Announcing New Director’s Circle!



Portrait Collage of Director's Circle

Through strategic invitation, Grand Central Art Center (GCAC) has formed a support group, the Director’s Circle.

The goal of the Director’s Circle is to bring supportive, engaged and outside the box Orange County thinkers together. The group fosters a stronger OC contemporary arts and cultural voice in our region through shared experience and inspiration. The emphasis of the Director’s Circle is on relationship building — working toward greater support, connection, and awareness of GCAC’s outreach programs, residencies, and exhibitions.

Utilizing proposed activities, the Director’s Circle has access to deepen their knowledge of, and engagement with, GCAC artists, events, and colleagues. The Director’s Circle provides unique growth opportunities and experiences while building more personal connections within, and understanding of, the contemporary art world.

Using GCAC as a hub, the Director’s Circle acts as a channel into communities through the creative actions of our institution. Through these combined efforts, GCAC leads forward-thinking conversations, provides resources and generates a more inclusive forum for ideas — creating a leadership capacity for developing innovative approaches and successful outcomes.

The Director’s Circle support role provides excellent opportunities for creative flow and exchange of ideas, helping GCAC achieve continued success.

Alessandra Caldana
Manny Escamilla
Richard Espinachio
Amy Fox
Matthew Gush
Sofia Gutierrez
Aaron Jones
Monica Jovanovich
Lane Macy Kiefaber
Ruthie Linnert
Susie Lopez-Guerra
Greg Nowacki
Louie Perez
Juliana Rico
Joanna Roche
Karen Stocker
Jonathan Webb
Kellie Stockdale Webb

Yasmine Kasem: Mwasah

Yasmine Kasem: Mwasah
February 3 – April 15, 2018
Guest Curated by Elizabeth Rooklidge

Opening Reception: February 3 from 7-10pm

Yasmine Kasem: Mwasah presents new work by the American-Egyptian artist that expands the material and conceptual territory of her practice. Born into a Muslim family in Indiana, Kasem has explored the ways in which Egyptian heritage and its value system intersect with her American Midwestern upbringing, and how these contexts shape her identity as a Muslim woman. Her most recent work, featured in Mwasah, meditates on the subject of grief through the lens of Islamic funerary tradition.

The exhibition takes its title from the Arabic word mwasah, loosely translating as “comforting someone in a period of mourning.” This series of works was kindled by the recent loss of a close friend. His funeral was the artist’s first experience of a traditional Muslim service, and she was struck by its silence, swiftness, and separation of mourners by gender. Its use of material, too, made a deep impression on the artist. In Islamic tradition, the deceased is wrapped in a clean, white shroud, bound by rope in three knots: at the head, the waist, and the feet. Kasem soon began researching early Islamic mourning rituals, particularly the phenomenon of wailing, a ritual practiced during Islam’s development in the 7th century and enacted only by women. This combination of crying, singing, and screaming was most often conducted in a group and served to collectively mourn the deceased. The women tore their clothes, scratched their cheeks, and pulled their hair, giving a brazen voice to their sorrow. Many Muslim men scorned these unsettling rituals as uncivilized. Not only did they contradict the trust in Allah essential to the Islamic faith, they were also group actions conducted and controlled by women in a patriarchal culture.

In the works on view in the exhibition, Kasem draws from the formal aspects of these historical and contemporary rituals to create physical manifestations of her own mourning. While she chooses her fabric and ties her knots carefully, the works are made quickly and intuitively. She tears, abrades, and stretches paper, cloth, and rope nearly to the point of breaking. The works express a sense of grief’s pain and sorrow, yet their surprising elegance suggests the act of mourning’s worth. In them the artist creates her own ritual-materializing her own voice, that is, like wailing, both poetic and bold.

– Elizabeth Rooklidge

About the Artist:
Yasmine Kasem completed her B.F.A at Herron School of Art & Design at Indiana University in 2015 and is currently an M.F.A candidate at University of California San Diego. Her work has appeared in solo exhibitions at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art, San Juan Islands, WA and the Harrison Center for the Arts, Indianapolis, IN, as well as group exhibitions at the Crypt Gallery, London, UK; Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ; and Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ. In 2015, she was the recipient of the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Art award.

About the Curator:
Elizabeth Rooklidge is an independent curator based in Orange County, CA. She previously served as Associate Curator at the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, New York, where she curated ten exhibitions, including Long, Winding Journeys: Contemporary Art and the Islamic Tradition and OnSite Katonah, as well as large-scale public works such as Victoria Fu’s Egg and Keiran Brennan Hinton’s Chappaqua Mural. Prior to joining the KMA, she was Assistant Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, where she worked with artists such as Sarah Cain, Nicole Eisenman, and Byron Kim. She earned a B.A. in art history from St. Olaf College and an M.A. in art history from Williams College.


A review of Mwasah by Art and Cake writer Sydney Walters can be found here.

Glass and Ceramics Show + Sale

Glass and Ceramics Show + Sale

Our Glass and Ceramics Show + Sale gives local artists and students the opportunity to showcase and sell their work while engaging with the surrounding creative community. Proceeds from this sale are split evenly between Grand Central Art Center and the participating artists.


Nancy Alcala
Ihab Ali
Tim Belliveau
Leslie Davis
Tien Do
Arnold Eclarinal
Dylan Fleury
Jose Flores
Jonathan Ginnaty
Philip Kupferschmidt
Donovan Miller
Lizbeth Navarro
Annie Nguyen
Michael Penilla
Kathryn Starrs
Eamonn Swiftfox
Hiromi Takizawa
Ashley Tallichet
Karen Thayer
Max Vishny
Elijah Wooldridge
Heather Wright

Rebecca Chernow: #superbloom

Rebecca Chernow: #superbloom
November 4, 2017 – January 14, 2018
Opening Reception: November 4, 7-10pm

In Spring 2017, in the Antelope Valley just northeast of Los Angeles, vibrant orange poppies carpeted the ground in perhaps the largest display of flora in Southern California in over ten years. The desert’s dazzling color occurs every spring due to the annuals that grow there, but a “superbloom” is a term for when a mass amount of desert plants blossom simultaneously. These annual flowers are also referred to as ephemerals because they live for only one season and last only a few weeks at most.

Thanks to the Internet, unprecedented crowds arrived to witness this natural phenomenon and made an indelible mark on the landscape. Social media also suggested a reality that wasn’t entirely true to the stunning imagery viewed online — a familiar scenario in our Digital Age. At peak season, motorists were stuck in traffic for hours, restaurants ran out of food, discarded water bottles and plastic bags littered the ground, and many of the flowers, that had waited out a decade-long drought, were destroyed by visitors trampling over them in search of the perfect image for their social media accounts

Artist Rebecca Chernow’s immersive installation simulates a California poppy field at sunset made from familiar plastic items that are often disposed of on the ground in downtown Santa Ana: the iconic green straws from Starbucks and orange shopping bags from Fallas’ department store, both located just a few blocks from Grand Central Art Center. For months, the artist collected these discarded materials in order to create a synthetic portrait of a surreal California landscape that is colorful, delicate, and ephemeral. More importantly, #superbloom was created to be documented by the individuals who experience the installation. Please feel free to take as many images of yourself in the space as you wish, and upload them to social media to add to the image library of the #superbloom.

Thank you for your consideration in preserving this experience for others to enjoy by staying on the designated trail.


Rebecca Chernow is a multi-disciplinary artist, traveler, and gardener. Her work often invites audience participation, and is ephemeral in nature: fabricated from bio-degradable, compostable, re-purposed, or re-useable materials that embody the “leave-no-trace” ethic by being able to disappear while paying tribute to the local environment from which they are sourced. She is currently a Community Engagement creative-in-residence at Grand Central Art Center, where she has been working within a multi-family affordable housing community in Santa Ana facilitating the construction of shared gardens and collaborative art projects that enhance and beautify common spaces.

Michael Nannery: CASTINGS event on Oct 7th

Michael Nannery
October 7, 7-10pm

Excess clays from ceramic art processes are combined and reconstituted, then cast into tray forms using a press-mold technique.  The stackable tray components house colonies of red wiggler earthworms–a champion decomposer.  As the worms consume various organic materials, they produce worm castings, which is essentially a manure.  Worm castings contain a broad spectrum of nutrients, and are further enriched by the beneficial gut bacteria of the worms, which help restructure soil and facilitate the uptake of nutrients by plants within systems of organic production.

The tower design allows worms to travel freely in a vertical fashion.  Organic matter is added to the top tray, and when filled, an empty tray is stacked upon it.  Lower trays contain finished worm castings that are ready to be harvested, which may be immediately incorporated into an organic system, or stored for later use.

We must be invested in methods of dealing with our waste stream.  For how far we have come as a species, we have learned little about cleaning up after ourselves.  While exercising sustainable practices, this project seeks to identify composting as a subject worthy of our time and efforts.

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Maya Gurantz: Deipnophoroi

Maya Gurantz: Deipnophoroi
October 7, 2017 – February 11, 2018
Opening Reception: October 7, 7-10pm

Ancient Greek biographer and essayist Plutarch (c. AD 46-120) writes of an ancient Greek festival in which the community, as an initiation for young men coming of age, would reenact sending their youth to King Minos of Crete to be fed as sacrifice to the Minotaur.  The only women allowed to participate in this ceremony were given the role of the mothers of the sacrificial tribute — labeled Deipnophoroi, or “food bringers”— performing the task of comforting their children with stories and food in the face of a sure and terrible death.

Deipnophoroi, a video diptych, translates this ceremony into contemporary language and contemporary fears, exploring the strange job a mother faces when preparing one’s child for the unutterable.   Each video represents a specific preparation — mothers prepare their children for death, enslavement, monsters, and rape — created as mini-collaborations between the artist and different performers (artists, dancers, actors) who are also mothers.  A second work, Non-fiction, a single-channel video, shares interviews with mothers from different backgrounds, discussing their own approaches to raising their children in this difficult and frightening world.  Together, the project — which is ongoing — begins to create taxonomy of maternal language and strategies.  It brings this language, which so often remains secret, into the art space — a space that as well does not often offer room for the mother.

In the artists own words “Mothers are left to clean up disasters, bring food, comfort and most of all prepare our children when they are faced with the terrors of the world. And yet, more often than not, when mothers speak the truth too explicitly we are turned into monsters ourselves.”

Deipnophoroi continues Gurantz’s constellation of projects constituted around two long-term, occasionally overlapping sites of research — the explorations into constructions of female experience and mother wit; and narratives of spiritualism and madness.


Maya Gurantz is an artist in video and performance. Her work has been shown at the MCA Denver, Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall, the Oakland Art Museum of California, High Desert Test Sites 2013, Autonomie Gallery, LAX><ART, Angels Gate Cultural Center, ArtCenter, and Movement Research at Judson Church, among others. She has produced commissions of public video installations for The Great All of Oakland and the 2016 Field Experiment Atlanta. Her writing has appeared in The LA Review of Books, ACID-FREE, Notes on Looking, The Awl, This American Life, Avidly, RECAPS magazine, and inDance Magazine. She teaches at UC Santa Barbara.

Deipnophoroi and Non-Fictions were created as a GCAC artist-in-residence project of Maya Gurantz through the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.