8 Museums/Galleries in OC Where Art Fans Should Not Miss

Photo: Orange County Museum of Art

When you think about places to enjoy art in the states, the first that comes into your mind might be the MET, Guggenheim Museum and MOMA in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C, and for those who live in California, LACMA in Los Angeles. However, in Orange County, a place where is famous as a tourist attraction and cultural center, you might not be that familiar with places to watch the work of art.

Unlike serious art fans that know every little artistic corner in OC, you might just want to look for a nice little gallery to spend your casual Sunday afternoon enjoying beauty of impressionism, or a museum where you can take your kids to simply spend a couple hours on as extracurricular activities.

Here, we are recommending to you ten options of worth visiting museums or galleries that casual art fans like you worth visiting.

“2017 California-Pacific Triennial: Building As Ever,” curated by Cassandra Coblentz. Photo: Orange County Museum of Art

1. Orange County Museum of Art

Known as OCMA, the museum located in Newport Beach founded in 1996, has collections of over 3,000 objects. If you are a tourist from else where that would like to get to know more about art in California, OCMA is a must-go since the museum concentrates mostly on the art of California with art works vary from the beginning of 20 century to present. You will not only find out the modern & contemporary artwork such as painting, sculpture and photography but also enjoy a bunch of tours & educational events that are temporarily held in here. For example, on August 26th, there has been a special panel discussion that associated with exhibition. In this event, people heard from the artists about their thoughts on architecture and built environment relative to ideas about history, memory, and preservation. There are a lot of upcoming events that will be held on October, if you are interested, you should definitely go and take a look.

A view of the gallery that shows a lot of unique art works. Photo: Orange County Center For Contemporary Art

2. Orange County Center for Contemporary Art

Known as OCCCA, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art is located in Santa Ana. Different from other galleries or museums, it is known as its setting that is ran by alternative artists focusing mainly on contemporary art. Through exhibitions, publicity and publications, artists from all over the world develop their unique ideas and show them to the general public. Besides promoting work from alternative artists, OCCCA also takes part in public educational, outreach and community art. The gallery is 6,300 sq. ft. large and can hold up to 200 guests at the same time.Start from November, there will be a special exhibition called Order and Chaos held by Annie Clavel and guest artist Miguel Osuna. The exhibition is mainly about Chaos Theory, and the work associated with it will be exhibited. If you are interested in chaos, panic, blizzard kind of style, you should definitely go and take a look at those.

A view of the summer exhibition opening in Laguna Art Museum. Photo: Laguna Art Museum

3. Laguna Art Museum

Located in Laguna Beach, Laguna Art Museum is founded in 1918 by a group of local artists. As a center of art that devotes itself to share the spirit of California, a lot of art works created by artists that are originally from California are exhibited here. Different from other museums in OC, including OCMA that is also a center for California art I just introduced, Laguna Art Museum collects works only from California and no where else so all you can feel in here is the California vibe. Those art works that are collected here include various styles in different period in history, start from nineteenth century to today. Laguna Art Museum has many different temporary exhibitions going on currently, and will have more in the future. There are currently a lot of events going on with different art styles and themes are worth exploring. For example, on September 17th, there will be a family art studio from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.This is a great opportunities for parents to bring their kids to enjoy the fun of creating art pieces.

A view of the City of Brea Gallery. Photo: City of Brea Gallery

4. City of Brea Gallery

Located in Brea Civic, as the name indicates, The City of Brea Art Gallery is a representative place to show high standard exhibitions that is by no means inferior to other world-famous museums. Founded in 1980, the 6,500 square foot gallery is without question young comparing to the other ones in OC. Every single year, the Gallery has four main exhibitions presented with different kinds of forms including art workshops for people in different ages, lectures that are held by artists all around the country, iconic videos and special live art demonstrations. Represented by over a hundred and sixty three sculptures in the city, its art in Public Places Program that is known widely that you shouldn’t miss. After participating in different activities that you’re interested in, there is a nice gift store for you to shop here if you want to have something as a souvenir or share your experience with your friends and families.

Exhibition of photographs in the OMC Gallery. Photo: OMC Gallery

5. OMC Gallery

This one is exclusively recommended for photographic art lovers. Established in 1999, OMC gallery is a small gallery located in Huntington Beach that mainly exhibits contemporary art, especially photography. Besides that, you can also find various forms of designs including digital art, small scripture and work on paper in vintage style of twenty century. OMC gallery is also known as its international variability. The gallery involves in modern art and photography fairs in different cities in the world, so it gets the chance to work with artists from all over the world, such as Japan, Europe and South Africa. So what you will see here do not limit from arts in California, but designs that are appealed internationally. No matter they are famous work that you might have seen in magazines and social networks, or unknown pieces that catch your attention; you can find them all here to begin a new adventure in art.

View of the entrance to the Irvine Museum. Photo: the Irvine Museum

6. The Irvine Museum

A student in UC Irvine wants to find a good place to get into the artistic vibe? A parent who wants your children to start to get to know about art? The Irvine Museum is a considerable choice to visit. Located near the campus, the Irvine Museum mainly exhibited to the art in California art of the Impressionist Period, which ranges from 1890s to 1930.Showing the nature of landscape, water and plants in this land, the Irvine Museum further presents the aesthetic beauty of California cooperating with American Impressionists, with the purpose of discovering and educating. The Irvine Museum leads you back to the era that are long ago, and enable you to see what this familiar, beloved lands look like before in these fabulous paintings. The current exhibition that is holding is called Dusk till Dawn. Unlike the other landscape paintings that we usually see, the paintings in this exhibition show the same subjects both in the evening and at beginning of the day. If you are interested in impressionism, and a big fan of California culture, you should come here to take a look.

View of the entrance to the McKibben Studios. Photo: McKibben Studios

7. McKibben Studios

As an art gallery that has a little special vibe different than the other ones in OC, McKibben Studios is a good choice for you to visit, if you are looking for an unforgettable experience with both sight and sound. This gallery has the vibe of the city it located in, Laguna Beach, exhibits art works that are dramatic, surrealistic, romantic, and novel. This is a perfect place that you can bring a friend or two, and explore the whimsical imagination of the featured artists, such as Rick Rietveid, Wade Koniakowsky, Scott Jacobs, etc. The types of art are also various, besides something normal like portraits, photographic arts, also includes fused glass, serigraph and even surf boards (if you are a surfer that will be a bless) McKibben Studios encourages artists including sculptors and photographers to present their lifestyle, imagination, personal attitude, and imagination through their work. So this place is suited for those of you who are looking for inspiration in your life.

“The Chase” by Hu Jundi Serigraph on Canvas (Embellished). Photo: mandarin fine art gallery

8. Mandarin Fine Art Gallery

Orange County, a community to the third-largest Asian American population in the states, has a culture that will no longer be complete without eastern cultures. Mandarin Fine Art Gallery, located in Laguna Beach, is known for its large collections of Contemporary Art from Mainland China. If you are interested in Chinese Art, you don’t have to travel a long way to LA; in here, there are art works from featured artists who are well accomplished in China from academia with experience of auctions, such as Huang Niandong, Zhao Kailin, etc. This place is not only a source to purchase original work of those outstanding artists, but also a place that introduce Eastern cultures to the west. For those of you who are familiar with western style art works, Mandarin Fine Art Gallery is a brand new world to explore the mysterious eastern space. Even if you don’t have a chance to go to China to visit the galleries there, you will find some of the art in here to take a fresh look.

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