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.
The Whimsy of Wood: The Pyrography of Suzanne Walsh
Pyrography plays a primary role in the practice of Suzanne Walsh. The Orange County-based artist uses fire to portray animal life, and the parallels between humans and animals.
The Music Stops for the Original Disneyland Band
The Disneyland Band has been playing since opening day of the amusement park on July 17, 1955. Recently, Disneyland announced the last performance of the original assemble will be on July 16, a day before the 60th anniversary of the park.
The Otherworldly Works of Yevgeniya Mikhailik
The whimsical artwork of Russian-American Yevgeniya Mikhailik reflects the artist's fantastical imagination.
The Social Art of Jorg Dubin
The Social Art of Jorg Dubin
Laguna Beach artist Jorg Dubin has spent 35 years as a professional artist, designer and art director, but questions about human psychology still keep him up at night.
Remixing NPR: The Dissonance and Deconstructivism of Patrick Faulk
Remixing NPR: The Dissonance and Deconstructivism of Patrick Faulk
Patrick Faulk creates provocative sculptures dealing with sound, structure, theory, existence, and identity in Santa Ana.
Best Kept Secret: Richard Jackson Survey at OCMA
Best Kept Secret: Richard Jackson Survey at OCMA
Richard Jackson has produced work that pushes the boundaries of painting since the 1960s.
Beneath the Skin: The Paintings of Justin Bower
Beneath the Skin: The Paintings of Justin Bower
Orange County painter Justin Bower's oversized faces are steeped in a future dystopia where humans appear to be being subsumed by technology.
Dance in the Park: The Backhaus Company
Dance in the Park: The Backhaus Company
Jennifer Backhaus brings dance to the site specific performance art realm that has never been done in OC before.
Artbound 2012: Best of Orange County
Artbound 2012: Best of Orange County
We selected the best 2012 articles and videos from Orange County.
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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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