Pageant of the Masters: Real People as Art

Stay very still: Living humans pose inside paintings at the venerable Laguna Beach event.

When told to hold completely still, most people likely either feel the urge to A) laugh or B) blink or C) cough/sneeze or D) scratch their chin or E) blink.

We included "blink" twice because of all of those acts, blinking is likely the hardest to delay. Ponder this as you ponder Pageant of the Masters, the famous Laguna Beach show where performers pose "inside" paintings and sculptures, the very artworks you've seen inside museums.

"Inside" is not really truly inside at the summertime presentation, which is on from Thursday, July 7 through the final day of August. People stand in front of a painted backdrop, when posing as part of a painting, but the hues and shading and light make is seem as if they're actually occupying the flat service of the large-scale canvas.

It's an optical illusion at its finest, and one of California's most famous, right up there with the Mystery Spot (an optical treat of another, balls-rolling-up-hill sort).

Hundreds of behind-the-scenes artists and volunteers make this magical treat happen each year, a treat that includes a bevy of artworks, artworks that include some paintings, some sculptures, and perhaps jewelry, too. The woman pictured above is mimicking, convincingly, a vintage brooch.

The show changes each year — the collaboration-minded 2016 theme is called "Partners — but it always ends with an impressive ode to Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper."

What's to know? Binoculars are helpful, and you can rent them at the venue which, by the by, is also hosting Festival of Arts.

It's a time of year brimming with cultural richness 'round the arts-minded community, but don't blink: Pageant of the Masters will pack up the paints and costumes before Labor Day Weekend arrives.

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