A Pageant of Painting
Partners and An Ocean-Front Paradise
Story and photographs by Greg Aragon
knew I was in for another fantastic time when I returned to Laguna
Beach last week for the annual Pageant of the Masters and Festival
of Arts, and to stay at historic Hotel Laguna. The Pageant never disappoints
and the hotel has become one of my favorite ocean-front gems.
Hotel Laguna offers historic luxury on the beach
The theme of this year's Pageant is Partners.
The history of art is filled with stories of solitary artists abandoning
society to pursue their creative expression. For the 2016 Pageant of
the Masters, the organizers searched for stories of compelling collaborations
that led to the creation of unforgettable artworks. This year's performance
is filled with provocative and passionate tales of some of arts
dynamic duos artists and patrons, models, muses, even dance partners.
The Pageant of the Masters recreates classic paintings
with real people
Before attending the show, a friend and I checked into
a charming 2nd floor room at Hotel Laguna. Overlooking a quaint courtyard
and the beach about 100 yards beyond, the vintage room was cozy and
efficient, featuring a king bed, large TV, bright bathroom with tub/shower,
and an awesome view of the beautiful white sand.
To get to our quarters we strolled through a bright
and stately lobby with marble flooring, classic photography and a piano
in the corner. We then past the elevator and opted for the old wooden
stairs to absorb more of the hotel's notable allure. After unpacking
we hit the water.
To get to the beach, we walked through the hotel's lush
rose garden and down the steps of its signature restaurant, The Ocean
View Bar and Grill. Here we spread our towels and got a good look at
the "Laguna Beach Riviera," a stretch of beach lined with
beautiful hotels. Standing out amongst these structures is Hotel Laguna
with its classic early Californian Spanish architecture.
Hotel Laguna is a short walk along from serene Heisler
Set on the sand, steps from the water, Hotel Laguna
was built in 1888 as the city's first hotel. Today, after more than
125 years, the property is still welcoming guests to beach-front luxury,
with lots of old fashioned charm. 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!
Heisler Park boasts walking trails, tide pools,
public art and awesome vistas
A short walk on the sand from the beach is Heisler Park.
Stretching about a half-mile along coastal bluffs, this oceanfront park
has walking trails, gardens, a marine refuge with tide pools, picnic
tables, barbecues, lawn bowling greens, stunning vistas, and a bunch
of awesome sculptures, such as blue whale, giant time pieces, and mariners
of the sea.
After an afternoon on the beach, we stood in front of
the hotel and caught the free Laguna Beach Summer Trolley to the world-famous
Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, located a few blocks away.
The free Laguna Beach summer trolley goes to all
the spots in town
Now in its 84rd season, the world-renown stage show
incredibly recreates and brings to life famous paintings with a group
of live, motionless models and beautiful backdrops - all set within
huge picture frames on a massive outdoor stage, with a professional
orchestra, live narration, and sophisticated lighting.
Located in a rustic Laguna Beach canyon, two blocks
from the ocean, The Pageant is something that must be seen in person
to fully appreciate. The 90-minute-long nightly performances are highlighted
by tableaux vivants or living pictures on a stage in the 2,000-seat
Irvine Bowl Park.
One of my favorite "paintings" of this year's
show is "The Kiss on the Hand" by Gerolamo Induno. This 1877
oil masterpiece features a gentlemen kissing the hand of a lady in front
of a horse and carriage. Another impressive recreation is the 1903 "Outdoors
in the Summer Winds" by Carl Larsson. This colorful oil mural depicts
a group of people walking past a lush countryside of flowers, plants
and trees. Like all the paintings in the performance, it is practically
impossible to tell that there are real people on stage.
Now in its 84rd season, The Pageant of the Masters
must be seen in person
to fully appreciate
The 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. The festival also
offers free daily art workshops for the whole family, live Jazz and
blues, wine tastings, cooking classes, restaurants and more.
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 ranges from $5 $12. Pageant of the Masters has performances
nightly at 8:30 pm. For tickets and more information, call (949) 494-1145
or visit: www.foapom.com
Picture Perfect Getaway to Laguna Beach; Laguna
Beach "State-Cation"; Images
of Laguna Beach; Searching
for Blue Whales at Long Beach; The
Queen Mary; Winter
Escape to Redondo Beach