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.
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
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.
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?"
For The Love Of ISM: A Decade In Orange County
For The Love Of ISM: A Decade In Orange County
ISM, a non-profit organization producing exhibits and publications, was established ten years ago to bring the "creatively homeless" to one place to work together.
Bug Art: Volkswagen Beetles Get the Tricked-Out Treatment
Bug Art: Volkswagen Beetles Get the Tricked-Out Treatment
The dozen owners of wacky Volkswagen bugs that are part of the sprawling VW Classic in Irvine this weekend probably wouldn't be there if not for Adolf Hitler. The world's most beloved car was shaped in no small fashion by one of the world's most atrocious human beings ever.
Hijabistas: Inside the World of Muslim-American Fashion
Hijabistas: Inside the World of Muslim-American Fashion
Hijabista. The word -- which fuses "hijab" and "fashionista" -- gained traction a few years ago when young Muslim women realized they could follow the Islamic rules for modest dressing without stifling creative expression. Now, in Irvine, Muslim-American women discover new ways to express themselves through fashion.
The Literary Lair of T. Jefferson Parker
The Literary Lair of T. Jefferson Parker
In the mystery world, T. Jefferson Parker has established himself as a California golden boy. Many of his murderous plots unfold in Orange County, where the landscape is awash in blondes and bikinis.
Pay to Play? Orange County's Vanity Art Spaces
Pay to Play? Orange County's Vanity Art Spaces
With the economic decline, and the folding of many exhibition spaces, more galleries are starting to switch to the "pay to play" model. If you pay for space on a wall, isn't that just like advertising? Who really benefits from this practice?
How Exene Cervenka Came to Rule Over the Boy's Club
How Exene Cervenka Came to Rule Over the Boy's Club
Check out our new exclusive video with punk goddess Exene Cervenka, lead singer/songwriter of X, as she hosts and performs at the Moonlight Graham Hootenanny, and shares her trials with health issues.
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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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