Volume 14, Issue 51  |  June 28, 2022

Guided by art: The Laguna Beach Poetry Trail offers visitors and locals alike a new way to explore our town


Regardless of how long you’ve lived in Laguna, the town always seems willing to show you something new. Even for those who know every nook and cranny, and all the city’s hidden secrets, there are nonetheless fresh ways to experience old gems. Last week, when local poet and writer Ellen Giradeau Kempler offered me a guided tour of Laguna’s Poetry Trail, I expected to discover some creative voices and original perspectives on our public art. But I never imagined how much I’d learn about the places I pass every day. 

After living in town for nearly 25 years, I’d never seen the koi pond, stocked with swimming turtles, tucked inside the Water District’s “Waterwise Garden.” While I’ve walked by Road Blossoms (a seating sculpture created by Kyungmi Shin and Todd Gray) countless times on my way into Whole Foods, I’d never paid attention to all those mosaic details. And though I’ve seen several photos of Raymond Persinger’s poetic stained-glass screen located in Brown’s Park (entitled Sight and Sound), I’d never visited in person. 

Beyond that, though I’ve seen much of our town’s art, I haven’t taken enough time to reflect on it. Nor have I experienced it through someone else’s imaginative point of view. That’s what the Poetry Trail offers – lots of art, some Laguna history, local poetry and a little exercise. It’s a reminder to slow down and take our town in and it gives us an opportunity to see old treasures anew.

“Laguna was founded as an art colony, and visual art has always had a strong presence here,” said Kempler. “But we have also become a cultural arts destination. It’s time we recognize the role creative writers have in contributing to a healthy and thriving arts community.”

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Local poet and writer Ellen Giradeau Kempler created the Poetry Trail after receiving a grant from the City of Laguna Beach. Kempler chose 10 poems written by community members in response to 10 pieces of public art. 

“Groups like Third Street Writers, Laguna Poets and the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance, the library’s annual poetry contest and the Cultural Arts Commission’s literary laureate program have encouraged adult writers,” Kempler said. “But we need more recognition of the ways all the arts can inspire each other. We also need to encourage young people to explore the written word with creative writing classes, workshops and projects like the Poetry Trail. I have long advocated a literary festival that would bring people together to celebrate books, reading and writing of all forms.”

In 2020, Kempler received a Fostering Creativity in a Time of Crisis Grant from the City of Laguna Beach. Funded by the city with a donation from the Wayne Peterson Trust through the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, the funds allowed Kempler to partner with the Friends of the Laguna Beach Library and produce a 26-page free booklet that guides visitors throughout Downtown Laguna to explore 10 different pieces of public art and their accompanying poems. The roughly 1.7-mile walk takes visitors through City Hall, down Ocean Avenue, over to Forest and eventually to Brown’s Park and Main Beach. The trail ends in North Laguna at the opening of Jahraus Park. 

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Local artist Jessica DeStefano was inspired by Ralph Tarzian’s bronze sculpture, “The Discussion,’ located at the corner of Ocean and Forest avenues in front of Anastasia Café

“When I found out about the Poetry Trail, I was very excited to walk it and let each art piece inspire prose,” said local artist Lisa Mansour. “I’ve always loved the concept of Art in Public Places. A few of the public art pieces were installed during my tenure as a Laguna Beach Arts Commissioner, so it was particularly fun visiting those stops.”

Between November 2020 and April 2021, after choosing 10 pieces of contemplative and thought-provoking art, Kempler solicited community members to contribute poetry that engaged with the pieces. In the literary world, the exercise is known as ekphrastic poetry – works written in response to art. Ekphrasis paints a picture with words. But, of course, those words are refracted through the creative lens of the writer and reflect their own experiences and vision of the art. Of the 127 submissions anonymously submitted, Kempler blindly chose 10 poems to represent each of the 10 public art pieces. The contributors represent a range of ages, backgrounds and life experiences.

The first stop on the poetry trail is Gerard Stripling and Michele Taylor’s collaborative sculpture Moving Forward. Installed in front of the Susi Q Community Center, the limestone bench protects an array of bronze shoes and one pair of glass ballet slippers enclosed in protective glass. 

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Joy Dittberner, executive director of the Laguna Dance Festival, wrote about her bygone ballet days in response to Stripling & Taylor’s 2009 installation, “Moving Forward”

“I’m not a poet, but I decided to submit something,” said Joy Dittberner, executive director of the Laguna Dance Festival and board member of the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance. “Since I’m involved in the Laguna Dance Festival, it was appropriate to write about the ballet shoes under the bench at the Susi Q. It was fun to try something new, stretch to find some creativity and be involved in the project. I cannot wait to walk the Poetry Trail with friends and share the artistic vibrancy of Laguna Beach.”

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Fresh Faces at foaSOUTH


At the Festival of Arts’ “Fresh Faces” exhibit, patrons are invited to get a sneak peek at the artwork from fourteen artists that will be exhibiting for the first time this summer at the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show. The foaSOUTH gallery is located inside Active Culture at 1006 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA, the “Fresh Faces” exhibit and will be running through June 23, 2022.

Featured artists include Isabelle Alessandra (painting), Lynn Beeler (photography), Carole Boller (painting), Dawn Buckingham (painting), Jayne Dion (mixed media), Judy Haron (egg tempera with gold leaf), Terry Houseworth (painting), Sharon Hutchison (painting), David Kizziar (charcoal/graphite), Susan Leonhard (painting), Kirah Martin (painting), Maribeth McFaul (mixed media), Leslee Turnbull (painting), and Debbora Zoller (mixed media).

Festival of Arts

foaSOUTH, 1006 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Daily 9am to 8pm



JUNE 3, 10 AND 17

World Music Series

colibri LR

Annual concert series featuring authentic live cultural music from around the globe. Low-back beach chairs are encouraged. Alcohol is permitted for guests 21 or older but must be accompanied by a full meal. Solicitation of any kind is not permitted at City events.


7/3 - Kamini Natarajan (Indian Raga and Kirtan)

7/10 - Riad Abdel-Gawad (Egyptian violinist)

7/17 - Las Colibrí (All-female ensemble Mariachi)

Funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

City of Laguna Beach

Heisler Park Amphitheater, Cliff Drive

6:30 p.m. - sunset




Live! at the Museum: YuEun Kim


Join Violinist YuEun Kim this week as she performs at the museum. Live! at the Museum is presented in partnership with Laguna Beach Live! Please arrive early and enjoy the museum’s gallery and social time.

Laguna Beach Live!

Laguna Art Museum

7 p.m.

Free to Laguna Live members & Museum members; $14 non members

Purchase tickets HERE.

949-494-8971 or 949-715-9713


Luce Puppet Company


Celebrate National Children’s Day by enjoying a free puppet show featuring handcrafted puppets, original stories, and live, interactive performances. Fun for all ages. More info at

Funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

City of Laguna Beach

Heisler Park Amphitheater, Cliff Drive

11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.




Bluegrass & BBQ


Laguna Live’s annual Bluegrass & BBQ with Acclaimed Americana group The Barefoot Movement. BBQ by local favorite - Gnarly Q. Beer by the Salty Bear Brewing Co. and wine offered by Bianchi winery

Laguna Beach Live!

LCAD outdoor campus - 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd

4-7 p; doors open at 4 pm for BBQ & bar; concert 5-7 pm

In advance : $100 VIP; $40 concert & BBQ; $20 concert only



15th Annual Laguna Beach Fête de la Musique


Live music at about 35 locations throughout downtown Laguna, to celebrate the start of summer and our sister city relationship with Menton, France.

Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association

Downtown Laguna streets and sidewalks

12 to 5 PM




Dee Miner Celebration of Life feat. The Black Tongued Bells


A celebration of the life and music of the late great Dee Miner of the Black Tongued Bells (Captured in HD video sound) the evening will capture the swampy sounds of the last performance of the Black Tongued Bells. Also featuring a live concert performance of the remaining Bells and a scene of Dee Miners masterpiece "That Great and Dreadful Day" Tall Tales of The American Swamp.

Let our souls transport back in time as we remember the life and time of this American Icon Dee Miner.


235 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach

Doors open at 7 Concert at 8PM

$30 GA/$50 VIP

949.652-ARTS (2787)


Circus Bella


Circus Bella returns to Bluebird Park. Be amazed by this modern twist on a one-ring circus, featuring stunning acrobatics, live music, and more. More info at

Funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

City of Laguna Beach

Bluebird Park, 772 Cress Street

1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.




Laguna JaZz Band Swings the Fête de la Musique


Ginger Hatfield, courtesy of the Laguna JaZz Band


Lisa Morrice, courtesy of Greg Carter Photography

Swing to the sounds of big band, latin, pop, and smooth jazz with the Laguna JaZz Band, featuring vocalists Ginger Hatfield and Lisa Morrice. Hatfield kicks things off with Natalie Cole and Sade favorites. Morrice follows with French cabaret hits plus Duke Ellington and Peggy Lee classics.

The Laguna JaZz Band

Cobblestones at Main Beach

11 a.m. - 1 p.m.




LBCAC Presents: Laguna's 1st Juneteenth Celebration


In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary-part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten--until now. SUMMER OF SOUL shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ray Baretto, Abbey Lincoln & Max Roach and more.


949.652-ARTS (2787)

JUNE 20-25

Summer Intensive 2022


LDF BalletBCclass SkyeSchmidt 093

A week-long intensive will prepare you for pre-professional opportunities, college applications and a professional career. Classes will include Ballet, Contemporary, Repertory, Composition, Improvisation and Seminars taught by world-renowned instructors.

For questions contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Scholarships available-apply HERE:

Laguna Dance Festival

Laguna Beach High School Dance Studio

625 Park Ave

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

10:00am-4:00pm daily


Purchase tickets HERE.



56th Annual Sawdust Art Festival


Featuring the handcrafted art of 200 Laguna Beach artists, live entertainment on three stages, complimentary festival classes, art demonstrations and more! Outdoor dining and beverage options are located onsite by four restaurants and the Sawdust Saloon.

Sawdust Art Festival

935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach CA 92651

Friday/Saturday, 11am to 10pm

Sunday-Thursday, 11am to 7pm

$10 adult,

$7 senior,

$5 ages 12-17,

Free for children ages 5 and under



Hippie Mystery: A Night with Author T. Jefferson Parker


Laguna Beach in the 1960’s is the setting for New York Times bestselling author T. Jefferson Parker’s latest novel A Thousand Steps. Join Parker as he discusses his new book, his time in Laguna Beach, and a brief reading of the novel. Afterwards, you’ll have the opportunity to get your very own copy of A Thousand Steps signed by Parker at a book-signing.

Laguna Art Museum

307 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach


Museum members: $7

Non-members: $14

Purchase tickets HERE.



Laguna Beach Sister Cities celebrates 15 years of Fête de la Musique


Photos by Jeff Rovner

Some days feel quintessentially Laguna. They bring out the best in our town. They represent who we are and they highlight why we do what we do. The annual Fête de la Musique is one of those annual reminders – we live in a magical place.

Last Saturday (June 18), 33 musical acts took to our streets for a full afternoon celebrating the “Festival of Music.” The day included soloists, bands and ensembles. Crowds enjoyed jazz, opera, rock and bluegrass. Hawaiian meles played alongside acoustic rock, classic guitar and reggae. Thousands of folks strolled through our streets to hear a little taste of every genre. Ava August, a 2021 American Idol finalist, performed at the Presbyterian Church garden. Laguna Tenor Rick Weber belted out some well-known arias on Forest Avenue. Just down the street, jazz standard singer April Walsh, another former American Idol contestant from season 5, wowed the crowds with her flawless vocals. And that’s only a small sample of what the Fête offered that day.

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A crowd gathers to watch the Grey Hill Gospel String Band play country bluegrass near Tuvalu

“For me, this feels like an outside-the-box experience,” said lifelong local Mark Christy, one of the event’s major sponsors. “And Laguna is an outside-the-box place, so it’s a perfect fit. A little bit of quirkiness adds to the soul of our town. I walk around and see lots of faces I recognize soaking it in. I like the diversity of the music and I like the diversity of the town.”

Town traditions like this don’t happen by accident. The backstories behind Laguna’s Fête are nearly as wonderful as the event itself. I caught up with a few of the event organizers, as well as some of the musicians, to hear how this annual event came to our town and what it’s meant for our residents. 

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JJ & the Habibis Laguna Beach Belly Dancers performed on the main stage

The origins of a town tradition

The Fête de la Musique (also known as Music Day, Make Music Day or World Music Day) traditionally takes place annually on June 21. To ensure it happens on a weekend, Laguna recognizes the event on the third Saturday of June. Celebrated in more than 700 cities across 200 countries, townspeople are encouraged to play music in their neighborhoods or in public spaces and parks. Since its beginning, the idea of having “music everywhere and concerts nowhere” flourished around the world. 

The tradition originated in France in 1982. The Fête de la Musique got its start in Laguna 15 years ago when the founding members of the Laguna Beach Sister Cities visited Menton, France, to initiate their relationship. “During that trip, as luck would have it, the Fête del la Musique was taking place all over the streets in most of the towns in France,” said President Maggie Hempen. “The idea was born then and, from that moment on, the wonderful and talented Carol Reynolds [founding member of Laguna’s Fête and co-founder of the Laguna Community Concert Band] went about making it happen here in Laguna Beach.” 

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The Laguna Community JaZz Band opened the festivities on Saturday morning

Menton, located in the Côte d’Azur resort on the French Rivera, looks shockingly like Laguna Beach. With both beach and hilltop homes ringed by protective mountains, the cities share roughly the same population and same commitment to the arts. Both experience the same climate and both are tourist towns. They also suffer the same risks – fires and landslides. 

“Sister Cities are selected based on their similarities,” said Karyn Philippsen, founding president of Laguna’s Sister Cities chapter, noting that in addition to Menton, France, Laguna’s two other sister cities are San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico and St. Ives, England. “We look at their population. They have to be located on the ocean or sea. They must have a commitment to the arts or host art festivals. They need to have a college or some educational component that deals with the arts. And they must have a museum. All three of our sister cities have those same similarities and all are tourist destinations.”

Modeling itself after Menton, the first Fête was held in Laguna in 2007. There were fewer than 15 performers that first year and no budget, advertising or publicity. Nonetheless, just three years later, the event won the Laguna Beach Arts Alliance “Best New Arts Program.” 

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Elvis impersonator John Lin strikes a pose at Areo

Philippsen’s favorite memory from that first year happened at the Christian Science Church near the Pavilions in North Laguna. Reminiscent of a similar experience she’d had at the Basilica St. Michel in Menton, Philippsen said: “It was the hottest day of the year – record breaking heat – and the church had no air conditioning. But they played the loveliest church bell music, accompanied by an amazing organist. What a way to cap off that first year. It felt like we were back in Menton.”

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LBCAC Presents: Opera Reimagined


235 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach

Doors open at 7pm, Show @8pm

$30 GA/$50 VIP

949.652-ARTS (2787)


Beth's Tuesdays



949.652-ARTS (2787)


LBCAC Presents: Country/Parrothead stars Thom Sherperd and Coley McCabe


Concert: 3X Trop Rock Music Association Duo of The Year Thom Shererd and his beautiful better half Coley McCabe Together they have garnered 14 TRMA awards including Female Vocalist and Song-writer of the Year.

Coley is a platinum-selling songwriter who hails from West Virginia. She has performed numerous times on the Grand Ole Opry. While on RCA Records her song “Grow Young With You” was featured in the Natalie Portman / Ashley Judd film, “Where The Heart Is,” Her writing credits include the award winning group SheDaisy and legendary Loretta Lynn. She also starred in the feature film “Alabama Love Story.” Thom is originally from St. Louis, MO, is the writer of two number one country songs, “Riding with Private Malone” and “Redneck Yacht Club,” three Texas Music number ones, “Beer Season,” “My Texas,” and “The Night Is Young,” has had over 100 songs recorded by other artists, two songs on Grammy nominated albums, and multiple top ten hits nationwide and in Texas. He appears in “The Parrot Heads Documentary” with Jimmy Buffett.


235 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach

Doors open at 7:30 Concert at 8PM

$30 GA/$50 VIP

Purchase tickets HERE.

949.652-ARTS (2787)


LBCAC Presents Ryan Heflin


Soulful, iconoclastic, singer-songwriter words, set to dark, hurts-so-good indie rock vibrations. Powerfully reflective and contemplative, with layers to be burned and undressed slowly, finding passionate expression in the extra-ordinary themes of childhood, nature, the wonder of existence, the beauty and tragedy of the human condition, and a healthy subversion of societal norms. Both sensual and intellectual, metaphysical and deeply human, the music of Ryan Heflin takes us beyond the prosaic and back into life as poetry.


235 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach

Doors open at 7:30 Concert at 8PM

$30 GA/$50 VIP

949.652-ARTS (2787)


“Art in Public Places” – Pearl by Dan Skaggs


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Some of the art you see around Laguna Beach is the result of two city programs: “Public Art and Murals” and “Art in Public Places.” The goals of the Public Art and Murals and Art in Public Places (adopted in 1986) initiatives are to create diverse art installations of the highest quality that will, over decades, reflect the city itself and its citizens, and improve the quality of life; and to be a source of pride to all Laguna Beach residents. 

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“Pearl” on the corner of Pearl Street and Pacific Coast Highway

Installed in 2007, Pearl was created by sculptor Dan Skaggs. Located on the corner of Pearl Street and Pacific Coast Highway, the sculpture is comprised of stainless steel with glass marble tile and was funded by Bowers Perez Associates.

Skaggs holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Art Education and a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts with an emphasis on sculpture. He spent 15 years teaching art at both public schools (Long Beach Unified School District) and college and was a 30-year exhibitor at the Festival of Arts. 

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The sculpture is comprised of stainless steel and glass marble tile 

After bouncing around the world as a surfer and a self-employed cabinet maker, Skaggs returned to his first love, sculpture. 

“One year I displayed a sculptural water wall at the Festival of Arts,” Skaggs said. “I was taken aback by the interest it received. It was chosen for purchase by the Festival of Arts for its permanent collection. The next summer, I decided to show another water feature along with my sculpture. With a family to support and a public hungry for water features and ‘feng shui,’ I was discovering this was a viable way to earn a living as an artist.”

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A burst of sun 

In describing his work, Skaggs said, “Pearl is a term surfers would use to describe the wave that breaks off the rocks at the beach at the end of this street. This sculpture was inspired by the large rock sitting in the sand at this beach and the waves breaking on it at high tide.”

This is the 65th article in our weekly series featuring Art in Public Places. Since there are more than 100 pieces of public art scattered throughout Laguna, it will take a while to cover them all.

For a map of Art in Public Places (not every piece is listed), click here

To apply for the Arts in Public Places program, click here.


City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission

Community Art Project (CAP)

Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters

First Thursdays Art Walk

KX 93.5 Radio

Laguna Art-A-Fair

Laguna Art Museum

Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center (LBCAC)

Laguna Beach Live!

Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association

Laguna College of Art + Design

Laguna Concert Band

Laguna Craft Guild

Laguna Dance Festival

LOCA Arts Education

Laguna Playhouse

Laguna Plein Air Painters Association


No Square Theatre

Sawdust Art Festival


Third Street Writers

Visit Laguna Beach

56th Annual Sawdust Art Festival opens

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

The 56th Annual Sawdust Art Festival officially opened on Friday, June 24. This year, guests will enjoy the handcrafted art of 162 Laguna Beach artists, complimentary art classes offered for free with admission, entertainment on three stages, glassblowing, art demonstrations, special events, the iconic café – A la Carte – added to the concessions line up and Sawdust Saloon.

56th Annual Sawdust ribbon cutting

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Sawdust Art Festival Board of Directors President Rachel Goberman and daughter Alice with Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf, who cut the opening day ribbon 

Sawdust Art Festival draws 200,000 visitors annually to shop unique artwork along sawdust-covered paths in the festival’s renowned outdoor venue featuring an eclectic, handcrafted artist village that is located in the heart of a historic eucalyptus grove.

56th Annual Sawdust Wassmann

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Cliff Wassmann’s cool booth

56th Annual Sawdust MIller

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Jesse Miller’s booth features her mixed media in painting, woodworking and stained glass

56th Annual Sawdust Silva

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Metal sculptor Nevada Silva’s booth

56th Annual Sawdust Chang

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New exhibitor, Ed Chang’s Rabbit in the Moon Photography booth

56th Annual Sawdust Vassallo

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New exhibitor Tyra Vassallo’s painting and mixed media booth

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Exhibiting artists (L-R) Nansea Williams, Nikolai Erngren and Patsee Ober

Making their debut this summer are 28 up and coming young artists from Laguna Beach High School, who will have their own gallery displayed on the grounds as High School Hall. 

And you won’t want to miss these special upcoming events:

–“Sip, Talk and Walk,” an insider’s tour with artist introductions and a complimentary wine tasting every Wednesday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

–“Bizarre Bazaar,” a fashion show on Sunday, Aug. 7

–Artists’ Benevolence Fund Art Auction on Sunday, Aug. 14, which features the original work of Sawdust artists in both silent and live auctions.

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Stroll down the main aisle laden with sawdust

Sawdust Art Festival is open daily through Sunday, August 28. Hours of operation are 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday. For more information on exhibiting artists, special events, entertainment and art class schedules, visit Tickets may be purchased in advance online, or in person at the Box Office during festival hours: $10 for adults, $7 for seniors (65+) and $5 for children (6-12). Children ages 5 and under receive free admission and don’t require a ticket to enter. 

Sawdust Art Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.

How to get there

Visit Laguna Beach City Map Visit Laguna Beach Coast Map

Funds for this calendar are provided by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.


Laguna Beach – A Look Back: Festival of Arts’ “tableaux vivants”

By Dr. Gregg DeNicola, Laguna Beach Historical Society

In a week, our unique “tableaux vivants” at the Festival of the Arts will declare it summer in Laguna Beach and begin a two-month run at our own Irvine Bowl (July 5-September 2).

It was in 1932 that the Festival of the Arts was born by our local artists hoping to capitalize on the throngs of tourists coming to Los Angeles for the Summer Olympics.

In 1933, to increase attendance, board member Lolita Perine thought of the idea of “living pictures” where local residents dressed in costume, while mimicking famous paintings, with a wooden frame surrounding them. Naming it the “Spirit of the Masters Pageant,” it ran again for eight days in 1934, but was under intense criticism by local artist and construction worker Roy Ropp. He felt the productions were of poor quality and amateurish.

The Festival Board did what any smart thinking board would do – they put Ropp in charge of the Pageant. The first thing Ropp did was rename the event “The Pageant of the Masters.”

With a major contribution from his wife Marie, the Pageant was retooled and upgraded. In his second year, 1936, Ropp had the idea of a grand finale and introduced DaVinci’s The Last Supper, which has gone on to end every pageant since, save three times.

The first eight years, the Pageant had no permanent home, but Ropp had a vision for a large stage in the canyon, with a Hollywood Bowl-esque feel. A land donation from the James Irvine Trust was reflected in naming the site the Irvine Bowl. It was dedicated on June 30, 1941, just in time for the summer Pageant. But beginning 1942, with World War ll in full swing, the Pageant was dark for four years.

Reopening in 1946, Ropp was not invited back, having burned too many bridges with the board. He did direct one more Pageant in 1950. Ropp died in 1974 and is still remembered as the “Father of the Pageant.” The Pageant would go on each summer for 74 more consecutive years until shutting for the COVID epidemic one year in 2020.

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Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society

The newly built Irvine Bowl, showing box seating ala the Hollywood Bowl in front, with bench seating toward the back, circa 1940

In this 1941 photo, workers in overalls are seen wearing fedoras working hard to finish the stage at the Irvine Bowl for its inaugural show.

Folding chairs provided seating for patrons, and three large loudspeakers adorn the top of the stage for 1941 state-of-the art acoustics. The absence of hillside homes is glaring.

Ropp had worked for seven years to design and build the stage. It only lasted 10 years when it was replaced by a more permanent cement block stage at a cost of $110,000.

This summer, as we sit in the Bowl under the stars, enjoying the Pageant of the Masters orchestra, the wonderful narration of Richard Doyle and the “tableaux vivants,” we should raise a toast to Roy and Marie Ropp – whose vision of the Pageant and Irvine Bowl has served us well for almost 90 years.

Laguna Art Museum presents Black and White

Laguna Art Museum will present Black and White: Contemporary Art from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation on view July 2 through October 9. Curated by Foundation Director Billie Milam Weisman, the special exhibition features 30 artworks from the Foundation created by artists living and working in California across different generations.

“We’re pleased to partner with the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation and Billie Milam Weisman on this special exhibition, showcasing a unique variety of works from modern and contemporary California artists,” said Julie Perlin Lee, executive director of Laguna Art Museum. “The exhibition will celebrate Mr. Weisman’s legacy and passion for the arts, as well as our mission of presenting California art.”

Each of the 30 artworks featured in Black and White will demonstrate a diverse array of artistic approaches, materials and techniques used by Southern California-based artists over the past half century. The exhibition is a cross-section of works from the Foundation by artists who draw attention to black and white – as palette and, in some cases, as theme. Funding for Black and White has been provided by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. Additional funding has been generously provided by Angel and Tom Papa and the Joan B. Rehnborg Exhibition Fund. 

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Courtesy of Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles

“Pineapple Grit No. 36,” by Michael Rey, 2014, is featured in the “Black and White” exhibition 

Frederick R. Weisman would say that when you are fortunate enough to be able to collect art, you have a responsibility, not only to the artists but also to share their works with the public. The Foundation would like to thank the Laguna Art Museum for the opportunity to bring a sample of our collection to their community,” said Weisman, director and president of the Frederick R. Weisman Art and Philanthropic Foundations.

“The theme of this selection of works is variations on black and white as used by a diverse selection of California artists. Especially in California, the effects of sunlight greatly influence artists in the creation of their work, with black being the absorption of light and white reflecting it. Each of us sees color differently, and while the powerful contrast of a black and white palette creates visual drama, monochromatic works utilizing varying shades of gray or sepia may be more deeply engaging. This exhibition features artists who have explored the formal, conceptual and technical possibilities of black and white, monochromatic, and ‘in-between’ shades,” said Weisman.

Weisman was born in Minnesota and raised in Los Angeles, as was her late husband, Frederick R. Weisman. For more than nine years during Frederick’s lifetime, Billie worked closely together with her husband to acquire works for the Frederick R. Weisman collections, as well as to foster and expand the activities of the Foundations. Today, she continues to carry on the legacy of her husband’s art and philanthropic endeavors.

Billie received her Master’s of Arts degree in Art History with honors at the University of California Los Angeles, followed by a post-graduate internship in art conservation at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. She was senior art conservator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as Conservator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Getty Museum. In addition, she had her own art conservation and consulting business. She has traveled internationally with exhibitions and lectured in conjunction with exhibitions and professional meetings.

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Courtesy of the Ed Moses Estate/Frederick R Weisman Art Foundation

“Racko No. 2,” 1995 

On Saturday, July 9 at 6 p.m., Laguna Art Museum will present “In Conversation with Billie Weisman,” a special event providing exclusive insight into the collection of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation with Billie Weisman and Laguna Art Museum’s Curatorial Fellow, Rochelle Steiner. Join Weisman and Steiner as they engage the exhibiting artists in discussions about the artworks selected, which represent a cross section of the Weisman collection and demonstrate a diverse array of the artistic approaches, materials and techniques that Southern California-based artists have deployed over the past half century. Ticket registration will go live on Monday, June 27 at

For more information, visit Additional information about the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation can be found at

Groove the summer with a series of jazz

Laguna Live! invites you to experience the musical history of jazz in four outstanding concerts this summer with all-star groups. Concerts take place at the intimate and well-ventilated Woman’s Club on St. Ann’s Drive from 6-8 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. for social hour.

On Thursday, July 7, Natalie Hanna Mendoza and her All-Star Trio will be celebrating the swing era, the most popular style of music in the U.S. from the early 1930s until the late 1940s.

Groove the summer Natalie Hanna Mendoza

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Photos courtesy of Laguna Beach Live!

Natalie Hanna Mendoza

On Thursday, July 21, BEBOP with The Lineage Trio will perform, featuring vocalist & trumpeter Benny Benack III. Bebop came about in the mid-1940s as a reaction to swing that focused on music for dancing and it was meant for serious listening. 

Adryon Deleon with the Will Brahm Trio brings soul, the blend of bebop with rhythm and blues and gospel music that began in the mid 1950s on Thursday, Aug. 4.

Groove the summer Adryon De Lyon

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Adryon Deleon

On Thursday, Aug. 18, the season will end with blues featuring vocalist Maiya Sykes with her All-Star Trio. The blues originated in the Deep South around the 1860s from roots in African American work songs and spirituals.   

For this series of concerts, Laguna Live! is excited to partner with Mercado for pre-purchase light meals. 

Concert tickets are $35 in advance; $40 at the door, or $140 for the full season.

All tickets are available at, or by calling 949.715.9713.

The Woman’s Club is located at 286 St. Ann’s Drive, Laguna Beach. For more information, visit

Upcoming events at Laguna Art Museum

Check out these upcoming events at Laguna Art Museum (LAM). From topical discussions and participatory storytime to a book signing and figure drawing workshop, the line-up beckons.

Upcoming events realism

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Join the discussion on “Introduction to Realism” on July 10 

–Sunday, July 10 at 7 p.m. – Introduction to Realism: 1600 to the Present

Join Curatorial Fellow Jean Stern as he discusses Realism, from Dutch 17th century paintings to the present. Learn the differences between Traditional and Contemporary Realism with masterwork examples of the development of Realism throughout history. Advance tickets recommended. Museum members: $7; Non-members: $14. More information can be found here.

–Thursday, July 14 at 7 p.m. – Live! At the Museum: Duo Ondine

Join Duo Ondine as they perform on the harp and flute at the museum. Live! at the Museum is presented in partnership with Laguna Beach Live! Arrive early and enjoy the museum’s gallery and social time. More information can be found here.

–Sunday, July 17 at 10 a.m. – Artist Workshop: College – An Artistic Composition Made of Diverse & Unexpected Materials

Join recent MFA graduate from LCAD, Jill Maytorena as she leads a workshop on collage. Discover the surprising impact that can be created by incorporating various elements as you blend decoration and craft with fine art. Supplies included with purchase of a ticket. Limited space availbler. Advance tickets recommended. Museum members: $20; Non-members: $30. More information can be found here.

–Wednesday, July 20 at 9:30 a.m. – People, Portraits, Personalities Summer Day Camp

Join these single-day summer camps that transform the museum into a space exclusive for kids! Students take over the galleries on Wednesdays when the museum is closed to the public for all kinds of artful engagement. You’ll fill the day with opportunities for making, exploration and play that you wouldn’t usually get at the museum. Camps place students into two groups by age and include activities suited to diverse learning abilities. Two camps are available for both age groups. Curricula are different for each camp, so students can sign up for both of their age group’s sessions. Geared to ages 10-12 only. Camps run from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. A healthy snack will be provided by the museum. Campers should bring their own lunches. Cost: Museum members: $35; Non-members: $45. Registration fees are fully refundable up to four weeks prior to the scheduled day camp session. More information can be found here.

Laguna Art Museum is located at 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach. For more information, visit

Laguna Beach hosts world-acclaimed dance groups with local ties

Laguna Dance Festival (LDF) announces the return of their festival on Friday, August 12 and Saturday, August 13 at the Artists Theater at Laguna Beach High School. Performances will feature Los Angeles-based BODYTRAFFIC and Laguna Beach native, Skylar Campbell and the Skylar Campbell Dance Collective (SCDC). Both groups bring world-renowned and accomplished dancers to the stage with unique styles and performances. Join this fun and entertaining weekend of dance theater and technical dance prowess.

“We’re thrilled to have our dance festival back in Laguna Beach, and to highlight such immense talent and two distinct types of performances,” said Jodie Gates, who is artistic director of and founded the Laguna Dance Festival in 2005. Gates is also the artistic director of the Cincinnati Ballet and founding director of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. “BODYTRAFFIC brings a great energy and contemporary style of group and solo dance that will be a lively and fun start to our weekend of performances and events. Skylar Campbell brings a group of classically trained ballet performers, providing more technically focused and individual solo performances.”


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Courtesy of Laguna Dance Festival

BODYTRAFFIC takes the Artists Theater stage on August 12

BODYTRAFFIC’s August 12 performance will start at 7:30 p.m. and will feature A Million Voices, by Matthew Neenan, which is inspired and accompanied by the music of Peggy Lee and Pacopepepluto by Alejandro Cerrudo, which will feature three solo performances set to the music of Dean Martin, the “King of Cool.” BODYTRAFFIC’s dancers come from around the world and now call Los Angeles home. Founded in 2007 by Artistic Director Tina Finkelman Berkett and Lillian Barbeito, they have been named one of the most talked about companies nationwide by the Los Angeles Times. BODYTRAFFIC has also been notably named as a cultural ambassador of the U.S. to Israel, Jordan, South Korea, Algeria and Indonesia. “We are so excited to return to Laguna Dance Festival and share what our company has been up to. BODYTRAFFIC has grown tremendously over the past challenging years, and it feels right to celebrate the return of live performing arts with the Laguna audiences. We always feel at home in Laguna and it’s always a treat to be a part of the community’s love for dance,” said Tina Finkelman Berkett, artistic director of BODYTRAFFIC.

Laguna Beach Lauren Lovette

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Photo by Nisian Hughes

Skylar Campbell Dance Collective features ballerina Lauren Lovette on August 13 at the Artists Theater

Campbell is an internationally renowned, award-winning dancer and native of Laguna Beach. The Skylar Campbell Dance Collective August 13 performance will start at 7:30 p.m. and feature an evening of acclaimed dance artists including Lauren Lovette, former principal dancer of the New York City Ballet performing Voices by famed choreographer Alexei Ratmansky and ballet’s iconic swan solo, The Dying Swan. Sydney Dolan and Ashton Roxander of the Philadelphia Ballet will be performing George Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Jaclyn Oakley of the National Ballet of Canada and Naazir Muhammad of the Houston Ballet will be performing Orbit. Elle Macy and Miles Pertl of Pacific Northwest Ballet will be performing Ghost Variations by Choreographer Jessica Lang. The Skylar Campbell Dance Collective will also be performing Traveler, which was created for SCDC in 2020 and nominated for Best Dance at the 2021 Canadian International Fashion Film Festival. SCDC will also be joined by Los Angeles musician Josiah Johnson, formerly of the band, The Head and the Heart. Johnson will be playing throughout the night, accompanying dance performances for a truly special evening of art. “I am honored to be bringing back to Orange County so many of my friends and colleagues in dance, who have had a connection to this special community and showcase their incredible talent all in one evening,” said Campbell. “This evening has been three years in the making, as we had planned to bring this show to Laguna before the pandemic and are so thrilled to have it happen now and with an amazing musical accompaniment for this very special evening of dance.

Tickets for these performances are $50 for general admission and $30 for students, and they can be purchased at on the website at “These shows are bringing an incredible level of talent to Laguna Beach unlike ever before. The community has a great opportunity to see these masters of dance perform iconic choreography in their own backyard and we’re thrilled to be presenting shows like this,” said Gates.

In addition to these performances, Artistic Directors Berkett of BODYTRAFFIC and Campbell of the Skylar Campbell Dance Collective will be hosting a special dance masterclass experience for advanced dance students. These master classes provide dance education from some of the most well-recognized and accomplished dancers and artistic directors in the world. Berkett will be hosting her masterclass Saturday, Aug. 13 from 3-5 p.m. and Campbell will be hosting his from 12-2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14. Both will be taught in the dance studio at Laguna Beach High School. Students will be able to sign up for these classes at the end of June.

 For more information about Laguna Dance Festival and to purchase tickets to these performances, visit

Festival of Arts presents historical off-site exhibit in celebration of its 90th anniversary

The Festival of Arts (FOA) in Laguna Beach has announced their latest off-site exhibit, Then & Now, is now open for guests to enjoy through September 9. Located within The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Then & Now is part of the commemorative festivities in celebration of the Festival’s 90th anniversary, and offers a glimpse of how the Festival organization has evolved and thrived over the last nine decades. The exhibit is free to the public and is open daily.

“As a long-standing partner of the Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, our Ladies and Gentlemen are thrilled to welcome this interactive exhibit to our art hallway,” said Karen Chastain, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. “It is an honor to bring historical and present-day art pieces highlighting the Pageant and Festival to our guests and local community.”

Festival of Arts exhibition

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Courtesy of Festival of Arts

The Festival of Arts’ latest off-site exhibit, “Then & Now,” at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is open through September 9

 Then & Now spans the decades, featuring items from the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters’ historical archives and artwork from the Festival’s Permanent Art Collection. Guests will have the unique opportunity to see historical work such as the first Festival of Arts program from 1932, photos of Festival of Arts Founder John Hinchman, vintage images of early activities surrounding the development of the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters in the 1920s and 1930s and even a variety of vintage newspaper articles from 1932 featuring the overwhelming success of the Festival of Arts. Flower Stalls by painter Virginia Woolley is recognized as the very first artwork sold at the inaugural Fine Art Show in 1932. It is now part of the Festival of Arts Permanent Art Collection and may be seen at The Ritz-Carlton exhibit along with a painting by Joane Cromwell of the Festival of Arts in 1935. Then & Now also includes the Irvine Bowl dedication from 1941, hand-painted Pageant costumes, and an assemblage of vintage scripts and handwritten notes from the 1930s and 1940s.

 Also showcased is art created by many current long-time exhibiting Festival artists including: Jacobus Baas, Paul Bond, Bruce Burr, Eric Gerdau, Murray Kruger, Carolyn Machado, Mia Moore and Mitch Ridder. More artwork from these artists and others may be seen at the 2022 Festival of Arts Fine Art Show in Laguna Beach from July 5-September 2. Visitors are also invited to enjoy this summer’s Pageant of the Masters, “Wonderful World,” which runs from July 7-September 2. 

 “Because of our partnership with The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel we are able to show observers a small glimpse into the history of the Festival of Arts with work from the 1930s to current times,” shared artist and exhibit curator Paul Bond. “We hope those who visit the offsite exhibit are enticed to not only acquire artwork but are also inspired to visit the Festival of Arts this summer to see work from all of the exhibiting artists and celebrate the Festival’s 90th anniversary.”

The Then & Now exhibit is located at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel at One Ritz-Carlton Drive, Dana Point. 

To stay up to date on all things Pageant of the Masters and Fine Arts Show, visit or follow @FestivalPageant on social media.

Chamber to hold ribbon cutting at Art-A-Fair

On Thursday, July 6 at 12 p.m., join the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce in a welcoming and grand opening ceremony with a ribbon cutting in celebration of Art-A-Fair.

“After a five-year hiatus as chamber members, Laguna Art-A-Fair is pleased to once again become a member of an organization that supports the community, small businesses, entrepreneurs and arts,” said Artist and Chamber Liaison Diane Lamboley.

Chamber to hold ribbon cutting facade

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Courtesy of

Art-A-Fair is open July 1 though September 4

“Laguna Beach is very fortunate to have such amazing art festivals,” said Paula Hornbuckle-Arnold, interim CEO of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce. “Art-A-Fair is part of the fabric of our community and deserves a celebratory ribbon cutting!”

For those in attendance, Art-A-Fair will be offering a complimentary Paint Pouring, liquid art workshop valued at $45.

Art-A-Fair will be providing a light lunch including sandwiches, chips and dessert. Please RSVP to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Art-A-Fair is located at 777 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.

Be a Master at Giving with Pageant of the Masters

The Festival of Arts (FOA) of Laguna Beach is once again providing the opportunity for patrons to donate Pageant of the Masters tickets to local nonprofits through its Masters at Giving program. These tickets are only $40 each, located in the Director’s Tier side section of the Irvine Bowl and will also admit the non-profit group to the Festival of Arts Fine Art Show all summer long. Give the gift of living pictures and an unforgettable experience to the 2022 performance of Wonderful World today at

“Every year the Festival of Arts receives many requests from charities and non-profit groups for complimentary tickets to the Pageant of the Masters and it’s more than we can possibly provide,” said Sharbie Higuchi, Festival of Arts marketing & PR director. “The Masters at Giving program helps to make sure we can offer an evening of a lifetime to groups who might not otherwise experience the magic of living pictures.”

Since 2011, the Masters at Giving program has donated more than 14,000 Pageant tickets to charitable and non-profit organizations in the Southern California area. Through the Masters at Giving program, Pageant tickets have been given to frontline responders, senior centers, at-risk youth, veterans groups, art students, outreach organizations, military families, food banks, mentoring programs and many more. 

Be a Master at Giving veteran

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Courtesy of Festival of Arts

Veteran Ray Williamson Unit Commander of the Marine Corps Air Station Tustin welcomes military families and veterans to the Pageant of the Masters

“We would like to thank past contributors who provided an evening of art appreciation at the Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts to groups who might not otherwise have been able to attend,” added Higuchi. “Everyone should have a chance to experience the arts and our shows, and with the help of our patrons and donors, we can make this possible this summer.”

The Festival of Arts is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, IRS Tax ID 95-1964772. Donations are used to support the arts and are fully tax deductible. Donate through Masters at Giving by contacting the box office at 800.487.3378, or online at If a donation is made through Masters at Giving prior to May 31, the donor will also be acknowledged in the Pageant’s Souvenir program. 

 The 2022 Pageant of the Masters production of Wonderful World runs July 7-September 2. A Pageant ticket is also a season pass to the 2022 Festival of Arts Fine Art Show, which will take place July 5-September 2. To stay up to date on all things Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, follow the Festival on social media at @FestivalPageant and visit

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