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Orange County Museum Of Art (OCMA)

If you should pass through Orange County, made famous by itís Tragic Kingdom (Disneyland), and youíre suddenly struck by a need for culture, I can only warn of what awaits you at the Orange County Art Museum.

With all of the money stuffed in Orange County, the outside facade resembles a Russian cold war bunker. Equipped with 4 rooms, the museum is characterized by a most assorted collection composed of donations from its fabulously wealthy neighbors and conglomerates. The biggest problem here is that the lack of education in the fine arts lends itself to the steadfast belief that whatever is expensive must qualify as art.

So from the first room you are in a state of shock as you face "California Impressionism". To give you an idea, this "movement", which tries to pass color-by-number landscapes for Monet, possesses a palette as stylized as the paintings you find at the Place du Tertre in Montmartre. Forgettable landscapes and even more forgettable family portraits!.

The second room is reserved for Modern Art, and I swear that if you look closely you will find three or four interesting works amidst all the jumble, in particular the musical bathtub-coffin depicting war (Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin's End of the Bucket of Tar with Speaker Trail No. 2), as well as a few paintings. The rest is nothing but pseudo translucent plastic columns, white canvases, rubber cubique sculptures, and pop art thatís more fitting as supermarket logos than anything else. But the "artistic" highlight of the room is an immense white painting near which is found a bottle of milk, incidentally the name of the piece. There is no need to say that the price of these masterpieces is not within your reach.

The temporary exhibit housed in the third room is consecrated to photographs taken at the beach, limited to the cliches of outdated fashion (notably the Miami Vice period).

Fortunately the fourth room will restore your faith in art: a light sculpture in the darkness by James Turell known in New York and France for his Installation Art pieces. By the way, I can only advise you to wait until you are alone to visit it, so to better avoid the commentaries of other visitors knocking on the walls and complaining that they donít see anything while your eyes will need about five minutes before adjusting to the faint luminosity.

Voila, the visit comes to a close. One last thing, avoid giving the museum your address or the day after youíll receive a donation request form.

  Fred Thom


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