A Picture Perfect
Story and photos (unless otherwise noted)
by Greg Aragon
f a picture is worth a thousand words, then how can one describe the
spectacle of the Pageant of the Masters? The answer is that it can't
truly be described; it must be seen in person to fully appreciate its
Located in Laguna
Beach, the Pageant is a world-renown stage show that recreates and
brings to life famous paintings with a group of live, motionless models
and beautiful backdrops, set within huge picture frames on a massive
outdoor stage, with a professional orchestra, live narration, and sophisticated
I recently visited the spectacle with a friend and we
also experienced the historic Hotel Laguna while in town.
Laguna Beach boasts a world famous pageant and an
Set on the sand, steps from the ocean, Hotel Laguna
was built in 1888 as the first hotel in Laguna Beach. Today, after more
than 125 years, the hotel is still welcoming guests with lots of old
Our 2nd floor room overlooked the water. To get to there,
we strolled through a bright and stately lobby with marble flooring,
vintage photography on the walls and a piano in the corner. We then
walked past the elevator and opted for the old wooden stairs to absorb
more of the hotel's historic allure.
Hotel Laguna has been welcoming guests for more
than 125 years
In our vintage room we found cozy, minimalist comfort
with a king bed, large TV, quaint bathroom with tub/shower, and an incredible
view of the ocean. It was a beautiful July day and the beach below was
bustling with colorful sunbathers and swimmers. The sight was so tempting,
we quickly unpacked and joined them.
The rooms at Hotel Laguna offer great beach views
After the swim, we waited a few minutes at the bus stop
in front of the hotel and took the city's free trolley to the Pageant
of the Masters, located a few blocks away.
Laguna Beach offers visitors free summer trolley
The 82nd annual pageant is part of the larger Festival
of Arts, a summer-long celebration of art and artists. This years
festival showcases the works of 140 of Orange
Countys best original painters, sculptors, ceramists, jewelers,
and photographers. In addition to the art, the event offers free daily
art workshops for the whole family, live Jazz and blues, wine tastings,
cooking classes, restaurants and more.
The Pageant of the Masters is part of the Festival
of Arts, art and artists celebration
But the highlight of the festival is the Pageant of
the Masters, where each night a 90-minute show of tableaux vivants or
living pictures take the 2,000-seat Irvine Bowl Park stage in the corner
of the festival grounds. The pictures are remarkable re-creations
of classical and contemporary masterpieces, painted with
real people (including a bunch of adorable kids), who are painstakingly
made-up with costumes and makeup to look exactly like images in classic
paintings. The painting are then filled with authentic backdrops and
wrapped by giant picture frames.
When the curtain is lifted, each 90-second-long picture
is accompanied by an orchestra, with an original score; a live narration;
and sophisticated lighting. The theme of the "paintings" at
this year's Pageant of the Masters is The Pursuit of Happiness,
and it explores the many sources of happiness, both ancient and modern.
The Pageant recreates famous paintings with real
people (photo courtesy of
Pageant of the Masters)
The first "painting" of the night was an amazing
recreation of Winslow Homer's 1871 oil classic, "The Country School."
This work depicts a small, rural country school house with barefooted
kids reading books and listening to a beautiful young teacher.
Another fabulous work on display is 1891's "The
Moon at a Vacation House" by Japanese artist Chikanobu, which shows
colorful geisha's girls strolling beneath a full moon, past bonsai trees
and a bamboo house. Then there was the playful "Snap the Whip,"
by Homer, which depicts a group of children playing a game in a field
in front of an old red schoolhouse.
"Betsy Ross Presenting Flag" is one of
the highlights at The Pageant (photo courtesy of Pageant
of the Masters)
My favorite masterpieces of the night was "Betsy
Ross Presenting Flag" by American painter Edward P. Moran. Painted
on oil in 1917, this beautifully detailed piece shows Betsy Ross and
two children presenting the US flag to George Washington.
Back at the hotel we had a nightcap at the property's
signature OceanView Bar & Grill. In the morning, we walked to the
beach from the back of the hotel, through its lush Rose Garden with
gazebo and lawn. While laying on the sand we got a good look at the
"Laguna Beach Riviera," a stretch of beach lined with hotels.
And standing out amongst these structures is Hotel Laguna with its classic
early Californian and Spanish architecture.
The hotel, which was originally constructed during the
California travel boom of the 1880s, was demolished and rebuilt and
reopened in 1930 with fresh white paint, side Spanish arches and a bell
tower that never had a bell!
Hotel Laguna was originally built during California's
1880's travel boom
Hotel Laguna is located at 425 South Coast Highway,
Laguna Beach, CA 92651. For more information and reservations, call
(949) 494-1151 or visit: www.hotellaguna.com
The Festival of Arts and the Pageant of the Masters
runs through August 31. The address is 650 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna
Beach, 92651. The festival is open daily, 10 am 11:30 pm. Festival
admission is $4 $10. Pageant of the Masters has performances
nightly at 8:30 pm. Ticket prices range from about $20 for the least
expensive to about $225 for premium Saturday night seats. For more information,
call (949) 494-1145 or visit www.foapom.com
Beach "State-Cation"; Images
of Laguna Beach; Searching
for Blue Whales at Long Beach; The
Queen Mary; Top
10 Things to Do at Catalina Island; Escape
to Catalina Island; Winter
Escape to Redondo Beach