Amanda Detmer comes home; RIP Lois Cohen

Amanda Detmer (with Jason Biggs) in <i>Saving Silverman</i>.

Amanda Detmer (with Jason Biggs) in Saving Silverman.

Girl on film Amanda Detmer is coming full circle. The Chico-bred actress is back in town, filming a new movie in the same area where she got her first break. Back in 1995, Detmer was part of the cast (along with Growing PainsTracey Gold) of the made-for-TV movie Stolen Innocence, filmed right here in Chico (it included a shootout scene at the Thunderbird Lodge). Now, the actress who has gone on to star in several more films (Saving Silverman, The Magestic) and TV shows (Man Up, Medium) is back to film the indie flick Super Tuesday with fellow Chico ex-pat (and director) Coy Middlebrook. Filming at various Butte and Glenn County locations—including Chico Airport, Duffy’s Tavern and Christian Michael’s Ristorante—started Feb. 15 and will continue through Feb. 26.

RIP Lois This past Sunday, Feb. 19, the Chico arts community lost one of its most energetic members when Lois Cohen died. She was 92.

In the 25-plus years she lived in Butte County, the Paradise resident created a lifetime’s worth of paintings, drawings and prints, but before she ever came to us, she had already had several prolific decades of art-making under her belt. Born in Chicago, she began drawing at the age of 6, and by 14, shortly after moving with her family to Pittsburgh, she was getting paid $25 to draw sketches of people and pets. After art school, Cohen went to work as a fashion illustrator for May Co. department stores before moving out to California and eventually getting work at a series of studios—MGM, RKO, Disney, Samuel Goldwin, Fox—as a set designer and storyboard artist.

Lois Cohen

In the 30 years that she made art for films, Cohen worked on everything from An American in Paris to Around the World in 80 Days, while also exhibiting her works at major California museums (de Young, L.A. County Museum, Oakland Museum of Art) and, starting in 1973, doing space paintings as L.A.’s Griffith Observatory’s artist for 13 years.

Around here, though, Cohen was perhaps best know for her collection of paintings at James Snidle Fine Arts and her constant presence in local art classes and at plein-air paint-out events (as well as for being the mother of local singer/songwriter Danny Cohen).

The picture here is from one of the plein-air painting events, and was sent to me by Avenue 9 Gallery’s Maria Phillips. “[It was] the quintessential Lois: It was a freezing cold windy day, most of the plein air painters had packed it up. Loispersevered. Armed with her paints, and in her red ear muffs, green hat and purple jacket, she took it to the finish line. We’ll miss Lois but always have her and her beautiful art in our hearts.”

I also received a note from James Snidle announcing a public memorial for Cohen at his Chico gallery during a reception featuring her work April 5, 5-8 p.m.

“She was the most prolific and amazing artist that I could have ever befriended,” said Snidle. “She seemed to have no attachment to the product but reveled in the joy of the process of making paintings, prints and drawings and watercolors. Her skill and ability even in her 90s would blow most people away.

“I had the honor to paint with her for 10 years. We rarely missed a week, regardless of the weather threats. We celebrated the landscapes of Butte County, choosing a location every week to record what we saw. She was so courageous that going under barbed wire to reach a place we wanted to set up was never a problem. She produced art daily. She was accomplished at all she touched. When I moved to S.F. 14 years ago [current Snidle gallery manager] Dean Willson took my place and for years became her painting partner. We both got the greatest gift of spending precious time in her presence and painting.”