Festival of Arts unveils its $10-million renovation

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The Festival of Arts opened its 85th fine-art show to the public Wednesday in Laguna Beach, debuting a $10-million renovation two days before the opening of the annual Pageant of the Masters.

The updated facility — which the festival also showed off at a private grand-opening event Monday evening — features wider pathways, updated restrooms, tensile roof pavilions that shield art from sun and rain, and an expanded and relocated gift shop.

The grounds — last remodeled in 1964 — were updated to meet accessibility standards and include progressive sustainability features, according to a Festival of Arts news release.

“It’s a huge improvement,” said artist Paul Bond, who is in his eighth year of exhibiting at the Festival of Arts. “There’s a better flow, the canopies give a professional ambiance, the lighting is better, there’s a more expansive feel and it’s not so confining. I think it’s going to be a really positive improvement to the festival.”

 

Today, his award-winning magic-realism paintings have been featured in galleries, museums and cultural centers and are in private collections throughout the United States, Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

“It was a magical experience for me then even, though I didn’t have aspirations at the time to be an artist,” Bond said. “It seems full circle for me to be an exhibitor and it’s very fulfilling for me to be contributing to the magic.”

Friends and watercolor painters Gretchen Miller and Victoria Cernocka of Huntington Beach visited the updated grounds Wednesday morning. They last visited the festival two years ago.

“It’s world-class art and I love the way this is set up, having the shade too,” Miller said. “So far, so good.”

The Festival of Arts features the work of 140 award-winning artists. Visitors may participate in art workshops and tours, listen to live music and view art and demonstrations until Aug. 31.

Festival officials expect about 250,000 guests to attend this year’s art exhibits and Pageant of the Masters.

This year’s pageant theme is “The Grand Tour,” which spotlights the European tradition of traveling to multiple continents to see the world’s great art. It opens Friday and runs through Aug. 31.

To celebrate its 85th year, the Festival of Arts will host an anniversary bash Aug. 13, with free admission to the art show all day. The event will include a birthday cake, music and proclamations honoring the festival’s history.

The organization also is marking the anniversary with a new event on Sunday afternoons — “A Salute to the Arts,” which will spotlight a different art form each week.

On Fridays, a new music series, “Step into the Spotlight,” will bring backup singers to center stage.

FESTIVAL OF ARTS

When: 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily Aug. 31 (closes at 1 p.m. Aug. 26)

Where: 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

Cost: General admission, $8 weekdays, $12 weekends; students and senior citizens, $5 weekdays, $8 weekends; children 12 and younger, military personnel and Laguna Beach residents, free

Information: (800) 487-3378 or foapom.com

kathleen.luppi@latimes.com

Twitter: @KathleenLuppi

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