Pageant of the Masters 2021

Sep 06, 2021 by Kyomi O'Connor

                                                                      Photo by Janeb13 on Pixabay

The Pageant revives


the lives of Grand Masters


They’re here all alive




Wildfire’s Masterpiece


The Death of Cleopatra


Struck me like thunder





Soul of John Nieto


lingered the howls of spirits


shook my core like Quake




The Breaths and Heartbeats


of the great Masters’ art alive


took me beyond time




These Haikus were composed after I visited Pageant of the Masters. Though I’d known about the event for decades. It was the first time I purchased a ticket. Due to the COVID pandemic, the event was canceled last year and postponed until this summer.


Pageant of the Masters®


Pageant of the Masters has been housed in Laguna Beach since 1941. It is one of the most unique productions in the world. On each evening of the Summer Festival, mind-blowingly realistic recreations of the original artworks modeled by real volunteers have been the crowning jewels of the Festival. At outdoor arena, a professional orchestra with the original score, live narration, and performances make Pageant of the Masters achieve its best and integrity.

Pageant of the Masters' Website





Edmonia “Wildfire” Lewis (1844- 1907) was the first African American and Native American female sculptor. Orphaned at a young age and adopted by her Native American aunt. She later attended the Oberlin College of Ohio and was mentored by abolitionists in Boston, where she produced their busts— establishing as a sculptor. She moved to Rome, where she explored her art in a less pronounced racist environment, produced more black and Native American images.


The Death of Cleopatra portraying the death of the Egyptian queen sculpted in Rome was shipped to celebrate the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. However, most of her sculptures were lost including the Cleopatra. Almost a century after Lewis’ death, it was donated to, restored and housed by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C.


                                                         Screenshot from Smithsonian American Art Museum Webpage   



John Nieto (1936-2018): John Nieto was one of the most influential contemporary artists. Born in Colorado, to his Native American and Hispanic mixed mother. His family was deep-rooted in New Mexico for over 300 years. His artworks are well-known with vivid colors depicting Native American tribal members and indigenous wildlife. His paintings “Delegate to the White House” were hung during Reagan’s presidency at the White House, then later in the presidential library. Many of Nieto’s artworks were housed in the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe.


                                                                  Screenshot from Nieto Fine Webpage


Upon my first visit, the quality and the recreation of the original fine art and their spectacular collaborative works truly blew my mind away. From now on, I will visit them every summer.


References: Wikipedia(EL), Wikipedia (JN), Pageant of the Masters, The Smithsonian Institution,  the New York Times, and Nieto Fine Art.