Now Playing

Patrons & Artists

Orange County is rich with creative talents. It’s an amalgamation of the artists who paint outside the canvas, and the patrons who cultivate their prowess.

Carl E. Smith shot on location at CES Contemporary

Stacy Yelland shot on location at CES Contemporary

JoAnne Artman shot on location at JoAnne Artman Gallery

James Verbicky shot on location at JoAnne Artman Gallery

Carl E. Smith & Stacy Yelland
When it comes to artistic street cred in Orange County, Carl E. Smith’s got plenty. The Laguna Beach native spent years channeling his talent as an artist and designer in the action sports industry before shifting his focus to his own design and fine art projects two years ago. But he’s not about self-promotion. Rather, he’s an advocate for enriching the area with all types of high-caliber, globally relevant contemporary artwork. He founded CES Contemporary to fuel that movement, and he couldn’t be more excited about the effort. “We are witnessing the start of a new era for the arts in Orange County,” he says. The gallery and artists’ organization exhibits the works of local and international emerging contemporary talents. It opened in October with a group exhibition titled Continue to Continue, showcasing artists whose work demonstrates a desire to explore and push boundaries. Smith calls out one of these artists, Stacy Yelland, as a standout. “I was immediately impressed with Stacy’s commissioned portraits of her friends’ children,” says Smith. “In these works, she uses a very original hand-cut collage technique and commands an extraordinary color palette and use of space, while affording the viewer an intimate interaction with her subject matter.” Smith compares Yelland’s work to British collage artist and master portrait painter Jonathan Yeo, and to Brazilian artist Vik Muniz—and he anticipates that her artwork will forge a solid collector base both locally and internationally. And Yelland is set to mount her first solo exhibition with CES this coming fall.

JoAnne Artman & James Verbicky
Even before JoAnne Artman had a gallery, she was championing up-and-coming artists—she was just doing it from home, opening up her Laguna Beach abode for private showings. It wasn’t until 2004 that she found a spot in the burgeoning, revitalized downtown area of Santa Ana and opened Space. But Artman always dreamed of operating a gallery in Laguna—and her dream came true four years later, when she found a great venue on North Coast Highway where she could “mix it up and bring a Santa Ana attitude to an exciting showcase of works,” she says. And that’s just what she’s done. The JoAnne Artman Gallery features an eclectic mix of media, from photographs and pastels to watercolors, oils, acrylics and sculpture—all created by award-winning artists. One of those talents is O.C.-based, Canadian-born James Verbicky. “James respects the great artists before him, such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, and is forging ahead with his unique style, paving the way for a new direction,” says Artman. He was first recognized in California for a commissioned work created on a vintage Frank Gehry sphere originally housed in the Hollywood Bowl. Then, in 2010, he unveiled a new collection of 3-D sculptural paintings constructed from antique and vintage paper and magazines from all over the world. The works communicate and capture the cultural bombardment of media throughout the decades. “James experiments with ease,” she says. “His ability and inventiveness will surely solidify his mark on the art world.”

Click here to read the full article in the December digital edition of Riviera Orange County!