Best Return of the Native - 2012
There couldn't have been a better choice to head the Grand Central Art Center in downtown Santa Ana in 2011 than John Spiak. Not only had he earned nationwide attention as curator at the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe for awesome exhibits and vigorous outreach efforts to the public, but Spiak is also an OC boy, and he was itching to go home. He has immediately impressed since getting the job, staging exhibits that actually bring in crowds, picking artists-in-residence who focus on community projects and emerging as a peacemaker in Santa Ana's brutal gentrification wars. And you'll never meet a nicer, softer-spoken, less-presumptuous art nerd than Spiak—when he says he loves the city in its entirety, from the hipsters to the quinceañera shops, you not only believe him, but you also immediately want to buy whatever artwork he suggests.