Laguna Beach Festival of Arts Sets Sights on July Opening

March 21, 2021 Updated: March 21, 2021

With the state easing Orange County’s COVID-19 restrictions, the city of Laguna Beach has begun planning for the opening of its 2021 Festival of Arts Pageant of the Masters.

Last year, the fine arts show was canceled due to the pandemic in a move that had a profound impact on both the organization and juried exhibitors, many of whose livelihood was dependent on the success of the popular annual event.

Determined to support local artists despite the cancellation, festival officials pivoted to digital technology, enabling them to create their inaugural cyber-exhibition, foaVIRTUAL, featuring nine galleries and showcasing as many as 17 different artists in each.

“Since the cancellation of our shows in 2020, we have been hard at work putting together online art initiatives,” said Sharbie Higuchi, Festival of Arts marketing director, in a press release.

“All of us at the Festival of Arts felt that if we couldn’t, for the time being, bring our guests to the fine arts show to see the incredible work of our artists, we would find a way to bring our artists to our guests.”

From its inception, foaVIRTUAL has featured a wide variety of media including paintings, photography, printmaking, sculptures, jewelry, handcrafted wood and furniture, ceramics, glass, and more.

All of the artwork has been available for purchase from the artist, and just like the festival’s summer art show, 100 percent of each sale has gone directly to the exhibitor.

A Return to Normal

But as the 2021 summer season approaches, festival organizers are ready to resume the traditional festival format.

In tandem with the Festival of Arts is the highly anticipated opening of one of the most unique productions in the world, the Pageant of the Masters, which recreates famous works of art through live models and intricate staging.

The 2021 theme, “Made in America,” will give audiences a unique opportunity to “meet” the artists—revolutionaries, innovators, and dreamers—who not only made this country their home but let their creativity be inspired by the freedoms upon which this nation was founded.

Asked to reveal some of the artists whose stories and works will be included in “Made in America,” pageant director Diane Challis Davy shared several, many of them acknowledged masters of American art. The list includes N.C. Wyeth, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Norman Rockwell, Daniel Chester French, Luis Jimenez, and John Nieto.

She said: “We’re going to ‘flesh out’ and ‘paint’ more detailed portraits of the individual artists. I want to make these artists, regardless of their time periods, real and identifiable for the audience.”

Davy said she realizes the pageant wouldn’t be possible without its dedicated volunteers who return year after year to take part.

Offering a final observation, Davy said, “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure ‘Made in America’ will be full of thrills, amazing and inspirational stories, beautiful music, and extraordinary living pictures under the stars. Pageant of the Masters audiences will meet the artists who made this country their home and were inspired by the freedoms upon which this nation was founded.”

Although there are no guarantees as to the status of holding live events like the Pageant, the hope is that ticket sales will begin in the near future.

Founded in 1932 by local landscape and mural artist John H. Hinchman, the Festival of Arts has become recognized as one of the preeminent art festivals in the nation. This year’s show will feature the work of more than 100 Orange County artists selected as top in their mediums.