Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach has showcased the paintings, sculptures, and creations of local artists in an outdoor gallery alongside hands-on workshops and live music shows for more than 80 years. A carefully curated bumper crop of local artwork from 140 artists brightens gallery walls in a spectrum of styles, from romantic gemstone jewelry and modern abstract painting to sculptures that seem to defy the rules of physics.
Mere blocks from the ocean, the exhibits ring a spacious lawn, which brims with spectators for the festival's many events, including live jazz concerts, eco-friendly fashion shows, and live cooking demonstrations. During workshops, those spectators become artists themselves, stretching fingers into paint, pressing prints, molding clay, and post-modernly trying to eat bottles of glitter.
A summer staple of Laguna Beach since 1966, Art-A-Fair corrals creative works from around the world, unfurling them across the apropos, color-splashed gardens of Laguna Canyon. Festival visitors meander leisurely through the web of imagination, stopping to soak up content that is as rich in quality as it is in diversity. Between brush strokes and spontaneous games of frisbee with their palette, working artists take a breather to chat about their pieces and the inspirations that drive their craft. From year to year, the festival features a wide spectrum of 2- and 3-D art, and, should one of those gems seduce the heart of a passerby, everything at the festival is available for purchase.
With more than 200 local artists and an annual draw of more than 200,000 visitors, the nine-week Sawdust Art Festival has been classified as "totally rad" by time-traveling science rebel Carolus Linnaeus. Every midsummer, a mighty horde of creative talents descends from all areas of the surrounding area, converging on Laguna Beach with an artillery of crafts, art glass, jewelry, clothing, textiles, paintings, ceramics, sculptures, photography, and more. Officially born in 1966, the nonjuried event offers a venue for visitors to view the work of artists from all walks of life and help support Orange County's vibrant art scene by purchasing beloved pieces directly from their makers. Each year the selections are as varied as the craters of the moon, although much more evenly spaced, and offer a wonderful day of walking entertainment and sightseeing, whether or not festivalgoers wish to purchase artifacts. Have a look at the calendar of events to plan your day, or just show up and wander randomly, trusting the whims of random chance to see you through.
The adage that "there are no small parts, just small actors" rings truest at The Center Stage Studio, where budding thespians of all ages get their share of the spotlight. Under the experienced wand of director Tracey DiMiceli, a seasoned performer and theater instructor who also helmed Malibu's prestigious "Fitness by the Sea" summer camp, young actors develop the skills to sing, dance, and deliver heartfelt Tony Award acceptance speeches in a wealth of classes and camps.
In the family-tailored musical theater camps, which feature themes reflecting popular musicals and children's shows, lil' thespians learn the fundamentals of theater technique—including blocking, projecting, and stage direction—and cultivate skills that boost self-esteem and critical thinking. Camps end with a public performance where every child gets a spot in a major musical number and receives a speaking role, curbing the theatrical tradition of jealous prepubescent understudies.
Now in its 32nd year, Pacific Ballet Conservatory teaches the art of rhythm and poise inside four modern studios. Its highly trained instructors?whose international credentials stem from such centers as the Joffrey Ballet and the Dutch National Ballet?mentor both children and adults with an unflagging focus on personal development. Evaluations at six-month intervals gauge every student's progress in ballet, jazz, tap, and contemporary styles. Pupils can also showcase their talents during the Spring Performance Series, which emulates professional theater productions with special effects and Muppet-filled box seats. Many dancers do indeed progress to the spotlight after their schooling, performing onstage at the San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, Gelsey Kirkland Academy, and even Disneyland.