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.
Summer Writing Project: The Next Great Storytellers
Summer Writing Project: The Next Great Storytellers
A new program seeks to rebrand libraries, long viewed as places of information consumption, as sites of creation.
On the Scene: California Landscape Paintings
On the Scene: California Landscape Paintings
California Scene Paintings from the 1920s-1970s are oil and watercolor paintings inspired by scenes of everyday life in California. Today these works are being rediscovered.
The Video Sculptures of Peter Sarkisian
The Video Sculptures of Peter Sarkisian
The exhibition "Sarkisian & Sarkisian" features multimedia sculptures that tie together the work of Peter Sarkisian with that of his father, painter Paul Sarkisian.
Preserving the Legacy of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Preserving the Legacy of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater
Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is devoted to creating a platform for the work of emerging artists and acclaimed choreographers.
Skeith de Wine and the Uncertain Future of the Leonardo Da Vinci Institute
Skeith de Wine and the Uncertain Future of the Leonardo Da Vinci Institute
Artist Skeith de Wine looks at the contemporary world and asks, "What would Da Vinci do?"
Skate or Die: Hurley and the Aesthetic of Skater Culture
Skate or Die: Hurley and the Aesthetic of Skater Culture
Hurley Skate Park in Costa Mesa will be open to the public on Nov. 21for a celebration and a re-envisioning of the relationship between skateboarding, graffiti and fine art.
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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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