The Art of Living

Wendy Bowman, Anna Dunn, Riley Greenough and Allison Mitchell | November 26, 2018 | Feature Features National

From award-winning actors and dancers to renowned maestros and artists to altruists with a vision to make the future bright, Orange County is brimming with creatives full of art and soul.
Photo by Jay Reilly

THE COLLABORATOR
Ali Sabet

Iranian-American artist Ali Sabet, based in Irvine, gives a multilayered response when asked about his painting technique. “I’ve always seen myself as a visual translator of energy, values and universal concepts,” he says. Sabet began his career at a top ad agency in 1998 and a year later created his own, Sabet Brands, converging his two passions, branding and art. “There are times when my branding clients become collectors of my fine art,” he shares. “Other times, I get asked to include my fine art in my branding work by my clients.” While he left his native Tehran at the age of 10, Sabet is still influenced by his upbringing. “I listen to Iranian music when I work,” he reveals. Sabet has also collaborated with Montblanc, BMW and John Varvatos through serendipitous connections. “I never set out to work with any of these brands, and yet every single one, I have loved since I was a kid,” he shares. “I have multiple memories of Montblanc and how it was introduced to me by my father.”

THE BREAKOUT STAR
Lindsay Mendez

She’s sung, danced and acted her way onto the Broadway stage, where she’s played outspoken Elphaba in the 10th anniversary production of Wicked and bubbly Jan in Grease. But it’s her most recent role that has the theater world—and the Tony Awards—all abuzz. “Carousel is one of the greatest shows ever written in the Broadway canon,” says the Orange County School of the Arts alum, who took home the 2018 Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical for her role as Carrie Pipperidge. “Carrie is so fun-loving and always says exactly what she is thinking. I loved that about her. That, and her Maine accent. It was a huge challenge and so rewarding to harness it.” Mendez’s older sister sparked her love for the stage, as she was growing up in Southern California. “I went to see her in a production of Annie, and I was hooked,” Mendez recalls. Up next, the star will take her vocal chops to NYC’s Feinstein’s/54 Below for a debut concert revue before hitting the road to share her favorite Broadway and nostalgic tunes. “It’s nice to take this opportunity after Carousel to spread my wings and try some new things.”

THE ADVOCATES
Charlie & Ling Zhang

What do you get when you cross a child who garnered a love for the clarinet while toiling in the rice paddy fields of rural China with the eventual millionaire founder of the Pick Up Stix empire as well as beverage and real estate development companies? Charlie Zhang, who, with his wife, Ling, renovated a 35,000-square-foot Irvine office building to the tune of $10 million and in April 2017 opened the nonprofit Orange County Music & Dance performing arts school (also home to the Pacific Symphony). Think music and rehearsal rooms, dance studios, a recording studio and a 120-seat black-box theater, where children can reach their aspirations free of charge. “Both of us have always wanted to help the younger generation to achieve their talents and dreams,” says Charlie, who with Ling received the prestigious Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award at the annual OC Arts Awards in mid-October. “Since we are blessed with our financial success, we have a strong desire to give back to the community. After all, it just feels good.”



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