Making art merry

The time has come to "Eat, Drink and be Merry" as the 78th annual Festival of Arts opens to the public Monday with the Pageant of the Masters following suit Wednesday .

New to the Festival this year are 17 emerging artists, who will join 130 returning exhibitors from Orange County to showcase a complete spectrum of media from traditional painting and photography to hand-crafted jewelry and furniture.

"These new artists bring enthusiasm and a fresh new perspective to the art show," public relations director Sharbie Higuchi said.

Colorful oil paintings by "Poster Artist" Tom Swimm, movement-inspired photographs by Margo Moritz and eclectic sculptures made from unrelated objects by Carolyn Machado, and the works of many others, can be seen. Swimm's winning poster for the Festival was inspired by a trip to Portofine, Italy, and depicts the Splendido Mare Restaurant, making it a perfect fit with this year's theme of "Eat, Drink & Be Merry."

"It's a great honor to have my work chosen once again for this very prestigious show", said Swimm. "This is a very colorful and accurate reproduction of my creation and I'm sure it will be enjoyed by all who receive it."

In addition to a fresh aesthetic, the FOA will feature the "Out of the Blue"-themed Art-To-Go auction benefit event, Junior Art Day and chance to win a 2010 ZDX Acura, among other special events.

For the benefit auction, artists were asked to create a "unique" piece of art inspired by the color blue, resulting in a must-see collection of jewelry, glass, prints, paintings, bronze, drawings and other functional wearable art that patrons will have a chance to bid for during a silent auction on August 14, to benefit the Artists' Fund, which provides financial assistance to artists in times of need.

Special attention will be paid to the kids on July 17, when FOA has planned an array of fun-filled activities including an "Art Quest" scavenger hunt, face-painting, ice cream party and a backstage tour of the Pageant of the Masters.

Another highlight for kids is the Junior Art Exhibit, featuring artwork by more than 300 students in grades K-12 from Orange County schools.

"We'll also hold a special new awards ceremony for the kids in August," Higuchi said.

An adults and children's ceramics workshop with Monica Dunham and a printmaking, painting and mixed media course with Mada Leach will also be offered throughout the summer for a fee.

As part of the great music entertainment lineup that includes such acts as Jason Feddy and the Fugowies, each Thursday will feature "jazz, wine and chocolate" from 5 to 8 p.m. with jazz musicians including Greg Vail and Bill Cantos.

Art comes to life at the Pageant of the Masters, which premiers Wednesday and will run through August 31.

Actors will wow audiences with 90 minutes of "living pictures" — incredibly faithful re-creations of classical and contemporary works with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces.

The Festival of Arts is open from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily from Monday through August 31 at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for seniors, military personnel and Laguna Beach residents free.

For $19, art-lovers can get a Passport to the Arts, with season-long unlimited admission to the Festival of Arts, Sawdust Festival and Art-A-Fair beginning Monday. Passports can be purchased at any of the three art festivals or online at LagunaBeachPassport.com or call (949) 497-0521.

For a complete list of Pageant times, or for activities and artists at FOA, visit http://www.foapom.com

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