California’s Art Scene
California’s art culture is strong and makes an experience of a lifetime! The Golden State has all sorts of art scenes –from new and old to conservative or hip, lovely museums and extravagant festivals in cities and towns. If the art culture is of your interest, then you will never fall short of options (and reasons to be awed) in California.
Local artists paint on windy bluffs in Mendocino
With its dramatic ocean-bluff setting overlooking a steel-blue sea, this coastal hamlet is an obvious magnet for artists, romantics and lovers of anything wild and untamed. Mendocino lets you stroll past picture perfect saltbox cottages wrapped in roses and picket fences, wind chimes tinkling in the breeze. In the 1950s, artists began to migrate to the nearly abandoned hamlet, establishing it as an important artist’s community that still thrives with visitors who come to see and buy quality work.
Explore the local art scene at Mendocino Art Center, with galleries offering regular shows displaying works by local and national artists. It’s also a vibrant teaching centre, offering more than 200 classes a year in everything from fibre arts to sculpture.
Insider’s Tip: Enjoy artists reception the second Saturday of each month, and concerts the first Sunday of the month.
The Community Spirit and Local Zest of San Jose Museum of Art
This downtown museum prides itself on its origins: In 1969, the beautiful 19th century building that then housed a library was threatened with demolition, but a group of citizens banded together to save it and open an art gallery. That local effort grew, creating this remarkable downtown facility, including a light-filled wing added in the 1990s. Permanent exhibits present an outstanding and varied collection, including contemporary abstracts, photography, figurative painting, sculpture, and works in new media by Bay Area artists. If you’ve got kids, check the schedule for family-friendly, hands-on activities to help children get excited about art.
The vibrant, eclectic Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento
The Crocker Art Museum is the first public art museum founded in the Western United States, and is still one of the leading museums in California today. But don’t be fooled by the age of the museum – Crocker Art Museum has an unparalleled collection of both historic and contemporary art. The original Crocker Museum was a gift to the city, a move by Margaret Crocker, heiress of the fabulously wealthy Crocker family, to let the people of Sacramento have permanent access to her family’s astounding personal galleries.
Over time, the collection grew to include an amazing wealth of international ceramics, sculptures, and works by contemporary California artists, many who taught at nearby U.C. California at Davis. In 2010, a dramatic new gallery space, the ultra-modern Teel Family Pavilion, was added to the 1800s-era Crocker compound, a bold and visually stunning move. These wide open, naturally lit gallery spaces have become the home of the contemporary collection, and they are your chance to see original works by some of the state’s finest artists. Here, experience black-and-white originals by the celebrated photographer Ansel Adams. The difference of seeing his real images of Yosemite’s Half Dome versus a poster replica is breathtaking. Altogether, the Crocker, old and new, creates one of the best experiences in California’s surprising capital city.
Edgy, hip art culture in Santa Monica
The oceanfront town with panoramas as pretty as a photograph has more than 120 museums, galleries, and public art installations, including multimedia installations that are at the cutting edge of today’s art scene. Follow the Santa Monica Art Trek guide, an easy-to-follow map featuring many of the city’s key locations for art. It also includes locations for bike and roller blade hire for lively ways to move around the pedestrian-friendly town. Start at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, a showcase for contemporary art from around the world. Other worthy stops include Bergamot Station, housing Santa Monica’s single largest concentration of art galleries, and Broadway Gallery Complex for contemporary works by local and international artists.
Dance and the performing arts find strong support here too. In the summer, the Santa Monica Pier becomes the stage for a series of outdoor concerts. The 3rd Street Promenade is a well-known place for catching quality street musicians and performers. Downtown venues for music, dance, and theatre include state-of-the-art The Broad Stage, on the campus of Santa Monica City College, and Edgemar Center for the Arts. And design afficionados will go to the Santa Monica Design District, with modern showrooms and shops displaying both classical and modern design.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is an art museum in Los Angeles, California. It is located on Wilshire Boulevard along Museum Row in the Miracle Mile vicinity of Los Angeles, adjacent to the George C. Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits. LACMA is the largest encyclopedic museum west of Chicago and attracts nearly one million visitors annually. Its holdings include more than 100,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present. In addition to art exhibits, the museum features film and concert series throughout the year.