But that’s just ground zero for the incipient Orange County art scene. Though it’s not the most beautiful (The Bowers is exceedingly soft on the eyes), the boldest museum around is the Orange County Museum of Art itself. Under the fresh direction of Dan Cameron, former senior curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, OCMA is re-launching their California Biennial as the California-Pacific Triennial this year (June 30-Nov 17). Artists will now hail from the US, Asia and Latin America. Lewis has the bona fides to make waves near his new ocean. “Significant support” for the Triennial is being provided by Cameron’s friend and art ace, Toby Devan Lewis. For 20 years Lewis acquired and curated the 6,300-work collection of the Progressive Corporation, a Fortune 500 insurance company in Cleveland. While Cameron was at the New Museum, she contributed $4 million to his mission. In 2007, she and Cameron co-authored the book “ArtWorks: The Progressive Collection.” (Note: The forward, called “The Habit of Art”, was written by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison.) So, the future of the OCMA appears bright. Now if only the producers of the Real Housewives would shoot a scene at the Museum. Now that would drive traffic.
Thanks to TV shows like “The O.C.” and “Real Housewives,” Orange County tends to evoke images of busty blondes wearing lots of bling who have never stepped into a fine art museum. But were they so inclined, there is much to see by the City of Santa Ana. The Bowers Museum (voted “The Best Museum in OC” by The OC Register for 15 consecutive years) holds an impressive collection of Native American Art (24,000 objects) and puts on exhibitions like “CUT! Costume and the Cinema” (43 costumes worn by 30 actors in 25 different films). As you might guess, the latter draws more of a crowd. And at the nearby Laguna Art Museum, there’s now “George Hurrell: Laguna to Hollywood” which features his glam photos of film legends like Jean Harlow, Bette Davis and Greta Garbo.