Irvine has a reputation for being the land of beige. Wyland is here to add a welcome touch of blue.
The renowned marine artist has moved his Wyland Worldwide headquarters to Irvine and has already established himself as a good neighbor.
On January 17th, Wyland spent the evening with students of Woodbury Elementary School, painting and sharing his passion for marine preservation.
The event, sponsored by the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, featured the Clean Water Mobile Experience, an interactive classroom on wheels that teaches the importance of preserving water habitats.
2013 is a big year for Wyland.
It's the 35th Anniversary of his gallery and 20th Anniversary of the Wyland Foundation, the non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving the world's ocean, waterways, and marine life. The foundation encourages environmental awareness through education programs, public art projects, and community events. Wyland donates more than 1,000 pieces of art annually for his foundation efforts and for charitable causes worldwide.
Wyland is a dedicated philanthropist, but he is an artist first; an artist with a mission.
He paints every day; never losing sight of his dedication to art, conservation, and the community.
Wyland has been drawn to paint marine life ever since he first visited Laguna Beach as a teenager.
"Growing up in Michigan, I learned about the ocean like every other midwestern kid," says Wyland "by watching 'The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau' on TV."
That first trip to Laguna was a revelation.
"I couldn't wait to get in the water. I dove in at Main Beach and swam out past the waves. I came up out of the water and found two gray whales right in front of me. In those days the whales hugged the shore as they migrated."
The sight of those two whales changed Wyland's life. He returned to Laguna Beach, opened his gallery in 1978, and became one of the most influential artists in the growing environmental movement.
"I was the right artist at the right time," Wyland explains.
Now this artist is part of the Irvine community, ready to get involved with local causes.
"Irvine is a great place for me," says Wyland. "Education is a high priority here and that fits with what I do."
"Kids come first."