‘Art People: The Pageant Portraits’ opens at Laguna Art Museum

LAGUNA BEACH, CA — The seaside art colony was buzzing on Saturday June 26th. The Laguna Art Museum previewed an exhibition celebrating one of the city’s beloved festivals: The Masters Competition.

Postponed for a year due to COVID-19, Matthew Rolston’s “Art People: The Pageant Portraits” is finally open, and it was well worth the wait.

The installation itself is as stunning as the art. Rolston’s art direction skills were beautifully executed to display his portraits of ordinary people depicting “gods and goddesses, paintings, sculptures, tomb figures, even the occasional art collector”.

A glimpse of Matthew Rolston’s “Art People” at the Laguna Art Museum. Lisa Black / Crest

Rolston guided the media, his gallery representatives and friends, and museum staff through the exhibit with calm charm. His long-standing enthusiasm for the Pageant was evident throughout, but especially when he interviewed the locals, keen to know the level of their Pageant fandom.

Photographs from “The Last Supper” by Matthew Rolston. Lisa Black / Crest

The Angeleno revealed that one of his favorite pieces in the exhibit is “Da Vinci, The Last Supper” (archival pigment print on Canson, 100% rag paper). The piece spans 30 feet and consists of 26 panels – 13 people, and the 13 styrofoam heads bearing the exact makeup design for each follower.

Each re-enactment player will be painstakingly painted to replicate the colors and brushstrokes on the faces of Da Vinci’s original tempera on plaster from 1495 to 1498. Heads are labeled: “Last Supper # 1” through “Last Supper # 12 “, with the middle one identified as” JC “.

To respond to Made in America’s 2021 theme, the traditional finale of “The Last Supper” at the Pageant will be preceded by two screenings: “Da Vinci, The Last Supper (Saint James the Less)” by Rolston and “Da Vinci, The Last Supper (Saint Simon the Zealot). ” Rolston’s own work is now incorporated into the Pageant itself, at least for this year. The layers of art over the art at work here are multiplying exponentially.

The artist has been touched by this honor ever since he saw the living pictures at the age of 8 contributed to his career path. Rolston expressed special gratitude to longtime festival director Diane Chaliss Davy, who championed her idea to the Pageant board “not once, not two, but three times” until they finally approve the project.

Matthew Rolston gets ready for the opening of “Art People” at the Laguna Art Museum. Lisa Black / Crest

All of the subjects look superhuman, Rolston says, as he photographed them a bit below. The vertical portraits rise to 8 feet in height, imbuing the volunteers with a heroic stature. While the high-resolution, unglamorous technique employed by Rolston reveals what he calls a “touching level of imperfection”.

The famous photographer redefined the term “people of art”. It no longer refers exclusively to the rich, jet-set world of merchants and collectors. Its artists are the volunteers who dedicate their summer evenings to transforming themselves into living images of famous art – and the volunteers who make it possible. And to the creative team at Pageant, who let her take the behind-the-scenes photos in 2016.

“Art People” from left: “Da Vinci, The Last Supper (Saint Philippe le Curieux)”, “Lavoisier, Laboratory Sketch (# 2)” and “Da Vinci, The Last Supper (Judas Iscariot).”

Seeing the “Art People” exhibition and the Pageant of the Masters are a must-see for summer 2021.

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About Margaret L. Portillo

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