OCMA ‘Collects’ an Eclectic Mix

Courtesy of Artnet

In celebration of the opening of “OC Collects,” a contemporary art exhibition created in honor of its 50th year in existence, the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) hosted a VIP reception and opening party for its many collectors, staff, museum members and art enthusiasts Saturday night.

The elegantly dressed guests poured into the small Newport Beach museum for a sneak preview of the eclectic “OC Collects,” which was officially open to the public Sunday, and the chance to speak with many of its contributing collectors, who are all from Orange County, as well as its creators, OCMA Chief Curator Dan Cameron and Museum Director Dennis Szakacs. The celebration also included refreshments and a full bar.

The achievement of such a complex exhibition as “OC Collects” required a great deal of planning and research from its organizers.

To find works for the exhibition, they traveled to the homes of various art collectors in Orange County and scoured their respective collections for what they felt were the best examples of modern and contemporary art, selecting mostly works by artists who are either from or have lived in Southern California.

Exploring these massive collections also led to the discovery of previously unknown artists, and subsequently those artists’ museum debuts.

“What is really fun for a curator is to go into a collector’s home and be really blown away by someone they don’t even know,” said Kirsten Schmidt, OCMA’s director of marketing and communications.

“It is amazing that our collectors are helping us to discover unknown artists,” she continued.

The end result of the curators’ research is an exhibition of contemporary art encompassing a wide variety of different mediums, including painting, metal installations and photography, that spans several familiar styles, such as abstract expressionism, pop art and hard-edge painting.

The 47 artists featured in the collection include famous contemporary art icons such as Andy Warhol and Willem de Kooning, international artists including Hilla Ben Ari from Israel and Zwelethu Mthethwa from South Africa, and Southern Californian artists like Chaz Bojorquez, Roger Kuntz and Eric Orr.

As contemporary art frequently does, many of the pieces on display at OCMA explore current frustrations or expand the definition of art as a whole. Hilla Ben Ari’s “Mechanized Flow,” for example, explores female gender roles and sexism, while two works by Chaz Bojorquez, “14th September 1991,” and “Words that Cut,” both from 1991, treat words and language as forms of art.

“It’s a potpourri!” said Chief Curator Dan Cameron. Cameron and his colleagues collected a great deal of art from various sources, then decided which specific works would fit best in the exhibition and in what order to place them.

“They are in chronological order, loosely,” he said. The oldest pieces of art in the exhibition were created in the late 1950s and early 1960s, while the newest were created just last year.

“It’s a random assortment of art that is meant to not look random,” Cameron explained.

OCMA’s fabulous “OC Collects” will be on display until December 30 and is sure to attract art fanatics from both inside and outside Orange County.

OCMA is located in Newport Beach and is open Wednesday through Sunday.