For Laguna Beach artist Isaac Anderson, art is his “voice," meant to inspire people through beautiful forms.
His distressed acrylic-on-plastered wood panel creations, which display photographic or painted images within images, he said, are inspired by nature, world affairs and the people he encounters throughout his travels.
“It’s a way to raise awareness without being too ‘heavy.’ This is what art used to do "” reach people or challenge them on a deeper level, through pretty pieces that also look good on their wall," he said.
Having recently returned from Southeast Asia, where he was gathering material and inspiration for a new art series, Anderson is now gearing up to build his first booth at the 19th annual holiday-themed Winter Fantasy Sawdust Festival, where he will share his new works.
He will be one of 35 new artist exhibitors, who will join 135 returning Sawdust veterans including jewelry-maker David Nelson, glass blower Jason McQuaid and fellow mixed-media artist Judy Kearby.
“This has been an awesome experience so far," he said. “It’s artistically inspiring to be surrounded by real, down-to-earth and encouraging artists and to feel such a great sense of community."
The Fantasy will unfold Saturday, with a tree lighting ceremony with appearances by Mayor Kelly Boyd and Santa Claus, and will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends through Dec. 13.
This year’s theme, “A World of Art and Imagination," serves to unite artists from all over Southern California and celebrate their various types of art, said Cynthia Fung, public relations and marketing representative for Sawdust.
“The theme represents the wide variety of art media and diversity in artists," she said. “A globe ornament surrounded by holiday lights and flags created by the artists with images of paint brushes, pallets, jewelry, pottery, and glass represent the different media."
Festival-goers can watch art being created in the artists’ booths and the ever-popular glass-blowing booth, and will also have the opportunity to explore their own creativity through an array of classes and workshops being offered at the Sawdust Studio, Ceramic Center and Children’s Art Spot.
In addition to the original artwork, visitors will also find personally hand-constructed booths by the 173 participating artists, live music performances by Scarlet Sisters, Yule Tide Carolers and others, outdoor cafÃ©s and a bar, a small animal petting zoo, and Santa’s house in Town Square, where it’s been known to “snow" this time of year.
The annual Toys for Tots Drive, sponsored by Marine Corps Services, as well as a food drive and other charitable activities will also be on festival grounds in effort to keep last year’s theme of “giving back" ongoing, Fung said.
Another new exhibitor, photographer Stacey Taxin, who will share her colorful images of beach landscapes, seashells, flowers and wedding portraiture, said she is excited to finally show her work at the festival after four long years of waiting.
“I’ve been attending Sawdust since I moved to Laguna from Colorado four years ago," she said. “It’s always a great experience and I really wanted to be a part of it.
“Photography has been a passion of mine for many years, since I was young. I’m excited to share my work with this [artists’] town."
If You Go
What: Winter Fantasy at the Sawdust Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from Saturday until Dec. 13
Where: Sawdust grounds, 935 Laguna Canyon Road
Cost: $3 for children 6 to 12, $6 for adults, $9 for season pass. Children 5 and younger get in free.
Special: Free admission for Laguna Beach residents with ID from 3 p.m. to closing Saturday.
Information: Call (949) 494-3030 or visit www.sawdustartfestival.org.