Festival Serves Up a Visual Feast

Visitors navigate through the Festival of Arts fine art show. Photos by Dondee Quincena.
Visitors navigate through the Festival of Arts fine art show. Photos by Dondee Quincena.

Laguna Beach’s reputation as an art colony vividly sprang to life as artists and their fans returned to the Festival of Arts, which opened the town’s longest-running fine art show, now in its 86thseason, to the public this week.

The neighboring Art-a-Fair and Sawdust Festival, also located in Laguna Canyon, the previous week welcomed first-day crowds to their temporary summer exhibition space for arts and crafts creators as well. Organizers all hope for an eight-week long influx of art-buying visitors.

At the top-drawer Festival of Arts, 140 artists working in an array of mediums – painters, sculptors, jewelers, glassmakers and assemblage makers – exhibit in a newly renovated facility. Art demonstrations and workshops, art tours, live music, special events and on-site restaurants round out the show, which opens at noon weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends.

The later opening means a chance for some artists to savor a summer pleasure they often miss. Jewelry artist Karin Worden vows to spend her mornings at Woods Cove, near her home, though the rest of her days will be spent showing metal necklaces and earrings. Like the landscapes and photos of other artists, her works are, too, displayed within framed boxes like the works of art they are.

One of the most striking visual changes on the grounds comes from the transformation of the former Tivoli Terrace restaurant, now under new ownership. Stripped of non-original construction and landscaping, a striking mid-century triangular roofline has been exposed to shelter Terra Laguna, an outdoor farm to table restaurant.

Artist Brian Giberson, of Laguna Woods, makes totems from wood.
Artist Brian Giberson, of Laguna Woods, makes totems from wood.

A similar cantilevered, wedge-shaped canopy considered a prime example of modernist architecturejuts from the Palm Springs Visitor Center, located near the tramway and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

Festival juror Mike Tauber thinks the Terra Laguna building is a twin for the landmark former Enco service station in Palm Springs.

The curtain goes up at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday on the latest edition of the Pageant of the Masters, “Under the Sun,” a nightly production that creates so-called living pictures, or tableau vivant.

Local color saturates the 23rdproduction by Pageant director Dee Chalis Davy with works by many of Laguna’s early masters, Anna Hills, William Griffith, Julia Bracken Wendt, and Joseph Kleitsch. Their work forms the core of a show tribute to the Laguna Art Museum’s centennial this year.

Together both shows attract more than 250,000 visitors annually.

On the Festival grounds, artists Vinita Voogd, Brian Giberson and Sherry Salito-Forzen serve as exemplars of creativity.

Voogd, a printmaker whose media allows experimentation with different materials and dimensions, displays a series of textured collagraphs. Instead of creating relief by carving into metal or wood or etching with chemicals, she builds visual interest with layers. Snippets of art paper from Thailand and China and found objects such as number stencils, cardboard circles under frozen pizzas and textured wall-papers all figure in her current pieces. Preparing a plate can take a month.

A post-war metal shortage popularized the approach, said Voogd, who immigrated from India in 1982. A UC Irvine student, she was lucky enough to learn from master print maker John Paul Jones. She lives in Mission Viejo and teaches printmaking at Golden West College.

Four-year exhibitor Brian Giberson, of Laguna Woods, discovered his latest artistic muse when scavenging wood pieces of a carved gate discarded by a neighbor.

Now he creates self-described totems, vertical painted wood assemblages. Metal bands embellish one. A cast-off clarinet provides a spine for another. A remnant of a baroque-style picture frame or a twisted bedpost adds an antique cue to some.

Giberson avoids naming them to allow viewers to imbue them with their own interpretation.


Exhibitor Sherry Saleto Forzen with her “Quiet Woman” glass work.
Exhibitor Sherry Saleto Forzen with her “Quiet Woman” glass work.

Exhibiting for the 33rdyear, Sherry Saleto Forzen assembles art glass into Mondrian-style compositions, each a grid of color and texture.

Her largest work displayed at the show, “Quiet Woman,” priced at $6,500, is composed of three separate glass panels, each of multiple glass layers.

Using clear glass as a base, the artist builds a composition with strips of carefully cut colored glass in rich hues. The work is fired in the garage studio of her San Clemente home slowly over two days at 1,500 degrees. In “Quite Woman,” a second firing was required to add copper flecked glass that conveyed bamboo leaves.

Beyond the visual feast served up by the artists, other treats abound on the grounds.

The Weekend Line-up

Live musical entertainment, free with festival admission, is scheduled Saturdays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. and at 1 p.m. Saturday throughout the festival’s run.

This weekend, Missiles of October and Tony Guerrero lead his friends in a big band, who take the stage Saturday and Sunday evening, respectively.

Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band performs at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 8.

Those who want to sharpen their own creative output can join for-fee art classes, which also include admission to the art show.

Also Saturday, artist Lesli Bonanni teaches the basics of composition, structure, color and line in a pastel class at 3 p.m. The cost is $60. For those without Pageant tickets, festival exhibitor Anthony Salvo leads wine, painting and strawberry dipping at 8:30 p.m. The cost is $75. Supplies and complimentary wine or beverage are included.

On Sunday, Carolyn Machado leads a mosaic class at 3 p.m. for $60.

Family Art Day, which begins at noon Sunday, July 8, is designed for and around children. When they arrive, kids will get a booklet full of coupons redeemable for special activities and treats. They will also enjoy a performance by an all-kid aerial and circus arts show, an art exhibit treasure hunt, hands on art projects, balloon art, printmaking and more.

Next week’s entertainment:

Monday, July 9: Laguna Community Concert Band
Tuesday, July 10: True Willie and the Boys

Wednesday, July 11: Kiki Ebsen
Thursday, July 12: Brian Simpson ($20 in addition to Festival admission. Reserved seating, $35 per person.)

Friday, July 13: Dorian Holley

Next week’s youth art-class lineup, at 1 and 3 p.m., respectively:

Monday, July 9: Cartoons, Pastels
Tuesday, July 10: Ceramics, Printmaking
Wednesday, July 11: Ceramics, Mosaics
Thursday, July 12: Recycled Art, Ceramics

Friday, July 13: Sculpture, Mixed Media

The cost is $25, plus a material fee, per session. Reservations required at LagunaFestivalofArts.org.

For wee ones:

Art and Story Time is a weekly series for children 5 and under every Monday at 12:30 p.m.


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