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Former curator takes in a new view

Darlene DeAngelo recently retired from the Huntington Beach Art Center after more than 12 years.

December 12, 2012|By Michael Miller
  • Huntington Beach Art Center director Darlene DeAngelo is flanked by artists Krista Thompson and Steve Schmidt in preparation for the "Centered on the Center," exhibit in January 2004. DeAngelo stepped down from her post in September.
Huntington Beach Art Center director Darlene DeAngelo… (FILE PHOTO )

Darlene DeAngelo has traveled many places over the last dozen years: Cuba, Vietnam, Europe and wherever the freeway would take her during her impassioned 12-hour workdays.

Now, the former curator of the Huntington Beach Art Center is embarking on a new frontier. Which is to say, a quiet morning with no alarm.

DeAngelo, who has overseen the museum's exhibits and many of its fundraising and educational programs since 1999, stepped down in September. The last show she curated, a nature-themed multimedia exhibit titled "The Cylinder, the Sphere, the Cone," is scheduled to remain up through Saturday.

This spring, the city gave DeAngelo a layoff notice, and she opted to retire before her position was cut. In the future, the Claremont resident hopes to immerse herself in the art world again. For now, she's enjoying at least a momentary time to reflect.

"I'm one of those people who sort of lived my job," she said. "That's all I did. No matter where I went, I found it. You can always find where the artists are if you ask the right people."

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Among the right people that DeAngelo lined up over the years: a group of artists from Cuba, Vietnam and the Netherlands, who put together a show of surf-related art in 2007; photographer Gina Genis, who took portraits of museum visitors in 2011 and had them hand-write messages about how the recession had affected them; and mixed-media artist Gary Simpson, featured in the "Cylinder" show, who presented a conceptual piece containing soil samples from every country in the United Nations.

And then there were the many lesser-known artists that DeAngelo helped promote — through the museum's annual Centered on the Center non-juried show, which brought together hundreds of contributors each year, and Family Arts Day, which allowed parents and children to make crafts of their own.

Simpson, a Laguna Woods resident, said DeAngelo compared "glowingly" to other curators he's worked with.

"I just wish her well, and I'm sure that will happen," he said. "She's a good soul."

Director Kate Hoffman credits DeAngelo with strengthening the center's programming as well as its bond to the community. The venue at 538 Main St., now in its 18th year, didn't always enjoy the local support it has now.

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