Art museum

Orange County gets world-class contemporary art museum – SURFACE

Long in the cultural shadow of its northern neighbor, Los Angeles, Orange County’s cultural scene is finally taking off with the upcoming Orange County Museum of Art. Formerly the Newport Harbor Art Museum, its new 53,000 square foot home is the region’s largest contemporary art institution and the crown jewel of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, Lincoln Center’s unofficial counterpart on the Western coast.

The $94 million project, designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, has been 14 years in the making. Led by director Heidi Zuckerman, the lineup will even include a revival of the California Biennale.

Zuckerman brings a community-focused outlook and proven track record to his role at OCMA. The director is credited cultivating the Aspen Art Museum’s status as a preeminent contemporary art destination with exhibits by Yto Barrada and Danh Vo, as well as a revamp led by Shigeru Ban. Appointed to the OCMA’s top job in February 2021, Zuckerman oversaw construction of the new museum, working in conjunction with Mayne to create a community-centered space.

A $2.5 million grant of Lugano Diamonds, based in Newport, allowed Zuckerman to implement his vision of free entry, at least for the next decade. “We know that contemporary art can be weird or scary for people, so to remove as many barriers to entry as possible is just a dream come true,” she said. recount the Los Angeles Time.

Visitors can expect California-centric programming that incorporates the work of artists from across the state. Zuckerman curated “13 Women,” an exhibition from the museum’s permanent collection that honors the 13 volunteers who opened the Balboa Pavilion Gallery (later renamed Newport Harbor Museum of Art, then OCMA), which they themselves even renovated and operated. The inaugural exhibition will feature works by Alice Aycock, Lee Bul, Barbara Kruger, Joan Brown, Vija Celmins, Mary Corse, Mary Heilmann, Charles Ray, John Altoon, Chris Burden and Richard Diebenkorn. A presentation of the work of Light and Space artist Fred Eversley is also available.

Then there’s the revival of the California Biennale, curated by an intergenerational curatorial team including former OCMA curator and former Biennale curator Elizabeth Armstrong, Gilbert Vicario of the Phoenix Museum, and Essence Harden of the California African American Museum. . The exhibition will feature the work of 20 Californian artists whose work explores the chasm between the mythology of the Golden State and the realities of life there.

Although his name is attached to cultural projects like the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas and despite a known affinity for the visual arts, Thom Mayne of the firm Morphosis had never designed an art museum before the OCMA . In addition to the building’s curved forms clad in white terracotta tiles, a sloping atrium bathed in natural light, and glass walkways, one of its defining features is a sweeping exterior staircase that he and Zuckerman hope will become a space gathering in the spirit of The Met no.

The museum is poised to have a significant impact on a new generation, continuing the legacy of its predecessors in Balboa and Newport. “Born and raised in Orange County, I didn’t have much exposure to contemporary art growing up,” said John Spiak, director and chief curator of the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. Hyperallergic. “In 1989, at the invitation of a girlfriend who was taking an art history course, I visited the Newport Harbor Art Museum (now OCMA). I saw an exhibit that changed my world, “American Video Landscape,” organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. I credit the OCMA and this specific exhibition as the reason why I am a curator today. »

Given all the recent drama and disappointing news surrounding LA’s art scene – the LACMA overhaul fiasco and the closure of the Marciano Foundation and underground museum, to name a few – the beginnings of the new OCMA are a great story and a feel-good moment of triumph for Orange County