Pageant of the Masters, the Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach’s world-famous theatrical celebration of art through the magic of tableaux vivants (living pictures), announces its 2023 theme: “Art Colony: In the Company of Artists.” In celebration of the Pageant’s 90th anniversary, the production will acknowledge the deep connections and memorable stories of artists assisting one another throughout the world and throughout history. Tickets for the 2023 Pageant of the Masters go on sale to the general public December 1, 2022 online at www.PageantTickets.com or by calling (800) 487-3378.
The world-renowned Pageant of the Masters will celebrate nine decades since the first “living pictures” were presented in 1933. Director Diane “Dee” Challis Davy plans to keep this theatrical summer phenomenon fresh and inspirational for new and returning Pageant audiences to enjoy. Presented under Laguna Beach’s starry-summer night sky, the 2023 Pageant will also feature live, original music and narration, breathtaking theatrical illusions, and some surprises, all presented in the 2,600-seat amphitheater of the Irvine Bowl.
“My goal for this year is to select a majority of artwork that has never been presented by the Pageant,” Challis Davy said. “This theme has been a challenging one so far. I feel like I’m starting with a clean slate – or a blank canvas – and we’re taking a leap of faith not exactly knowing how it will evolve into a show. As always, I want to incorporate elements of theatrical performance and spectacle to make the show entertaining as well as educational.”
There’s a reason the idea of a lone-wolf artist driven to work in isolation against heavy odds is a cliché. It’s because for many who choose the path of art, it’s true. At the Pageant of the Masters, during her tenure as director, Challis Davy has honored many artists with memorable recreations of their work as “living pictures”. As she’s assembling the artworks to be included in the 2023 production, however, she’s shifting her focus to another vision of the world of art, where artists offer support and inspire one another, and often choose to work and live together. The art colony established in Laguna Beach in the early years of the 20th century was the primary inspiration for the 2023 Pageant theme: “Art Colony: In the Company of Artists.” Audiences can expect a much more diverse and surprisingly theatrical celebration of how artists have embraced or created communities where they can live and work, both separately and together.
“I’m interested in what makes a place an ‘art colony,’” Challis Davy said. “What are the essential ingredients to establish an art colony? Is there ineffable magic in the landscape, the light or the sky that draws artists? Is it a commitment to cooperation, camaraderie and shared love of art or something else?”
When asked about new places she intends to take audiences, Challis Davy responded enthusiastically, “Taos, New Mexico, for one. And East L.A.!”
One of the art colonies featured in this year’s Pageant is New York’s Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement that celebrated art and African American culture in the 1920s and 30s.
“The Harlem Renaissance was painting and sculptures, but it was also poetry, politics, and literature. A time of freedom of expression for people of color previously unknown in America,” Davy said. “African American art and art by women have been under-represented in the history of American Art. I’m pleased we can present the Harlem Renaissance along with other important art colonies of the USA, and the world.”
The Harlem Renaissance is considered a golden age in African American culture, manifesting in literature, music, stage performance, and art. The era is widely known in pop-culture for its nightclubs and music: Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway of the Cotton Club, and Bessie Smith, to name a few. Lesser known to many are the painters and sculptors associated with the movement. The Pageant of the Masters hopes to shine a light on sculptors Meta Warrick Fuller and Augusta Savage, and painters Archibald Motley and Aaron Douglas.
Kicking-off act two, audiences will see the work of these artists come to life onstage including the signature 16-foot sculpture “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Harlem Renaissance artist, activist, and educator Augusta Savage; as well as, “Song of the Towers,” which is part of a four-mural collection series by Aaron Douglas. Douglas felt that jazz was a great contribution of African American culture to the world. Meta V.W. Fuller’s bronze statue “Emancipation” and Archibald Motley’s extraordinary painting “Holy Rollers,” will also be highlighted during the Harlem Renaissance art colony portion of the show.
“All four of these works of art are new to our stage. I especially admire Aaron Douglas’ style; his colorful silhouette paintings and murals depicting Black history,” Davy said. “I have selected uplifting musical pieces to complement the four tableaux. Jazz, spirituals, gospel will be represented, along with a song that’s considered an anthem -’Lift Every Voice and Sing!’ There will be singers!”
Laguna Beach Art Colony
The art colony established in Laguna Beach in the early years of the 20th century was the primary inspiration for the 2023 theme. “We’re excited about the theme, ‘Art Colony,’ because Laguna Beach was really put on the map as such more than 100 years ago,” concluded Challis Davy. “We don’t acknowledge our local art colony status until the finale of the show, and along the way we will show other art colonies where artists offered support and inspired one another.”
As always, the Pageant’s traditional finale, Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” will close the show.
“We’re now competing for the attention of audiences who are more receptive to kinetic live performance and video enhancements and they all have electronic devices! But we continue to be very proud of our live orchestra and original musical compositions from a group of very talented and accomplished composers,” Challis Davy said. “Add to that the element of surprise and a certain amount of unpredictability in programming, and we’re excited to see the audiences happy to join us in the Irvine Bowl every night.”
Tickets to Pageant of the Masters 2023
The 2023 Pageant of the Masters production “Art Colony: In the Company of Artists” is July 7 – September 1, 2023 with advance tickets on sale December 1, 2022 starting $35 per person.
To stay up to date on all things Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts, follow the Festival on social media at @FestivalPageant and visit www.foapom.com.
About Pageant of the Masters
The Pageant of the Masters has been drawing crowds from across the United States and around the world for nearly a century – celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2023. In 1932, local artist John H. Hinchman produced a summer festival (the Festival of Arts) for art enthusiasts and as a means to attract tourists who also happened to be in nearby Los Angeles for the Olympic Games.
It proved so successful that the following year the Festival of Arts organizers added “living pictures” to the lineup, featuring real-life replicas of a number of famous works, including James McNeill Whistler’s 1871 oil painting titled “Whistler’s Mother.” It was called the Spirit of the Masters Pageant. This publicity stunt was the very humble beginning of what would become the renowned Pageant of the Masters.
Roughly 90-minutes in length and presented under Laguna Beach’s starry-summer night sky, the Pageant will once again feature a live orchestra and narrator, elaborate sets and costumes, and some fresh, innovative, surprises. “Art Colony: In the Company of Artists” will honor and celebrate the artists and art colonies formed in history and continue to thrive today, like the booming art colony in Laguna Beach and at the Festival of Arts.
As always, Challis Davy and her team of artists and technicians realize the Pageant wouldn’t be possible without its dedicated volunteers who return year after year.
650 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Buy Pageant of the Masters tickets at: www.pageanttickets.com
(949) 497-6582 | (800) 487-3378
Where to Stay for Pageant of the Masters
Traveling to Pageant of the Masters or just want somewhere fun to stay afterwards to make a night of it? Here are a few hotel suggestions all less than a mile from the Pageant of the Masters: