Our Story

The innovative 1888 Center, located in the Historic District of Old Towne Orange, California, is a bookstore, gallery, workshop and café serving Contra Coffee & Tea. Our goal as a nonprofit organization is to provide our diverse neighborhoods with curated content and lifelong learning programs that are educational and entertaining.


Through storytelling, we synergize the creative efforts of individuals to provide essential tools for cultural and civic enrichment—empathy, opportunity, and a collaborative network.


1888 Center programs are recorded and archived as a free educational resource on our website or with your favorite podcast app including Apple and Spotify. Each interdisciplinary episode is designed to provide a unique platform for industry innovators to share stories about art, literature, music, history, science, or technology. Produced in partnership with Brew Sessions.

The Plaza

In the early 1880s, Old Towne Orange was like many other Southern California townes surrounded by agricultural areas. A group of civic-minded women decided in 1883 that the downtown land, donated by the city founders, should be further developed. A project to beautify the towne’s Plaza was soon underway.


Led by Mrs. Samuel Armor, wife of a city councilman and former county supervisor, the women of Orange went to work and raised $200 through community events to finance the project. One fundraiser that helped to purchase the city fountain was The Plaza: A Local Drama in Five Acts, which was produced in collaboration with neighbors who helped write and perform the play. The center of the towne site became known as the Plaza; a symbol of the community and a catalyst for storytelling.

Plaza Square, Orange, California, 1887. Courtesy of the Local History Collection, Orange Public Library.

City of Orange

The City of Orange was incorporated on April 6, 1888 under the general laws of the State of California. However, Orange dates back to 1869, when Alfred Chapman and Andrew Glassell—lawyers from Los Angeles—accepted 1,385 acres of land from the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana as legal fees. Throughout the late 1800s, Orange’s population would continue to provide opportunities for settlers who were incentivized by the diminishing cost of train tickets and growing economy to move to California. Like neighboring cities, Orange was known for its agriculture and crops including grapes, grains, and, of course, oranges.


The Old Towne Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 and is approximately one square mile in size, making it the largest National Register district in California. With more than 50 different architectural styles, the district gives the current generation a taste of what life was like in Orange from 1888 to 1940.

North Orange Street in Orange, California, 1925. Courtesy of the Orange Community Historical Society Collection.

County of Orange

On March 11, 1889, almost a year after the incorporation of the City of Orange, the County of Orange formed out of the southern third of Los Angeles County. As of January 1, 2017, the population was 3,194,024, making the County of Orange the sixth-most populous county in the United States.


The County of Orange website states: “Residents enjoy a nearly perfect climate in which parks and beaches provide abundant opportunities for outdoor activities.” However, our region is absolutely deprived of the literary arts.


1888 is actively working to transform the County of Orange into a destination for the literary arts. Through storytelling, we synergize the creative efforts of individuals to provide essential tools for cultural and civic enrichment—empathy, opportunity, and a collaborative network.

Panoramic view of orange groves and Saddleback mountain, 1956. Courtesy of the Local History Collection, Orange Public Library.




Board Member


Arianna is the author of Palms Up (Black Hill Press) and the host of Speakeasy at The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles. Most recently she collaborated with Beau Sia, The Great Company, and #WeOwnThe8th cultivating creativity and nurturing artists in Southern California communities.


She is a relentless supporter of the performing and literary arts and loyal crusader of many charities and organizations reaching as far as the Philippines. Arianna Basco was recognized by the City of Los Angeles for her contribution to the arts and her family was named The First Filipino Entertainment Family.



Board Member


Ryan Gattis is a writer & educator. His most recent novel, All Involved: A Novel of the 1992 L.A. Riots, is grounded in 2.5 years of research & background spent with former Latino gang members, firefighters, nurses, & other L.A. citizens who lived through it. The book has won the American Library Association’s Alex Award & the Lire Award for Noir of the Year in France. Translated into 11 languages, it has been called “a high-octane speedball of a read” by The New York Times & its film rights have been acquired by HBO.


Having received his M.A. in Creative Writing (Prose) from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, Gattis spent 9.5 years at Chapman University in Orange, California, as an adjunct professor. While there, he taught the bulk of core undergraduate creative writing courses & pioneered a professional course in Writing for Video Games, which saw its students move on to full-time jobs at TellTale Games, Jumpstart Games (for Dreamworks’ IP), & Activision/Blizzard. He has frequently guest lectured on “The Five Essentials of Storytelling (Regardless of Medium)” at Vancouver’s Centre for Digital Media.


Photograph by Sam Tenney.



Board Member, Secretary


Ian Gibson is Director of Law and Finance at UC Irvine’s Division of Continuing Education and an intellectual property attorney handling litigation and transactional matters in the areas of copyright, trademark, and entertainment law. He has represented a broad variety of clients including internationally known illustrators, prominent photographers, film production companies, musicians, and technology firms.


Prior to practicing law, Ian was a successful session musician and composer. He performed on a multitude of high profile projects including Emmy award-winning soundtracks, internationally broadcast live performances seen by tens of millions, and film and television productions under the direction of industry juggernauts such as Steven Spielberg and Jerry Bruckheimer. Furthermore, his performance credits stretch outside of the traditional mediums of film and television to include award-winning video game titles and new media projects for renowned technology luminaries such as Apple.


Ian has been a lecturer/guest speaker at USC, UC Irvine DCE, Chapman University, and Musicians Institute, among many other organizations.



Board Member, Treasurer


Janet Kim specializes in the mortgage and real estate industry.  She received degrees in Business Management, Operations Management, and Dance from California State University, Long Beach.


She is passionate about art, finance, and her community.  Janet currently lives in Orange, California with her husband Kevin, their daughter Sierra, and their cat Brooklyn.


Photograph by Sargeant Creative.



Board Member, President


Kevin Staniec is an arts advocate, author, curator, and the founder of the innovative 1888 Center. He has published over 80 books, his exhibitions viewed by more than a half-million people, and his work featured in numerous global media outlets.


Kevin is the recipient of the Arts Leader Award presented by Arts Orange County and recognized as one of Orange County’s most influential and innovative entrepreneurs in Modern Luxury MagazineOC Weeklyand the Orange County Register in 2015 and 2017.



Community Manager


Trevor Kaiser Allred is a writer, arts advocate, and community builder. He has collaborated with many writers and artists working as the Community Manager at 1888 and as a poet at The dA Center for the Arts. While earning his Master’s in creative writing and critical theory at Cal State Fullerton, he mentored numerous students and campaigned for foreign language learning. You can read about his creative work and newest projects at TrevKAllred.com.



Podcast Producer


Jon-Barrett Ingels is host and co-producer of The How The Why and the author of How to Succeed by Failing. He studied Theatre and Screenwriting at Chapman University.


He spends his time raising his six-year old daughter and contemplating the differences between California Syrah, Australian Shiraz, and the wines of Northern Rhone. He is currently working on his fiction novel, which he has been chiseling away at for the last eight years.



Podcast Manager


Sarah Becker holds an MA in English from California State University, Fullerton and a BA in English with an emphasis in literature from Chapman University.  She recently served as a fiction editor, a proofreader, and a member of the executive editorial committee for DASH Literary Journal.


In addition to working as a writing tutor and freelance editor, Sarah is currently the manager of The How The Why, the weekly podcast of 1888.



Managing Editor


William is a voracious reader and an unrepentant scribe. The co-mingling of these pleasures forged a path that lead to editing and design for numerous publications and journals. In 2015 he became the Managing Editor for Black Hill Press.


He is a father, a husband, and his work has been published by The Rumpus, Rain Crow Magazine, in a special anthology supporting the non-profit Mines Advisory Group, and many others.



Gallery Manager


Allison Town is an artist, curator, and writer. She holds a M.A. in Exhibition Design/Museum Studies from California State University, Fullerton and a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Redlands. She is the Chief Communications Officer at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center and has creatively collaborated with ISM: A Community Project, The ARTery Gallery, The Nicholas and Lee Begovich Gallery, The Great Park Gallery, Irvine Fine Arts Center, and The Grand Central Art Center Gallery.



Social Media Manager


Nate Ragolia is the author of There You Feel Free. He’s also the creator, writer and illustrator of the webcomics, The Illiterate Badger and The Right Corking Adventures of Cecil Larkbunting and Alastair Wakerobin. Nate works as a freelance writer and editor in Denver, Colorado, and is Writer and Narrative Strategist for the Beanstalk Foundation. He graduated magna cum laude in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Scott Alumbaugh

Owner, Sea Dog Designs (web/print/illustration); recovering attorney.

Scott Amstadt

Storyteller. Creative Consigliere. Coffee Master. Husband. Time Lord.

Brett Arnold

Author, student, book reviewer, hotel renovator. Self-proclaimed Mario Kart champion.

Veronica Bane

Author, daydream believer, and happiness chaser.

Davide Bonazzi

Freelance illustrator based in Italy. Clients include The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American and more.

Tuna Bora

Tuna Bora is a freelance maker of images, based in Los Angeles via Istanbul, Turkey.

Bryce Carlson

Managing Editor at BOOM! Studios. Writer/Creator of HIT.

Cazzey Louis Cereghino

Singer, songwriter, actor, stuntman, and novelist. Jack of all trades. Master of none.

Peppur Chambers

Creator, fishnet wearer, Brown Betties; producer, big sister Three Peas Productions.

Marcos Chin

Award winning Illustrator whose work has appeared as surface and wall designs, on books and magazines.

Douglas Cowie

Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, yells/strums in punk band Probably Your Teacher.

Jennifer Eneriz

Reader, editor, writer, Latina, sister, daughter, doggie mama. No part outweighs the other.

B. Tanner Fogle

Seattle based freelance writer, author of A Little Evil and other crazy works of fiction.

Jon Frechette

Born in the Philippines and raised in Tokyo and San Francisco.

Richard Gaffin

Writer. Musician. Church organ builder. Born in Toronto, raised in China, and currently resides in Fullerton, CA.

Corrie Greathouse

Founding member of the Hollywood Institute of Poetics, runner, volunteer, and fan of the Oxford comma.

Chanda J. Grubbs

Author, copywriter, and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop living in Tennessee.

Shaunn Grulkowski

Author of Retcontinuum, podcast host, pizza enthusiast.

Carmen Harbour

Drinker of coffee. Watcher of movies. Appreciator of words.

Pam Jones

Author of The Biggest Little Bird. Who knows it's teatime all day, every day.

Jenikah Joy

Jenikah Joy is a celebrated artist and designer based in Orange County, California.

Lon Koontz

Sections editor at the New York Daily News. Prognosticator. Music person. Writer. Dancer.

Graham Lovelis

Filmmaker, photographer, musician, amateur philosopher.

Noah MacMillan

Noah MacMillan is an illustrator and artist based in St Louis.

Khristian Mecom

Born in Oklahoma. Lives in South Florida. MFA in Creative Writing from Florida Atlantic University.

Benjamin Mills

Freelance Illustrator and wannabe ornithologist.

Brendan Mitchell

All in all not a bad guy - if looks, brains and personality don't count.

Tomas Moniz

Zine maker, photo taker, kid wrangler, shit talker, postcard slinger come on and mess around with me.

Amanda Renée Paganini

Art Director at True Religion Brand Jeans and Second Guitar/Vocals at Kissing Cousins.

Sam Pash

Illustrator based in Australia whose work has mostly featured in books and magazines.

Nathan Pensky

Carnegie Mellon PhD student, freelance word-doer, new dad.

Jeannie Phan

Freelance illustrator from Toronto with a hopeful green thumb.

Elise Portale

Food magazine Editor at a Engaged Media, Inc. Part-time eater, full-time talker.

Jason L. Pyrz

Project manager, recovering attorney, and student loan debt aficionado.

Dan Reckard

Piano, Saxophone, Composer, Arranger, Educator.

Lilliam Rivera

Young adult author and radio show host on Radio Sombra.

J.T. Robertson

Nonprofit Development Director, Author of The Memory Thieves, and aspiring Wondermonger.

Marisa Roemer

Editor. Teacher. Lawyer. Grammar police. (Yes, I know those aren't proper sentences.)

Jordan A. Rothacker

Poet, novelist, essayist, and journalist living in Athens, GA with his wife, two dogs, and a cat named Whiskey.

Tawny Rose

Independent Yoga Instructor, Creative Designer, and Artist based in Los Angeles, CA.

Jonny Ruzzo

Artist currently based in New York City. Clients include Stride Gum, NY Times, The New Yorker, etc.

Kimberly Sadler

Editor at the Getty. Fan of the Oxford comma. Lover of literature.

Ryan Sanchez

Artist, illustrator, and educator living in Savannah, GA with his lovely wife Heidi and their beautiful daughter Paloma.

Alex Sargeant

Curator at @YouTubeNation. Internet Anthropologist. Pun loving guy.

Mark Smith

The wrist behind marksmithillustration.com.

Kate St. Clair

Actor with Zephyr Talent and Genysis Club, model for Dover Saddlery. Possible animal hoarder.

Mariya Suzuki

Mariya was born in Japan and received her BFA in Illlustration at California State University of Long Beach.

Sami Viljanto

Illustrator. Not a particularly good dancer.

Eric Z. Weintraub

Eric is a writer and filmmaker based out of L.A.

Matthew Woodson

Grave-robber turned illustrator.

Cheryl Wuo

Editor, Art & Fashion Enthusiast, Wine Lover, and Dog Devotee.

Zoe Zhang

Editor, writer, college student, and all-around geek.