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Arts & Culture Newsletter

Learn more about the mosaic bear sculptures

Mosaic Bears

A new online resource about Mission Viejo’s beloved mosaic bear sculptures is now available. 

Featuring photographs and descriptions of the bears along with an embedded Google map, this web page is a handy guide to the bears’ locations throughout the City. 

The web page also includes the history of this incredible community art project, behind-the-scenes photos of the creative process, and biographies of the artists who led more than a thousand volunteers in placing mosaic tiles on the bear sculptures. 

Visit the web page today and plan a day to visit the bears.


Fall into fun this season with classes at the Potocki Center for the Arts

Succulent Pumpkin

A wide array of fun, creative classes are available this fall at the Potocki Center for the Arts. From watercolors, acrylics and knitting to guitar, ukulele, succulent pumpkins and Christmas trees, the Potocki Center is the place to tap your creative and artistic side. Expert instructors teach kids and adults – whether beginning or advanced – professional techniques to master their artistic endeavors. 

Check out our fall offerings and register for classes.

Potocki Center for the Arts is located at 27301 La Paz Road.

For more information, contact 949-470-8470 or arts@cityofmissionviejo.org.

Potocki Center for the Arts staffing update

Mike Holt

We are happy to welcome Mike Holt to the Library & Cultural Services department in the role of Library & Cultural Services Coordinator at the Potocki Center for the Arts. You may recognize Mike already—he has been greeting art students and community members with his smiling face and friendly demeanor since 2022 as a part-time member of the department. Mike is thrilled to now be a full-time member of the City of Mission Viejo family.

Receiving a degree in communications and theater from Southern Illinois University, his background ranges from writing and directing for PBS, performing live improv to playing multiple instruments in a rock band. 

“I love to compose music,” Mike says. “There is nothing better than sharing your creativity with others.” 

Creativity is one of the many things he brings to the Potocki Center for the Arts. 

When not playing music, Mike enjoys cooking on the grill for his family and playing with his Maltese puppies Bailey and Dexter.

You may also see another recognizable face around the Potocki Center soon. Library & Cultural Services Supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Brimer will expand her duties to include occasional work at the Potocki Center where she will assist with cultural arts classes and programs. Sandy will continue to work closely with library staff and is looking forward to being involved with the Arts team as well.

Art instructor spotlight on Bill Knauer

Bill Knauer

The Potocki Center for the Arts recently welcomed impressionist painter Bill Knauer to our lineup of incredible art instructors. Bill offered a children’s painting class this summer and will teach the “Beginning Acrylic Painting for Seniors: The Wonderful World of Lovable Dog Louie” this fall. This class takes place on Wednesdays from 3-5 pm starting August 16. 

To register, visit this link.  

We had the chance to interview Bill so you can get to know more about the Potocki Center’s newest painting instructor: 

Q: Tell us about your background in the arts. 

A: I have been painting for the last 25 years after taking weekly classes in acrylic and color for five years from teacher Diane Youngblood. I was a marketing director and member of the Cove Gallery in Laguna Beach for more than 13 years. I focus on impressionism from photos I took during trips throughout Europe and the United States. 
I just recently began teaching at the Potocki Center and particularly enjoy the outlook of young people when learning to paint.

Q: What is your favorite thing about teaching art classes? 

A: The innocence of young children and creativity they exude. Truly, the saying “out of the mouths of babes” prevails with young students! I enjoy interacting with them and the fact they sometimes create the biggest adventures out of the littlest things.

Q: What artists have inspired you? 

A: The 18th Century Eduardo Cortez, who captures Parisian lifestyles and was named the “The Poet Painter of Paris” because of his writing and impressionist painting skills. He and his father painted Paris in every neighborhood and weather condition of the period. Bob Schaar of Laguna Beach creates unbelievable realism and detail in his acrylic paintings, and John Cook of Texas paints pallet knife Western cowboy realism with excellent life scenes.

Q: What's your favorite museum in the world? 

A: It is a tie between the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. The breadth of treasures they both contain are unmatchable. One can spend days in each museum and not cover everything!

Q: How do you like to spend your time when you are not creating or teaching art? 

A: I have six young maturing grandchildren living throughout California who I follow and visit with my wife of 63 years. I walk every day to keep my 87 years in reasonable shape and read about World War II wherever and whenever I can. I used to travel to Europe in my earlier years but now mostly travel locally.

Q: What advice do you have for people who think they cannot do art? 

A: Everyone has a touch of art talent in their soul.  But until you take your first step in putting a brush to canvas, you will never know those skills exist. Art is so diverse that you never know what talent will show up… taking that first step is critical.

Learn more about Bill and his artwork.