Orange County gets a bad rap. Those who define the area for its rampant conservatism and vast tourist economy only think of Disneyland, Costa Mesa and Knott’s Berry Farm are missing the point. In fact, it is this vibrant economy that has allowed the O.C. to creep in as one of the most intriguing cultural centers of Southern California. University of California Irvine is a hotbed of intellectual inquiry - its creative writing department being one of the most prestigious in the nation - and its growing Mexican-American middle class has found cultural maturity in spite of (or perhaps because of) the county’s conservative backdrop.

Gustavo Arellano, the enfant terrible of Mexican-American op-eds, has found a fertile ground to voice his opinions and grow a local audience in the O.C. And who is to question the cultural importance of Mickey Mouse? Last time we checked, hundreds of O.C. teens flocked into the park with a critical understanding about theme park design. As the rest of Southern California, the O.C. isn’t easy to pin down; it is so culturally vast and complex that it is hard to wrap our high-brow minds around it.
From Skater to Artist: The Ongoing Evolution of Ed Templeton
Along with managing one of the skate industries' top rated brands, pro skateboarder Ed Templeton is a prolific photographer and painter. The long-time Huntington Beach resident continues to look to his surrounding environment for inspiration.
Mystic Arts World: Laguna Beach's Original Psychedelic Gallery
In the 1960s, Mystic Arts World was a Laguna Beach emporium, bookstore, and gallery that showcased psychedelic art. Historian Bolton Colburn revisits the counter culture venue with exhibition "Orange Sunshine and the Mystic Artists 1967-1970."
The Art of Preserving: Florencio Blanquel's Handcrafted Furniture
The making and selling of handcrafted artisanal furniture can be considered a dying trade in today's demanding economic climate that has grown accustomed to the Ikea concept of mass produced furniture. Woodworker Florencio Blanquel challenges this idea by continuing the tradition of constructing handcrafted rustic Mexican colonial wood furniture.
Behind the Scenes of 'Vireo'
Behind the Scenes of 'Vireo'
A look behind the scenes of the opera, "Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser."
First Person: Grand Central Art Center Curator John Spiak on 'Vireo'
First Person: Grand Central Art Center Curator John Spiak on 'Vireo'
Director and chief curator of Cal State Fullerton's Grand Central Art Center John Spiak discusses the GCAC's role in "Vireo" and the conception of the project.
A History of Hysteria in Art, Film, and Literature
A History of Hysteria in Art, Film, and Literature
A look at the history of hysteria in the Western psyche, in relation to "Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser"
Librettist Erik Ehn on Writing 'Vireo'
Librettist Erik Ehn on Writing 'Vireo'
"Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser" is based on research done by composer Lisa Bielawa did on the history of female hysteria for her college thesis.
Episodic Opera: Composer Lisa Bielawa on Vireo
Episodic Opera: Composer Lisa Bielawa on Vireo
"Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser," is a new opera that considers the nature and uses of female hysteria through time. Composer Lisa Bielawa discusses the inspiration behind the innovative work.
Santa Ana Sites: Eclectic Ensemble wild Up Comes to Orange County
Santa Ana Sites: Eclectic Ensemble wild Up Comes to Orange County
The pop-up series, Santa Ana Sites, features the experimental music group "wild Up," an ensemble that re-interprets modern-classical music.
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section header: disciplines
icon, Architecture/ Design discipline

Architecture/ Design

California becomes an international export by redefining the concept of city and home.

icon, Community Arts discipline

Community Arts

Through workshops, education and placed based projects, art is the connective tissue of a community.

icon, Cultural Politics discipline

Cultural Politics

Funding bubbles, cultural deserts and the politics of access to the arts in the 21st century.

icon, Film & Media Arts discipline

Film & Media Arts

At the shadow of the entertainment industry, video artists and underground filmmakers take a stand.

icon, Literature discipline


Noir, sunshine and dystopia create a multi-ethnic narrative that is read, watched and admired around the globe.

icon, Multi-Disciplinary discipline


Multi-hyphenate works that combine disciplines, remix dogmas, and reinvent the wheel.

icon, Music discipline


A dialogue between cultures, the music of our state serves up the California dream like no other artform.

icon, Performance discipline


Staging the drama of California through dance, music and theater.

icon, Visual Arts discipline

Visual Arts

Breaking away from the European and New York vanguard, California reinvents the art world.

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