Street Art in O.C. to Lift Spirits

City of Hope Orange County partners with county Health Care Agency and local groups to offer optimism through art.
An artist touches up the work at Marina Park in Newport Beach. Photo courtesy of City of Hope Orange County

Observant Orange County residents might notice a few additions to our county lately: street art focusing on hope at more than 10 places, including The Great Park, three vaccine super sites, John Wayne Airport, and other iconic locations. More than 70 artists, including at least 50 students from the Orange County School of Arts, were commissioned to put forth their ideas about resilience and optimism for the community. The project, “Hope Lives in O.C.,” is a partnership between City of Hope Orange County, the Orange County Health Care Agency, and other businesses and groups.

“These community organizations have done a big lift (in the past year). This is a fantastic example of what I love about Orange County,” says Annette Walker, president of City of Hope Orange County. “We are a community that cares about each other.”

Artist Jenna Swerdfeger of Irvine says “I believe that art is one of the universal languages through which we can communicate important ideas, the most important of which is empathy.” Her work, pictured here, is on display at The Camp in Costa Mesa. Photo by Scott M. Brown

The creators wanted to figure out how to reach as many people as possible in as many locations as they could. All the artists involved have been touched by cancer. They each created a piece of street art at least 8 feet by 8 feet, many of which are chalk drawings. The pieces will stay up for a couple of weeks, and there will be more at other locations in the coming months.

“Every one of the artists has had someone affected by cancer,” Walker says. “They understand what those dark days are like. We had one artist who wrote a song. Sometimes in our lives, there’s nothing that can touch us like art can. In the midst of challenges, art can inspire people. There’s no creature on Earth that creates art other than humans. We know that has such a special impact on our souls.”

Artist Lori Antoinette did the sidewalk piece at John Wayne Airport, near baggage claim. “The beauty of art is soul medicine,” she says. “Art can take you to new and delightful places. People who enjoy it most often enjoy each other all the more.” Photo by Scott M. Brown

Walker reflects on the early days of stay-at-home orders last year and recalls chalk drawings that children did at the end of her street. “That little one made my day brighter, so I think people will flock to these.”

The choice to include the vaccination sites was quite purposeful. “My dad had polio,” Walker says. “I think about how my parents felt about that vaccine. (The COVID-19 vaccine) is giving people that same sense of relief. There’s a lightness in their step. This sense of hope builds through Orange County. The artists and the people at City of Hope who deal with cancer every day realize how important that is.”

Artists complete their work at the Orange County Great Park, where there are several pieces on display. Photo courtesy of City of Hope Orange County

You can check out the “Hope Lives in O.C.” street art at the following locations now and at the O.C. Fair and Event Center beginning Thursday, March 4:

  • Vaccine Super POD sites at Disneyland Resort, Anaheim Convention Center, and Soka University
  • John Wayne Airport
  • Great Park Neighborhood: Cadence Park Art Walk
  • Near the balloon at Orange County Great Park
  • Anaheim Packing District
  • Marina Park in Newport Beach
  • The CAMP in Costa Mesa
  • City of Hope Newport Beach clinic
  • City of Hope’s administrative headquarters and the construction site of its cancer campus at FivePoint Gateway in Irvine.

For more stories of resilience and inspiration in Orange County as we mark one year of COVID-19, check out the March issue of Orange Coast, on newsstands this week!

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