The OC Art Museum commissions a monumental sculpture for the museum’s opening in October

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 stunning new museum at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in October, and it just announced a commission for a monumental sculpture by artist Sanford Biggers that he plans to install when the museum opens to the public.

Of interest to Newport Beach residents: One of the opening exhibits is titled “13 Women” and features the work of female artists from the museum’s collection, curated by Heidi Zuckerman, CEO and Director of the 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 Newport Harbor Art Museum and moved to Fashion Island. It was remodeled and renamed again, in 1997, as the Orange County Museum of Art.

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

Groundbreaking for the new three-story building was held in September 2019. With nearly 25,000 square feet of exhibit galleries, the 52,000 square foot museum will allow OCMA to host major special exhibitions and to provide more space for the 3,500 objects in the permanent museum. collection.

“This is a purpose-built museum that aligns with Southern California’s heritage and a growing audience of visitors,” said Craig Wells, chairman of the OCMA board of trustees. when plans for the new building were announced. “We wouldn’t be here today without the incredible dedication of the OCMA Board of Directors and their generous support in making this vision a reality. I am deeply 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 educational programs, performances and public gatherings.

Sanford Bigger’s sculpture “Many Waters…” will be on OCMA’s upcoming Sculpture Terrace, which will open to the public in October 2022. Image Credit: Morphosis

But back to Sanford Bigger’s artwork. It is a 24-foot-wide, 16-foot-tall multimedia sculpture called “Many Waters…”. She was commissioned for the sculpture terrace of the new OCMA building and will remain on view until February 5, 2023. The artist will be honored at the museum’s opening gala on October 1, 2022.

According to his biography, Biggers works across mediums and genres to investigate themes of story, expression, humanity, identity and freedom. His diverse practice positions him as a collaborator with the past through explorations of often overlooked cultural and political narratives in American history.

According to Zuckerman, “I was fortunate to work with Sanford Biggers early in his career, having held his first solo museum exhibition, ‘Psychic Windows,’ at the UC Berkley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2002, and “I continue to admire his poignant work. Arranging his large-scale sculpture to welcome visitors to OCMA’s stunning new space has been incredibly meaningful to me and I look forward to sharing his work with the public and honoring Sanford.” at the gala to kick off our opening celebrations.

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

According to information from the OCMA, “Many Waters…” is a site-appropriate interactive public artwork that will activate the open space of the upper terrace of the museum. The work depicts a form that combines an archetype of a reclining European male figure with a 19th century Baule double face mask in metallic 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 future ethnography”, encouraging historical objects to be studied, researched and constantly reviewed.

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

Rendering of the new OCMA building at the 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 the culmination of decades of unwavering commitment and will be a terrific addition to Southern California’s cultural landscape and a renewed spotlight on the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.”

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

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

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

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

“Peter Walker: Minimalist Landscape” focuses on the work of the much-loved landscape architect, most recognized for co-designing the National September 11 Memorial and his history of working with the Segerstrom family since the 1970s and designing of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Further details on opening events and lineup will be announced in the coming months. Visit for more information.

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

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