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.
The Folk Art of SoCal Sign Painting
The Folk Art of SoCal Sign Painting
A small handful of niche trade programs, companies, and artists in Southern California have recently been driving a revival of the sign painting art form.
2014 Flashback: Orange County
2014 Flashback: Orange County
We look back at Artbound's stories from Orange County in 2014.
The Marvelous Marble of Elizabeth Turk
The Marvelous Marble of Elizabeth Turk
A pioneer in marble arts for 20 years, Elizabeth Turk has helped marble come back with a vengeance into the contemporary art scene.
The Avant-Garde at the Orange County Museum of Art
The Avant-Garde at the Orange County Museum of Art
OCMA's exhibition "The Avant-Garde Collection" examines the ever-evolving definition of avant-garde as it is represented through their permanent collection.
Pink Helmet Posse: Future Skater Stars
Pink Helmet Posse: Future Skater Stars
The Orange County/San Diego-based, all-girl skate crew Pink Helmet Posse wants to change the way girls are treated in skateboarding.
The Expanding Art Scene of Santa Ana
The Expanding Art Scene of Santa Ana
In the past few years, entrepreneurs and artists have been expanding the arts scene of Santa Ana to reach beyond the limits of the historic Artists Village, and into The East End.
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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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