During the summertime, locals and visitors flock to Laguna Beach for the Festival of Arts, Sawdust and Art-A-Fair festivals. But those famed events aren’t the only places to spot stellar art from Orange County and beyond. From the Orange County Museum of Art to the Nixon Library, these 10 art exhibitions offer everything from photography to painting. The best part? They’re on display right now. As the summer fades to fall, make sure to check out as many of these creative exhibitions as possible.

(Credit: The Muckenthaler Cultural Center)

“Prayers, Protection and Resistance”
The Muckenthaler Cultural Center
1201 West Malvern Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92833
(714) 738-6595

This Spanish Colonial Revival style residence from the 1920s was converted into a cultural center after it was donated to the city in the 1960s, and it now offers a variety of events, classes and art exhibits. Currently showing in the gallery at The Muck, you’ll find “Prayers, Protection and Resistance,” a powerful exhibit that displays pieces crafted by artists who faced overwhelming circumstances. The artwork in the group exhibition reveals intensely personal struggles that hundreds of artists have faced. The free exhibit is open Wednesday through Sunday through August 20, and is being sponsored by BLICK Art Materials.

(Credit: Gray Matter Museum of Art)

Summer Art Series
Gray Matter Museum of Art
485 East 17th Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 870-5910

As you step into the museum to view artwork by resident artists like Chelsea Pero, Katlin Evans, Jeffrey Turnbull, Jessica Cardelucci and more, take part in a different kind of museum exhibit. When you visit the Gray Matter Museum on a Tuesday or Thursday through August 31, Taking place from 7 to 9 p.m., the series allows visitors to create things like hanging macramé terrariums, origami and hand-drawn portraits, or partake in activities like photography and yoga. This is a great way to really experience art while also having the chance to observe pieces made from many different artists.

(Credit: Trong Gia Nguyen and mc2gallery, Milan)

“California-Pacific Triennial”
Orange County Museum of Art
850 San Clemente Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 759-1122

Through September 3, a thought-provoking exhibition is on display at the Orange County Museum of Art, or OCMA. Taking a look at the built environment, “California-Pacific Triennial” includes artwork that examines things like the recording of history over time, the influence of global power and economics on global construction and the concept of home. Each of the artists in the exhibition hail from countries (11 in total) that border the Pacific Rim and have created pieces that are nearly all on display for the first time. Some of the artists include El Salvador’s Ronald Morán, Japan’s Yuki Kimura and Los Angeles’ Carmen Argote. Check out the blend of drawings, photographs, sculptures, installations and performances.

(Credit: Bower’s Museum)

“Stark Beauty: The Photography of Edward Weston”
Bower’s Museum
2002 North Main Street
Santa Ana, CA 92706
(714) 567-3600

Anyone who loves photography will find something of interest in Bower’s Museum’s current exhibition. Featuring images taken by Edward Weston prior to the 1960s, these pictures include a variety of subjects—captured in a purely unadulterated way. Open every day except Mondays through September 17, the exhibition is split up into three different sections, each showcasing a different type of Weston’s photography. The first is filled with portraits, including those of his favorite muses and widely known contemporary figures, while the second depicts realistic American landscape images. The third section includes detailed photographs of everything from vegetables to man-made objects and the human body.

(Credit: Conrad Buff)

“Golden Dreams: The Immigrant Vision of California”
Hilbert Museum of California Art
167 North Atchison Street
Orange, CA 92866
(714) 516-5880

Located at Chapman University, the Hilbert Museum of California Art features just that—artwork created by artists who are either from or relocated to the state of California. Since March, the museum has been showcasing “Golden Dreams,” an exhibition dedicated to the immigrant artists that have moved to the state. Coming from all over the world, these artists have crafted images of the Golden State—their new home—from their own perspectives. Art pieces from Suong Yangchareon, William Wendt, Edouard Vysekal, Conrad Buff and more are on display. The showcase is joined by two others: “Out of the West” and one on Disney production art. All three exhibits will be on display until September 23.

(Credit: Annie Clavel)

“Order & Chaos”
Orange County Center for Contemporary Art
117 North Sycamore Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 667-1517

Starting September 2, the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art will present their latest exhibition—a joint showcase between Annie Clavel and guest artist Miguel Osuna. On opening day, a special reception will be held from 6 to 10 p.m., where guests can view the exhibit for the first time. The show is focused on the intermingling of chaos and order, with artwork that proves there can be order within chaos. Clavel, a trained mathematician, derives her work from things like fractals, combining ordered elements with colors, shapes, movement and patterns of thought. Trained architect Osuna, on the other hand, creates order out of chaos. The exhibit will run through September 23, when there will be a closing talk with the artists from 2 to 4 p.m.

(Credit: Laguna Art Museum)

“Ben Messick: Memories of Los Angeles”
Laguna Art Museum
307 Cliff Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-8971

In the artist colony of Laguna, amidst the summer art festivals and galleries galore, the local museum will soon be wrapping up an exhibit of works by artist Ben Messick. Through September 24, visitors will be able to view Messick’s paintings, drawings and lithographs, which feature life in Los Angeles during the Great Depression and World War II. The artist trekked all over the city—to places like Pershing Square, Olvera Street and MacArthur Park—to find scenes to include in his artwork. With exaggerated expressions, thick brushstrokes and dark, bold colors, Messick’s modernist works featured locals enjoying the parks and beaches of L.A. during a difficult time.

(Credit: James Swinnerton)

“Dusk till Dawn”
The Irvine Museum
18881 Von Karman Avenue
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 476-0294

Most landscape paintings have one major thing in common. Whether depicting a green field covered in trees and flowers or a seaside cove with blue waves rolling in, there is plenty of artistic sunshine. The Irvine Museum’s current exhibition, “Dusk till Dawn,” showcases a different side of landscape painting. The works of art displayed at the museum feature stunning scenes on the edges of the day—at dusk or dawn. Filled with vivid skies, detailed shadows and just a touch of darkness, these unique pieces are a sight to behold. Artists included in the showcase are James Swinnerton, Virgil Williams, Granville Redmond, Paul Sample and more. The show, which started in May, will be on display until September 28.

(credit: Steven C./yelp)

“Deconstructing Liberty: A Destiny Manifested”
Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center
241 South Anaheim Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92805
(714) 956-8936

Through October 15, Anaheim’s Muzeo Museum will present “Deconstructing Liberty: A Destiny Manifested.” The showcase is just one part of “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” a collaborative effort between Los Angeles’ The Getty Foundation and more than 70 other arts institutions throughout Southern California. Examining American liberty and identity, Latin American and Latino artists like Eugenia Vargas Pereira, Linda Vallejo, Carlos Martiel, Omar Pimienta and more display photography, videography, installations and performances that align with the theme. Catch the exhibit everyday except on Mondays, when the center is closed.

(credit: Steve Cukrov/shutterstock)

“Picturing Nam: U.S. Military Photography of the Vietnam War”
Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace
18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard
Yorba Linda, CA 92886
(714) 993-5075

This long-running exhibit kicks off September 2, presenting a display that depicts our nation’s involvement in the Vietnam War from the point-of-view of American military photographers. Held at the Nixon Library, visitors can check out 45 different framed photographs, showcasing many different aspects of the international conflict. The photographers who took the images were given assignments everywhere from hospital ships and airbases to Vietnamese rivers, jungles and swamps. Because he visited the country in 1969, there are also pictures of President Nixon on display as well as written artifacts from his time trying to end the war. The images will be on display until January 7, 2018, and the museum is open every day.

Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She blogs at Pure Wander and freelances for a variety of publications including Newport Beach Magazine and Laguna Beach Magazine.


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