Art class adventure

Arc of Butte County co-hosts group exhibit

Allen Bunch with his drawing, “On an Island”

Allen Bunch with his drawing, “On an Island”

Photo by Carey Wilson

Amazing Land shows June 2-23 at Chico Art Center. Reception: Friday, June 2, 5-7 p.m.
Chico Art Center
450 Orange St.

As a rental hall, the Arc Pavilion is designed to be a blank slate, a huge room to be decorated and transformed into something special for the weddings and other special events that take place there. On a recent weekday visit to the space, I witnessed a transformation of another kind, as students in Arc of Butte County’s art class were busy working on pieces for the upcoming Amazing Land exhibit opening at Chico Art Center (CAC) on Friday (June 2).

Rather than the usual celebratory vibe, there was an aura of benevolence in the hall as I was greeted by curious looks and friendly greetings as the students engaged in various art-related activities. I was there to meet with Alan Carrier, Arc’s art specialist and art class teacher, who is organizing Amazing Land with CAC gallery manager Cameron Kelly and John Stuart Berger of the Short Center North, a Sacramento/Stockton arts-based program that, like Butte County’s Arc, serves people with developmental disabilities.

Carrier, a local artist and Butte College instructor who also manages the community college’s Coyote Gallery, traded friendly gibes with the artists and paused to offer quiet encouragement as we worked our way across the main room. He led me to a back room where some of the pieces for the upcoming exhibit were being stored and prepared, and seeing the amassed artwork stacked amid the hall’s tables and chairs, I realized students in the Arc’s art program are tremendously productive.

I saw only a small portion of the art going to the exhibit (works from Short Center North clients will be in the show as well) and was impressed by the level of creativity and enthusiastic self-expression in the lively and inspired collection of works.

The pieces comprise a variety of media—from crayon and colored pencil to tempera and acrylic paintings to 3-D assemblages—and styles ranging from narrative pictorials to completely abstract explorations of color and line.

Christy Yoskowitz’s colored pencil composition of smiling, green-finned yellow and orange fish floating above a table top bedecked with a loaf a bread and a pink pitcher, with a row of semi-abstract orange-beaked bird-heads peering up from below is a whimsically expressionistic work that Paul Klee would certainly approve of.

Lance Sakschewki’s apocalyptic untitled piece is a work of unfettered imagination. A smiling, red-lipped, purple-eyed, yellow sun gazes across a pale blue sky to where black clouds pour ribbons of red, yellow and orange lightning between polka dot stripes of cobalt rain on a witch in purple pants dancing on a pale apricot beach above a school of toothy, bomb-shaped fish. “[It] took about two months to finish,” the artist explained, “Because there is a lot of details that I have to get in there.”

Also involving an incredible amount of detail and color is Allen Bunch’s large colored pencil drawing, “On an Island,” in which the artist depicts a sunset above a palm-tree-festooned island surrounded by a life-filled ocean. Amazing lands, indeed.

Other treasures include Peter Wong’s colorfully abstract depiction of plant motifs; Laurie Vignani’s powerful, abstract, expressionistic black-line compositions; Becky Mains’ Gauguinesque portraiture; and Robbie Bigalow’s calming, detailed formulations of flowing lines of color.

Works from the ongoing art class are also sold in the Arc thrift stores, and according to the Arc website, students often take home prizes for their works at the Butte County Fair. Monies from the sale at the upcoming exhibit will go directly to the artists. And judging from my brief introduction, I’d have to say that Amazing Lands is well worth exploring.