Festival launches its summer season

Our Laguna

July 09, 2010|By Barbara Diamond
  • Mayor Elizabeth Pearson gives a proclamation of appreciation to Barbara Diamond on her 25 years of covering Laguna Beach.
Mayor Elizabeth Pearson gives a proclamation of appreciation… (Coastline Pilot )

The 2010 Pageant of the Masters "Eat, Drink and Be Merry" theme was celebrated appropriately at the Artists Preview Party Saturday night.

A happy crowd jammed the Irvine Bowl Park to feast their eyes as well as their stomachs. Invited guests of the artists perused the exhibits of 140 artists while imbibing beverages and nibbling on munchies on the newly renovated grounds.

"The Festival of Arts is truly fortunate to count among its exhibitors some of the most talented artists in the country," festival President Wayne Baglin said. "It is not only our mission, but our privilege to provide them with a forum in which to share their creativity with hundreds of thousands of visitors each summer.

"And since their works are available for purchase, patrons have the opportunity to bring home amazing, original pieces to be enjoyed for a lifetime."

The show was named this year as the top art festival by the Travel Channel. It is the longest-running outdoor fine arts exhibit in California.


Artists began displaying their works in Laguna in 1932, first on street corners, fence and trees along Coast Highway, hoping to lure tourist dollars. The show bounced around different location until 1941 when the city bought the current six-acre site from the Irvine Co. — hence the name Irvine Bowl Park.

The show was held on the grounds that summer and every year since, except during World War II.

"Flower Stalls" by Virginia Woolley was the first piece sold at the 1932 festival. It is now in the Festival's permanent collection.

Three new pieces were added to the collection Saturday before the event opened.

"We decided this year to purchase the prize works so the artists would be surprised when they arrived," said newly appointed Director of Exhibits Martin Betz. "We picked some big pieces by Scott Albert, Robin Hall and Troy Poeschl.

"The decisions were based on what the collection needs, but we could have picked 20 more pieces. It is an ongoing project."

Betz joined the staff at the end of April. He is succeeding Jack Archer, who is retiring.

"I am learning from the master," Betz said.

Betz's background includes a 13-year stint as senior curator at the Long Beach Museum of Art, teaching art and arts coordinator for the city of Temecula.

"This is a great bunch of people to work with," Betz said.

The festival is a work in progress, Betz said. Improvements are on-going. The bandstand has been moved, with a painted backdrop enlarged from a Ken Auster piece.

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