On February 25, 2017 the OC Contemporary Gallery opened in San Clemente. Situated in a unique and charming setting in North Beach, the gallery features a wide variety of contemporary art and photography. The gallery was opened by long-time San Clemente resident, business owner, and artist, Brian McCracken.

McCracken has been creating all his life. An incessant doodler growing up, he started drawing landscapes on family vacations, which led to experimentation with pastel, crayon, colored pencils and paint pens, among other materials. Around 2013, he decided to dive into oil on canvas almost exclusively.

As in other areas of his life where he has excelled, McCracken is self-taught. While he has collected art of all types over the years, his style is all his own. He has been influenced by artists and works in his personal art collection, which he started about eight years ago. He owns a software company (also in San Clemente) and initially furnished the building that houses it with art by local artists like Drew Brophy, Christian Wach and photographer Jason Murray.

When McCracken met his first true art dealer in the Gordon James restaurant one evening, he was introduced to the world of fine, collectible art. He quickly learned about investing in art and how different kinds of art hold, or don’t hold their value over time. The dealer, since deceased, helped McCracken with his first fine art purchase of an original Erte painting from 1904 that, besides greatly appreciating in value, brings pleasure to him every day as he passes by it ten times a day in his home.

One of the first artists McCracken began to collect was a street artist from New York called Crash. Also known as Graffiti Art and Urban Art, this genre of contemporary art has evolved from something only found in subways and alleys to living rooms and museums. Facilitated by the online art market and auctions, McCracken was soon investing in Picasso ceramics and Warhol prints.

McCracken loves to learn and grow and has been educating himself about art history and different ways to make art. From books to trips to New York’s galleries and museums, to meeting many of the artists in the local and Southern California area; he has acquired an appreciation for the vastness and variety of the art world, and just how engrained it is in virtually everyone’s life in some way.

With the OC Contemporary Gallery, McCracken is fulfilling his dream of having a place to both create, to share his collection with others, and to celebrate the creations of some of the most talented artists of San Clemente and Orange County with the world.

One of the local artists represented at the OC Contemporary Gallery is another long-time San Clemente resident, Thomas Elliot. Elliot is a genuine piece of San Clemente and very well educated in the facets of art. He combines those together to take an art piece from a stand-alone presence to the next level as a well-presented and preserved one through the framing, and in some cases, restoring process.

As a customer of Elliot’s, McCracken learned a lot by taking his acquired works to him for framing. He came to appreciate Elliot’s keen eye for color, scale, and composition. Little did he know that Elliot also applied these things to his own art that he produced outside of his day job.

When McCracken considered opening a gallery in San Clemente, Elliot was an obvious source of information, advice, and encouragement to him. And when McCracken saw what he was producing, the relationship grew again as he chose Elliot as one of the gallery’s first house artists.

Being in the gallery has inspired Elliot to produce more work, and build quite a following on Instagram. His works are amongst the most well received in the gallery, as they fit that contemporary, free-form, color-driven aesthetic that defines the place. McCracken regards Elliot not only as a very talented artist in his gallery, but as an advisor, friend, and partner in this new venture to bring beauty and happiness into the lives of as many people as possible.

OC Contemporary Gallery is located at 1509 N El Camino Real, open Wednesday through Saturday from 12-6pm and by appointment at 888-948-0086. With an international presence online as well, it sells and rents original art, high-end secondary market works, photography, and sculpture. The venue is also available to rent for special events. Visit OCCGallery.com for more information.