If Laguna Beach’s three famous art festivals were restaurants, the Sawdust Art Festival would be the slightly scruffy (but absolutely awesome) neighborhood joint; the Art-A-Fair would be the family-owned restaurant where they serve classics-done-right and aid you in gradually broadening your palate, and the Festival of Arts would be the haute-cuisine experience.
This is not to say that the artwork is inherently better at Festival of Arts. All three Laguna Beach festivals have stand out pieces suitable for a wide range of tastes. They complement each other (yet another reason why the Passport to the Arts is a wise purchase) and each play a vital role in Laguna Beach’s designation as an artists' colony. The food metaphor is just a way of explaining that the Festival (as it’s often called) is perhaps the one of the three that takes the most risks in challenging the viewer, and most resembles a traditional gallery setting. In a nutshell, Festival of Arts displays original works of art from over 140 Southern Orange County artists.
A few key things to know before you go:
1. Art Is Everywhere. The art begins before you get in the door—with a brand new facade to the Festival Grounds. Gone are the foam and plywood structures that held up well but didn’t fully capture the Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters' place in Laguna Beach’s history. The new structure feel’s dignified and doubles as a public art piece worth taking a moment to admire.
2. You Can Dress Up, But You Don’t Have To. Festival of Arts is the most buttoned up of the three festivals, and while you probably won’t be tossed on the street for showing up in a board shorts or cutoffs, you might feel a bit out of place. Collared shirts, sundresses, and resort wear are the most typical attire and fit well with the stylish, yet beach-inspired aesthetic of the town itself.
3. You Can See Art of All Varieties. The Festival of Arts features sculpture, photography, painting, jewelry, and avant-garde fusions. If figurative paintings are your thing, you’ll find no shortage of them at the Festival—but it’s also worthwhile to push your boundaries by checking out other genres and styles that you may not typically be drawn to. The sculptures of Tim Shockley (Booth 124) are highly metaphorical in nature and often carry large philosophical implications.
4. It Makes for The Perfect Date Night: On site food vendors, beer and wine, and the widely spaced booths (which give the feel of a leisurely gallery stroll) make this an ideal spot to bring a special someone. The photography of Baldemar Fierro (Booth 23) evokes feelings of romance in a subtle way—viewers will find that his camera seems to find beauty in oft-ignored physical forms while simultaneously telling a story.
5. Take Time To Develop a Relationship With The Pieces. Many of the Festival’s artists make work that you can’t simply walk past and expect to “get”. Slow down a little. Linger. Ask questions. Andrew Meyers (Booth 140) makes mixed media pieces that create differing effects when viewed at different distances. It would be a shame to speed through the Festival grounds and not see the all complexities that the artists have to offer.
6. Get Your Hands Dirty. The chance to learn from local artists is one that absolutely shouldn’t be missed. Kids and adults alike will get to absorb wisdom from professionals while giving flight to their own creative visions. Plus it’s a ton of fun!
7. The Dance Floor Isn’t Just to Look At. Festival of Arts has a stage and dance floor where bands perform each weekend. Let the music (or your date) pull you toward the dance floor—where you’re sure to meet some of Laguna’s longtime residents cutting a rug. Jazz on the green and Sunday in the park are featured events all summer long.
8. Take a Tour To Deepen Your Experience. An art tour is one way to get a deeper understanding of the works on display and the artists behind the pieces. A docent will allow you opportunities to converse with the artists, debate with other viewers, and wrestle over the ideas being touched upon. You can even trot out any shreds of knowledge you still remember from Art History 101. Some of the best art comes loaded with information that a viewer walking past might not even recognize. Eric Gerdau (Booth 128) paints seascapes that are so realistic that many people confuse them for photos. It would be a shame to breeze by his booth without fully understanding the technique involved.
FESTIVAL TICKETS (July 5 – August 31, 2015)
Tickets can be purchased on-site at the Festival of Arts Ticket Office.
HOURS OF OPERATION
July 5: 10:00am – 6:00pm
July 6: August 31: 10:00am – 11:30pm
August 29: 10:00am – 3:30pm
FESTIVAL OF ARTS ADMISSION
General Admission (Monday – Friday): $7
General Admission (Saturday & Sunday): $10
Students and Seniors (Monday – Friday): $4
Students and Seniors (Saturday & Sunday): $6
Children 12 or under, Military, & Laguna Beach Residents: FREE