Queen Mary hosts Art Deco Festival
Wouldn't it be nice to travel back in time?
Austin O'Grady of Laguna Beach thinks so. She's joining hundreds of people this weekend at the eighth annual Queen Mary Art Deco Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday in Long Beach.
"It's my favorite thing to do every year," said O'Grady, 21, an Orange Coast College graduate who's transferring to UC Davis this fall. "I love the Art Deco time period. It's kind of a magical era. The design style is beautiful, elegant and sophisticated. It's very streamlined. You get a chance to transport yourself, and it's just a completely different world."
O'Grady and her mother, Cherie Fortin-O'Grady, will be wearing vintage dresses, shoes and accoutrements during the festival, which starts Friday with an Art Deco guided tour of Long Beach, continues Friday night with an Art Deco pajama party, and reaches its zenith Saturday night with a grand reception and ball.
Art Deco lectures will occur throughout Saturday and Sunday, as well as an Art Deco bazaar and marketplace in the Queen Mary's Exhibit Hall. More dancing and music are planned for Sunday, with an afternoon tea dance from 3-6 p.m. and jazz performances from 6 to midnight.
"It's a blast from the past," said Fortin-O'Grady, a retired airline employee who also lives in Laguna Beach. "If you had to live your life over, that was an interesting time to live."
The Queen Mary Art Deco Festival was conceived about nine years ago by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles. The volunteer group identified the RMS Queen Mary – a shining symbol of 1930s Art Deco style and maritime design – as the perfect place for a weekend of scholarship, fashion and fun.
"It's a home run when you combine the love of the era and the Queen Mary, with its design influences from the 1920s and '30s," said John Thomas, president of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and a co-producer of the festival. "I think what most people get out of it is a cultural awakening. You can celebrate the past, even with the negative events, and find the best in every era."
Art Deco as an artistic and design movement can be traced to 1920s Paris, specifically the Paris Exposition in 1925. Countries from all over the world converged during that expo and showcased futuristic design, artistic individuality and fine craftsmanship. (The term "Art Deco" wasn't coined until the 1960s, during a revival of the style.)
Features of Art Deco design include sleek lines, geometric forms, bright colors and accents or motifs that echo ancient civilizations, such as Babylon, Greece, Egypt and Aztec Mexico. Many associate the Streamline Moderne style to be a late phase of Art Deco.
Examples of Art Deco architecture include the Chrysler Building in New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam and a 30-block historic section of Miami Beach, Fla.
Art Deco artists and designers include Tamara de Lempicka, Paul Manship, Cedric Gibbons and Norman Bel Geddes. Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald is often associated with the period, and the movies "Grand Hotel, "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Artist" evoke Art Deco style.
"For me personally, I love the period because it's probably one of the last true design influences that really hit all aspects – fashion, jewelry, toasters, automobiles, transportation, Hollywood," said Thomas, who was born and raised in Fullerton.
People from across the country congregate at the Art Deco Festival; over the years, the core group of attendees has become a tight-knit community. Favorite events include the pajama party and horse races, the Saturday night Art Deco ball, the afternoon tea dance in the Queen's Salon and the martini bar at Sir Winston's on the Sun Deck.
A two-person passport for the entire weekend is $650, which includes two nights in a deluxe cabin aboard the Queen Mary. A daily boarding pass is $29.95 per person, which includes admission to the bazaar, lectures, the vintage car display and the ship's "Ghosts and Legends Show." If you just want to go to the pajama party, that's $15 per person.
Curiously, the Queen Mary is also hosting a reggae-themed Shoreline Jam concert and festival in an adjacent event park on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11:20 p.m. While the two festivals couldn't appeal to more different audiences, organizers hope there will be room enough for everybody.
"The Art Deco Festival takes place on the ship, while the majority of attendees of Shoreline Jam spend the day off the ship," said Steve Sheldon, director of entertainment events for the Queen Mary. "There's not a lot of cross-pollination there."
Just get there early if you want to find a decent parking space.
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