Art Brought to Life: Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach

Attitudes and Latitudes, Denise Benson, Festival of Arts, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Art Alliance, Pageant of the Masters, POM Art Show, tableaux vivants

I was fascinated by the recent auction of the David Rockefeller Estate’s art collection.  

Five Monet, a Picasso and a Matisse painting were among the works on the auction block. Other artists included in the vast collection were works by Gauguin, Seurat, de Kooning, Hopper and Sargent. Not bad for a personal collection!  

Of course, for those folks who were not in the economic demographic to bid on these priceless masterpieces, they also offered more mundane personal effects and furnishings such as a porcelain dessert service that Napoleon took with him when he went into exile back in 1814.  The estimated selling price was $250,000. It sold for $1.8 million. Sounds like more of a “window shopping” day for my wallet!

Attitudes and Latitudes, Denise Benson, Festival of Arts, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Art Alliance, Pageant of the Masters, POM Art Show, tableaux vivants

I have only viewed such masterpieces in museums, gallery shows, books, and the like.  

I find it difficult to imagine these priceless works of art just casually hanging in my hallway.  Our own home is adorned with art we have bought as mementos of our travels and favorite past-times by local artists.  They certainly are not masterpieces by any means, but these pieces have special meaning to us.

The closest I have come to owning a work of an acknowledged, bona fide artist is when I bought posters of some Paul Gauguin works after our trip to French Polynesia.  It made me wonder if I would buy priceless artwork for my own personal habitat if I had the means?

Another billionaire, J. Paul Getty, believed that art was to be shared with the world and bequeathed his large collection to his foundation (see All the Money in the World, WomanScape).

I agree with Getty’s view, that these masterpieces should be shared with everyone and made accessible through museums, galleries, festivals, much like music’s easy availability.

Attitudes and Latitudes, Denise Benson, Festival of Arts, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Art Alliance, Pageant of the Masters, POM Art Show, tableaux vivants

The Annual Pageant of the Masters

Presenting important art in an interesting and approachable manner is paramount for reaching a diverse group who otherwise may not be exposed to it.  One of the most unique and enjoyable exhibits of fine art is presented at the annual Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, California. Each year, a theme is selected and various works of art ranging from old world masters, local and mainstream artists are selected to represent the theme.  For 90 minutes, the audience is entranced by real-life enactments of the masterpieces.

The tableaux vivants are precisely portrayed with real people posing in a stage-sized version of the artwork. A narrator explains the history of each work, accompanied by a live orchestra. The show is so unique that it has become a summer tradition embraced by its many devotees.

Attitudes and Latitudes, Denise Benson, Festival of Arts, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Art Alliance, Pageant of the Masters, POM Art Show, tableaux vivants

In 1932, Laguna Beach, a small seaside town with a popular artists’ enclave, was struggling in the Great Depression. They held the first Pageant in an effort to lure tourists to visit and support their artists’ colony.  The event proved to be a great success and The Pageant of the Masters, or POM, will be hosting its 85th year this summer!  

Laguna Beach and its cliffside beaches continue to be an inspiration point for artists.  It is typical still today, to see at least a couple of plein air artists with their easels at work alongside the beautiful scenes of ocean, sand and native vegetation year-round.

Under The Sun is the theme for 2018, focusing on artists who left their studios and went out of their comfort zone to reach new artistic heights. This special group of artists brought their brushes outdoors into unfamiliar settings, inspiring amazing works which we hold dear today.  Along with highlighting local artists, POM will be recreating forty works this year including: Monet’s The Boat At Giverny, John Singer Sargent’s’ Gondolier’s Siesta, and contemporary works such as the commercial poster for The Endless Summer by John Van Hamersveld.

Attitudes and Latitudes, Denise Benson, Festival of Arts, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Art Alliance, Pageant of the Masters, POM Art Show, tableaux vivants

Attitudes and Latitudes, Denise Benson, Festival of Arts, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Art Alliance, Pageant of the Masters, POM Art Show, tableaux vivants

Amazingly, this event is presented largely by volunteers.  Casting calls are held early in the year for volunteers in a number of positions: those who wish to pose in the pictures, makeup artists, costumers, headdress designers  and many more.

One requirement to pose in the pageant is the ability to stay in a frozen position for 90 seconds!

The POM is a true community effort.  From July 7th through September 1stt, the POM will be outdoors in the newly renovated amphitheater of the Festival of Arts facility concurrently with the 85th Festival of Arts show.  This beautiful venue for the POM and Festival of Arts is truly the crown jewel of Laguna Beach and its artistic roots.

 

Denise Benson

Denise Benson is a photographer, creative writer and traveler. Discovering new ideas, people, places and cultures is a lifelong passion, which Denise enjoys sharing with her readers using her unique perspective as a photographic storyteller.

An avid sailor, she and her husband Brian have sailed 10,000 blue water miles exploring the South Pacific. Along with sailing, she enjoys travel, food & wine, books and nature related activities, including napping on the fore-deck of her boat, Moonstone.

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Denise Benson

Denise Benson is a photographer, creative writer and traveler. Discovering new ideas...

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