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 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
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
The Orange County/San Diego-based, all-girl skate crew Pink Helmet Posse wants to change the way girls are treated in skateboarding.
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.
Pinball Wizards of Orange County
Pinball Wizards of Orange County
The Orange County Pinball League, with members ranging in age from 18 to 60, convenes monthly to share in their zeal for those marvelous hybrids of sound and spectacle: pinball machines.
Phantom Galleries Haunt Orange County
Phantom Galleries Haunt Orange County
Walking around downtown Santa Ana, it can feel like stumbling across the border into some bustling, anonymous Mexican city. But the art in this area is a reminder of stateside California, and the creative passion hidden herein.
Prison Dancer: A Transmedia Musical Hopes to Transcend Borders
Prison Dancer: A Transmedia Musical Hopes to Transcend Borders
In 2007, a viral video of 1500 inmates from a detention center in the Philippines dancing to Michael Jackson's biggest hit, "Thriller," inspired "Prison Dancer," a musical that seeks to gain traction on the Internet.
Selling Richard Nixon
Selling Richard Nixon
Joel Beers examines the form of the 37th President's legacy through the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library and Museum's architecture, photographs, artifacts, and exhibits.
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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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