The Art of Summer

What's that? You're tired of sitting at the poo-infested shore and reading Danielle Steel "novels"? You want more from your summer than margaritas and drunken, bethonged fun? You want to "grow" and "stretch" as a person? Isn't that exactly why you can no longer wear a thong in the first place? We're here to help. Here you go.

Laguna Art Museum, "Surf Culture"Can you say "blockbuster"? This follow-up to the seminal "Kustom Kulture" has been nine years in the making, curated by LAM's Bolton Colburn, who was helped out by folks like Dogtown and Z-Boys' Craig Stecyk. Colburn says the show will be "eclectic, bizarre, unusual and wacky" and that they're crossing the line into a gray area between fine art and crap. Artists include Raymond Pettibon, Peter Alexander, Sandow Birk, Big Daddy Roth and cavalcades of stars. Plus, you just know there'll be all kinds of hotties hanging around looking to make time. Runs July 28-Oct. 6. 307 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-8971. Call for hours. Orange County Museum of Art, "Biennial"Every two years, high-art folks take it upon themselves to assess the state of art in the world. They put on their berets and basic black and invite artists from all over to come to their biennials, or, if they're Italian, their Biennales. This one, organized by acting director Elizabeth Armstrong and OCMA's new contemporary art curator, Irene Hofmann, looks whimsical and not too pretentious at all. I can't begin to tell you how rare a thing that is. Particularly promising is Charlie White, whose cocktail-party photos are gorgeous documents of entitlement and twee taste. Runs May 26-Sept. 8. 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 759-1122; Open Tues.-Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $4-$5; kids under 16, free; free on Tues. Grand Central Art Center, "Americanos"Cal State Fullerton's Artists Village satellite so consistently offers depth and grooviness that it's really impossible to stay away. And while college galleries tend to take the summer off, GCAC is serving up its first Smithsonian traveling exhibit. The paperwork alone ("Please name anyone who will be handling the exhibit? And just how exactly will the work be stored?") took two months to complete. The results should be worth every curatorial migraine. Thirty photographers depict Latino life in America, and wherever people portray la vida, you can pretty much expect Edward James Olmos to appear. Not that we're threatening. GCAC partners with Farmer's Insurance and the city of Santa Ana. Runs July 20-Sept. 29. Village-wide reception Aug. 3, 7-10 p.m. 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 567-7233. Call for hours.Huntington Beach Art Center, "Sculptural Engineering"The lads of "Finishing School" have promised I will really, really hate their "pneumatic artists' collective using tactical educational models" and a whole bunch of other crap. And you know how I love to hate! "Finishing School" comprises the former provocateurs of Giardina Fine Art and RAID Projects (Ed Giardina, Brian Boyer, Joel Heflin) and token civilizing influence Janice Ledgerwood (who usually does disgusting things with hair). They're only a small part of the exhibit, but they're likely to be the people about whom people are talking, if those people happen to be the kind of people who like discoursing on "interrogat[ing] the intersections of public security, the political economy of space, the collection and cataloging of personal data" et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam, ad infinitum, big word, big word, big word! The exhibit opens with a reception June 15, 7-9 p.m., at which the miscreants will host an interactive live workshop thats sure to be offensive. Don't miss it! Runs June 15-July 27. 538 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-1650. Open Wed. & Fri.-Sat., noon-6 p.m.; Thurs., noon-8 p.m.; Sun., noon-4 p.m. Seven˚'s Wednesday openingsSure, you could go to one of the many summer art festivals cloning themselves all over the formerly serene Laguna Canyon. And I'm not telling you not to go; I just would sooner wash my face with a potato peeler. But that's just me. Instead, right next door is the plush, sinuous comfort of seven˚. Every Wednesday in July from 6-9 p.m., they're hosting openings for such artists as Donnie Molls, Roark Gourley, Louis Longi and Ron Pastucha. Their summer series runs June 21 to Aug. 31, with live-in artists' studios available for your gaping and pointing at (like an artists' zoo!) seven days a week, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Of course, parking will be a soul-sucking torture, but did you think growing and stretching as a person is painless? 891 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, (949) 376-1555.

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