Posted on August 31, 2009 by Sawdust Art Festival

Media Contact: Cynthia Fung

August 28, 2009

(On Sunday, August 30 Dion Wright completes 50 years of participation in Laguna Beach
art festivals)

Laguna Beach, CA – Master welder and one of Sawdust Art Festival’s original founders, Dion Wright, completes his 50th season in the Laguna Beach art festivals on Sunday, August 30, closing day of the Sawdust’s 2009 summer season. Having started his festival career at the Festival of Arts when he was juried into the 1959 show, Wright has always been distinctive in expressing his art ideals and even back then identified with the more liberal “Red Alley” artists. He has always sought after “meaning in the works” and in supporting his ideals of using art “form in an entirely creative way that was balanced by pithy content that was simultaneously witty, poetic, and philosophical,” Wright joined the Sawdust’s group of founding members and helped create a non-juried art festival.    

Since its inception in 1966, Wright has been exhibiting consecutive years at the Sawdust Art Festival (with the exception of one absentee year in 1974) and has been displaying and selling his many incredible welded sculptures, in a conjoined booth space with wife Ruth Wright since 1981. Wright has experienced nearly 43 years of the Sawdust’s evolvement and to this day holds in high esteem his UCSB college art professor’s philosophy of “continuity above all other things in art.”

Wright identifies continuity in many things at the Sawdust, and is appreciative of the idea that during all 43 years of the festival’s development, the same community members, families, visitors and artisans are able to change and grow throughout time while returning to the Sawdust’s same artistic environment on the festival grounds each summer. “Grandfathered” into the show rules by having lived and exhibited in Laguna Beach for a sufficient amount of years, Wright himself returns each summer to Laguna Beach from his current residence in Arizona.

Also supporting continuity is Wright’s “mandala” project, a round original 10’ in diameter complete taxonomy tree pained in oil on wood and completed in 1965, a piece of which Wright is creating a second rendition nearly 40 years later, this time painting with oil on linen. Over the years, Wright has settled into using biology as a source for his art; in his booth you will find welded sculptures of dragonflies, large scaly fish, and insects to name a few. Wright derives his art from nature and has developed two stylistic lines of work, one of which is fabricating from scratch, the other is using silverware to assemble pieces.

Currently, Wright is working on a large civic project for a foundation based in Arizona. He has sculpted a life-size “mountain lion” piece to be molded from creating 40 mountain lion sculptures which will then be painted by 40 different artists and installed in various public locations throughout Flagstaff.   The original mountain lion is scheduled to exhibit at next year’s Sawdust summer show, if not yet sold. Such an impressive project can only be awarded to someone such as Wright, “an incredible observer of form, line, and pithy meaning.”        

To learn more about Wright and his sculpted works, contact the Sawdust Art Festival at 949-494-3030 or visit our website at The Sawdust Art Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

The Sawdust Art Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public
and promoting the art created in Laguna Beach.

The Sawdust Art Festival thanks its 2009 sponsors Hoegaarden and Kendall-Jackson.