant of the Masters is amazing! I am delighted to hear the harpist Amy Wilkins showcased. Our seats are in the third row, but I would suggest farther back so you can see the art above the smaller stage. Whether you sit close or far away you will still get the mystique of the Pageant.

This is always my favorite annual post since there is nothing like the Pageant. On the night of the show with your ticket, go to the Art-A-Fair and they will give you a pass for the rest of their fine art festival. Art-A-Fair is across the street close to the Sawdust Festival with more art. Then go back to the Festival of Arts and meander through the fine art until the Pageant starts in the same area. The gelato is good, but you can take your own snacks. On a Monday night, the parking ($7-$15) is open everywhere, but get there early.

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