now serving her eighth year as the director.
Born at Hoag Hospital before there was a South Coast Medical
Center, the 45-year-old Challis Davy grew up in Laguna Beach with art
in her blood.
"My father had the Challis Galleries," Challis Davy said. "He had
his gallery roughly from 1947 to the 1980s. Esther Wells Collection
was where my dad's gallery was."
While she was growing up, her step-mother was a Festival of Arts
exhibitor, and her mother is also an artist and model.
"I got to know a lot of the artists and families involved growing
up," Challis Davy said. "Of course, the big thing about the Festival
is that it's such a family."
Challis Davy has heavy roots in Laguna and went to elementary
school, Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School here.
"I was in the children's theater when the Playhouse was on Ocean
Avenue," Challis Davy said. "I loved theater and participated a lot."
She was a part of the drama and art department in middle school
and high school and studied art with Hal Akins, who is an exhibitor
at the Festival. She was a Festival scholarship recipient her senior
"As I grew older, I learned I was much more suited to working
behind the scenes," Challis Davy said. "I incorporated my love of
theater and art into studying design at Cal Arts in Valencia."
While in college, she spent a couple summers at the Chichester
Festival Theatre in England.
"I was willing to do anything backstage," Challis Davy said. "It
was great working in a professional theater. The first year I worked
as a dresser and the second year I was hired as a prop maker."
In 1976, she volunteered for the Pageant as a cast member just out
of high school.
"I loved it," Challis Davy said. "I was in a picture called 'The
Tea Party' by Mary Cassat. It was really fun -- a way to be in the
theater without the stress of learning lines. It was everything that
was fun about the theater with none of the headaches."
She recalls that everyone backstage was wonderful, enjoying
meeting a lot of nice people and that it was a breeze.
In 1979, after college, Challis Davy returned to home in Laguna
Beach and was looking for work. Her brother, who was a light board