HomeJune 2023Orange County's Jewish History

Orange County’s Jewish History


Gold at OCMA

    The Orange County Museum of Art, which opened in its new building in October of last year, was founded in 1962 by thirteen visionary society women who believed that Orange County needed its own art venue. Much has been written about these women and the fact that they promoted contemporary art in conservative OC, but one woman, who helped market the brand new venture, is rarely mentioned. Her name was Betty Lou Gold (né Sumski) and she was the original graphic designer for the fledgling organization’s exhibit catalogs. Betty was born and raised in San Francisco and met her future husband, Philip Gold, at UC Berkeley, where she studied art history. Philip, born and raised in Santa Ana, was the son of Hungarian Jewish immigrants Aaron and Malvina, who owned the well-known Gold Furniture Co. in Fullerton. The couple initially settled in Arizona but later moved to Newport Beach, where Betty became active in the growing OC art world. She went on to open her own art galleries in Los Angeles and New Mexico, as well curating several exhibitions for the New Mexico Museum of Art. Other Jewish contributors to OCMA include Paul Schimmel, who in 1981 at age 27 became the youngest chief curator in the museum’s history, and of course Heidi Zuckerman, the current director and CEO. 

Dalia Taft, archivist of the Orange County Jewish Historical Society, highlights images from the archives every month. For more information, please visit https://www.jccoc.org/pages/oc-jewish-historical-society. You can also contact Dalia at daliat@jccoc.org or at (949) 435-3400, ext. 360. The Orange County Jewish Historical Society is a program of the Merage Jewish Community Center and is funded by the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County.

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