Costa Mesa reinforces its status as a “city of the arts” with the return of ARTventure to Segerstrom

Costa Mesa has long called itself the ‘City of the Arts,’ and a two-day event beginning Friday night aims to prove the motto true, as art lovers gather at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Samueli Theater for the return of ARTventure.

Launched by members of the city’s Cultural Arts Committee in 2015, the two-day exhibition and juried art show featured Southern California artists working in multiple media, making room for young artists to participate.

In the years that followed, the event moved from the furniture showrooms of the SOCO & OC Mix mall on Hyland Avenue to the multi-level glass lobby of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

City employee Caitlin Weigler checks out Celeste Nevarez’s art at the Samueli Theater in Segerstrom Thursday for Costa Mesa’s annual juried art exhibit “ARTVenture.”

(Scott Smeltzer / staff photographer)

“That was probably my favorite achievement of the Cultural Arts Committee, to be able to establish a signature event,” longtime member Charlene Ashendorf said of the committee, which disbanded in July to allow for the formation of a full-fledged arts commission. “We were able to get 150 works of art and find lawyers to judge the exhibition – it was really very successful.”

As this momentum was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, volunteers and committee members reorganized and were able to deliver a virtual ARTventure last year.

The event returns to a full in-person format Friday night with a gala and awards ceremony followed by a free community event Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. Participating artists dropped off their pieces on Thursday afternoon and will pick them up after the show ends.

In addition to 270 pieces created by 115 artists, many of which are available for purchase, Saturday’s celebration will feature a host of outdoor art-centric activities and demonstrations in Julianne and George Argyros Plaza, according to Laurette Garner, Costa Mesa’s newly hired arts specialist.

“Families can have their caricatures done, and chalk artists will make pieces on the floor,” Garner said Thursday. “It’s going to be a great family event, and it’s all free.”

Attendees can listen to live music and take tours of the various pieces of public art on the campus of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Ashendorf said Thursday that since the Cultural Arts Committee disbanded, she looked forward to enjoying the weekend as a visitor.

“Every year it’s different. That’s what makes it really unique,” she said. “I hope it continues because it really brings the community together, of all ages.”

ARTventure’s Saturday offerings coincide with Segerstrom’s celebration of National Dance Day, a series of workshops and performances presented in partnership with the nonprofit American Dance Movement, from 1-5 p.m. at Argyros Plaza. This event is free, but tickets, available online at scfta.org, are required.

Tracy Habiger, left, and Kevin Stoddart check out Jennifer Bloomfield's art Thursday at the Samueli Theater in Segerstrom.

City of Costa Mesa employees Tracy Habiger, left, and Kevin Stoddart check out Jennifer Bloomfield’s art Thursday at the Samueli Theater in Segerstrom.

(Scott Smeltzer / staff photographer)

The Samueli Theater is located at 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.

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