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San Clemente Journal

Art House San Clemente An Artist in Residency Program

Mar 29, 2023 12:02PM ● By Rebecca Parsons

Views from the Art House San Clemente.

by Rebecca Parsons

Like a phoenix, the Art House San Clemente was born during the fire that was and still is the COVID-19 pandemic. A lifelong resident of southern California, Jim McCauley recognized that the art community was being hit especially hard by the pandemic and so, he decided to open an artist in residency program in San Clemente. Thus, in June of 2020 the Art House San Clemente was established.

Artists pose at a gallery showing.


Ocean views inspire creativity.


McCauley recruited Shawn Chavez, now the executive director, to help get things off the ground and to manage the renovation of what would become the Art House. Within its first year, a non-profit 501 (3)c status was established, a six-member oversight board of working professionals from across several creative industries was recruited, and an extensive renovation to modernize the residence was completed. Working with local contractor, Shore Line Construction, to get the house up and running, they welcomed their first artists in the fall of 2021. Since its launch, it has hosted a total of ten artists.

This artist in residency program is all about providing early career, self-directed artists the time, space, and support they need to develop new work and an opportunity to become a part of the Art House San Clemente community. Once chosen for the program, artists are provided with a private bedroom in shared housing, a well-lit, climate-controlled studio, and a stipend for food and art supplies. 

Each year, the organization selects six to eight artists to participate in the six-to-ten-week residency program. The application period runs from April 15th - May 31st and applicants are invited to submit a letter of interest, biography, and portfolio to be reviewed by the board of directors. By the end of June, artists are notified of their acceptance into the program.
The residency program receives many applications, and looks for artists who are collaborative, innovative, and diverse. They welcome applications from various artistic genres including painters, photographers, writers, illustrators, digital artists, small-scale sculptors, singers/songwriters, videographers, and dancers. 

In the studio


In order to help streamline the decision-making process for the board, the Art House has developed a scoring rubric. First, they consider the artist’s careers status; they’re interested in pre-professional and early career artists. Next, they consider the artist’s time management skills, searching for applicants that are self-motivated and independent workers. They then look at the applicant’s artistic skill, taking into consideration their creativity, uniqueness, and potential to excel as a commercial artist. After that, they factor in whether the artist seems collaborative, as they want their participants to be able to collaborate, encourage, and work together. In addition to their criteria, the board tries to have community representation at the Art House and welcome applicants from underrepresented communities and those that may lack artistic opportunities based on their geography. 

“We work to create a collaborative environment where artists feel supported to experiment with new materials and new techniques and lean on one another to grow in new ways,” says Chavez. “The Art House, located on a bluff, overlooks the Pacific with views south of San Clemente Pier and north to Dana Point-the house is designed to inspire and enhance creativity.”
In addition to the housing and financial support the artists receive, they also are given mentorship opportunities with members of the board or other members of their professional community. On top of time to focus on art, the team at the Art House believes physical health is important for creativity, so they offer free health coaching and personal training with local gym owners Matt Jolly and Megan Twitchell at Be Jolly Performance.

“The retreat-style format of our program is designed to nurture and support artist success. Providing artists time, space, and resources to focus on their work is a unique opportunity to step out of their daily lives and try things they would otherwise not be able to do. The collaborative community effect of having artists in the house only amplifies growth opportunities.”
So far, the Art House has experienced tremendous success with their program. The artists are excited about the program and most experience both personal and professional growth due to their experiences during their residency. One artist in particular, Dia Munos, a wood sculptor and glass blower, has already secured her first solo show in Madrid, Spain, with the body of work she made while a resident of this program.

Although the program is still young, they have big plans. They have already hosted one large exhibition open to the public at the end of each year and have plans to open a local program called the Art House Lab. Their goal is to foster relationships with local artists and school programs via workshops and mentorship opportunities. 

At the Art House San Clemente, they’re all about creating art and community and so far, it’s looking like they are doing just that. b

Art House San Clemente 
2911 La Ventana, San Clemente,

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