Observations on an Art Festival

Yesterday, we did something we haven’t done in over 20 years: We went down to Laguna Beach for the Sawdust and Art-A-Fair Festivals. I recall we last went to the Sawdust festival in the late 1980s, shortly after we got married (I remember this because we got a beautiful rock carving we still have hanging on our wall). I also have memories of going to the Festival of the Arts/Pageant of the Masters back in the mid 1970s with my parents; I vaguely remember going to one of the early Sawdust festivals (it started in 1974).

First, I should note it was a lovely day, and not just weather-wise. We left Erin at home to do homework, and just spent a day—the two of us—wandering the art festival. This is something we used to do, and we haven’t done for a while. It was a great way to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary.

I found it interesting how the festival mix has changed over the years. In the 1970s, I remember lots of paintings, sculpture, and lots of tooled leather. Sawdust had lots of counterculture art: tie-dye, etc. This year? Lots of jewelry, various framed pieces and sculpture, pottery. Just a few fabric booths, and nary a tooled leather shop. I guess part of it is the changing taste of art, and part of it is the fact that both Sawdust and Art-A-Fair have gone mainstream, shaking off the counterculture roots.

We did do something that evoked quite a bit of reaction: we brought our ren-faire staves as walking sticks. Almost every vendor we visited commented on them (as did a few patrons as well), asking us where we got them. We told them we got them at the Ren Faire: it’s interesting how the art establishment tends to forget the Ren Faire is also an artists faire as well. (Note: to be specific, I believe I was using my stave from Broom Magic; Karen was using hers from The Walking Woods).

We’re planning on going back for the Sawdust Winter Fantasy show, and go again next summer. As for the Pageant itself: I seem to recall that the tickets are quite pricey; however, if Erin is into Art History, it might be worth it.

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