OsCene 2010 was a survey of contemporary art and culture in the OC featuring some of the most provocative painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, multi-media installation, video, architecture, performance, music, and design that Orange County had to offer in 2010. This OsCene extended into Long Beach and San Pedro, often considered the blurred boundary between Orange and Los Angeles counties.
In the face of international biennials, world-wide art fairs, and attention to the ever-changing cities as the next “it” place for art and artists, OsCene 2010 featured the works of fifty artists with an eye towards regionalism. What is regionalism today? Over the last several years, the idea of regionalism in the art world has taken on a negative connotation. In this wave of international focus, it is worth reminding ourselves of (and discovering) the art-making practices happening close at hand; looking at art here and now.
Rapid population growth in the nineteenth century led the California legislature to divide Los Angeles County and create Orange County as a separate political entity on March 11, 1889. Today, Orange County has a population of three million, just behind that of the city of Los Angeles, the state’s largest city. Orange County is an amalgam of theme parks; nature preserves; and the extroverted subcultures of choppers, punk rock, and conservative politics. In our master-planned communities, we experience diverse demographics in an area with a remarkably homogeneous history of ranchers and missionaries.
The names of places that define Orange County cities go back hundreds of years–San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, and Los Alamitos. The names of ranchers and land barons continue to resonate with significance today: Yorba, Sepulveda, and Irvine. What was once Rancho Los Nietos (1784-1834) today encompasses areas of both Los Angeles and Orange counties, including the cities of Long Beach, Lakewood, Downey, Norwalk, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, and Garden Grove, to name just a few. With this geography in mind, OsCene 2010 looked at artists working in Orange County, but then crossed the imperceptible northern boundary, taking a peek at artists working in and around Long Beach and San Pedro.
OsCene 2010 aimed to characterize the complexity of a region represented by a diverse group of artists. The artists were comprised of teachers and their students. Some at mid-career, some just emerging. A few are self-taught. Some were raised in the Southland, but most are transplants. Within the geo-historical framework of the OsCene, viewers were asked to consider an amalgam of perspectives that might–or might not–help define a geo-regional character for art being produced in Orange County. Motifs focus primarily on the social landscape of the region-popular culture; domesticity; a captivating and altered landscape; hybridization of cultures, identities, and biology; artists pushing the limits of their medium; memory; decay.
Perhaps, collectively, the works in the OsCene formed a deeper plot. In a region known for the development of bedroom communities, domesticity is strongly present in the exhibition. Lurking beneath the ever-present sunshine and appearance of wealth, there are undertones of darkness and struggle-the mold that creeps across the toile wallpaper, the loneliness of aging, and the quiet struggle of day laborers-all stand on shifting fault lines within the entropy of suburbia.
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