Orange County’s captivating scenery has long inspired artists to pick up a paint brush, camera and other tools to re-create that beauty in their own ways. With an artists colony in Laguna Beach dating back to the early 1900s, an artists village now flourishing in Santa Ana and plenty of galleries and museums across the region, OC is a prime spot to take in exhibits showcasing a wide range of mediums and styles from impressionist to abstract and beyond.

delap portrait of queen zozer ii lam Best Upcoming Exhibits At Orange County Art Museums   Spring 2018

(Credit: Laguna Art Museum Collection/Gift of John McLaughlin)


“Tony DeLap: A Retrospective”
Laguna Art Museum
Laguna Beach
(949) 494-8971
www.lagunaartmuseum.org
Dates: February 25 – May 28, 2018

This exhibit surveys the career of renowned Orange County artist Tony DeLap, who played a key role in the California light and space movement, explored the intersection of sculpture and painting, and also dabbled with the art of illusion, even making elements of his pieces seemingly float. About 80 of his creations will be displayed in this retrospective, including 3-D works as well as paintings and drawings. DeLap, who served as the University of California, Irvine’s first art professor, was honored by the museum late last year with the Wendt Award for his contributions to California art.

kennedy1 Best Upcoming Exhibits At Orange County Art Museums   Spring 2018

(Credit: Philippe Halsman, Courtesy Magnum Photos)


“American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times”
Bowers Museum
Santa Ana
(714) 567-3600
www.bowers.org
Dates: March 10 – June 3, 2018

From his recognition as a war hero to his political career, rise to the U.S. presidency and tragic death in Dallas, this exhibit covers the many aspects of John F. Kennedy’s life through the photographic lens. More than 70 snapshots come together to tell the story of this charismatic leader including his marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier, global travels and time serving in the White House, where he proved to be a strong supporter of the arts. His legacy is celebrated in this comprehensive collection of pictures—organized by WS Productions in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library—that capture Kennedy the man and commander-in-chief, who is believed to be the single most photographed politician.

voyage to vietnam Best Upcoming Exhibits At Orange County Art Museums   Spring 2018

(Credit: Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose)


“Voyage to Vietnam: Celebrating the Tet Festival”
Bowers Kidseum
Santa Ana
(714) 480-1520
www.bowers.org

The Tet Festival, marking the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (typically in January or February each year), will be celebrated in this immersive exhibit that teaches visitors about Vietnamese culture. Bowers Kidseum is one of only nine museums in the country selected to present the traveling exhibit, which was developed by the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose and funded by the Freeman Foundation. The interactive display will highlight Vietnamese traditions and daily life including a marketplace experience filled with flowers and pretend food, and a home where children can try on customary clothing. Kids can also don a lion dance mask and take part in Tet Festival music, games and parades. You can see the exhibit from from May-August 19, 2018.

ocma Best Upcoming Exhibits At Orange County Art Museums   Spring 2018

(Credit: Orange County Museum of Art/Chris Bliss Photography)


“Pivotal: Highlights From the Collection”
Orange County Museum of Art
Newport Beach
(949) 759-1122
www.ocma.net

Originally slated to run through late February, “Pivotal: Highlights From the Collection” will instead remain on display for the foreseeable future due to its overwhelming popularity, with additional pieces added when OCMA’s other current exhibit closes.“Pivotal” presents works from the museum’s permanent collection, showcasing the institution’s dedication to emerging artists who embrace innovative approaches and experiment with subject matter that pushes boundaries. As evidenced by this exhibit, some of the region’s most influential artists have received support from OCMA, often at key points along their creative paths. Among those featured are painters Jack Goldstein and Richard Diebenkorn, photographer Catherine Opie, as well as video and computer animation artist Jennifer Steinkamp.

gamble john poppy field near banning the irvine museum collection Best Upcoming Exhibits At Orange County Art Museums   Spring 2018

(Credit: The Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine)


“Harmony of Light: Spring in California”
The Irvine Museum Collection
Irvine
(949) 476-0294
irvinemuseumcollection.uci.edu

The Irvine Museum Collection, focused on California impressionism from about 1890 to 1930, was donated to the University of California, Irvine, which presents exhibitions of the artwork in a temporary space while moving ahead with construction of a permanent museum. “Harmony of Light,” from February 22-June 21, 2018, highlights our Golden State’s beautiful springtime colors as captured by artists like William H. Clapp, Millard Sheets and John Frost. Clapp is known for his use of pointillism, which relies on tiny colored dots to create an image, while Paul de Longpre, nicknamed The King of Flowers, was praised for his precise watercolor representations of roses and other flora. Frost, who preferred the desert’s warm, dry air on account of his tuberculosis, was partial to painting the San Jacinto Mountains, which he could see from Palm Springs. Meanwhile, Maurice Braun’s paintings take viewers on a trip to Yosemite National Park.

robert bailey e2809can appeal for helpe2809d graphite pencil on paper courtesy of the hilbert collection Best Upcoming Exhibits At Orange County Art Museums   Spring 2018

(Credit: The Hilbert Collection)


“A New Hope: The Star Wars Art of Robert Bailey”
Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University
Orange
(714) 516-5880
www.hilbertmuseum.com/

“Star Wars” fans will enjoy the realistic illustrations of iconic scenes from the original trilogy at this exhibit running from March 31-summer 2018. Robert Bailey, a Lucasfilm artist, employs graphite pencil in his sketches that bring characters like Han Solo, Princess Leia and C-3PO to life on the page, displayed in the Animation Arts gallery. Two Disney artwork exhibits are also planned. And for those who prefer pretty vistas, the museum will be showing “Scenic View Ahead: The Westways Cover Art Collection” organized in partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California, which produces Westways magazine. From March 31 to fall, revel in paintings of American West panoramas that have graced the publication’s cover over the years.

evalynn alu 0world of ongoing waves2 photo credit jeff alu Best Upcoming Exhibits At Orange County Art Museums   Spring 2018

(Credit: Evalynn J. Alu/photo by Jeff Alu)


“Soul Element”
Orange County Center for Contemporary Art
Santa Ana
(714) 667-1517
www.occca.org
Dates: April 7-28, 2018

In this provocative exhibit, both traditional and digital artwork will explore elements of the soul in today’s tech-focused culture, where we constantly move between staring at 2-D screens on cellphones, computers and TVS to life in the real, 3-D world. According to artist Evalynn J. Alu, “the soul exists somewhere within this context, but cannot be exactly defined.” Alu’s expressive, abstract pieces will be joined by the photography of her son, Jeff Alu, who blurs the line between science and art with his pictures, and sculptures by Mary Beierle, who finds inspiration in glaciers and the San Andreas Fault, at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana’s Artists Village. The showcase will include paintings, sculptures, photos, virtual reality pieces, light projections and “augmented reality pieces” that integrate elements of nature and the greater universe with philosophical beliefs and religion, inviting viewers to come to their own conclusions. The exhibit runs from April 7-28, 2018.

regionalia Best Upcoming Exhibits At Orange County Art Museums   Spring 2018

(Credit: Amy Sanchez and Misael Diaz / Grand Central Art Center)


“Regionalia”
Grand Central Art Center
Santa Ana
(714) 567-7233
www.grandcentralartcenter.com
Dates: March 3 – May 15, 2018

Experience “Regionalia” at Grand Central Art Center, which explores the meaning of citizenship, especially in a place filled with people coming and going from so many different countries and representing so many cultures. Sanchez and Diaz, artists in residence at the center for almost four years, have been working with local community groups and students to examine these issues against the backdrop of a region that’s so close to the U.S.-Mexico border.

emmanuel nkuranga 1 Best Upcoming Exhibits At Orange County Art Museums   Spring 2018

(Credit: Emmanuel Nkuranga)


“Open Casa: Emmanuel Nkuranga”
Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens
San Clemente
(949) 498-2139
www.casaromantica.org
Dates: March 20 – April 15, 2018

Based in Kigali, Rwanda, the internationally recognized artist Emmanuel Nkuranga will have a solo exhibition at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, showcasing his colorful mixed-media expressionist pieces that incorporate texture with thick pigment and a wide variety of unexpected materials from computer parts to eyeglass frames. Nkuranga, a self-taught painter who depicts skylines, abstracts and figurative subjects, gives back, too. In partnership with his painter brother, he founded the Inema Art Center—the largest in his home country. Nkuranga also donates proceeds from the sale of his artwork to help orphans who participate in Art With a Mission, an organization he established that teaches these abandoned children to express themselves through art.

Sharon Stello is a writer based in Orange County.
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