The innovative 1888 Center is a nonprofit organization located at the heart of the historic District in Old Towne Orange, California. The building, constructed in 1925, hosts a bookshop, gallery, multi-use performance space, and café serving creative beverages crafted by Contra Coffee & Tea.
1888 Center is designed as a second home where cultural heritage and literary arts are provided as a creative accelerator to enhance the quality of life for the community by presenting local and regional stories of the past, present, and future.
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.
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.
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. Our goal is to build community, one story at a time, through educational podcasts and collaborative programs.
Kevin Staniec is an arts advocate, author, and publisher. 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 Magazine, OC Weekly, and the Orange County Register.
Kevin has worked at the Autry National Center, the Orange County Museum of Art, and programs arts, culture, and heritage for the City of Irvine. He is an elected member of the Chapman University Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Orange Community Historical Society Board of Directors. From 2013-2015 Kevin served on the Board of Trustees for the Muckenthaler Cultural Center.
In 2002, Kevin co-founded ISM, a nonprofit organization that published an internationally distributed culture magazine until 2012. In 2013, Kevin co-founded Black Hill Press, a publishing collective dedicated to the novella.
He has produced programs with many institutions including Bergamot Station Arts Center, Grand Central Art Center, Laguna Art Museum, Long Beach Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art.
Kevin studied Creative Writing and Film & Media Arts at Chapman University. He is the author of I Am. You Are., Begin, 29 to 31: A Book of Dreams, And Then, This, the Treehouse Bandits collection of children’s stories, and Mojave, co-written with author Ryan Gattis.
Click here to learn more about Kevin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
WILLIAM M. BRANDON III
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.
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.
Small Towne Short Stories Editor
Alma Fausto is a reporter at the Orange County Register where she covers crime and breaking news. When not reporting on grisly crimes, Alma spends her time reading and visiting bookstores everywhere. She is also board member of the OC Press Club.
Alma has a Master’s in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before city life, she studied and reported in California’s rural Central Valley, receiving a bachelor’s at UC Merced where she was editor of the student newspaper. And way before that she was born and raised in OC and now calls Costa Mesa home.
Dime Novel Managing Editor
Cristiana Wilcoxon holds a degree in business administration with a marketing emphasis from Chapman University. She is a freelance writer and artist, with work appearing in publications such as The Huffington Post, 7DeadlyMag, and Foodbeast. She is the author of parody horoscope blog HorrorscopeToday and a member of the art collective Not An Exit.
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.
Jessica Hernandez is a compulsive button pusher and seasoned airport navigator based in Southern California. She is drawn to storytelling and is on the constant pursuit of creating inspiring visual narratives. She thrives in connecting with those around her, whether through creative collaborations, coffee conversations or Netflix binge-watching confessions.
Alyssa Jordan is a freelance writer and editor. Currently, she is both a Junior Editor at Tethered by Letters and a Staff Reader for E&GJ Little Press. In her spare time, she writes press releases for the Orange County Children’s Book Festival. Her work has appeared in publications like Every Day Fiction, The Ampersand Review, and 100 Word Story.
Bailey Brown is pursuing her BA in English Literature at Azusa Pacific University. Through writing, editing, and photography, she strives to encourage collaboration within the literary arts community.
Owner, Sea Dog Designs (web/print/illustration); recovering attorney.
Storyteller. Creative Consigliere. Coffee Master. Husband. Time Lord.
Author, student, book reviewer, hotel renovator. Self-proclaimed Mario Kart champion.
Author, daydream believer, and happiness chaser.
Freelance illustrator based in Italy. Clients include The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American and more.
Tuna Bora is a freelance maker of images, based in Los Angeles via Istanbul, Turkey.
Managing Editor at BOOM! Studios. Writer/Creator of HIT.
Singer, songwriter, actor, stuntman, and novelist. Jack of all trades. Master of none.
Creator, fishnet wearer, Brown Betties; producer, big sister Three Peas Productions.
Award winning Illustrator whose work has appeared as surface and wall designs, on books and magazines.
Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London, yells/strums in punk band Probably Your Teacher.
Reader, editor, writer, Latina, sister, daughter, doggie mama. No part outweighs the other.
Seattle based freelance writer, author of A Little Evil and other crazy works of fiction.
Born in the Philippines and raised in Tokyo and San Francisco.
Writer. Musician. Church organ builder. Born in Toronto, raised in China, and currently resides in Fullerton, CA.
Founding member of the Hollywood Institute of Poetics, runner, volunteer, and fan of the Oxford comma.
Author, copywriter, and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop living in Tennessee.
Author of Retcontinuum, podcast host, pizza enthusiast.
Drinker of coffee. Watcher of movies. Appreciator of words.
Author of The Biggest Little Bird. Who knows it's teatime all day, every day.
Jenikah Joy is a celebrated artist and designer based in Orange County, California.
Sections editor at the New York Daily News. Prognosticator. Music person. Writer. Dancer.
Filmmaker, photographer, musician, amateur philosopher.
Noah MacMillan is an illustrator and artist based in St Louis.
Born in Oklahoma. Lives in South Florida. MFA in Creative Writing from Florida Atlantic University.
Freelance Illustrator and wannabe ornithologist.
All in all not a bad guy - if looks, brains and personality don't count.
Zine maker, photo taker, kid wrangler, shit talker, postcard slinger come on and mess around with me.
Art Director at True Religion Brand Jeans and Second Guitar/Vocals at Kissing Cousins.
Illustrator based in Australia whose work has mostly featured in books and magazines.
Carnegie Mellon PhD student, freelance word-doer, new dad.
Freelance illustrator from Toronto with a hopeful green thumb.
Food magazine Editor at a Engaged Media, Inc. Part-time eater, full-time talker.
Project manager, recovering attorney, and student loan debt aficionado.
Piano, Saxophone, Composer, Arranger, Educator.
Young adult author and radio show host on Radio Sombra.
Nonprofit Development Director, Author of The Memory Thieves, and aspiring Wondermonger.
Editor. Teacher. Lawyer. Grammar police. (Yes, I know those aren't proper sentences.)
Poet, novelist, essayist, and journalist living in Athens, GA with his wife, two dogs, and a cat named Whiskey.
Independent Yoga Instructor, Creative Designer, and Artist based in Los Angeles, CA.
Artist currently based in New York City. Clients include Stride Gum, NY Times, The New Yorker, etc.
Editor at the Getty. Fan of the Oxford comma. Lover of literature.
Artist, illustrator, and educator living in Savannah, GA with his lovely wife Heidi and their beautiful daughter Paloma.
Curator at @YouTubeNation. Internet Anthropologist. Pun loving guy.
The wrist behind marksmithillustration.com.
Actor with Zephyr Talent and Genysis Club, model for Dover Saddlery. Possible animal hoarder.
Mariya was born in Japan and received her BFA in Illlustration at California State University of Long Beach.
Illustrator. Not a particularly good dancer.
Eric is a writer and filmmaker based out of L.A.
Grave-robber turned illustrator.
Editor, Art & Fashion Enthusiast, Wine Lover, and Dog Devotee.
Editor, writer, college student, and all-around geek.