Avenue 9 Gallery and Nor Cal Art Museum go big

“Bicycle Music Festival 2010” (detail) by Karen Laslo

“Bicycle Music Festival 2010” (detail) by Karen Laslo

Chiconic Arts DEVO could not resist the pull of “Chiconic” art that Avenue 9 Gallery’s Maria Phillips was filling up his inbox with this week, so he invaded the uptown space to get a quick tour by Phillips of the more than 150 entries accepted for this year’s Chico Icons group show (which opens with a reception Friday, Dec. 9, 4-8 p.m.).

“July Jamboree” (detail) by Paula Busch

“Protesters Take a Break” by Marie Hubbard

It’s a wonderful show, with a wide range of impressions of the face of Chico. There were plenty of beautiful photos and paintings of Bidwell Park environs and images of iconic locales—from Studio Inn Lounge to the Pageant Theatre—but my faves, as might be predicted—were the more offbeat selections: Lori Stevens’ pastel/gouache/Conté crayon “Bidwell Golf Course, 17th Hole,” with its dark cluster of deer poking through a foggy green background, was striking, as were Karen Laslo’s photos, especially the bright backsides on bicycle seats in “Chico Bicycle Festival 2010,” which popped off the aluminum surface they were printed on. It’s hard to pick from so many, but a couple others I really liked were Paula Busch’s encaustic collage, “July Jamboree,” with its wild-haired woman kneeling by the creek as a knot of frogs comes out of the water to greet her and Marie Hubbard’s colorful painting, “Protesters Take a Break” (complete with a couple of well-placed CN&R mastheads drifting through the scene!).

Speaking of large collections of art There is a new museum floating around Chico. The Museum of Northern California Art was born from a donation of more than 350 works by Nor Cal artists, and is in the process of looking for a permanent home. In the meantime, portions of the collection—which includes works by Wayne Thiebaud, Roy De Forest, Nathan Olivera, Robert Arneson, among others—is traveling to schools and galleries for temporary displays. The next impromptu exhibit is this Sunday, Dec. 11, 2-5 p.m., at the law office of Eric Alan Berg & Associates (1050 Esplanade).

“Miles Davis Digging Charlie Parker” by Jerry Harris

Hey, we know these guys: Two congrats are in order for locals doin’ well in the world outside of the Chico bubble. First, Chico State history professor Laird Easton just got props from Benjamin Schwartz, literary critic for The Atlantic, who included the book Easton edited, Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880–1918, on his list of the top 10 books of 2011. Easton will read from his book of the diaries of the cosmopolitan Anglo-German count during a reception at the 1078 Gallery Sunday, Dec. 11, 5-8 p.m. (talk at 6 p.m.).

And, a belated shout out to local artist Jerry Harris, who wrote in to share that two of his sculptures have been added to the permanent collection of The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans at the University of Maryland. And, as a bonus, Harris says, the two pieces will also be part of Convergence, a touring exhibit in collaboration with the American Jazz Museum. Huzzah!