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A Brush with Art

The ‘California Dream’ goes to Italy

It’s not every day that a lifelong dream comes true.

During my first visit to Rome at age 18, I vowed that some day I would have more than simple tourism as my reason for returning to the magical land of Italy.

An idea was initiated in 2012 by a personal invitation from Alfio Borghese – member of the noble family of art patrons dating back to the Italian Renaissance – to partner on an art exchange between Italy and Southern California.

I was faced with a daunting challenge: how to carry out this project — which had potential of being grand– with appropriate importance, dignity and scale.

Over the past year, Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA) has partnered with me in developing this multi-faceted project, which has matured into California Dreaming: an International Portrait of Southern California — an exhibition of 54 artworks selected by three prominent jurors that will travel to three notable venues before culminating in July 2015. A double exhibition of work by San Diego area artists is scheduled to follow, to be held concurrently at OMA and L Street Fine Art in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Through multiple calls for entries, artists were invited to explore the celebrated lifestyle, influences, and environs of Southern California while creatively interpreting Southern California’s iconic culture. From 900 submissions, the jury process resulted in California Dreaming: An International Portrait of Southern California — a collection of 54 works by 54 artists from Southern California and beyond illuminating a broad range of perspectives on the California Dream.

Two-page spread in the La Provincia daily newspaper covering the exhibition.
Two-page spread in the La Provincia daily newspaper covering the exhibition. Courtesy photo

OMA’s Executive Director Daniel Foster says, “I think this exhibition has been interpreted by the three jurors in a very contemporary and updated manner that directly challenges the nostalgic and romantic mid-20th Century notions of the “California Dream.”

The perspective and issues within this exhibition refer to a much larger global context of social and economic change in our world today.”

California Dreaming, which is OMA’s inaugural venture into international traveling exhibitions, is currently showing in the Palazzo della Provincia of Frosinone, Italy through Oct. 28, 2014. Participating artists and over 100 members of the Italian media and arts community enthusiastically received the exhibition at the October 4 opening in Frosinone.

On Oct.24 a delegation from the Oceanside Museum of Art is scheduled to travel from Tuscany to Frosinone to celebrate the exhibition before it returns to the US.

California Dreaming will be on exhibit at Oceanside Museum of Art for over three months from Dec. 6, to March 29, 2015. A major public reception will be held at OMA, Dec.6, 2014 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The exhibition will then travel to Riverside Art Museum, April 21 to July 2, 2015.

Throughout the course of the journey there have been supporters without whom this exhibition would not have been possible, including Jim Kydd of the Coast News who provided major financial support. Julia Fister, OMA’s Director of Education, has shown her commitment to the project by her endlessly generous contribution of time, energy, and experience.

For this California dreamer, the exhibition represents far more than an exploration of the California Dream as creatively interpreted by 54 artists.

It is also the manifestation of a lifelong dream in the form of the multifaceted California Dreaming exhibition.

A catalog of the complete California Dreaming:  An International Portrait of Southern California exhibition is available on

For more information please contact the Oceanside Museum of Art.

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