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Farmers to Flyers: Marine Corps Air Station El Toro and Mid-Century Orange County Exhibition Offers Thought-Provoking View of Southern California History

Special reception on September 22 showcases unique exhibition that merges art, history and a treasure trove of memories

IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Orange County Great Park will host a special reception to showcase the thought-provoking exhibition memorializing Marine Corps Air Station El Toro's 50-year tradition of service and sacrifice titled, Farmers to Flyers:  Marine Corps Air Station El Toro and Mid-Century Orange County.  The special reception will take place at the Great Park Gallery in the Palm Court Arts Complex on Saturday, September 22 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

This carefully curated site-specific exhibition of historical photographs, documents, and artifacts recounts MCAS El Toro's profound impact on Southern California.  Based on 400 oral history interviews with El Toro veterans, it preserves the memories of those who served on the base.  It also explores related topics, such as agriculture, dramatic urban growth, industrial expansion, freeway construction, parks and master planned cities.

"The Farmers to Flyers exhibition offers a wonderful first-person journey through time, highlighting the military history of Orange County and insight into how that history influenced later development," said Beth Krom, Chair of the Orange County Great Park.  "Exhibitions like this are representative of the Great Park's commitment to the heritage of the land and complement our permanent historical features like Hangar 244 and the Walkable Historical Timeline. It's about honoring the past as we look to the future."

The exhibition is a project of the Orange County Great Park and the Center for Oral and Public History, California State University, Fullerton.  Visitors to the September 22 reception will receive a free beautifully illustrated exhibition catalog that includes essays by professors and graduates of California State University, Fullerton.  The Farmers to Flyers exhibition runs through March 31, 2013. 

Exhibition Shaped by First Person Accounts; Aligns with Great Park Mission
Recorded oral histories by Marine Corps veterans capture the dramatic changes occurring across the Southern California region from 1942 to the present.  This exhibition tells the story of how the U.S. government acquired Irvine Ranch agricultural land for use by the United States Navy in the early 1940s and recounts the key role this West Coast air base played in winning World War II and the Cold War.  It also explains the region's explosive population growth at mid-century, stimulating massive freeway construction, and connecting nineteenth century town centers with twentieth century aerospace labs, shopping malls, theme parks, and master-planned cities.

The exhibition aligns with the mission of the Great Park to honor the legacy of the land. Ken Smith, Great Park Master Designer, first memorialized the base with the design of Ghost Building 243 located in the center of the Great Park Palm Court Arts Complex where strips of aquamarine glass embedded in the pavement mark the exact location of exterior and interior walls of an original MCAS El Toro building that was removed to make way for the one-acre Palm Court Plaza and outdoor performance space.

Adding another artistic and interpretive layer to the experience, visitors to the Farmers to Flyers exhibition can explore the 1942 exhibition in the Great Park Artists Studios. This moving collection of original paintings by contemporary artists reflects on memories of 1942 from a variety of unique and personal perspectives.

Great Park Gallery Hours:

  • Thursdays and Fridays: Noon to 4 p.m.
  • Saturdays and Sundays: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Orange County Great Park is located at Sand Canyon and Marine Way, and can easily be reached by the 5 or 405 freeways.

For more information, visit, please visit www.ocgp.org or call 866-829-3829.

About the Orange County Great Park
Hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over Southern California enjoy the Orange County Great Park's array of recreational and educational opportunities, including panoramic views from the iconic Great Park Balloon that rises 400 feet in the air.  Other Great Park features include the Carousel, Farm + Food Lab, Kids Rock Playground, Walkable Historical Timeline, Palm Court Arts Complex, North Lawn recreation area and historic Hangar 244.  In addition to free sports clinics, gardening workshops, weekly Farmers Market and other community events, the Great Park hosts an annual series of special events that provide unique experiences for the entire family, including the Growing the Park: Anniversary Celebration, Great Park Pumpkin Harvest, Great Night! Family New Year's Eve and the Flights & Sounds Summer Festival. With its approximate 1,300-acre master plan, the Great Park is the centerpiece of the redevelopment of the publicly-owned portion of the 4,700-acre former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. For more information, please visit www.ocgp.org.

SOURCE Orange County Great Park

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