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Ever Heard of the Irvine Museum?

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Ever Heard of the Irvine Museum?

When you think of downtown Irvine, do you think of late 20th century glass skyscrapers or do you think of fine art?

Well, smack in the middle of this glass and steel corporate jungle is the little Irvine Museum on the bottom level of a skyscraper at 18881 Von Karman Avenue at Suite 100.

This micro-museum focuses entirely on art depicting California, particularly but not exclusively Impressionist art. My family's house is 20 minutes away, so whenever I am around that area, I love to stop by to forget my hassles as I make my way feeling like an ant below the towering mirrory edifices until I enter the quiet museum where I feel like a deer sauntering among the paintings of still-virginal California---open fields, wild eucalyptic groves of Steinbeckland, and endless carpets of golden poppies and azure lupines dotting rolling hills that go on forever. Places that are now landscaped with condos, freeways, and Payless Shoes stores.

Over the years I have come to know the curator of education there, Dora James, who has donated some very nice CA art books to my school.

I began wondering if the Irvine Museum ever sponsored a museum of California art from the perspective of Asian immigrants, or if the museum would consider doing so, or if art featuring California landscapes from an Asian perspective even exists to any extent. For an answer, I just sent Dora an email. It is pasted below.

So if the answer is a big No to all or most of the above, I think you might like ferreting out and visiting the little museum anyway. It's the secret golden needle in the crowded corporate haystack behind the Orange Curtain.

Here's a copy of the email I just sent the Irvine Museum Education Curator:

Hi Dora,
It's me again from Sea View Elementary School down at the great Salton Sea. We use and enjoy your books a great deal.

Last summer I was one of about 20 resident teacher participants in the U.S.-China Institute at USC where we explored a wide variety of historical and cultural issues of China and also some Korean and Japanese. One day we all went together to LACMA to view some Asian art exhibits.

I realize the Irvine Museum focuses on art depicting California, but I was wondering if the museum has ever shown an exhibit on California art from an Asian perspective. Asian immigrants have been in California by the thousands even before statehood, so I wonder if they made works depicting their new home. I realize that these new immigrants, like most-- including my own Irish forbearers--typically took what jobs they could get to survive, leaving them little time or energy to paint pictures or write poetry. Also correct me if I am wrong in assuming that whatever art the Chinese and other Asian immigrants created probably relied on traditional motifs rather than California landscapes.

But if the latter does exist to any extent, please let me know if the Irvine Museum has yet done a California Asian art exhibit or if not, would the museum consider this?

I would love sharing this with my fellow participants.

I hope all is very well with you!