Umbrellas Light up Laguna Beach

Seashell Umbrellas, Laguna Beach, California. Photo by Craig Drown

Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time and an otherwise ordinary evening becomes uplifting.

In Laguna Beach last November, I saw a swarm of people, dressed in black, crossing Coast Highway headed towards the lifeguard tower. Maybe a protest was beginning I thought as I hurried to my timeshare to drop groceries off. Curious to see what was going on, I returned and was immersed in a crowd of hundreds of people amassed on the cliffs and walkways encircling Main Beach.

Many people traveled here after reading an article in the LA Times heralding the “Shoreline Project,” a beach art installation. It featured 1,000 volunteer performers wearing black clothing and toting black and white umbrellas embedded with LED lights.

Shoreline Project in Laguna Beach, California. Photo by Craig Drown

As the sun began it’s slow orange-hued descent, the performers formed undulating lines on the beach, spreading along the broad cove. When they unfurled their umbrellas, images of seashells with their exquisite geometric patterns exploded onto 1,000 canopies. The luminous umbrellas seemed to twirl and dance in the sand to the rhythm of the music throughout the evening.

Commissioned by the Laguna Art Museum, California artist Elizabeth Turk produced this beach experience using her seashell mandala artwork, created through X-ray photography. It was the highlight of the Art & Nature Festival, showing the relationship between art and the natural world.

The artistry of the umbrellas skimming along the shoreline with the pounding surf in the background slowed me down for a few hours so I could enjoy this festivity. I met a lovely couple, Carol and Craig, who had driven from Diamond Bar to see the show. We talked and watched the pop-up umbrella display on the beach together. Craig was kind enough to share the photos he captured with his Nikon D3300 camera and Carol and I stay in touch.

Carol Ruch (left) and Susan Carr, Laguna Beach, California. Photo by Craig Drown

Take two minutes to enjoy the beauty of the Laguna Shoreline Project at:  

I promise, you will be smiling as you watch the magic unfold.



11 thoughts on “Umbrellas Light up Laguna Beach

  1. What a stupendous visual experience. Seeing this in person must have been wonderful. Those umbella designs reminded me of sand dollars. Art and nature; the two are partners.

  2. Very interesting. Star Warian like art! Of course those of use outside of city lights get a good showing on cloudless nights as well.
    Good job on this.

  3. What a wonderous sight to see and an amazing surprise. Thank you for sharing, you have such a way with words!! Xoxo

  4. This was fun, interesting and mesmerizing to watch. Loved the umbrellas and the sunset show. One of the best in your series. A winner!

  5. You are a wonder yourself, Susan, with your lovely photos and thoughts. Thank you for sharing them.
    Love, Lynne

  6. What a thrill to see, so uplifting of soul and body. It made me want to dance with an umbrella in a community of dancers to that wonderful cello solo. The artist had such imagination, who knew how many things one could express with an umbrella that’s lit up. Did they feel the mist of spray from the ocean, I wonder? Art and nature become celestial. So glad you were there to experience it, Susan. You have amazing perception and sensitivity to art, beauty and nature. What a great blog!

  7. As I was watching this I couldn’t help but think about how much more special something like this is when it just “shows up” rather than if it had been planned in advance (think traffic, parking, crowds, etc.) Not only that … to “just happen” to meet someone with a Nikon D3300!! Wow!

    Another happy happenstance was meeting you at Melvyn’s last week. I’m looking forward to reading a lot more of your writing!!

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