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Free and Unexpected Art Around Orange County

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Like any cosmopolitan and culturally rich area, Orange County attracts art lovers with numerous annual festivals, such as the Festival of the Arts, and museums, like the Orange County Museum of Art for modern works and the Bowers Museum for more traditional pieces. While worthwhile, these attractions have fees.

Fortunately, your new Orange County home will also be surrounded by unexpected sources of art that are free and easily accessible. You just have to know where to find these delights.

Art in Public Places
Established in 1975, Brea’s art program requires property developments of a certain size to set aside part of their funds to commission, display, and maintain public sculptures on their grounds. The result has been over 150 outdoor pieces using different mediums, styles, and approaches by well-known artists.

A drive through Brea will reveal many of these pieces. If you prefer a more organized approach, you can browse a list of art by location or by artist last name, or search an interactive map of the collection with instructions for viewing.

Hilbert Museum of California Art
Mark and Janet Hilbert amassed one of the most comprehensive collections of “California Scene” paintings from the 1920s through the 1970s. They’ve granted access to this collection through the Hilbert Museum of California Art in Orange. Only a small portion of the oil, watercolors, lithographs, and sketches of urban and rural scenes, coastal views and landscapes are on view at any one time. But since the gallery is free, you can visit frequently to discover what’s new in its rotating exhibits.

Noguchi Garden
Hidden among the tall buildings of central Costa Mesa, the Isamu Noguchi Garden is an expansive plaza that collects rock, concrete, water, wood, sand, and foliage into a “California Scenario,” which was created by the namesake artist. This playful space encourages the exploration of hard sculptures, soft plants, and cooling streams. Grassy areas and strategically placed benches encourage quiet contemplation as well as picnicking. It’s a popular place for workers from the surrounding office towers to take a lunch break.

Sculpture in Civic Center Park
At the Newport Beach Civic Center, up to 20 contemporary pieces of metal and stone vie for your attention on a paved path that is surrounded by the Mediterranean landscape of Southern California.

Laguna Beach Galleries
The greatest number of Orange County artists cluster around the galleries near Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. These creative individuals encourage visitors to view their works anytime they are open. Or stop by during the Laguna Beach Art Walk, held on the first Thursday of every month from 6 to 9 PM. With visitors streaming in and out of galleries constantly, wine and cheese being served, free trolley rides, and live music, the event takes on a festive community air.

If you want to know more about the attractions of Orange County, or want to tour one of our model homes, please contact us.