Orange County Museum of Art Preview
|Orange County Museum of Art, Morphosis Architects. At right is Richard Serra's Connector (2006), and at left is Sanford Biggers' Of many waters… (2022)|
As expected, it's a big upgrade for OCMA. It becomes Morphosis Studio's first completed art museum project. The building is 53,000 sf, with nearly 25,000 sf of exhibition space. That's about double the space in the last permanent site, in Newport Beach. The facade is clad in textured white terracotta tiles.
Suburban museums are often dependent on street banners to remind audiences that they exist. The new OCMA site is closer to Orange County's center of gravity (and the 405 freeway). As part of Costa Mesa's Segerstrom Center for the Arts, it has the opportunity to attract crossover cultural audiences. Fortuitously, the pre-existing Richard Serra sculpture, Connector, lands on the new museum's doorstep.
|Architect Thom Mayne speaking at OCMA media preview|
|First-floor galleries ("13 Women")|
|Entrance desk and gift shop|
The gift shop has views into the galleries and the outdoors. A mirror-finish stainless steel display case with "hypnotic soundtrack" is by artist Sébastien Léon.
The first floor houses the entrance lobby, "California Biennial 2022: Pacific Gold," and a permanent collection display, "13 Women."
|Hector Dionicio Mendoza, Coyota, 2020|
From the biennial is Hector Dionicio Mendoza' Coyota. There's an indigenous/colonialism theme to several artists' work.
|Laurie Steelink, GATHERING POWER (Indian Market Booth), 2022|
Laurie Steelink's "dream catcher" is a cartoon ring of incoming arrows, rotating to create an op art shimmer.
|Raul Guerrero, Naufragios, 2022|
|Lily Stockman, Compass, 2022|
Another theme is resurgent, trippy abstraction, including this Lily Stockman, Compass, 2022. There's a whole wall of Sharon Ellis' mystic dreamscapes.
|Sharon Ellis, Beltane, 2014|
|Vija Celmins, Eraser, 1967|
Vija Celmins is one of the "13 Women." The installation honors the museum's 13 women founders and 13 women artists important to the collection.
|Mary Heilmann, Surfing on Acid, 2005|
|Charles Ray's Ink Box, 1986, and Self-Portrait, 1990 (included in "13 Women")|
"13 Women" has dudes. There's a Diebenkorn Ocean Park, a Ruscha Annie, etc. The show is best described as a woman-forward collection install that won't disappoint those looking for familiar favorites. The selection will change over the installation's run (through Aug. 20, 2023).
|Installation view of "Fred Eversley: Reflecting Back (the World)|
A (fittingly) curved mezzanine gallery holds "Fred Eversley: Reflecting Back (the World)." It catches up with the NASA-consulting engineer-turned Light and Space artist (the movement's only prominent Black), who had a 1976 show with OCMA's predecessor institution, the Newport Harbor Art Museum.
|Detail of Sanford Biggers' Of many rivers…, 2022|
The top floor is an indoor/outdoor space opening onto a 10,000+ sf plaza. The Sanford Biggers commission, Of many rivers…, is completely different from what I imagined from the renders. The reclining, sequined river god with African masks is flat like a billboard or Hollywood facade. The recto has dazzle camouflage and a bench you're welcome to use.
The museum opens Saturday, Oct. 8, at 5PM and remains open a full 24 hours for an inaugural celebration. Admission is free, and no reservations are required.
|Alicia McCarthy, Untitled (20), 2022. Photo: ofstudio. McCarthy's mural, part of the California Biennial, is visible from Avenue of the Arts|