Dynamic Duos Sustain a New Pageant

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“Dream of a Sunday Afternoon” depicts muralist Diego Rivera as a child alongside his wife, Frida Kahlo, one of the famous partnerships that underpin next summer’s planned Pageant of the Masters production.
“Dream of a Sunday Afternoon” depicts muralist Diego Rivera as a child alongside his wife, Frida Kahlo, one of the famous partnerships that underpin next summer’s planned Pageant of the Masters production.

Adam and Eve have inspired countless artists. Now, the Pageant of the Masters’ creator, Diane Challis Davy, gives them new exposure in the 2016 production “Partners” by including a painting by two friends, the younger Jan Brueghel and Peter Paul Rubens.

Sixteen other works centered on the theme of collaboration and partnership in art, science and culture will comprise the new production.

It will also include examples such as “Louis & Clark,” an oil painting by Edgar S. Paxson, and an untitled marble sculpture by Leo Friedlander. Then there’s “Wright Brothers Flight” by Phillip Von Saltza and Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, in bronze, by Lorenzo C. Valera. The art couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera will come to life in three murals.

Challis Davy outlined details of the production’s next rendition last Wednesday, Nov. 11, during the annual Festival of Arts membership meeting, coinciding with Veteran’s Day. “This date is perfect since one of the long-standing participants in the Pageant is a Vietnam veteran. Frank Daniels has played Jesus Christ in ‘The Last Supper’ for the last 35 years,” she said.

The idea of including partners like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers emerged while researching background material for the 2013 production, “The Big Picture.” “Let’s also not forget that the Pageant had been named in 1936 by the Laguna couple Roy and Marie Ropp, who had initiated it the year before,” she remarked.

Board members Kathy Jones, Fred Sattler, Pat Kollenda and David Perry reported on  Festival of Arts year-end results.
Board members Kathy Jones, Fred Sattler, Pat Kollenda and David Perry reported on Festival of Arts year-end results.

Festival board chair Fred Sattler praised the completion of a new facade in time for the July opening and that the show opened on time despite a fire in Laguna Canyon. He also recalled, with wonderment still in his voice, that the Pageant had been rained out in July for the first time since 1933. New construction planned for the festival grounds had been postposed due to El Niño predictions, he said.

Treasurer David Perry reported that festival revenues rose to $9 million, while the show cost nearly $8 million to produce. The 2015 production netted $995,649, a 32 percent increase over year ago figures, even though attendance remained nearly level, with 203,230 visitors.

The scholarship committee dispersed $100,000 in college scholarships in the last year, including 20 Laguna Beach High School graduates receiving altogether $37,000, and 37 returning students receiving follow-on scholarships as well, committee member Pat Kollenda said.

The art show showcased 140 artists, including a third who were also juried in during 2014, board member Tom Lamb said. This week, jury members reviewed 250 new applications. Residency eligibility will soon extend throughout the county, he said.

Works by three 2015 exhibitors were acquired for the festival’s permanent art collection: “Afternoon Shadows” by Gerald Schwartz, a charcoal drawing of the festival’s new façade; “Under Construction” by Stefan Cummings; and “Circular Meditation,” a fuses glass and wood sculpture by Sherry Salito-Forsen.

Festival artist and print maker Vinita Voogh donated the collagraph “Bombay Café,” and photographer Robert Hansen donated “Yucatan Passages,” a collection of hand-printed platinum/palladium prints.

Nine Pageant volunteers with at least 15 years of service were honored, and two staff members received honors for 15 years, two for 25 years and two, including Challis Davy, for 35 years of service, as Pageant director.

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