Festival of Arts returns to Laguna Beach on Thursday

The 86th annual Festival of Arts — an outdoor exhibition of 140 Orange County artists — opens Thursday in Laguna Beach.

The fine-arts show will include booths, live music and artwork from local students through Sept. 1.


Festival spokeswoman Sharbie Higuchi said about 215,000 people are expected to attend. That figure includes the Pageant of the Masters, a 90-minute show in which performers re-create pieces of art by posing to look like the subjects in the original works.

The festival will have several regular activities, including free art tours at 2 and 5 p.m. daily as well as 11 a.m. Saturdays. Adult and teen art classes will take place at 5 p.m. Fridays and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.


There also will be special events such as Family Art Day at noon this Sunday and a runway fashion show at noon Aug. 19.

The fashion show will display works that festival artists created from reclaimed or recycled materials. The family art event will include a performance by Le PeTiT Cirque — the only all-kid aerial and circus arts show — an art exhibit treasure hunt, art projects and balloon art and printmaking.

There will be about 30 new artists this year, and many others will return from past years.

Returning artist Patrick Whelan will exhibit his paintings for the fifth year. During a preview event Monday, the Laguna Niguel resident’s booth was adorned with several newer works, including the “Ship of Life.” Whelan is displaying the piece for the first time in public at the festival.

The painting features a large wooden ship sailing through the cosmos, ferrying passengers through starlit darkness. Whelan said many of the passengers are people he’s known through his life.

There’s a guitar player, a surfer and Michael Jackson, to whom Whelan sold several paintings. Gowned women stand atop the masts, holding lanterns to “light the way.”

Whelan said his art has evolved. His work was formerly satirical, but now he hopes to “celebrate life.”

Whelan declined to give his age, saying he’s “traveling through time.”

Jon Edward, 42, of Lake Forest is returning for his second year at the festival.

During the preview event, many of the pieces the sculptor exhibited were part of his “Man and Animal” series, which exemplifies how humans wrestle with balancing primal desires and spiritual convictions.

“My series is about grappling with inner demons,” Edward said. “Whether you are pulled by those fleshly desires or the spiritual, there is a balancing in life.”

His work “Uprising” features a large octopus grasping a floating ship. Edward said it means that “underneath lies the monster.”

“The more we pollute our world, the more the monster grows, showing a recognized disconnect with our world unless we have forward thinking and action as a whole,” Edward wrote in a description next to the piece.

“The division of the water line illustrates the perspective of most paying close attention to the surface, all the while missing the underlying, or deeper, larger picture.”

The Festival of Arts is part of a chain of summertime Laguna Beach art festivals. The Sawdust Art & Craft Festival and Laguna Art-A-Fair end Sept. 2.


What: Festival of Arts

Where: 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

When: Noon to 11:30 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. weekends from Thursday to Sept. 1

Highlights: The festival will offer several special events throughout its run, including Art and Story Time at 12:30 p.m. Mondays, Tribute Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Art Talks and Tea at 1 p.m. Wednesdays. Concerts on the Green will be at 1 p.m. July 7, 14 and 21, Aug. 4, 11 and 18 and Sept. 1. The Pageant of the Masters is slated for 8:30 p.m. daily from Saturday to Sept. 1.

Tickets: General admission is $10 weekdays and $15 weekends; students and senior citizens get in for $7 weekdays and $11 weekends; children ages 6-12 are $5 daily; children 5 and younger, active military and Laguna Beach residents are admitted free.