While women are generally cast in the role of muse to a male artist, this pageant is also a showcase for female artists.
The first half of the show will feature those — mostly women — who have inspired the world’s greatest artists, such as Vermeer and Da Vinci. The second part is devoted to women artists themselves.
Probably the most famous muse of all time is Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, an image of woman as “inspirational mystery,” Challis Davy said.
She said the show represents “a progression starting with the nine Muses from Greek mythology.”
Sometimes women are portrayed as objets d’art, as in one stunning tableaux depicting a gold and mother-of-pearl Lalic dragonfly pin in full glory — more than 10 feet tall — atop which stands a bare-breasted woman.
Other depictions include movie posters from some famous old-time horror films — and what Challis Davy promises will be “a whimsical ending.”
Scriptwriter Dan Duling said the 2009 pageant moves from “treating women as artistic subjects to artists in their own right.”
“We pay tribute to women artists, but with a light touch. This isn’t a feminist tract,” Duling said.
The male muse is not ignored. Works by both Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo — a married couple who inspired each other — will be displayed.
The 40 works will include favorites by Maxfield Parrish, Salvador Dali and Gauguin.
Women artists whose works will be portrayed include Camille Claudel and Malvina Hoffman.
A huge painting, “The Horse Fair,” by Rosa Bonheur, for whom a street is named in Laguna Beach, is part of Act Two.
During the preview, the press was able to observe as performers were made up and costumed, and then watch them get into sometimes awkward positions.