Admitting that you admired a Pageant of the Masters show is the kind of thing that can (and arguably should) get an art critic strung up by the thumbs. The Pageant of the Masters is just a big, crazy, ridiculous mess, any way you look at it. But it is also a spectacle worthy of the court of the Medicis. You spend the evening ping-ponging back and forth between awe and tedium, oohing and ahhing when you're not too busy wondering what the heck's the point of it all. Imagine all the (probably literal) blood, sweat and tears that went into just the painstaking recreation of Edgar Degas' “Le Cafe Concert aux Ambassadeurs.” If you think this is pure kitsch, try re-framing it as extreme performance art; three ladies crusted with paint, wearing stiff and itchy costumes, posed onstage as they desperately clench every muscle and try not to look like living human beings. Beautiful, shmeautiful – that's some Matthew Barney shit, right there.
Pageant of the Masters at the Festival of Arts
650 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651