Sawdust's Winter Fantasy twinkles with art

Works ranging from body painting to works used in mental and physical therapy will be on display at the festival that draws 20,000 people annually.

November 15, 2012|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Judy Kearby, left, and Susan Leonhard hang decorative snowflakes in Santa's workshop for this weekend's opening of the Sawdust Festival's Winter Fantasy.
Judy Kearby, left, and Susan Leonhard hang decorative… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Deeply humbled by the impact of his craft on people of all ages, Star Shields has contributed to the Sawdust Art Festival for 29 years.

The Laguna Beach-based face and body artist counts Led Zeppelin, Paul and Linda McCartney, Deep Purple and Bob Dylan among those who have donned his brightly hued, airbrushed outfits.

"After I painted stage clothing for Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant came to visit my infamous 'flying saucer booth' incognito in a rickshaw," Shields recalled. "This festival has helped me grow as a creative artist, allowing me to share my skills everywhere I paint."

Every season, crowds gather as Shields simultaneously paints among three to six projects. Saturday will be no different, as the maestro plans to treat visitors to his trademark style of painting faces, tattoos and fabrics accentuated with bold colors and glitter.

Shields will be one of 177 artists — 30 featured for the first time — who will design, display and sell their labors of love at the 22nd annual Winter Fantasy at the Sawdust Art Festival. Starting Saturday, the event, labeled "Art for the Holidays," runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekend until Dec. 9.


"Sawdust has changed my life and is magical with its family of artists and helpers," Shields said. "It is important to keep the uniqueness of this festival and its diverse art education alive."

On opening day, the 12th annual Community Tree Lighting Ceremony will be officiated by Laguna Beach Mayor Jane Egly at 5:30 p.m. The evening's special guests also comprise magician Magic Matt, balloon artist Balloon Diva, the Top of the World honors chorus, singer-songwriter Tricia Freeman and Fireside Carolers, a Charles Dickens-themed a capella group. Laguna Beach residents with ID are invited to join the fun for free after 3 p.m.

Art aficionados can witness the resplendent festival grounds and pop-up "Towne Square" decked in festive glory, showcasing an assortment of handmade arts, including jewelry, glass, ceramics and photography. Special attractions consist of an annual Community Night, a Toys for Tots toy drive, opportunities to mingle with Santa Claus and live art demonstrations.

In line with Winter Fantasy's mission of educating the public about the arts, festival-goers are encouraged to explore the Ceramic Center and Children's Art Spot as well as create watercolor holiday cards, origami ornaments and even Danish gnomes.

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