Culture Karma

Classics Meet Modernists

By Randy Kraft.

I’m visiting a friend in North Carolina where the trees are tall and blindingly green and weekend gardeners scurry like ants to remove the last bits of mulch and signs of winter.

Back in Laguna Beach, spring seems a foregone conclusion. Summer is what occupies the minds of most Lagunans as plans for the opening of the arts season take center stage. In Laguna culture, there are only two seasons: summer and off-season. Perhaps a third, fire season, but we thankfully escaped a maelstrom last fall.

I’ve spent my share of summer holidays at coastal towns, mostly along the Atlantic, and they all seem the same – hoards on the beach, crowds overflowing restaurants, teens running around barefoot with striped towels wrapped to their waists, and loud late night revelers, some of them at the vacation rental next door. Laguna adds to this skim boarders sliding on the sand, a plethora of events at restaurants and hotels, the ubiquitous clang of the trolley and, of course, the arts festivals, and this year promises to add new slants to the tried and true.

One might say the start of the season is Ebell Club’s Kentucky Derby party this  Saturday at the Surf & Sand. Always a crowd pleaser, and the philanthropic organization’s core fundraiser, this year mint julep meets the margarita on Cinco de Mayo. The perennial parade of hats, the new location and Mexican twist upgrades the tradition.

No Square Theater features a musical revue of The Gershwins June 29 – 30, and stages “The Wizard of Oz” early August. The blockbuster Pageant of the Masters: The Genius opens July 7 and promises a look at not only classic works but the relationship between technology and art, taking another modern twist to the classic.

Laguna Art Museum features Laguna College of Art & Design graduates in June and leaps into summer with a retrospective of the paintings of Clarence Hinkle, an early 20th century California modernist with impressionist roots.

In contrast, Laguna Playhouse seems to stick with traditional programming, kicking off their season in June with this year’s edition of “Marvelous Wonderettes.”

Art-a-Fair opens June 29; Sawdust Festival, July 1; and Festival of Arts, July 5; each offers once again a myriad of educational activities and entertainment. I wonder how many locals already have their preview tickets for the Pageant and festival opening events? The rush on these tickets starts early.

And so the season is on its way. Never dull, sometimes maddening, boisterous and bustling, and in a few places, a bit of the new to dress up the old. And that perhaps is what defines Laguna Beach all year long. Ready, set, here we go again.


Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered City Hall for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com.

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