Art for the nonlover

Striking art gold at Chico Art Center’s gift shop

Some people may shun me for saying this, but I am not ashamed to admit it: I am not an art person. I have been called crafty—I can sew a mean handbag or bedazzle the hell out of accessories—but you will not likely find me slowly perusing the walls of an art gallery, trying to make sense out of random-looking splotches of paint or to decipher the artist’s seeming overuse of puke green.

In fact, the only art museum you might be able to drag me into is either historic (yes, I’ve been to the Louvre—twice, and the second time was against my will) or features a photography exhibit. I suppose if you were my friend and you had an art opening, I’d go. But there’d better be wine.

So, suffice it to say that it had been a while—since a newspaper photo assignment probably six or seven years ago—that I had been to the Chico Art Center, and I just found a reason to visit a place of art: The gift shop is actually super awesome. And in addition to the paintings that I’d expect at an art center, the room overfloweth with all sorts of other artsy, craftsy delights.


• The funky monster sculptures from Dancing Tree Studio, aka Maura Blackburn. These little ceramic sculptures are so ugly they’re cute. They’re whimsical and weird, fanciful and a little bit freaky. She also has tiles with little creature heads poking out of them, as well as monster-face mugs. Maura, I like your style.

• The art quilts and quilted wall hangings by mixed-media artist Wendi Bucey. I’ve already told you I’m a seamstress, and this kind of art amazes me partly because I know how difficult it can be to create such intricate designs with fabrics. I particularly liked Bucey’s small pieces stretched over wooden frames and easily hangable. Looking at her website, I not only learned that she’s a professional artist who has taught K-12 students her craft, but I also discovered her badass woven baskets. They are worth checking out.

• Driftwood art by Laura Wood Designs. I have a brown thumb, but I happen to find plants soothing to the eye. So when I happened upon the driftwood pieces covered in succulents and other bits of wonder, I had to stop for a look. Neat, super different from anything I’ve ever seen, and local. If interested, call 877-7781.

The Chico Art Center is located at 450 Orange St. Gift shop hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.