Security Pacific Joining County’s Growing Art Patronage

Security Pacific National Bank will be adding a significant component to Orange County’s burgeoning corporate fine arts patronage when it occupies its new regional headquarters in Costa Mesa in 1989.

The 12-story tower being built in South Coast Metro Center will boast a lobby art exhibition program similar to the bank’s 12-year-old project at its corporate headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

There, Tressa Miller, vice president and director of cultural services, organizes five art exhibits annually, each spotlighting a group of contemporary artists whose works deal with a particular theme. Brochures or videotapes on the shows are aimed toward the casual viewer.

Exhibits from past years, some of which are the work of independent curators, have ranged from “Self-Portraits by Women Artists” to “Urban Sculpture: Architectural Concerns.” Featured artists have included fairly obscure newcomers and well-known figures on the regional or national scene.


“The majority of the art is local,” Miller said Tuesday in a phone conversation from her Los Angeles office. "(In Costa Mesa) we would certainly be showing Orange County artists along with other artists.”

Although specific plans for the lobby gallery have not yet been established (even the square footage is uncertain), the space will probably be “quite different” in character from the downtown Los Angeles site, which has 25 1/2-foot ceilings, about 3,000 square feet of open space and an outdoor sculpture garden.

“Our thoughts at the moment are that (the Orange County gallery) will be enclosed space with 12-foot ceilings,” Miller said, noting that the added security of an enclosed area may affect on the kinds of shows that can be mounted. “There is some space around the building, but how effective it will be (for sculpture) I don’t know yet.”

Security Pacific has a collection of 9,500 works of contemporary art collected during the last 17 years, holdings that won the bank the Los Angeles Art Council’s eighth annual Armand Hammer Award last month. But works from the collection are rarely shown in the gallery.


“In general, we try to keep the (lobby) program separate,” Miller said, adding that the idea is “not to tout our own work, just to give an overview of what’s happened in contemporary art. . . . The focus is education.”

Although the gallery will draw a built-in audience from the bank’s clientele, it will be “dependent on community response and interest,” Miller said. “Our hope is that (the gallery) would be a stop on a person’s visit to other areas in the center.”