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The Orange County Center For Contemporary Art (OCCCA) is run entirely by artists and showcases art by both emerging and established artists. The emphasis is on local artists. It also features lectures on various subjects, performance art and musical concerts, and participates in public outreach programs that are committed to cultural diversity. The main purpose is the pursuit of freedom of expression in the arts and to provide a forum to explore and develop ideas in contemporary art.
If you are driving south along the coast for the day from L.A., this gallery is ideally situated near the popular Fashion Island shopping center, not even a mile from the Pacific Coast Highway. The subject of much controversy among Orange County's art crowd over the past few years, the museum expanded to almost double its original size when the Newport Harbor Art Museum (same location) and the Laguna Art Museum consolidated to form this larger complex, scandalizing the art-loving Laguna Beach community. The permanent collection focuses on late 20th-century and California art, but the museum enjoys exhibitions that have included works from artists such as Rico Lebrun and Pablo Picasso. The Plein Air Café serves lunch, and a meal will earn you free admission to the museum.
The gallery here showcases modern and contemporary art by both established and up-and-coming artists. Artists include Peter Alexander, Tony Berlant, Joe Goode, Michelle Fierro, Dennis Eckstrom, Robert Graham, Charles Arnoldi, Edward Giardina, Tom Wudl, Sharon Ryan, Ed Moses, David Lloyd and Dennis Hollingsworth. The art is often daring and experimental, and it is a welcome change from the average gallery fare.
Laguna Beach has long been a center for art. Creative types flocked here in droves to work their magic along Laguna's pristine shores. The Laguna Art Museum continues this proud heritage with an impressive list of year-round exhibitions and programming. Within these hallowed halls, you'll find classic and contemporary works by artists both fledgling and world renowned. An emphasis is placed on artists hailing from California, but the museum's scope is global nonetheless.
While in Laguna Beach, be sure to visit the oceanfront gallery of Wyland, an artist well-known for his paintings of marine life. Nicknamed the "Marine Michelangelo," the first thing you'll be amazed by is the variety of mediums used in his art. Murals are seen on the exterior walls while bronze sculptures loom over the front entrance. The inside overflows with even more: Lucite sculptures, acrylic sculptures, oil paintings, abstract art, brush art, photographs, bronze tables, portholes and mirrors.
The unique history and culture of surfers is a big part of the Southern California's personality. As such, the Surf Gallery pays tribute to the whole scene by featuring regular exhibitions by, for and about surfers. Photos capturing the athletes in action hang alongside oil paintings meticulously produced in the off-season by surfers both well-known and up-and-coming.