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Amazing Art, Artist and Atmosphere
Make a Visit to the Famed Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach

The Sawdust Art Festival opened its doors to greet the public on July 2 for its 38th annual summer show. The highlight of the Sawdust Art Festival has always been its exhibitors and the amazing original art they create. Over the years, millions of patrons have strolled the beautiful 3-acre outdoor setting, finding new and enchanting artwork around every turn of the sawdust-covered paths.

With 202 exhibitors creating everything from ceramics to original photography to watercolor paintings, there is sure to be something to catch every visitor's eye. Shopping at the Sawdust brings patrons in direct contact with the artists who create the items, allowing a rare experience in today's mass-produced world.

Patrons can watch the exhibitors as they demonstrate their art in either their booths or in designated demonstration areas around the festival. There's no better reminder of the summer of 2004 than purchasing an object at the Sawdust Art Festival after seeing it made. With prices ranging from just a few dollars up into the thousands for fine jewelry or commissioned sculpture, there is something to please everyone and every pocketbook.

The glass-blowing demonstrations (hourly every day) always draw a crowd as the Sawdust has one of the few glass kilns on public view in the country. Watching a gather of 2000 degree molten glass be blown and spun into a vase or bowl is a breath-taking experience that enthralls visitors both young and old. Patrons are invited to get their hands dirty at the Ceramics Booth, where the Sawdust offers complimentary instruction at the potter's wheel. After patrons have experienced the ups and downs (literally) of the wheel, they can really appreciate the skills possessed by the Sawdust's ceramic artists and the patience and talent that goes into hand-creating ceramic items.

The Sawdust Art Festival was founded in 1966 as a reaction against stuffy, boring art shows. The iconoclastic spirit of its founders - three of whom, photographer John Atkinson, and jewelers Nikki Grant and Irene Suess, still exhibit - permeates the show.

"The goal of the Sawdust has always been to be a place where artists are free to express themselves, be it in their art, their booth design or their attitude," said Rebecca Meekma, Community and Media Manager. "The Sawdust has a fun, unpretentious atmosphere that lets everyone have a good time."

Photographer and twenty-year exhibitor Mike Kelly agrees, "There's something special about the atmosphere here at the Sawdust - there is a creative, energetic vibe that really attracts people. The hundred-year old eucalyptus trees shade the grounds and add a peaceful feeling like we're in a special place, and, hey - we are."

All exhibitors must live in Laguna Beach and create what they are selling. The non-profit Sawdust Art Festival helps to keep the spirit of the artist founders of the Sawdust Art Festival alive by guaranteeing a place for local artists to exhibit their work. Artists will always have a home in Laguna Beach as long as the Sawdust is around to safeguard the town's artistic tradition.

The festival features three entertainment stages around the canyon-side grounds with musical guests ranging from rock to jazz to bluegrass. Three cafes - serving Mediterranean, Mexican and American specialties - along with the Sawdust Saloon offer dining, drinks, and places to revive and rejuvenate. If you haven't been to the Sawdust Art Festival, you haven't been to Laguna Beach!

For more information, visit sawdustartfestival.org or call 949-494-3030. The Sawdust Art Festival is a non-profit organization, dedicated to educating the public about the art created in the community of Laguna Beach.

Featured in South Coast Magazine Festival 2004 photo courtesy of Sawdust Art Festival

Copyright 2004 South Coast Magazine. No unauthorized duplication without written consent

 



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