Our class had a wonderful time exploring the Art’s in Orange County during Art’s Day. We started off the day touring Noguchi Gardens (after a quick morning snack). The gardens are one of those hidden gems in OC that we have all driven past although most of us have no idea they are there. The gardens are the work of Isamu Noguchi and it is just one of his many projects which are spread all over the world. Indeed we have a gem right in our backyard.
We next walked over to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The concert hall is world-class venue that that day was hosting a concert by a whole bunch of 5th graders. Initially we were not sure we would be allowed into the hall, but alas we were and we also got to explore behind the scenes and some of the technology of why this is such a world class venue with the sound quality compared to the Disney concert hall among others. Segerstrom Center hosts touring companies from all over the world. Production companies move in with their shows and then move on to the next city. If you are looking for world-class entertainment without making the drive up to LA, then this is the place. This facility does not produce any of its own shows.
We next explored South Coast Repertory (SRC). SCR (unlike Segerstrom) does produce its own shows. They produce every aspect of their shows in-house. We toured the carpentry shop, costume, make-up and wig departments. We got to see where they make all the magic (or make believe happen). One of the most interesting parts of this class is that you get to explore areas that you would not otherwise be able to and that were definitely the case with these venues.
We next walked over to The Capital Grille for a wonderful lunch and roundtable discussion about Arts in and around OC and the impact our current political climate can have on the Arts. It was lively and engaging. Our panelists were Terry Dwyer, President – Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Dan Duling, Screenwriter – Pageant of the Masters, Paula Tomei, Managing Director – South Coast Repertory, Dawn Reese, Executive Director and Co-CEO, Wooden Floor.
Both Dan Duling and Dawn Reese represented completely different “business models” then the rest of our panelists. The Wooden Floor is a program that uses/teaches the art of dance to help their students who are from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds to push beyond their own obstacles and emerge strong and confident leaders. The Pageant of the Masters is entering it’s 85th year and is dependent on a huge group of volunteers to help put on the show. Volunteers from as far away as San Diego come year after year to give of their time to the show. In many cases there are generations of families that are actively involved in volunteering for all aspects of the Pageant. The Pageant quite simply would not exist without the volunteers, which makes this an anomaly to be sure. Lastly we saw several Short Films brought to us by Dennis Baker, Director, Short Film Programming, Newport Beach Film Festival. There was a little something for everyone to be sure. Dennis shared some of the criteria that is used in choosing what films make it into the festival and got us all excited for the upcoming festival, which starts on April 20th.
Our last stop was to the Wyland Foundation Studio. This was the cherry on top of an amazing day. This was an opportunity that is very rare indeed. We got to tour Wyland’s personal gallery, where he keeps all of his original paintings both published and private. For those of you that have followed his work over the years it was indeed a treat. We also had the opportunity to see one of Wyland’s most prized possessions sent to him by FDNY. After 9/11 the first responders discovered one of his sculptures amongst the rubble and they sent it to him. Then we had the very unique opportunity to go into Wyland’s private studio and paint an Orca whale along with Wyland. He recorded a personal message to the class (as he was in Florida at the time) and then the painting started. The class is a pretty talented bunch. No one is quite ready to challenge Wyland in the art world however there were some very good pictures. For more information, please visit www.wyland.com.
A good time was surely had by all. The day ended with some delightful goodies and wonderful wine…