The Coast News Group
A Brush with Art

Regional art museum emphasizes community outreach

The Oceanside Museum of Art is making an ever-increasing impact on the arts in Southern California.

The Oceanside Museum of Art, located at 704 Pier View Way in downtown Oceanside, reaches far beyond its walls to engage the community in appreciation for the arts.  (Image courtesy of Oceanside Museum of Art)
The Oceanside Museum of Art, located at 704 Pier View Way in downtown Oceanside, reaches far beyond its walls to engage the community in appreciation for the arts.
(Image courtesy of Oceanside Museum of Art)

From its modest beginnings as a volunteer initiative receiving nonprofit status in 1995, OMA has grown into a dynamic institution contributing to the cultural and economic development of Oceanside and the San Diego region.

Recently selected to receive a major two-year grant of $150,000 from The James Irvine Foundation, OMA is rolling out its Exploring Engagement Residency Project, a five-part series of artist-in-residency programs designed to interactively engage the public. The private, nonprofit grantmaking Irvine Foundation is dedicated to “expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society” through long-term partnerships.

Daniel Foster, executive director of OMA, says. “The Irvine Foundation is one of the most stellar of funders in California and is the largest funder of the Arts in California. Serving organizations outside of large urban centers, they have ventured into more neglected marketplaces. We are very appreciative of the Foundation making this pioneering effort.”

Over the past seven years the Irvine Foundation has awarded $800,000 to OMA, which has been utilized primarily in strengthening the Museum’s infrastructure and capacity as an organization, enabling OMA to advance with astounding momentum. Formally opening its doors in 1997 in the venerable Irving Gill building located at 704 Pier View Way in downtown Oceanside, the Museum expanded its footprint in 2008 with the addition of its contemporary central pavilion designed by noted architect Frederick Fisher.

Today in addition to more than fifteen innovative exhibitions per year in its five rotating galleries, OMA also educates and inspires the public through an extensive array of programs such as 333’s Jazz at the Museum, Artists@Work, Free Family Art Day, and its wildly popular Art After Dark.

In October 2012, OMA was fortunate to secure Daniel Foster as its Executive Director from his position as President/CEO of the Community Foundation of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Having previously served as Executive Director of the Riverside Art Museum, Foster was recognized as a “change agent” leader for arts & culture in the region and a major catalyst in establishing the city of Riverside as the “City of Arts & Innovation.”

Under Foster’s leadership, a priority of the museum is reaching out to the community, particularly in underserved sectors, to increase appreciation for the arts. Aimed at developing relationship with new audiences not yet familiar with OMA, Foster states with unwavering conviction, “The time has arrived to make arts and culture a stronger priority in the community.”

The goals of OMA’s newly launched Exploring Engagement Residency Project coincide seamlessly with the Museum’s prioritization of external outreach and programming. A series of interactive and public artist-in-residency programs to take place in non-traditional, non-arts public spaces throughout San Diego, the multifaceted project will be rolled out over approximately 15 months from October 2013 through December 2014.

Through the use of specifically targeted, traditionally non-arts venues, OMA will bring the arts directly to communities that lack significant exposure to arts and culture. Each of the five residencies will involve interactive art-making experiences that increase the public’s comfort level with art as it incorporates high levels of public participation.

In conjunction with each artist-in-residence project, the Museum will produce related educational events including public artist lectures, presentations, and panel discussions.

Tara Smith, Deputy Director of OMA states, “The Exploring Engagement Residencies are a chance for OMA to not only bring risk-taking arts programming outside of our walls to the public, but to also directly fund the creation and production of new artwork by artists working in our community… Our continual exposure to the San Diego arts community and being able to support and grow it into the future is what keeps us all inspired.”

OMA is accepting artist proposals through Sept. 6, 2013 for the inaugural residency project that will take place November/December 2013. Project Coordinator applications will be accepted through Aug. 23. For more information on OMA’s Exploring Engagement Initiative visit or contact Tara Smith, deputy director at [email protected].