1960s Orange County art and culture examined in new exhibition at Coastline Community College

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1960s Orange County art and culture examined in new exhibition at Coastline Community College
Paul Darrow, Omniscience, c. 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 71 x 50 inches.

NEWPORT BEACH, CA.- From July 27 to September 26, 2015, Coastline Art Gallery at Coastline Community College in Newport Beach presents Orange Sunshine and the Mystic Artists, 1967-1970. This groundbreaking exhibition is the
first to examine psychedelic art produced in Orange County by the Mystic Artists, a loosely organized group of artists interested in alternative culture, mystical experience, and the transformation of society. These artists congregated and exhibited their art at Mystic Arts World, a psychedelic emporium in Laguna Beach, which existed from 1967 to 1970. The shop was ground zero for hippie culture in Southern California during the late 1960s and early 1970s, and rich artistic and perceptual experimentation grew out of this burgeoning psychedelic culture.

Orange Sunshine and the Mystic Artists, 1967-1970 is guest curated by Bolton Colburn, and features art ranging in style from Beat assemblage to craft and figuration to psychedelic art.

“Today there is a built-in cultural inclination to dismiss works of art that make reference to use of psychedelic substances,” said Colburn. “While the reasons are many, including the fear of promoting the use of LSD, the attitude is a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The search for self—the ultimate quest of the Baby Boomer generation—set the stage in the 1960s for one of the most remarkably open-minded and culturally fertile periods of the century, and mindaltering chemicals were a catalyst in making that possible. Given the level of fear and control prevalent in our culture today, it is worth taking a look at the cauldron of art and ideas arising out of the Mystic Arts World. The artists’ countercultural activity and mystical quest can still inspire us today in our thinking about personal and global transformation.”

The exhibition includes both art that was exhibited at Mystic Arts World and, out of necessity, work by Mystic Artists dating from roughly the same time period. In addition, the exhibition features cultural artifacts that provide context for the time period. Dion Wright, who was the curator of the gallery program at Mystic Arts World and collaborated on the exhibition, provided a treasure trove of photographs, posters, exhibition announcements, flyers, and other material relating to Mystic Arts World.

“While it lasted, Mystic Arts World was a focus of seminal, sometimes cosmological, and always super-conscious Art,” said former Mystic Arts World gallery director Dion Wright, who collaborated on the exhibition. “This writer was dragooned into service early-on by John Griggs, who was determined to feature my Taxonomic Mandala within Mystic Arts World, and feature me personally as the maitre d' of presenting ‘far out, outtasight’ works of Art. What you see in this exhibition is a collection of surviving works of that wild period.”

The exhibition is on display July 27 to September 26, 2015. Admission is free and open to the public. The gallery will be closed on Saturday, August 29.

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