Art exhibit at Great Park to honor military

Starting Thursday, the Great Park in Irvine will host an artistic experience that pays homage to a side of the military that few have seen.

The Legacy Project, started by the late Jerry Burchfield, spent the last six years archiving photographs and footage of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station before the base was decommissioned. The team, who like to call themselves archaeologists, unearthed art created by marines in clandestine places all over the base — from barracks and recreation rooms, to underground and on top of buildings.

On Thursday, people will have an opportunity to meet the artists and talk to the curator and arts and culture consultant, Henry Korn, about the Phantoms Phorever: Art + Language at MCAS El Toro exhibit at the Great Park's visitor center.

Jacques Garnier, a co-founder of the Legacy Project, said the group accumulated hundreds of thousands of photographs since 2003. This particular collection is focused on outsider art, such as graffiti, but as the park said, "It's much, much more than that."

"The Legacy Group have been like artisan residents for the past six years at the Great Park," said Henry Korn. "They've dedicated themselves to archive not only what the marines experienced, but the transition to the Great Park as well."

Garnier's team also constructed a camera obscura in one of the hangers, thereby producing the world's largest photograph. The photograph is scheduled to go on display in China in March. The idea was to connect the land's past as a base to its present and future state as the Great Park.

"The images that were there were almost clandestine expressions of the Marines," Garnier said. "One of the goals of the military is to get rid of the individuality. These images are exactly the opposite. It's about the individuality of these characters that worked on the base."

For more information about the exhibit, visit Phantoms Phorever will be on display until Jan. 2.

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