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Travel Bargain destination in California

California Impressionists in Orange County

Irvine Impressionust Art Museum Irvine photoWhen one hears of Impressionist Art, thoughts immediately turn to the French Masters painting with their pointillism views of the Seine, whirling pastel blurs of ballerinas and daubs of bright colored Polynesians, but impressionists were painting in California as well, inspired by the bucolic scenery of the Golden state’s misty mountain landscapes and roiling sea coasts. The Irvine Museum, founded in 1992 by Joan Irvine Smith and her mother, Athalie R. Clarke, is dedicated to preserving this uniquely Californian brand of American Impressionism sometimes called Plein-Air style, which flourished in California studios from 1890 to 1930.

Impressionist paintigs at Irvine MuseumI recently found myself standing on a street corner waiting for the light to change, contemplating the passage of traffic, an individual human being surrounded by a one ton cocoon of steel, glass, rubber and plastic, taking the space between four wheels and bumpers, powered by the bones of a previous species long since extinct, just to get from point a to point b, a job, a trip to the store, a cup of coffee. Then I imagined each individual multiplied by millions. Oh, what a footprint we leave upon the Earth. How does she sustain us? Before the developments of cities of concrete and glass and the ever-spreading suburbs and bedroom communities which grasped and enveloped the land, artists were inspired to record the splendor of nature of this varied beautiful land. With a renaissance of the interest in the natural world disappearing under ribbons of tarmac, a look at these painting transports the viewer to a time when the land named for a mythical lost continent and its bountiful beauty were almost limitless. Such can be found at the small but quite special Irvine Museum.

The current exhibition at the Irvine Museum entitled “All Things Bright and Beautiful” runs through June 11, 2011. Represented by artists like Alfred Mitchell and his painting In Morning Light, displaying his sense of dramatic realism, Arthur Rider from Laguna Beach whose The Spanish Boat is representative of his emphasis on seascapes and fishing scenes. Colin Campbell Cooper’s rendering of the beautiful paintings of gardens of California.

Waterfield Buolding Irvine photoThe Irvine Museum is located on the ground floor of the Waterfield office building in the heart of the city of Irvine, itself a pure example of the shift from open land to suburbia, and an example of a particular beauty of another kind. On a previous occasion when it was first built, I found myself on a expedition to photograph the distinctive architecture of the suburban landscape and this impressive building of white marble and tall gleaming reflective mirrored glass seemed of particular note and a fitting contrast to the old world art found within.

Irvine Museum Store Art Books photoThe Irvine Museum can be found at 18881 Von Karman Avenue, from the 405 freeway, take Jamboree Avenue to Campus Drive, then turn right on Von Karman. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 5 pm. Admission is free and so is the parking, in the visitor spaces of the office lot or unreserved spaces in the parking structure. New exhibitions change three times a year and the bookstore offers a selection of books, catalogues and note cards featuring the paintings in the collection. There is no food at the museum, but there is a coffee house cafe Cappucino's in a spaceship looking structure outdoors.
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