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Media Contact: Amy Behrens, (949) 498-2139,


Irvine’s priceless collection of California art to be exhibited at Casa Romantica

The Idle Hour: The Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine

November 9, 2018 – March 10, 2019 | Free with general admission to Casa Romantica Opening reception Friday, November 9, 2017 from 6:00pm-8:00pm | Free

The Idle Hour by James Hubbard Rich

San Clemente, CA – Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, a nonprofit southern California cultural center, is proud to announce its upcoming Open Casa exhibition The Idle Hour: Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine. The exhibition, which is on view from November 3, 2017 through March 9, 2019, is a prominent collection of California Impressionist art.

Casa Romantica has built a reputation for exhibiting the works from important California collections ever since Executive Director Berenika D. Palys took over the cultural center’s artistic programming in 2013. Previously, Casa Romantica engaged in a three-year commitment to display works from the E. Gene Crain Collection, one of the most important collections of California watercolors with works from Phil Dike, Rex Brandt, and Millard Sheets, among others. In 2017, the cultural center produced and curated the exhibition I Love You, California, featuring a rare loan of 25 works by artists such as William Wendt, Granville Redmond and Maurice Braun from the collection of Peter and Gail Ochs. The Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine, valued at approximately $17 million with about 1,200 artworks, is the most significant collection that Casa Romantica has exhibited to date, and the first that is loaned straight from an institution.

“We are pleased to present The Idle Hour: The Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine at Casa Romantica,” says James Irvine Swinden, the museum’s Executive Director. “The Irvine Museum Collection is the premier collection of California Impressionism and it is well-suited for the illustrious and popular cultural center. Casa Romantica’s gallery program has been invigorated by Executive Director Berenika Palys’ curatorial efforts, and its historical and natural setting perfectly complements the works in The Irvine Museum Collection at UCI.”

Palys curated a selection of approximately 25 works from the collection that present a variety of interpretations of quietude through California landscapes and figurative works. The Idle Hour is representative of the mood that is captured by walking through Casa Romantica’s Spanish Revival estate, because its sunlit courtyard, romantic salon, and captivating vistas overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Clemente Pier are evocative of the ideal so prized by the California Impressionists.

The Idle Hour reflects on the human aspect of the California lifestyle,” says Palys. “Each work in the exhibition captures that fleeting moment of tranquility through the lens of the Southern California landscape.”

The exhibition will open to the public with a free cocktail reception on Friday, November 9 from 6-8 PM. Palys and Swinden will be present for informal questions. Swinden will give a formal talk on the works in the collection halfway through the exhibition’s run on Thursday, January 17 at 7 PM.

About The Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine

The Irvine Museum Collection was founded in 1992 by the philanthropist and arts patron Joan Irvine Smith, along with Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke and James Irvine Swinden, to house her extraordinary display of California regional art. Since its opening in 1993, The Irvine Museum has been dedicated to the preservation and display of California art of the impressionist period (1890-1930). It has played a principal role in the education and furtherance of this important regional variant of American impressionism that has come to be associated with California and its landscape. The Irvine Museum Collection was donated in late 2016 to the University of California, Irvine, which is planning to build a museum on campus to house the collection.

If you go: Admission to the opening reception of The Idle Hour: The Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, Irvine on November 9 is complimentary. To RSVP to the opening reception, visit or call (949) 498-2139. During the regular exhibition run, the admission to the gallery is free with $5 general admission to Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens. No advance RSVPs are required for general admission.

Open Casa series

Casa Romantica’s Open Casa series shares outstanding contemporary and historic art from around the world within its unique gallery space. In 2017-18, the gallery presented a large selection of historic California Impressionist works from the prominent private collection of Peter and Gail Ochs, exhibitions of artist/educators from The Netherlands and Rwanda, and recent and commissioned works from three prominent Baja California-based Mexican artists. Other recent exhibitions include the work of Michael Childers, famous celebrity photographer, a commissioned installation of hanging flora by Rebecca Louise Law which received national press; the work of Italian National Geographic photographer Sandro Santioli, the work of award-winning celebrity photographer Douglas Kirkland, and a three-year commitment to the private collection of E. Gene Crain, with oil and watercolor paintings by the California Scene Painters of the 1910s-1960s.

About Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens maintains a robust series of year-round programs in arts, music, history, horticulture, and literature for all ages. Under the leadership of Executive Director Berenika Schmitz, Casa Romantica has commissioned several critically-acclaimed works, including Casa Theater: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2018; theater), Casa Coastal: Rebecca Louise Law (2017; visual art), Casa Kinetic: Contemporary Dance Collective (2017; contemporary dance), The Beauty of the Butterfly (2017; visual art), Casa Kinetic: Carrie Lee Riggins (2016; contemporary dance), Casa Drama: Slings & Arrows (2015; theater), and Open Casa: The Photographs of Douglas Kirkland (2015; visual art). The 2017-18 Casa Captivating season includes a new jazz series, visual and performing arts commissions, and an enhanced wellness program.

“Casa Romantica strives to be the epicenter for innovative artistic experiences in our southern California community,” says Casa Romantica Executive Director Berenika Schmitz.

Casa Romantica also hosts a variety of free arts education programs for children year-round. The institution’s annual Casa Romantica Music Festival and Academy has received critical praise for its comprehensive two-week music studies program in cello, piano, viola, and violin. Casa Romantica also offers a Summer Dance Workshop, a Spring Break Arts Week, various art, literature, and horticulture events to grades K-12, and welcomes over 2,000 children from the Capistrano Unified School District each year for STEAM-based field trips that examine the history of San Clemente and the coastal environment.

Mission Statement: Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization and is the historic home of the founder of the City of San Clemente. Casa Romantica provides programs for all ages in arts, music, history, and horticulture and is a premier Southern California cultural center.

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens is located at 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, CA 92672. Hours: Tuesday—Thursday 11 am—4 pm; Friday—Sunday 10am—2pm; closed Mondays and holidays. General admission is $5; Casa Members and children under age 13 visit for FREE. For more information, call (949) 498-2139 or visit


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