OC Museum of Art Commissions Monumental Sculpture for Museum’s Opening This October

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View from Argyros Plaza of OCMA’s main entrance, located near Richard Serra’s existing sculpture, “Connector” Credit Morphosis Architects

The Orange County Museum of Art is nearing its goal of opening a beautiful new museum facility at Segerstrom Center for the Arts this October, and it has just announced the commission of a monumental sculpture by artist Sanford Biggers that it plans to have installed when the museum opens its doors to the public.

Of interest to Newport Beach residents: One of the opening exhibits is called “13 Women,” and features the work of female artists from the museum’s collection, curated by Heidi Zuckerman, CEO and Director of OCMA, to honor the 13 women who founded the Balboa Pavilion Gallery in 1962.

Yes, 13 women had the foresight to rent space in the historic Balboa Pavilion to exhibit modern and contemporary art. Several years later, it was renamed the Newport Harbor Art Museum and moved to Fashion Island. It was remodeled and renamed again, in 1997, as the Orange County Museum of Art.

OCMA showcased many landmark exhibits and groundbreaking artists at the Newport site until plans were announced for the new museum site at Segerstrom Center. OCMA moved to a temporary facility at South Coast Village.

Groundbreaking for the new three-story building took place in September 2019. With nearly 25,000 square feet of exhibition galleries, the 52,000-square-foot museum will allow OCMA to organize major special exhibitions and provide more room for the 3,500 objects in the museum’s permanent collection.

“This is a purpose-built museum which aligns with southern California’s heritage and a growing audience of museumgoers,” said Craig Wells, president of the OCMA Board of Trustees, when plans for the new building were announced. “We would not be here today without the incredible dedication of OCMA’s board of trustees and their generous support for making this vision a reality. I am profoundly grateful to Anton Segerstrom for being a partner with us in this bold vision and for our future.”

Created by Morphosis, a global architecture firm, the new OCMA building includes space for education programs, performances, and public gatherings.

Sanford Bigger’s sculpture “Of many waters…” will be on OCMA’s forthcoming Sculpture Terrace, to open to the public in October 2022. Image credit: Morphosis

But back to the Sanford Bigger artwork. It is a 24-foot-wide, 16-foot-tall multimedia sculpture called “Of many waters…” It’s been commissioned for the Sculpture Terrace of OCMA’s new building and will remain on view through February 5, 2023. The artist will be honored at the museum’s Opening Gala on October 1, 2022.

According to his bio, Biggers works across mediums and genres to investigate themes of history, expression, humanity, identity, and freedom. His diverse practice positions him as a collaborator with the past through explorations of often over-looked cultural and political narratives from American History.

According to Zuckerman, “I’ve been lucky enough to work with Sanford Biggers starting early on in his career, having curated his first museum solo exhibition, “Psychic Windows,” at the UC Berkley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2002, and I continue to admire his poignant work. Curating his large-scale sculpture to welcome visitors to OCMA’s stunning new space has been incredibly meaningful for me and I can’t wait to share his work with the public and to honor Sanford at the Gala to kick off our opening celebrations.”

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be honored by OCMA this year, and excited to collaborate with the OCMA community in the unveiling of my latest monumental sculpture, which combines my interest in classical sculpture and American quilt making,” said Bigger.

According to information from OCMA, “Of many waters…” is a site-responsive, interactive public artwork that will activate the open space of the museum’s upper terrace. The work depicts a form that combines an archetype of a European reclining male figure with a 19th-Century Baule double-face mask made from metal sequins. Biggers patchworks two distinct bodies of work—the artist’s ongoing Chimera and Shimmer series—into a new form that the artist considers “objects for a future ethnography,” encouraging historical objects to be studied, researched, and continuously reconsidered.

The Opening Gala is chaired by Jennifer Segerstrom and co-chaired by Lisa Merage, and presented by lead sponsor South Coast Plaza.

Rendering of the new OCMA building at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

“We look forward to celebrating the highly anticipated opening of the new Orange County Museum of Art,” said Jennifer Segerstrom. “Now in its 60th year, the opening represents a culmination of decades of unwavering commitment and will be a tremendous addition to the cultural landscape of Southern California and a renewed spotlight on Segerstrom Center for the Arts.”

Proceeds from OCMA’s Opening Gala will benefit the museum at the time of its grand opening including funding innovative exhibitions, building on OCMA’s noted collection, and enabling educational programming.

Last year’s gala at the new site sold out and raised $1 million for the museum and its operations, significantly increasing past gala net revenue.

In addition to the installation of Biggers’ work, a press release from OCMA noted that the museum will open with the return of the California Biennial, an exploration of the richness of the state’s expansive and diverse creative communities.

Another exhibit, “Fred Eversley: Reflecting Back (the World),” will elaborate on a groundbreaking 1978 exhibition of his work at OCMA (then known as the Newport Harbor Art Museum), examining five decades of Eversley’s career and the technical innovation employed in his work with cast polyester resin, the crux of his practice.

“Peter Walker: Minimalist Landscape” focuses on the work of the highly regarded landscape architect, most recognized for co-designing the National 9/11 Memorial and his history of collaboration with the Segerstrom Family since the 1970s and design for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Further details on opening events and programming will be announced in the coming months. Visit www.OCMA.art for more information.

Rendering of the new OCMA building at Segerstrom Center for the Arts
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