Laguna Art-A-Fair’s History
In 1967, as the tide moved away from representational art in Southern California, traditionalists found it increasingly difficult to retain exhibitor space in the single largest local art festival of the day, the renowned Festival of Arts. Determined to show their work, they hung their paintings on fences at Glenneyre Street and Park Avenue in Laguna Beach. The show was such a hit with the public they were required to search for a larger venue for the next year. A vacant lot on North Coast highway was chosen, and the Laguna Beach Fine Arts Association was formed. An enterprising reporter labeled it “The Sawdust Festival”, due to the unusual ground covering used.
In those first two years all artwork was juried, and exhibitors were required to be residents of Laguna Beach. However, toward the end of the second season “irreconcilable differences” spawned a permanent split that prompted a portion of the membership to move north up the canyon and take their unique ground covering with them, becoming what is known today as the Sawdust Art Festival. While still without any permanent home, the remaining artists soon found their identity in a final name change and became the Art-A-Fair. But the growing pains didn’t stop there. The festival now had new challenges to face: handling sales, creating publicity, and drawing fresh artwork all became uphill battles. Also, keeping their financial heads above water was challenging, but they persevered. In 1972 Art-A-Fair’s hard-won efforts were so successful another move was ordained, but, again, finding a good home wasn’t easy. When a larger property adjacent to the Hotel Laguna became available, the festival doubled its size to 110 artists, and in 1973 the show was touted as a leading showcase of traditional art in Orange County.
A few moves later, Laguna Art-A-Fair finally found its forever home and, in 1988, moved to 777 Laguna Canyon Road, closer to the downtown area of Laguna Beach and in the heart of the festival district. A juried show, Laguna Art-A-Fair is unique among the local shows in that it does not restrict residency, thereby drawing artists from an unlimited geographic area. Presently there are approximately 125 exhibiting members.
Through the years, many diligent artists have volunteered their time and energy to guide Laguna Art-A-Fair’s progress and growth into one of the most outstanding fine art shows in Southern California. Understandably, a special camaraderie has developed and is enjoyed by all exhibitors, working together to build and run this special show. Through the efforts of committed members, a supportive board of directors and quality jurors, Laguna Art-A-Fair has set and maintained a standard of excellence that is respected by the local art community, enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, and recognized nationwide. This show is proud to include many award-winning artists, and to be a showcase venue for highly talented emerging artists.