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EVENTS : Festivals and Pageant for Art's Sake

June 29, 1995|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who contributes frequently to the Times Orange County Edition.

A festival is a celebration, and Laguna Beach certainly has something to celebrate--all those festivals!

The Art-A-Fair and Sawdust festivals open today; the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters open July 7. All seem to be offering new, improved models this year.

At the Pageant of the Masters, for instance, the show's pace will be accelerated--and after more than 60 years, that's news.

"The total length is less, yet there is actually more art," said Glen Eytchison, director of the pageant, in which live models try to duplicate classic and contemporary artworks to live narration and orchestral accompaniment.

He characterized the new show as "significantly shorter"--past pageants have run about two hours--but said changes were being made nightly, so exactly how much shorter remains a question.

"The bottom line is, we know the show has to move faster, and we know we have to expand the definition of what the pageant is," Eytchison said. "As usual, we're walking a fine line between pleasing the people who come to see it as it [has been] and appealing to a newer audience. This year we're taking more risks than we've ever taken before."

Among those risks are "substantial stage movement" for several moving tableaux (which Eytchison first presented two years ago) and leaving the curtain open more often during the re-creations. Both demand far more of the volunteer performers.

On the same site, Irvine Bowl Park, is the Festival of Arts, featuring 160 regional artists in a wide variety of media, and paintings and drawings by 150 Orange County school children.

Everybody's an artist at the Sawdust Festival.

"The public can come and actually make a piece of art and take it home," said spokeswoman Theresa Marino of the Sawdust's hands-on art program. "They can throw a pot, leave it to be fired and glazed and fired again--it takes a couple of weeks, then they can come back and pick it up, or we can ship it for $6 anywhere in the U.S. Or they can make an etching or small oil painting or paint on silk and take it home the same day."

All of the more than 200 artists and artisans at the Sawdust Festival produce and demonstrate their crafts at their respective booths. There are also larger demonstration booths focusing specifically on disciplines, including glass-blowing, ceramics and printmaking. The Sawdust Festival, which began as an alternative art festival, is now in its 29th year.

Art-A-Fair also offers ongoing demonstrations and is also in its 29th year.

New at Art-A-Fair is a papier-ma^che castle for the children. While parents browse among the work of 160 artists from all over the country, children can engage in their own art activities at the castle, as well as storytelling, reading and puppet shows. The festival's front entry has also been changed, with lots of added color and flags.

"You can really see us now," noted Art-A-Fair office manager Mary Ellen Wehrli.

All the festivals offer live entertainment. City shuttle buses run continuously from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. from lots on Laguna Canyon Road and downtown parking areas.

* WHAT: Art-A-Fair Festival.

* When: Daily, today through Aug. 27. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (July 4 only, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

* Where: 777 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.

* Whereabouts: From the Santa Ana (5) or San Diego (405) Freeways, take the Laguna (133) Freeway south; the freeway becomes Laguna Canyon Road. Or take Coast Highway to Broadway and head north; Broadway becomes Laguna Canyon Road.

* Wherewithal: $3.50. Senior citizens, auto club members, groups of four or more, $2.50. Sunday through Friday, 5 to 9 p.m., $1. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., free. Children under 12 and military personnel free at all times.

* Where to call: (714) 494-4514.

* WHAT: Sawdust Festival.

* When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, today through Aug. 27. (July 4 and Aug. 27 only, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

* Where: 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.

* Whereabouts: See directions to Art-A-Fair Festival, above.

* Wherewithal: $5. Senior citizens, $4. Children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult.

* Where to call: (714) 494-3030.

* WHAT: Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters.

* When: 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily, July 7 through Aug. 28. Pageant at 8:30 p.m.

* Where: Irvine Bowl Park, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach.

* Whereabouts: See directions to Art-A-Fair Festival, above.

* Wherewithal: Exhibits, $3; senior citizens and students, $2. Pageant tickets, $10-$40.

* Where to call: (714) 494-1145. Pageant tickets, (714) 497-6582.

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