Winter Fantasy Sawdust Festival is like Sawdust in the summer except with a Santa. And it really feels like summer here. The fires have been everywhere up and down California with no real explanation. It is so dry. We wore shorts to Laguna Beach in December. That is unusual.
We ate at a new restaurant next to Sawdust called Another Kind. The food is Vietnamese and Thai. The menu isn’t clear. Small means appetizer and large means main entrée. The portions are small which I like. Our waitress turned into a waiter. They tried to serve us someone else’s food twice. They messed up the receipt. But they were super nice and the food was awesome. I ate some noodle veggie dish. I would go back again.
Laguna Beach’s main drag isn’t decorated for Christmas. But the courtyard in the Sawdust is beautiful with trees and Santa’s house. Photographer Mary Hurlbut’s booth is in Santa’s shop.
We stopped and chatted with a blonde girl in John Lennon glasses and a faux fur vest at Dr. Neon’s booth. I felt warm just looking at her. She looks like the singer Kerli. She started talking about Dr. Neon’s work. He has lots of knives, rings, and hanging dragons. I said, “Did you say Dr. Neon?” She said, “Yes.” She must have pointed up because then I saw his small neon sign that read, “Dr. Neon.” He used to work in neon, but Laguna Beach’s certain beautification council worried he’d make Laguna Beach like Las Vegas. The millennial, hippy laughed, and said something to the affect, “Like Laguna Beach could look like Las Vegas.”
Kirk Millette is one of my favorite jewelers. Look for his mermaid sign. He has mermaid sterling silver rings and necklaces, but we spied a merman. I had to have him and his flexing muscles.
We stopped to talked with the exuberant Makaila from Makaila Designs. She has some sterling silver ocean-themed rings. One was inspired by a tide pool with starfish. Casting investment is used to make the mold for the rings. She studied art at CSU, Long Beach and worked at a jewelry store. She thought hey why not take a couple of classes in jewelry. In my opinion, she is very talented. Also, she told us usually there is a petting zoo.
Winter Fantasy Sawdust is very busy because it’s a great place to do Christmas shopping or shop for yourself, and take a photo with Santa. December 16 and 17, 2017 is the last weekend to visit. Then walk to the beach for a California Christmas.
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.
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
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 Sawdustis 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
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