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Free Art Shows in Orange County

The Santiago Art District, Every Third Saturday at the Santiago Street Lofts
The Santiago Art District, Every Third Saturday at the Santiago Street Lofts

Art walks and shows featuring local artists are a great way to pick up some good and usually inexpensive art from artists who are often very approachable and willing to share their process with you, or you can wander around absorbing the whole sensory experience of sights, sounds, and smells.

1.  Santa Ana Artist Village Art Walk:  This event is totally free to attend, and promotes both emerging and established local artists.  Food and music help create a festive atmosphere, and you can count on it every first Saturday of the month, rain or shine.  Right now the Grand Central Arts Center and the Orange County Center of Contemporary Art are both open for touring, and several eateries open their doors to evening patrons of the Walk.  Grand Central Art Gallery is at 125 N. Broadway St, Santa Ana CA, 92701.
2.  First Fridays at Whole Foods in Tustin:  This summer at the District in Tustin Wholefoods has been feeling it’s way around hosting an Art Walk on the patio in front of the store.  From the get-go it’s been counted a success.  Because of the location it is not a large event, but the intimacy is still enjoyable, as the Whole Foods promoter has so far successfully chosen vendors who have provided wildly different art styles and types of crafts with almost no overlap.  A drum circle keeps the beat, and those who want can join in free for as long as they want.  The next First Friday is August 6, from 5pm to 8pm.  2847 Park Ave, Tustin CA, 92782.

3.  First Thursdays Art Walk in Laguna Beach: Upcoming dates are August 5 and September 2nd.  Tour several member galleries in Laguna Beach from 6pm to 9pm.  Free shuttle or tram service is provided.  The shuttle will not be operating in August but will be back in September; the trams are free and attendees can travel from gallery to gallery easily using the trams.  Many galleries participate in this event; the upshot is that you can take in a huge variety of art from established artists, but the drawback is that navigating the Art Walk could be difficult for families with small children, and you won’t be able to see everything in one night.

Where Free Art Meets Good Art.
4.  Santiago Art District: Every third Saturday of the month residents of the Santiago Street Lofts host a community Art Walk from 7pm until 10pm or later.  Parking is free across the street at the Train Depot.  More than 16 galleries provide pieces from many different artists, and often the events have a unifying theme.  The Santiago Art District is located at the intersection of Santa Ana Blvd and Santiago St, off the Grand Ave exit on the 5 fwy.

5.  San Clemente Art Fair: The first Sunday of every month (except January) beginning bright and early at 9am the Village Art Fair opens up.  Held in historic downtown San Clemente on Avenida Del Mar, the Fair hosts a very eclectic mix of more than 60 vendors, including fine art, jewelry, handmade crafts and clothing, and tons more.  This event is very family friendly.  Exit the 5 fwy southbound at Ave Palizada; the Village Art Fair is on Ave Del Mar near Camino Real.