Plein Air Art Show and Gallery

Published on Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Plein Air Art found Year Round at the Visitor’s Center

Artists from Southern California Plein Air Painters Association, SOCALPAPA, venture into the outdoors throughout Orange County, inspired to paint its beauty. Their creations are regularly displayed in the Peter and Mary Muth Center’s gift shop. A portion of each painting purchase goes to protecting and preserving the Bay.

Gallery/Artwork for sale behind welcome desk

Painting in “plein air”









Art Show & Sale

October 20-21, 2018
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center
2301 University Drive, Newport Beach, CA

SOCALPAPA Artists Return to Exhibit at Back Bay
Southern California Plein Air Painters Association (SOCALPAPA) artists return to the Upper Newport Bay for their art show and sale.  You can see artists at their easels throughout our parks, capturing beautiful scenes and the natural heritage of Southern California. Working in the open air allows these artists to duplicate the unique colors and light effects that can only be seen when the artist paints under an open sky.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJuried submissions will be on display in the Watson Theater starting Saturday, October 13 through October 19. Several hundred additional original paintings will be exhibited at the art show and sale, which takes place from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 15 and 16.  SOCALPAPA artists will display original plein air paintings of the Bay, parks, and other local scenes, with a portion of the sales proceeds to benefit the Newport Bay Conservancy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFREE PAINTING CLASSES FOR KIDS from 7-12 years of age will be offered over the weekend.   Children’s art instructors will provide students with an unforgettable fine art experience.  Classes will be held in the kids’ classroom inside the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center.  All materials are supplied and participants will take home a completed painting at the end of class.  Student space is limited and classes will fill up quickly.  Plan now to provide a special fine art experience for your child.  Reservations coming Summer 2018.

This festival of fine art is a collaborative event organized by Newport Bay Conservancy in partnership with SOCALPAPA and Orange County Parks.  SOCALPAPA’s nearly 200-member association dedicates itself to painting outdoors from life.  For more information about SOCALPAPA, visit the association’s website,

(c) All photos of art show courtesy of Albert Stanchfield

SOCALPAPA artists return to the Bay

Published on Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Saturday and Sunday, July 15-16
10-4 pm daily

Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center
Free parking, admission

Weekend show and sale highlight the Back Bay, many other OC Parks and iconic outdoor landmarks in Southern California. Hundreds of original pieces from over 40 Southern California Plein Air Painters Association artists truly showcase the beauty and natural heritage.

Art classes for children ages 7-12 will also be hosted in the classroom that weekend (prior signup required). A portion of the sale proceeds will go to the Newport Bay Conservancy, resulting in a partial charitable tax write-off for the art purchaser. More…

SOCALPAPA Paints the Back Bay and OC Parks

Published on Thursday, 9 June 2016

Saturday and Sunday
July 16-17, 2016
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Peter & Mary Muth Interpretive Center

Southern California Plein Air Painters Association (SOCALPAPA) return to the Upper Newport Bay with several hundred original paintings from over 40 artists at this year’s art show and sale. Spend the day browsing pieces capturing the beautiful scenery and the natural heritage of Southern California.  

Art Show & Sale

Free painting classes for kids 7-12 years of age will be offered on Saturday and Sunday. This festival of fine art is a collaborative event organized by Newport Bay Conservancy in partnership with SOCALPAPA and Orange County Parks. A portion of the sales proceeds to benefit the Newport Bay Conservancy. For more information, click here.

Special Events

Published on Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Call for Proposals:
Research Mini-grants
As part of our commitment to science-based management of the protected tidelands and uplands associated with Newport Bay, the Newport Bay Conservancy is pleased to announce the availability of mini-grants of up to $1000 to support research that will increase our understanding of any aspect of Newport Bay. Funds are available for actual research costs, typically including equipment, supplies and services. Submit your proposal for a research grant to support a one-year project related to Newport Bay by July 15, 2015.  For more information, visit our page on Sponsored Research.

Plein Air Art Show and Display Sale
C0ming to the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center Saturday, July 18 through Sunday, July 19. Hundreds of original paintings exhibited daily, 10-4 p.m. Plein Air Artists plant their easels throughout nature, capturing beautiful scenes and the natural heritage of Southern California. Working in the open air allows these artists to duplicate the unique colors and light effects that can only be seen when the artist paints under an open sky. A portion of the sales benefit NBC. Ages 7–12 can participate in free art classes each day. For more information, visit our page on Plein Air Art.

Photo Credit

Published on Monday, 18 November 2013

We would like to thank all those who have contributed such awesome photos to our website.

Banner Images:

Bobcats – Russ Kerr
Cormorant – Jeff Storey
Ospreys – DeeDee Gollwitzer
Black Skimmers – Russ Kerr
White Pelicans – Jeff Storey
Mallards – Russ Kerr
Cinnamon Teals – Russ Kerr
Western Sandpipers – Russ Kerr
Bay Winter High Tide – Matt Yurko
Bay Looking South – Roger Reinke
Bay Sunset at Jamboree – Russ Kerr
Bay Restoration – Bob Oberlin
Bay Salt Panne – Peter Bryant
Bay from Newport Valley – Russ Kerr
Bay Sunset over NAC – Jennifer Naegele

Slide Show Images:

2nd Annual Symposium Black Skimmer – John Avise
3rd Annual Sunset Celebration Sunset – Matt Yurko
Kayak Tour – Roger Mallett
Muth Interpretive Center – Roger Mallett

Plein Air Art Gallery – Judith Cameron, Louise Lopina,Roger Mallett
Maps and Directions – Roger Mallett
Share Your Photos – Jeff Storey

About Us
Our Vision – Russ Kerr
Our Volunteers – Bob Oberlin
Our Supporters – Sue Stoffel
Our Heritage – Roger Mallett
How You Can Help Us – John Scholl

The Bay
Overview – Irwin Haydock
Bay History – Bob DeRuff
The Robinsons- Jay Robinson
Ecology – Roger Mallett
Habitats – Roger Mallett
High Tide Habitat Map – Roger Mallett
Low Tide Habitat Map – Roger Mallett
Things to Do – Roger Mallett
Rules & Reg – Russ Kerr
Boating Limit Map – Roger Mallett
Bay Management – Roger Mallett

Description – OC Watersheds
Watershed Issues – Roger Mallett
Watershed Management – OC Watersheds
What is a TMDL? – Dave Meyer
Watershed Coordinator – Irwin Haydock
Desired State – Matt Yurko

Introduction – Russ Kerr
Plants – Peter Bryant
Invasive Species – Don Millar
What is that Flower – Dick Newell
Birds – Russ Kerr
Migration – Russ Kerr
Light-footed Clapper Rail – Russ Kerr
Osprey Update – DeeDee Gollwitzer
Successful Opsrey Nesting in 2006 – Russ Kerr
Mammals – Russ Kerr
Bobcat Primer – Russ Kerr
More on Coyotes – Russ Kerr
More on Raccoons – Russ Kerr
Amphibians & Reptiles – Barry Nerhus
African Clawed Frog – Peter Bryant
Insects – Peter Bryant
Butterfly Wings – Peter Bryant
Marine Life – Russ Kerr
Plankton and Algae – Russ Kerr
More on Plankton and Algae – Bill Messier
Marine Invertebrates – Peter Bryant
Filter Feeders – Peter Bryant
Eelgrass – Rick Ware
Sea Stars – Roger Mallett
Fish of Upper Newport Bay – John Scholl
California Halibut – John Scholl

Education Program Overview – John Scholl
Outreach Events – Roger Reinke
High School Canoe Program – Rita Phillips
Weekend Kayak Tours – Roger Mallett
The “Friends Tour” – Roger Mallett
Nature Walks and Classes – Bob Oberlin
Sharkmobile – John Scholl
Back Bay Science Center Programs – John Scholl
Interpretive Center Programs – Sue Stoffel
High School Field Activities – Matt Yurko

Our Stewardship Role – Matt Yurko
Adaptive Management – Russ Kerr
Community Based Restoration – Kristina Finstad
Other Service Activities – Lyndie Bradshaw
Native Plant Nursery – Matt Yurko

A Science Based Approach – Matt Yurko
Restoration Monitoring – Peter Ridley
Wildlife Monitoring – Don Millar
Marine Life Surveys – Bill Messier
Water Quality Testing – Roger Mallett
Sponsored Research – Rita Phillips
Symposia and Workshops – Adrienne Bosler

A Collaborative Effort – John Scholl
Department of Fish and Game – Roger Mallett
Orange County Parks – Roger Mallett
City of Newport Beach – Dave Meyer
California Coastal Commission – Matt Yurko
Newport Aquatic Center – Dave Meyer

Muth Interpretive Center
The IC – Roger Mallett
The Building – OC Parks
Exhibits and Displays – Roger Mallett
Butterfly Garden and Amphitheater – Roger Mallett
Donor Opportunities – Roger Mallett
Back Bay Science Center
The BBSC – City of Newport Beach
Outdoor Facilities – John Scholl
Teaching Lab – Rita Phillips
Funding Opportunities – Rita Phillips

Project Tracking – Peter Ridley
Army Corps of Engineers Project – Bob Oberlin
Big Canyon Project – Roger Mallett
West Bay Project – Roger Mallett

If you believe a photo has been miscredited, please send email so we can correct the entry.

Web design by Justin Williams,

Web content by Roger Mallett.

Photos copyright contributor listed, and/or NBC 2011.  All rights reserved.

Exhibits and Displays

Published on Friday, 25 February 2011

The exhibits and displays are designed to help visitors really understand the many aspects of the ecology of Upper Newport Bay. A variety of interactive formats are used to appeal to a full spectrum of audiences including young children and their parents and grandparents that are here for a fun visit and college students researching for a school paper. Electronic touch screen, video clip, hands-on touch and feel, and poster board components accommodate different learning styles and add to the richness of the learning experience. Kudos have been received from many environmental educators.


What is an Estuary Exhibit

What is an Estuary Exhibit

Enjoy the stunning plein air mural as you enter the building and move on to the What is an Estuary? exhibit where you can use the touch screens to learn about how an estuary functions and observe some of the Bay’s most important fishes in the aquarium. Move on to the Food Web exhibit and find out what the birds at the Bay eat.

Habitat Is Where It’s At! prompts a study of the four basics for survival (food, water, shelter and space) through a hands-on exploration of the Bay’s habitats. Origin of the Estuary provides a chronological overview of the Bay from its early beginnings as a habitat untouched by man through life as we know it today. The Uplands to Tidelands exhibit is in design. For now enjoy the Explore the Uplands exhibit.

It’s a dirty fact, but true, mud is at the bottom of everything in the Bay! The unique construction of the Tunnel of Mud exhibit gives visitors the worm’s-eye-view of life in the mud and life in the water. It begins with a crawl into a darkened tunnel that looks, feels and smells like the home of the Bay’s infamous innkeeper worm. Observe not only the worms, clams and ghost shrimp of this muddy habitat, but the creatures that feed on it as well. “Mud facts” will enlighten visitors on this vital link in the Bay’s life cycle.

Take a walk on the wild side on a unique boardwalk through a recreated wetland exhibit. A mix of metaphors will help visitors associate common, everyday objects with the unique functions of the wetlands in this the Working Wetlands exhibit.

A 2011 addition is the Magic Planet® digital video globe – a digital display with a sphere-shaped screen. Dynamic global information on bird migration is presented in the most compelling and interactive way possible.

Admire the birds of Upper Newport Bay in the spectacular Atrium of Flight exhibit. Find out what happens to our wildlife if food, water and shelter disappear through an interactive puzzle at the Vanishing Habitats exhibit. Learn how the Bay was saved from development at the Saving the Estuary – You Can Make a Difference exhibit.

Interpretive Center Programs

Published on Friday, 26 January 2018

The Interpretive Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission is free, but there may be a fee for scheduled programs. Please call 949-923-2269 or email for more information.

School Programs
thank you school toursSchool programs are conducted by Newport Bay Conservancy volunteers on Tuesday mornings for Grades K-5. All aligned with California State Science Content Standards.

Kindergarten – “Exploration” – Students learn about how plants grow and some of the animals found in the Bay though a short hike, story time and scavenger hunt.

First Grade – “Critter Connections” – Students learn about bay animals, their habitats and how they are all interdependent.

Second Grade – “Mud Meals and Soil Stories” – Students share hands-on explorations of wetland and upland soil, make discoveries about bay animals through exhibit activities, learn about the mud flat habitat and use microscopes to observe mud organisms.

Third Grade – “Avian Adaptations” – Students learn bird adaptations and migration through exhibit and outdoor games and activities. Students use binoculars to observe our feathered friends in their natural habitats.

Inside the Outdoors also conducts grade school programming at the Interpretive Center. For more information on their programs, visit their website.

Family Programs

Plein Air Art Class on PatioFamily programs are offered on various days. They are designed to let kids learn about nature and have fun at the same time.

Wild Tales – Fridays, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (ages 2-5) – Visit us for story-telling fun! After a story, learn more about the natural history of the Bay through crafts, hands-on activities and nature walks. Come prepared for exciting experiences! $5.00 per child.

Kids Crafty Sundays – One Sunday each month,  10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (ages 3-12) – FREE activities in the Muth Interpretive Center classroom, each month with a different educational theme to explore. The activities are self-guided and may include hands on exhibits, outside hikes, crafts and more. No registration necessary. Recommended for ages 2-10.