Massive mural donated to commemorate 50th anniversary of Laguna’s Sawdust Art Festival

It will be nearly impossible for visitors to miss the 60-foot-wide by 10-foot-high mural displayed on the walk-up outside of the 50th annual Sawdust Art and Craft Festival this summer.

Contemporary and world-renowned artist Rolland Berry and art entrepreneur Adam Casper donated the gigantic artwork, priced at $100,000, as a gift to the city of Laguna Beach to commemorate the golden anniversary of the annual art festival. The festival opens on June 24 and will run through Aug. 28.

Los Angeles resident Berry, whose mixture of pop and graffiti art has been displayed in galleries throughout the world as well as by major retail company products such as Adidas and Reebok, said the mural is meant to embody the feeling of the Sawdust Festival. As a child, he used to frequent the festival with his family:

“I remember thinking it was a giant maze full of tree houses with art,” he said. “I truly believe in the power of the universe and being where you’re supposed to be at the right moment. This for me was the right place, and exactly the right time to return and create a piece for the public to enjoy. It’s a full-circle moment for me.”

The colorful mural pays homage to America’s indigenous culture, with a Native American woman’s face and colorful headdress painted across the facade. Berry said he chose the subject matter specifically because of his own Native American lineage, and his hope is to create awareness and empower the native women who were tribal chiefs and considered the “keys to our wisdom.”

The mural was created in three phases, with the first phase of the painting being sketched out in black and white and set for a day. In the second phase, Berry and his team of artists painted broad strokes of red, blue, yellow, orange and green hues across the sketch with matte-finish spray paints.

The last phase, which Berry said “brings the mural back to life,” will not be completed until opening day, so guests can witness the face and other details being brushed and finalized.

“I thought it would be fun for the community to see how I work; to actually destroy a perfect mural and bring it back channeling my energy and that of the artists from the Sawdust Festival into the work.”

The interactive piece of street art allows festivalgoers to actually be able to touch and take pictures in front of and against it. Berry encourages everyone to get up close and personal to the mural:

“I’m interested in generating a dialogue with the viewers that has not existed previously in Laguna. This work is made to be touched and interacted with. Come up and lean on it, take a photo or a selfie. Share a moment while strolling by. People interact differently to art in outdoor spaces, especially when they can actually walk into the same space the art occupies.”

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